Diagnosing Manic Depression – Lab Tests and Major Symptoms

Manic Depression, or Bipolar Disorder, is probably the hardest to diagnose in the numerous psychological abnormalities known to us. This is not because the diagnosis requires strength and agility, or is only affordable to the likes of Donald Trump. The truth is that not many people are aware of the symptoms. Even if they are, the symptoms are quite often mistaken for other disorders. As much as I want to, I can not entirely blame the doctors. Not all patients are continuously manic or depressive. They can, at times, appear symptom-free! Most patients are diagnosed well into their thirties, because their behavior earlier was just called a “phase” of life. Random debate: Is it possible every teenager is a loony?

Excessive happiness, risk taking behavior, high energy levels, lesser need of sleep, fantastic and frequent sex added with massive self esteem are symptoms of mania (sounds like the woman I wanted to marry). In extreme cases, paranoia and delusions are also present. These symptoms can be present for at least a week. The near exact opposite occurs in depression. Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, fatigue, noticeable loss/increase in appetite, unexplained physical complaints, suicidal inclinations and attempts and decreased sex drive are often seen (minus the suicide bit, this sounds like woman I did marry!).

If you have experienced these symptoms in a relative, friend or even yourself, consult a psychiatrist. If there have been suicidal inclinations or attempts, do not wait till the end of the 9th innings… GO NOW! The diagnosis does not have to be made the same day. It can be a long and arduous wait. The psychiatrist must consult your family’s medical history, your medical history, assess your experiences and thoughts and counter check his own decisions with further tests. I know it sounds depressing, not as depressing as The Rangers losing the World Series, but taxing none the less!

Since manic depression contains symptoms of schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD and psychosis, the diagnosis is extremely hard to make. A random fact: Depression can also cause diarrhea in some cases. In a “World of the Unaware”, it would undoubtedly be treated as if you just had something bad to eat, i.e. dinner made by me. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that you be aware of the other symptoms as well!

To add to your wealth of knowledge, there are two forms of manic depression itself, Bipolar I and its milder version Bipolar II! Now don’t start worrying about the complexity of the checks and balances, they are made to ensure the accuracy of the diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there are no physical tests to confirm the disorder’s presence in a patient. Blood tests and scans are prescribed to rule out other illnesses, but can not be used to confirm manic depression. Confirmation is provided by a complete psychiatric evaluation by a qualified professional (not your grandmother incase you were wondering).

Medication is often a recommended solution and is prescribed according to the individual’s need. I must advise you to always consider getting a second or even a third opinion. It is nothing to be ashamed of and is your right as a patient. Also, please keep your loved ones informed of your current emotional and mental state. Be sure to educate yourself and those around you about your condition incase of emergencies. And finally, please do not tell my wife about the girl I wanted to marry! I do not want a beating.

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