How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
Each month, a different expert from our Scientific Advisory Board will answer your questions about bipolar disorder research and treatment.
This month's expert:
Eduard Vieta, M.D., Ph.D.
How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
Bipolar disorder is diagnosed using clinical criteria, based on a number of symptoms and their severity and duration. This means that there is no unequivocal objective way to confirm the diagnosis yet. However, if someone fulfills the criteria that are described in either the DSM-5 or the ICD-10 (the two systems that are used for that), the diagnosis is undoubtful and the potential benefit of treatment is very high.
The problem is that quite many people have some of the symptoms but not all, and therefore do not qualify for the diagnosis despite having many of its features and consequences. The use of clinical criteria is still the best system until the ongoing research can provide ways of confirming the diagnosis which are not exclusively based on symptoms, as in other areas of medicine. If anyone has reasonable doubts on his/her diagnosis, it may be good to get a second opinion from another specialist.
About Dr. Vieta:
Eduard Vieta is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Barcelona and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Hospital Clinic, where he also leads the Bipolar Disorders Program in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
Read his full biography