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How Do You Diagnose Bipolar

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Coping With Bipolar Disorder

Diagnosing bipolar disorder | Mental health | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy

Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but there are ways to help make it easier for yourself, a friend, or a loved one.

  • Get treatment and stick with itrecovery takes time and its not easy. But treatment is the best way to start feeling better.
  • Keep medical and therapy appointments and talk with the provider about treatment options.
  • Take all medicines as directed.
  • Structure activities: keep a routine for eating and sleeping, and make sure to get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Learn to recognize your mood swings and warning signs, such as decreased sleep.
  • Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment.
  • Be patient improvement takes time. Social support helps.
  • Avoid misuse of alcohol and drugs.

Remember: Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, but long-term, ongoing treatment can help control symptoms and enable you to live a healthy life.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Adults

Bipolar disorder, also known as manicdepressive illness, is a medical condition that causes a person to experience intense mood swings that alternate between depression and mania. These mood swings can last for hours, days, or even weeks.

Mental health specialists at NYU Langone Psychiatry Associates, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, can help determine if a person has bipolar disorder and, if so, how best to manage symptoms.

You Have Another Illness Such As Psychosis Anxiety Adhd Or A Drug Or Alcohol Addiction

Some bipolar disorder symptoms are a lot like other conditions. They can be hard to separate and diagnose.

For example, mania can feature psychotic symptoms. You might think youâre famous or have superpowers. On the flip side, with manic depression, you might think youâve ruined your life in some dramatic way.

People with bipolar disorder also can have:

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Whats The Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder And Bipolar Disorder

While borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder have similar symptoms and are often confused for each other, theyre distinct conditions.

BPD involves a longstanding pattern of abrupt, moment-to-moment swings in moods, behavior and self-image that are often triggered by conflicts in interactions with other people. Nonsuicidal self-injury is also common in BPD but not in bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is different from BPD because it involves distinct, longer-lasting episodes of mania/hypomania and/or depression. Several things can trigger manic or depressive episodes, such as sleep changes, stress, medications and substance use.

Is Bipolar Disorder Ever Considered ‘cured’

Bipolar Disorder in Teens and Young Adults: Know the Signs ...

This is not clear at this time. Although the condition responds to treatment in most cases, bipolar disorder is generally seen as a chronic disease that may come and go for many years.

Your child will need to follow the treatment plan outlined by her care team, and any changes should be carefully discussed among all members of her treatment team.

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What Are The Different Types Of Bipolar Disorder You Can Receive A Diagnosis For

A bipolar disorder diagnosis will most likely fit into one of these categories:

  • Bipolar I disorder involves one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes, and it may include a major depressive episode. The episodes are not due to a medical condition or substance use.
  • Bipolar II disorder has one or more severe major depressive episodes with at least one hypomanic episode. There are no manic episodes, but you may experience a mixed episode.
  • Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder is a severe form of bipolar disorder. It occurs when you have at least four episodes of major depression, mania, hypomania, or mixed states within a year.
  • Not otherwise specified is a category for symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not clearly fit into other types. NOS is diagnosed when multiple symptoms of bipolar disorder are present but not enough to meet the label for any of the other subtypes. This category can also include rapid mood changes that do not last long enough to be true manic or depressive episodes. NOS includes multiple hypomanic episodes without a major depressive episode.

To be exact with a diagnosis, doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

What Are The Long

Bipolar disorder is a life-long and often recurring illness. You may need long term support to help manage your condition.

What medication options are there?

Your doctor will look at what medication worked for you during episodes of mania or depression. They should ask you whether you want to continue this treatment or if you want to change to lithium.

Lithium usually works better than other types of medication for long-term treatment. Your doctor should give you information about how to take lithium safely. If lithium doesn’t work well enough or causes you problems, you may be offered:

Your doctor should monitor your health. Physical health checks should be done at least once a year. These checks will include:

  • measuring your weight,
  • checking your liver and heart, and
  • checking your pulse and blood pressure.

What psychological treatments are recommended?

You should be offered a psychological therapy that is specially designed for bipolar disorder. You could have individual or group therapy.

