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What is a Bipolar Test?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A bipolar test is a series of questions designed by mental health professionals to screen for the brain disease that was once more well known as manic depression. Persons who think they, or people they know, may have the disorder answer the questions on the self-test as accurately as possible to see whether their score suggests the presence of bipolar disease. This test is definitely not to be used to replace an in-depth diagnosis by a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist. This type of bipolar test, especially if the score shows positive for the disorder, should be followed by seeking professional mental help to determine whether or not the results are accurate.

It's a false positive if test results indicate a person has bipolar disorder when professional mental health diagnoses conclude he or she doesn't. A false negative occurs when someone scores as not having the disease when he or she actually does have it. Of course, this last occurrence can be the most dangerous outcome of a bipolar test, as it means the disorder may be left untreated. The Black Dog Institute, a mood disorder research organization connected to the University of New South Wales and the Prince of Wales Hospital in Australia, asserts that it may take more than 10 years for a person to be properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

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The Black Dog Institute published a popular online bipolar test to help people with the disorder identify the signs and seek professional help to foster a proper diagnosis. The institute's self-assessment test to screen for bipolar, or manic depressive, disease begins with three questions, that unless are all "yeses," indicate that the person taking the screening probably doesn't have the disorder. The three questions are designed to rule out unipolar depression only, meaning that a depressed person experiences no signs of mania, or a hyper state of happiness or irritability. It also specifies that the depression experienced isn't regular sadness and has lasted at least two weeks. The main section of the self-assessment asks if test takers' upbeat emotional cycles include the ability to "see things in a new and exciting light" or if they "notice lots of coincidences" during this time.

Another popular bipolar self-screening test, also available online, was developed by Dr. Robert Hirschfield and his colleagues. Hirschfield's career in mental health found him realizing that about 70% of patients who have bipolar disorder mistakenly get diagnosed with unipolar depression. His bipolar test was created to help people who have manic depression, or bipolar, recognize symptoms of mania in themselves that may otherwise go unnoticed, so they can seek professional mental help for a diagnosis rather than leave the condition untreated. Hirschfield's test lists 12 questions that relate to symptoms of both depression and mania. A score of seven or more yes answers, plus the indication of the symptoms presenting a problem in the sufferer's life, may suggest the presence of bipolar disorder.

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