If you believe that you or someone you love might have bipolar disorder, it is essential that you seek diagnosis from a medical professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and general practitioners will perform a variety of diagnostic tests to discover whether or not the symptoms are bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder can be difficult to detect for several reasons. Patients generally feel good during manias or hypomanias and rarely seek treatment when they’re experiencing the high. Patients most often seek professional help when they fall into a major depressive episode, and people with bipolar disorder are often mistakenly diagnosed with major depressive disorder. That is why it is essential to discuss your mood history with your doctor when seeking a diagnosis.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder also mimic various emotional and physical health problems. For this reason, doctors will perform an initial medical examination to rule out the possibility that the symptoms are related to epilepsy, thyroid disorder, brain injury, Lupus, or any of the other physical health problems that can manifest bipolar symptoms.
Once any physiological medical conditions have been discounted, the patient will be interviewed about their history and given the Mood Disorder Questionnaire, or MDQ. If the patient is currently experiencing a major depressive episode, there will have to be at least one manic or hypomanic episode in their history for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The doctor will also ask about any psychological disorders in the patient’s immediate family or family history.
While you can find information about the symptoms of bipolar disorder and diagnostic questionnaires online, diagnosis of mood disorders such as bipolar disorder is best done by a medical professional to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. You or your loved one do not have to go through life with bipolar disorder alone. There is help available, and seeking professional diagnosis is the first step toward care.