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Why is professional help important for bipolar disorder?

Ruth White, MPH
Social Work
Only a psychiatrist or licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist, can confirm a specific clinical diagnosis of the type of bipolar disorder you may be experiencing. Diagnosis of bipolar disorder is a very complex process and requires the skill of a highly trained professional. You should not assume that having symptoms of bipolar disorder is a diagnosis of the disorder. Neither should you attempt to treat yourself with any medications. Just because your symptoms may diminish as a result of taking these actions does not mean you should avoid getting a clinical diagnosis by a mental health professional. Taking effective steps to better mental health begins with an accurate clinical diagnosis.

Because there's still no biological or medical test for the presence of bipolar disorder, diagnosis is best made by a mental health professional who makes a diagnosis using a thorough case history that includes the occurrence and history of symptoms, along with family history (if available). You can find mental health professionals through various websites, as well as through national professional associations such as the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Psychiatric Association. You can also get a referral through your general practitioner, health insurance company, or health maintenance organization.
Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

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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...

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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.