What tests will my parent's doctor use to diagnose bipolar disorder?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
To make a bipolar disorder diagnosis, your parent's doctor will perform several examinations and tests. Some of these exams and tests will rule out more serious health problems, such as thyroid disease, that can cause similar symptoms in older adults. Treating these problems may improve the symptoms. Other tests will be done to review your parent's emotional and mental state and to see whether your parent's bipolar disorder mood symptoms fit the criteria for bipolar disorder outlined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Tests and exams may include: a physical examination that includes your parent's height, weight, vital signs, and other necessary evaluations; laboratory tests that include a complete blood count (CBC) to see if your parent is anemic or has an infection, a thyroid blood test, and other blood tests that may check for kidney and liver problems; a urinalysis to check for alcohol and drug use; a psychological evaluation in which a doctor or mental health provider talks to your parent directly to understand the different mood swings and thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns; psychological self-assessments and questionnaires. You and other family members may provide information about your parent's behavior and symptoms, including descriptions of mania or depressive episodes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.