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Educational Activity

Setting the Stage for Success or Failure: Making an Accurate Diagnosis of Bipolar Depression

Henry A. Nasrallah, MD

Published: June 24, 2015

Article Abstract

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is difficult to make when a depressed patient can provide no evidence of having experienced mania or hypomania, either because the elevated mood states are not recognized as periods of illness or because depression is the initial episode and the patient has yet to experience the other polarity of the disorder. In these instances, clinicians can investigate other signs and symptoms that may indicate bipolar disorder, including family history, onset, irritability, hypersomnia, weight gain, and comorbid anxiety or substance abuse, among others. A patient with depression who exhibits any of these characteristics cannot be definitively diagnosed with bipolar depression, but these signs should indicate to the clinician that bipolarity is a possibility and further investigation is warranted.

From the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

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Find more articles on this and other psychiatry and CNS topics:
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders

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