Bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on several different factors. For a person to receive a bipolar disorder diagnosis, they must exhibit at least one manic or depressive episode. According to the DSM-V, for bipolar disorder to be diagnosed, a manic episode must present at least three criteria of mania and the depressive episode must present 5 criteria of depression, within a two week period. Physical examinations could be used to determine a client’s physical health, but they have little to do with helping to diagnose a mental or emotional disorder. Many psychologists will base the diagnosis on the discussions they have with the client. The psychologist will learn if the client is capable of describing certain types of behaviors and can give examples of how the behaviors have begun to impact their lives. Intense mood swings, increased irritability, and depression are just a few of the most common symptoms psychologists identify with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder offers many distinctive signs that, by themselves, could be more easily controlled. When combined with other symptoms, however, the client can feel overwhelmed and that their lives are out of control. Severe bouts of depression, increased mood swings, and the inability to cope with constant stressors are all indications that a bipolar disorder diagnosis may be appropriate. Manic episodes are often the strongest factors psychologists have when delivering a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Psychologists will often have discussions that allow them to wade through the many emotions clients experience during their day-to-day lives and separate those from the manic episodes that are marked indicators of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar treatment options often include both psychotherapy and mood stabilizing medications. Counseling and behavioral therapies in combination with different types of medications are often very effective in treating symptoms and preventing extreme manic or depressive episodes. The combination of therapy and medication is determined based on the individual's experience with symptoms and episodes, their diagnosis of Bipolar I or Bipolar II, and their environment. Each individual is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and an appropriate treatment plan is developed to fit their particular needs.