Bipolar Self-Evaluation

In reviewing a number of available on-line self-tests for Bipolar Disorder, we observed that they tend to be too inclusive, i.e., most people might score in the bipolar range. Here are some characteristics to consider; this is not a validated test, and there is no score, but if one or more items sound very familiar, we would suggest seeing one of us or another licensed mental health clinician for an evaluation.

Bipolar Disorder involves periods of depression (see Depression Self-Test) which alternate with periods of mania. The following characteristics can be indicative of mania (however, they may also have other causes, so a careful clinical evaluation is needed):

• Self-confidence unusually high, or even grandiose.
• A great deal of energy, even without much sleep.
• Very talkative, words come barreling out, hard to stop talking.
• Ideas come very fast, racing thoughts.
• Exaggerated drive to (a) accomplish tasks, (b) spend money, (c) jump into unrealistic projects, activities, or investments, or (d) have sex.

As you can see, mania is in many ways the opposite of depression. It is usually quite noticeable to others. In fact, if you think these features may be applicable to you, it would be a good idea to show the list to a close friend or family member and ask, “Does this sound like me?”

You may also hear the terms “hypomania” or “Bipolar Type II”, which refer to milder, more subtle (and perhaps more common) versions of the same kinds of characteristics.

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