Mental health professionals use criteria from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, called DSM-IV, to evaluate bipolar disorder symptoms. Patients discussing their behaviors, lifestyle habits and changes in mood openly with their doctors may be the most accurate way to diagnose bipolar disorder, states WebMD.
Doctors must carefully take note of how frequent, long and severe symptoms are. Imaging or lab tests are not useful for diagnosing bipolar disorder. A bipolar disorder diagnosis is based on cycles of increased sleeplessness, energy and fast speech or thinking, combined with unusually heightened mood or irritability in mood, according to WebMD. A patient's capacity for self-expression, reasoning, memory and interpersonal relationships are part of the diagnosis.