Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

Diagnosing bipolar disorder involves a detailed analysis of the symptoms of the condition. Bipolar disorder is typically characterized by mood swings that range from depressive phases where a person may feel low, lethargic and suicidal through to manic phases where they may may feel excessively active, happy and jittery. Either phase may last for periods of weeks or months at a time.

Diagnosis cannot be confirmed with a brain scan or a blood test; however, there are several recommended tests that are useful in diagnosing this condition. These include:

  • A detailed physical examination
  • A detailed inspection of the history and onset of the patient's symptoms, and the duration of depressive and manic episodes. The inability to sleep is a complication common to both the manic and depressive phases. During manic phases, the person may feel too "wired-up" or excited to sleep, while during depressive phases they may feel too low and sad to sleep.
  • A brain scan and routine blood tests are also recommended. These tests may help detect brain conditions such as a brain tumor or stroke that may also cause symptoms of altered mental health. Blood is also tested to check levels of hormones such as thyroid hormone.
  • Once other medical conditions are ruled out, a detailed mental health evaluation is performed, usually by a trained mental health professional or a psychiatrist. The patient's family history of bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or depression is evaluated as well as the patient's symptoms including their duration, triggers of onset and severity. History may be obtained from the individual concerned as well as from their family, close relatives or spouse.

Presentation of bipolar disorder

In most cases, people with bipolar disorder visit the doctor while suffering from a depressive phase and having suicidal thoughts. However, some patients may present during a manic phase, particularly if they are also experiencing psychosis. Psychosis mayinvolve delusional thinking and hallucinations. People with unipolar disorder or depression do not suffer from mania and it is the presence of mania that specifically indicates bipolar disorder.



Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, July 17). Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis. News-Medical. Retrieved on July 22, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis". News-Medical. 22 July 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis". News-Medical. (accessed July 22, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis. News-Medical, viewed 22 July 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Ketogenic diet improves metabolic and mental health in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients, study finds