What distinguishes a manic depression test from many other mental health screening assessments are questions designed to detect the presence of mania or hypo-mania. Manic depression, which is now commonly called bipolar disorder, is characterized by cycles of abnormal happiness or optimism. Hypo-mania is a less intense type of mania in which the "up" feelings aren't as strong. A manic depression test is available in different versions online as a self-assessment; if this type indicates a positive for bipolar disorder, a psychiatrist or psychologist can then do a more involved assessment.
Along with answering a certain number of questions on the manic depression test that suggest the presence of mania symptoms, most tests assert that the test-taker must have suffered from depression for at least two weeks. Preferably, there was a previous clinical diagnosis of depression. Interestingly, studies show that women who are bipolar often begin with a depressive episode, while more men first experience a manic cycle.
Depression on a bipolar screening test means the clinical type and not a normal feeling of sadness. The test questions designed to detect clinical depression typically ask sufferers if they are less motivated by things they once loved to do and whether there have been changes in eating and sleeping patterns. People who score positive for the depression questions but not the mania ones may be unipolar rather than bipolar.
Unipolar depression lacks the manic phase associated with bipolar disorder. If a manic depression test indicates no presence of mania, then bipolar disorder may be unlikely. Still, there can be false results, so taking several bipolar self-assessment tests may be a good idea.
In addition to questions developed to detect depressive and manic periods, or cycles, a manic depression test also usually involves the person assessing how much of a problem such episodes have caused in his or her life. This aspect of manic depression tests can help detect the severity of the mental health condition. While all self-assessment manic depression tests are made to help people taking them aware if they have any symptoms of the condition, only a qualified mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist can make the actual, accurate diagnosis.
What differs between bipolar screening tests given by mental health professionals and the self-assessments available online and in books is a more thorough approach. For example, a psychologist or psychiatrist may have the person who thinks he or she could be manic depressive complete a lifeline. The lifeline exercise involves drawing a horizontal line on paper, then adding significant life events chronologically from the earliest memory to the present. The mental health doctor will then discuss the events with the patient in more detail to see whether he or she notices a pattern that suggests cycles of manic depression.