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Who can diagnose bipolar disorder?

Dr. Ruth White, MPH
Social Work Specialist

The first step in getting effective treatment for bipolar disorder is to get a comprehensive and accurate diagnosis. The best source for a diagnosis is an assessment by a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist, or family practitioner. It's best to seek diagnosis from a psychiatrist, a medical doctor specializing in mental and psychological health who can also prescribe medications. You also can get a diagnosis from other professionals, such as your family practitioner, psychologist, or other mental health professional (for example, a licensed social worker or other trained psychotherapist). These other professionals can diagnose you and develop a treatment plan but some cannot prescribe medications. (However, some nurse practitioners and other selected professionals can prescribe medications in some states.)

Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

More About this Book

Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

After receiving a bipolar diagnosis, you need clear answers. Bipolar 101 is a straightforward guide to understanding bipolar disorder. It includes all the information you need to control your...
Ms. Julie A. Fast
Mental Health Specialist

A diagnosis should be made by a licensed psychiatrist, although nowadays many people are diagnosed by general practitioners or other mental health professionals who may or may not have the necessary skills to treat the disorder. It is important for you to understand that while some psychotherapists are qualified to diagnose (or treat) bipolar disorder, not all have sufficient training. It is important that you or your loved one is evaluated by a mental health professional who specializes in treating severe mental illnesses. In other words, no matter who has made the diagnosis, it is essential that the diagnosis be clear and correct.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)

More About this Book

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)

Maintaining a relationship is hard enough without the added challenges of your partner’s bipolar disorder symptoms. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder offers information and step-by-step advice...

Continue Learning about Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

Why is it important to get a diagnosis if I have bipolar disorder?
Ruth White, MPHRuth White, MPH
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How can I help my doctor diagnose bipolar disorder?
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It's very important that you bring to your first or second visit a journal, logs, and an informa...
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Can I test myself for bipolar disorder?
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How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
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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.