Bipolar Disorder Assessment should be done by a professional. Here are some things they should look for and discuss at an assessment:
If you are the person experiencing mood changes, a friend or family member may mention it to you or you might come to the conclusion on your own. Your inquiry oftentimes starts with looking at information on the internet.
This is where the assessing begins. People then usually go to their primary care doctor. If they think they meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, they will refer them to a psychiatrist or some place/person that can better diagnose them.
The assessment usually starts with surveys or questionnaires. However, it should be more thorough and in depth. It should cover the person’s life including their current circumstances, their triggers, the way they view the problem, coping strategies, and where they will get support. An evaluation can result in other diagnoses before the correct one is found and can take 5 years to figure out.
During the evaluation period, the person doing the diagnosis should go over several things including:
- Do you have any history with mental illness in your family?
- What makes you think you have bipolar disorder?
- What is your physical health like?
- What are your sources of stress and how do you deal with it?
- What are your goals?
- What are your currently struggling with?
- What are your triggers?
- What are the warning signs?
- What were all the previous episodes like and what was it like in between the mood changes?
- What are you individual strengths?
- How do you cope?
- What are your support networks?
It can be difficult to make a proper diagnosis for several reasons. That is because the experiences are usually misidentified as unipolar or depression first. The hypomnic mood states are often missed. That is why when be assessed, it is important that it is very thorough.
It can be difficult to figure out what normal behavior is and therefore hard to determine what hypomania would look like for that person.
Also, other things can present like bipolar disorder, but aren’t. For example it could be a head injury, trauma, a tumor, diabetes, thyroid problems, among others. Many times, alcohol or drug abuse masks the bipolar disorder as people will self medicate. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the underlying cause.
If the assessment is done correctly and the person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder then that is just the beginning of a long road the person and their psychiatrist will endure to figure out ways to help them.