How Bipolar Disorders are Diagnosed

Despite an overall better understanding of Bipolar Disorders, getting a diagnosis can often be quite difficult, with most patients not being diagnosed until around 10 years after they first speak with a doctor about their problem. It is also common for doctors to sometimes be overly aggressive in their diagnosis, perhaps as a result of the above problem, so often people who report a manic or depressed state will receive a bipolar diagnosis.

One of the biggest factors associated with diagnosing bipolar disorders is the identification of the manic state, during which the individual may feel exceptionally good about themselves. Also, since it is a psychological disorder, much of the diagnosis relies upon the patients own description of their mental state. However, those who are bipolar will typically also exhibit certain types of activities, which can lead to a diagnosis.

There are actually several different bipolar disorders, with Bipolar I and Bipolar II being the most common. All of which require that the patient exhibit some type of bipolar episode, which includes periods of mania, depression, and a combination of the two. During the mania episode, the individual will often feel great about themselves, so much so that an inflated feeling of self worth is reported. During the depression episode, the individual will often experience dark and negative thoughts, with a combination, or mixed episode, experiencing a combination of the two.

Typically, to be diagnosed with Bipolar I, the doctor must be able to identify the last bipolar episode that the patient experienced, as well the severity of the disease. It is also important that the doctor eliminate other common disorders.

To be diagnosed with Bipolar II, the patient must have had a period of hypomania, which is a lessened state of mania, as well as at least one period of depression. It is necessary for both of these episodes to have at least lasted for four days and caused some sort of change to behavior. A diagnosis of cyclothymia is given when the symptoms of do not last for four days or are not very severe.

A big component of Bipolar disorder is that the individuals moods change frequently, from a feeling of mania to one of depression, but in some cases the individual may only experience depression and not mania during this cycle, in which case they are usually diagnosed with a form of depression.

Often, many patients who are diagnosed with a bipolar disorder feel much better after the diagnosis, as it helps them better understand their feelings, as well as providing some concrete ways to help make them feel better. Of course, the opposite is also true, with some patients becoming upset or feeling that the doctor is judging them.

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