How Are Bipolar Disorders Diagnosed?


Quick Answer

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made with a thorough physical exam, a psychological evaluation, mood charting and an analysis of signs and symptoms, explains Mayo Clinic. A physical exam and laboratory tests can help identify potential medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

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Full Answer

During a psychological evaluation, the doctor asks patients questions about their feelings, moods and behavior patterns, and asks them to fill out a psychological questionnaire, according to Mayo Clinic. The doctor may also ask permission from a patient to talk to relatives and friends to obtain more information about possible episodes of mania or depression. Patients are also asked to fill out a mood chart by writing about their daily moods and sleep patterns.

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings that alternate between emotional highs and lows, according to Mayo Clinic. Mood changes can occur a few times per year or as frequently as a few times per week. Depressive episodes are marked by feelings of sadness, hopelessness and a loss of interest in daily activities. During episodes of mania, people feel euphoric and full of energy. Bipolar disorder can be treated with mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antidepressant-antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs. Medication choice and dosage is based on patient symptoms.

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