In This 19-minute video New-York Psychiatrist Robert D. McMullen, MD Will answer: How Can Bipolar Disorder Be Tested



How Can Bipolar Disorder Be Tested?

Accurately diagnosing a patient with bipolar disorder is very complex. Arriving at a definitive conclusion cannot be done by means of a blood test, CAT scan or MRI. Rather, the patient will be asked a series of questions that will provide a psychiatrist with key information about their mental health history. Many patients initially seek psychiatric care for anxiety or chronic low mood. A diagnosis of depression involves asking the patient only a few questions:

1. Have you lost interest in the things you once enjoyed? 2. Do you sleep more than usual? 3. Do you feel hopeless or fantasize thoughts of suicide or death?

If a patient appears to be resistant to treatment for low mood, they may actually suffer from a form of manic-depressive illness.

Typical Questions Asked to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder

Patients with mania typically exhibit a wider range of symptoms than patients who suffer from depression alone. Their moods often swing from high to low and can become severely erratic. Questions asked by a psychiatrist to correctly diagnose a patient with mania may include the following:

  • Do you often experience a high burst of energy and sleep less than normal?
  • Is your confidence in your abilities higher than usual?
  • Do you frequently impulse buy or have racing speech or thoughts?

There are two types of manic-depressive disorders which should be treated differently:

1. Bipolar 1- The patient’s mania is so severe that they can no longer function mentally or socially. They are extremely delusional, engage in reckless behavior and must be hospitalized.

2. Bipolar 2- Patients with this type of illness show milder signs of mental illness where there are periods of mania (e.g., impulsive spending, flirting with the opposite sex, explosive anger, paranoia, restlessness) and periods of normal behavior. The patient can function well enough while performing job or house duties and engage in social activities. But it is not uncommon for these patients to suddenly enter into a manic episode. A major manic episode reflects behavioral symptoms called HIDES:

  • H-Hyperactivity
  • I-Impulsiveness
  • D-Distrust
  • E-Explosive temper
  • S-Sleeplessness