The aim of your therapy is to stop you from becoming unwell again. This is known as relapse. Your therapy should help you to:

  • understand your condition,
  • think about the effect that your thoughts and behaviour have on your mood,
  • monitor your mood, thoughts and behaviour,
  • think about risk and distress,
  • make plans to stay well,
  • make plans to follow if you start to become unwell,
  • be aware of how you communicate, and
  • manage difficulties you may have in day to day life.
  • support needs, and

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What Will My Doctor Ask Me

To make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, your doctor will ask you about:

  • How many symptoms you experience
  • Which types of mood episodes you experience
  • How long your mood episodes last for
  • How many mood episodes you’ve had
  • How often your mood episodes occur
  • How your symptoms impact your life
  • Your family history

They may also:

  • Ask you to keep a diary of your moods to help you both identify patterns and triggers.
  • Check up on your physical health. For example, some conditions like thyroid problems can cause mania-like symptoms.

Only a mental health professional like a psychiatrist can give you a bipolar disorder diagnosis not your GP.

However, if you’re experiencing bipolar moods and symptoms, discussing it with your GP can be a good first step. They can refer you to a psychiatrist, who will be able to assess you.

For more information see our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem.

Once properly diagnosed, I knew the cause. I understood that I was someone with an illness. I was not a failure, not a bad person.

Exploring Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options

How to know if you have bipolar disorder

If your doctor determines that you have bipolar disorder, he or she will explain your treatment options and possibly prescribe medication for you to take. You may also be referred to another mental health professional, such as a psychologist, counselor, or a bipolar disorder specialist. Together, you will work with your healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan.

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What Are Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes changes in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. People with bipolar disorder experience intense emotional states that typically occur during distinct periods of days to weeks, called mood episodes. These mood episodes are categorized as manic/hypomanic or depressive . People with bipolar disorder generally have periods of neutral mood as well. When treated, people with bipolar disorder can lead full and productive lives.

People without bipolar disorder experience mood fluctuations as well. However, these mood changes typically last hours rather than days. Also, these changes are not usually accompanied by the extreme degree of behavior change or difficulty with daily routines and social interactions that people with bipolar disorder demonstrate during mood episodes. Bipolar disorder can disrupt a persons relationships with loved ones and cause difficulty in working or going to school.

Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different diagnoses: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.

People with bipolar I disorder frequently have other mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder . The risk of suicide is significantly higher among people with bipolar I disorder than among the general population.

How To Diagnose Bipolar Disorder

This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 42,891 times.

Bipolar disorder is a potentially serious mental health issue that affects about 1 in 50 people.XResearch source It is characterized by extreme mental and behavioral changes, from manic and overly excited states to depressive states. Learning the symptoms of this disorder can help you work with your trusted health care provider and get the best care and treatments you might need. However, you should keep in mind that only a trained health care professional can diagnose bipolar disorder. If you believe that you or someone you know may have bipolar disorder, seek medical attention.

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Summary Of Assessment Tools For Diagnosis

Overall, the SCID and the SADS are the most common means of diagnosing bipolar disorder in adults. With excellent psychometric characteristics for the assessment of bipolar I disorder, they fare less well in assessing bipolar II disorder. This may be due to issues related to the definition of hypomania.

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Bipolar depression shows up in different ways for different people. You might have trouble sleeping. Or you might sleep too much, and even find it hard to get up. The smallest decisions can seem huge. Overwhelming feelings of failure, guilt, or deep loss can trigger suicidal thoughts.

Other signs to look for:

  • You feel like you canât enjoy anything.
  • You find it hard to focus.
  • You eat too little or too much.
  • Youâre weary, and your movements seem slow.
  • Youâre forgetful.

For a bipolar disorder diagnosis, you must have several depression symptoms that make it hard for you to function every day for at least 2 weeks.

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What Should I Do Before I See The Doctor About Bipolar Disorder

Before meeting with your doctor to clarify a diagnosis, itâs helpful to write down the symptoms you notice that may reflect depression, hypomania, or mania. Particular attention should focus not just on mood but also changes in sleep, energy, thinking, speech, and behavior. It is also useful to get an in-depth family history from relatives before meeting with your doctor. A family history can be very helpful in supporting a suspected diagnosis and prescribing appropriate treatments.

In addition, consider bringing your spouse or a close friend with you to the doctorâs visit. Oftentimes, a family member or friend may be more aware of a personâs unusual behaviors and be able to describe these in detail to the doctor. Before your visit, think about and record the following:

  • Your mental and physical health concerns
  • Symptoms youâve noticed
  • Causes of stress in your life
  • Questions you may have about bipolar disorder

Bipolar Disorder And Other Conditions

Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses, which can make it challenging for a health care provider to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people may have bipolar disorder along with another mental disorder or condition, such as an anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder have an increased chance of having thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.

Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression may experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the persons extreme mood. For example:

  • People having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may have the unrealistic belief that they are famous, have a lot of money, or have special powers.
  • People having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may falsely believe they are financially ruined and penniless, have committed a crime, or have an unrecognized serious illness.

As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed with schizophrenia. When people have symptoms of bipolar disorder and also experience periods of psychosis that are separate from mood episodes, the appropriate diagnosis may be schizoaffective disorder.

Anxiety: It is common for people with bipolar disorder to also have an anxiety disorder.

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Aging With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, whether undiagnosed or late onset, is associated with cognitive decline and co-occurring physical and mental health disorders that affect our ability to age well and manage daily living. Fortunately, there are ways to experience positive aging despite the condition. This positive aging begins with acceptance of the diagnosis, awareness of the symptoms, and concerted efforts to work through it. Successful outcomes are often associated with strict adherence to a combination of psychopharmacological and talk therapies .

Is It Bipolar Disorder Or Depression

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Bipolar disorder is commonly misdiagnosed as depression since most people with bipolar disorder seek help when theyre in the depressive stage of the illness. When theyre in the manic stage, they dont recognize the problem. Whats more, most people with bipolar disorder are depressed a much greater percentage of the time than they are manic or hypomanic.

Being misdiagnosed with depression is a potentially dangerous problem because the treatment for bipolar depression is different than for regular depression. In fact, antidepressants can actually make bipolar disorder worse. So its important to see a mood disorder specialist who can help you figure out whats really going on.

Do I have depression or bipolar disorder?

Indicators that your depression is really bipolar disorder include:

  • Youve experienced repeated episodes of major depression.
  • You had your first episode of major depression before age 25.
  • You have a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder.
  • When youre not depressed, your mood and energy levels are higher than most peoples.
  • When youre depressed, you oversleep and overeat.
  • Your episodes of major depression are short
  • Youve lost contact with reality while depressed.
  • Youve had postpartum depression before.
  • Youve developed mania or hypomania while taking an antidepressant.
  • Your antidepressant stopped working after several months.

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How Do Doctors Make A Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

In order to make a bipolar disorder diagnosis, your doctor evaluates your symptoms to see if they match criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . There are different types of bipolar disorder, so symptoms and their duration can vary.

According to the most recent edition of the DSM , you must meet these criteria to receive a diagnosis of some type of bipolar disorder:

  • depressive episode that lasts for two weeks with five or more depressive symptoms present throughout most of each day

  • manic episode that lasts for at least one week with a minimum of three manic symptoms present throughout most of each day

  • hypomanic episode that lasts for four consecutive days, with at least three hypomanic symptoms present throughout each day

  • cyclothymic episodes that cause milder mood swings that persist for a period of two years with no more than a two-month break between symptoms

Why Is Bipolar Disorder No Longer Called Manic

In the last few decades, the medical world, especially the field of psychiatry, has intentionally made a shift from using manic-depressive illness or manic depression to describe bipolar disorder. There are several reasons for this shift, including:

  • Healthcare providers used to use manic depression to describe a wide range of mental health conditions. As mental health condition classification systems, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , have become more sophisticated, the new term bipolar disorder allows for more clarity in diagnosis.
  • Theres a lot of stigma and negativity associated with the terms manic and mania, especially due to the use of maniac. Similarly, people use the term depression casually to describe periods of sadness that dont qualify as clinical depression. Using bipolar disorder takes the focus away from these two words. Bipolar disorder is more of a clinical, medical term and less emotionally loaded than manic depression.
  • The term manic depression excludes the cyclothymic or hypomanic versions of the condition.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder symptoms can make it difficult to deal with day-to-day life. It can have a bad effect on your relationships and work. The different types of symptoms are described below.


Symptoms of mania can include:

  • feeling happy or excited, even if things arent going well for you,
  • being full of new and exciting ideas,
  • moving quickly from one idea to another,
  • racing thoughts,
  • sleeping too much or not being able to sleep,
  • eating less or over eating,
  • losing or gaining weight, when you dont mean to, and
  • thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.


Sometimes you can have psychotic symptoms during a severe episode of mania or depression. Symptoms of psychosis can be:

  • hallucinations. This means that you may hear, see, or feel things that are not there, and
  • delusions. This means you may believe things that arent true. Other people will usually find your beliefs unusual.

Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder can reflect your mood. For example, if you have a manic episode you may believe that you have special powers or are being monitored by the government. If you have depressive episode, you may feel very guilty about something you think you have done. You may feel that you are worse than anybody else or feel that you don’t exist.

You can find more information about:

  • Depression by clicking here.

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