5 Steps to Tell if You Have Bipolar Disorder

Have you ever wondered if you have bipolar disorder, or have been told that you may have it? Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder affecting about 1-2% of the population, commonly manifested as elevated mood alternating with depressed mood. This article will help you determine whether you, or people you care about, meet the diagnostic criteria to have bipolar disorder.

1.Find out whether you have ever had a manic episode

A manic episode is a period of time over one week when you feel extremely elevated or irritable, during which you have at least three of the following (four if mood is only irritable):

  • Distractibility (unimportant things can easily divert your attention)
  • Indiscretion (impulsive pleasurable acts with painful consequences)
  • Grandiosity (or inflated ego)
  • Flight of ideas
  • Activity increase toward goals
  • Sleep deficits (less need for sleep)
  • Talkativeness (or feels pressured to keep on talking)

2.The mnemonic for memorizing these manic criteria is "DIG FAST."
 A manic episode MUST significantly impair your daily functions. IF your symptoms do not cause marked impairment in daily functions, or if the symptoms last for less than a week, but more than 4 days, and still meet at least 3 of the 7 "DIGFAST" criteria, then it is called a hypomanic episode.

3. Find out whether you have ever had a major depressive episode

A major depressive episode is a period of time over 2 weeks when you feel sad or have lost interest or pleasure, during which you have five or more of the following:

  • Sleep problems (can't sleep, wake up early, or sleep too much)
  • Interest loss (nothing motivates you anymore)
  • Guilt (excessive feeling of guilt or worthlessness)
  • Energy decrease (feels tired everyday)
  • Concentration lacking (easily distracted)
  • Appetite changes (either not wanting to eat (more common) or eating more)
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation (moving faster or slower than usual)
  • Suicidal thoughts (or feeling you are better off dead)
4.The mnemonic for memorizing these depression criteria is "SIG E CAPS." 
To qualify for a major depressive episode, these symptoms MUST significantly impair daily functions.

5.Determine whether you have Bipolar disorder based on whether or not you have had a manic episode or a major depressive episode, or both. If you have had a manic episode (with or without a depressive episode), then you may have Bipolar I Disorder. If you have had a hypomanic episode AND a major depressive episode (during separate occasions, of course), then you may have Bipolar II disorder.

  • Remember, to have bipolar disorder, your symptoms must be severe enough to cause marked impairment in your daily function.
  • If you are a heavy drinker or you use drugs, these can both cause mood swings with the appearance of bipolar disorder.So be sure whether you have bipolar, refrain from drug or alcohol use.