When doctors do suspect bipolar disorder, they may use a few different approaches to make the diagnosis:
- a physical exam to rule out any other medical conditions that could cause your symptoms, such as thyroid disease
- a mental health evaluation, which may include a questionnaire and interviews with family members
- a mood-charting diary to keep track of your sleep patterns and daily moods
- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which can be used to compare your symptoms with the official description
If you’re worried that you might have bipolar disorder, the best thing to do is educate yourself about mood disorders and their symptoms. Then share your list of symptoms with your doctor.
It can be harder to address if you’re concerned about a friend or loved one having bipolar disorder. Ask for help from other friends or family members. People with bipolar disorder often deny any problems, especially during manic episodes. Think of bipolar disorder as you would any other serious disease, and get professional help right away.