How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made only by taking careful note of symptoms, and their severity, length, and frequency. The most telling are periods of hypomania or mania. Reviewing history from close friends and family is often very helpful to distinguish bipolar disorder from major depression.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of bipolar disorder, see your family healthcare provider or a psychiatrist. A referral may then be made to an appropriate mental health expert.

A thorough medical evaluation should be performed. Your doctor will ask questions about your personal and family history of mental illness. You may also be asked to complete a mood disorders or depression-screening questionnaire. This is a series of questions that you will be asked to answer verbally or in writing.

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