Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It is called bipolar because of the swing between depression and mania. Depression is characterised by sadness, lack of pleasure in anything, and thoughts of suicide. Mania shows up in the form of excessive energy, little need for sleep, and a tendency to be very impulsive. Learn what the symptoms are for this mood disorder and if you or a loved one needs medical treatment.
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There are two types of bipolar disorders. They are bipolar disorder I (BPDI) and bipolar disorder II (BPDII). BPD-I is diagnosed if there is at least one instance of mania, while BPD-II has to have at least one instance of hypomania. Hypomania and mania have symptoms including distractability, pressured speech, lack of need for sleep, and grandiosity, but hypomania is a lesser form that usually does not have the same kind of impairment and possible need for hospitalisation.
There are two self tests I will discuss that can be helpful in deciding if you struggle with BPDI or II. They should not take the place of appropriate professional evaluation and treatment.The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Vol. IV, (DSM-IV) is the reference book utilised by mental health professionals to diagnose any mental health condition.
The first self test is simply to look at the symptoms for BPDI or II and consider your symptoms. If you meet the criteria, you may be struggling with this mental illness.
Consider your symptoms honestly as you look at the criteria. The list is under mood disorders in the DSM-IV. It is also online at various sites, including Mindsite. Please look at both Bipolar Disorder I and II as you may rule out one and still meet the requirements for the second. This list will ask you to look at time frames and symptoms of depression and/or mania. (See Resources for website information.)
This next step is a difficult one, as it entails hearing feedback on your behaviour. It is important to maintain objectivity. You should elicit input from those you trust about what they have observed in your behaviour and mood. Often our ability to see ourselves is distorted and it is vital to receive accurate information.
As you go through the list, write down the ones you believe you apply to you. If a loved one is giving you input, you could ask them to also make a list utilising the same criteria and focusing on what they have seen in their interactions with you. This list will not only help you to decide if you may meet the diagnosis, it will be invaluable when you see a mental health provider.
The DSM IV TR is written for clinicians, and is somewhat difficult to understand without studying. There are many easier tests. One of these is listed at Blackdoginstitute online. This website is designed to educate and offer information on depression and bipolar disorder. The self test is fairly easy to follow.
There are three questions that are asked. If the answer to any of the three is negative, then you are done and there is less of a possibility that you suffer from bipolar disorder. These three questions are about evidence of depression, mood cycling, and increase in energy at times. They all have to be affirmative for you to continue. The remaining questions are about what your life is like during your times of high energy. This test is quick and is scored automatically.
Once your test is scored, you will have an idea of whether you have bipolar disorder. This website will also give you information about what to do next. It will suggest that you follow up with a mental health professional. Persons struggling with bipolar disorder can live productive lives with support, information, and professional intervention.
Tips and warnings
- Do not self-diagnose. If you believe you or a loved one may have bipolar disorder, see your doctor.
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