We all experience mood changes — but what if these changes are sudden and last for days instead of hours?
How do you know when your mood changes are a sign of something more?
In the past, bipolar disorder was called “manic depression.” Although antiquated, the former name refers to the extreme shifts in mood and energy that characterize the disorder.
Like many mental illnesses, the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from individual to individual. The main characteristic of bipolar disorder is extreme shifts in mood––often called “highs and lows”––that can last for weeks or longer.
Symptoms of a manic episode can include:
- delusions of grandeur/inflated self-esteem
- sleeping very little
- having a higher threshold for harmful behavior, such as gambling or driving recklessly
- irritability and aggression
- talking quickly
- having intense self-confidence
Symptoms of a depressive episode can include:
- feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- feeling hopeless
- lost interest in things that used to make you happy
- lack of excitement about the future
- suicidal ideations
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) describes two main types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I disorder: involves manic episodes that last for 1 week or longer. Depressive episodes aren’t required for a bipolar I diagnosis, though some people with bipolar I do have depressive episodes. Bipolar I can be diagnosed after one episode of mania.
- Bipolar II disorder: involves hypomanic episodes –– which are less intense than full manic episodes –– for 4 days and depressive episodes for 2 weeks. While bipolar I is based more on manic episodes, bipolar II is characterized more by debilitating depressive episodes.
This bipolar test is designed for anyone who thinks they may benefit from an evaluation for bipolar disorder.
The items below will help you determine whether you may need additional help and professional support for the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
A mental health professional can also help determine if your issues might be a symptom of bipolar or another mental health condition and recommend treatment if needed.
This online screening is not a definitive tool. It will not conclusively guarantee that you may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
But this brief bipolar test can be helpful if you’re experiencing symptoms and want to determine if additional help or support from a mental health professional is the right option.
Only a trained medical professional, such as a doctor or mental health professional, can help you determine your next best steps.
People with bipolar disorder tend to experience extreme mood swings, varying from manic to depressive episodes.
People with untreated bipolar disorder may find it hard to focus, accomplish daily tasks, and maintain healthy relationships. But treatments for bipolar disorder, such as medication and therapy, are quite effective. With the proper support, people with bipolar disorder can lead full, healthy lives.
What are the signs of bipolar disorder?
While each individual is different, the main symptom of bipolar disorder is experiencing both manic and depressive episodes––which can sometimes last for weeks.
The main diagnostic criteria is extreme shifts between moods, sometimes referred to as “highs and lows.”
What tests are used to diagnose bipolar disorder?
There are screening tests such as the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ), but the best way to get a reliable diagnosis is to see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.
What can mimic bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder can be misdiagnosed as many other conditions, including:
- major depression
- borderline personality disorder
- substance use disorders