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Stress and Depression Answers :: Test for Manic Depression

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Checklist

Look for Signs of Bipolar Disorder (Mania)

Extreme mood changes characterize bipolar disorder. From high (mania) to low (depression). Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depression, manic-depressive illness, and manic-depressive disorder. Regardless of what you call it, an effective test for manic depression still eludes doctors.

This mental illness and corresponding mood instability can be serious and disabling. You may not be able to function at work, in family or social situations, or in relationships with others. The mood swings can be mild or extreme. They may come on slowly over several days or weeks or suddenly over a few minutes or hours. The mood swings may last for a few hours or for several months. Some people who suffer from bipolar disorder even become suicidal.

Bipolar disorder is hard to diagnose. There isn't any lab test for manic depression. The symptoms of the disorder are often only spotted with the onset of a severe crisis in a person's life. An accurate diagnosis sometimes takes years (and several crises) to emerge. As a rough starting point you can use the checklist below.

Read the following lists. Put a check mark by each sign that sounds like you now or in the past:

I feel like I'm on top of the world.

I feel powerful. I can do anything I want, nothing can stop me.

I have lots of energy.

I don't seem to need much sleep.

I feel restless all the time.

I feel really mad.

I have a lot of sexual energy.

I can't focus on anything for very long.

I sometimes can't stop talking and I talk really fast.

I'm spending lots of money on things I don't need and can't afford. I have poor judgment.

Friends tell me that I've been acting differently. They tell me that I'm starting fights, talking louder, and getting more angry.

I go back and forth between feeling really "up" and feeling really "down."

My ups and downs cause problems at work and at home.

If you checked several boxes in this list, call your doctor. Take the list to show your doctor. You may need to get a checkup and find out if you have bipolar disorder. This checklist is NOT a diagnosis - only your doctor can diagnose these conditions!

Because it's so difficult to diagnose, your doctor or therapist will ask detailed questions about what kind of symptoms you have and how long they last. Generally speaking, to be diagnosed as bipolar, you must have had a manic episode lasting at least a week (less if you had to be hospitalized). And during this time you must have had three or more symptoms of mania.

Estimates are that over 3 million Americans (about 1% of the population) have manic-depression. These rates are similar in other countries. It occurs equally among men and women; and it often begins between the ages of 15 and 30.

Again, it is hard to diagnose and there's no simple test for manic depression. Some people who have bipolar disorder are mistakenly thought to have depression. But effective treatment can help you get back in control. Visit your doctor. Find out for sure so you can get on the right path to a better life.

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