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Is It Depression or Bipolar Disorder?


Updated May 16, 2014

Bipolar disorder is an illness that consists of alternating periods of elevated moods, called manic episodes, and depression. Mood swings run on a spectrum from mild mania (called hypomania) to more severe, debilitating highs. Periods of mania can last for hours, days, weeks or even months before the person plunges back into depression.

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is commonly misdiagnosed as depression because the manic symptoms--such as increased energy, heightened mood and increased sex drive--have a positive effect on the patient. It feels good so it's not perceived as a problem. The low periods of depression are generally what first bring a patient in for help.

Untreated or improperly treated bipolar disorder can have serious consequences for the patient. Mania can lead to poor decision making and impulsiveness that can wreak havoc in a person's life. Properly treated, however, a person with bipolar disorder can lead a peaceful and productive life without the extremes of mood.

Are you currently diagnosed with depression, but suspect you may actually have bipolar disorder? Our Manic Episode Screening Test can help you become familiar with the symptoms of mania and determine if you may have experienced a manic episode in the past. While this quiz cannot take the place of a professional psychiatric evaluation, it will give you an idea where to start a dialogue with your healthcare provider. The test is free and completely confidential.

Take the Test

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