Online Bipolar Tests: How Much Can You Trust Them?
Ideas are coming to mind faster than I can process them, so fast that it’s irritating. With my paranoid heart rate I get on doing 100 things at a time and I’m convinced I’m about to come up with the next great thing. I’m inclined to getting things down before I loose the genius in my racing thoughts. Sleep, resting, distractions are out of question; haters & losers will try to lead me astray with their “reasonable” thinking. They must have bored themselves to death with their unipolar imagination, they sure did bore me. My thoughts are spinning out of control & I’m raving in ecstasy, yet deep inside I know that the precipice of doom is right around the corner.
Bipolar Disorder, The Unique Mental Rollercoaster
Bipolar disorder (formerly manic depressive disorder or manic depression) is a psychiatric condition in the class of mood disorders with occurrence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, energy or cognition levels. The condition is usually accompanied with depressive & extremely low episodes, thus the term “bipolar”, as two ends.
The Self-Diagnosis Dichotomy
Just as with physical illness, mental illness generally requires the examination by a medical professional and the resultant diagnosis and prescribed treatment, if any; a bipolar test is no different. The dichotomy is this: human beings have a propensity toward making self-diagnosis match what they suspect (or, strangely, hope) is their illness, be that mental or physical. By taking an online test, the individual is virtually ensuring they will “test positive” for what they believe ails them, and a bipolar disorder test is likely to have the results the potential patient seeks.
Additionally, online tests can’t even provide accurate diagnosis for simple medical conditions; something as complex as bipolar disorder takes months & possibly years to be correctly diagnosed even by mental specialists, which obviously leads us to asking how much we can rely on the so called online bipolar test that certain websites claim to provide. Well, I’ll let you decide … or will I?
It is a combination of psychotherapy and prescription drugs that generally controls manic depression, so even if testing bipolar disorder online were a possible task, self-treating is would be impossible anyways.
The other issue with bipolar tests is, again strangely, their social acceptance, even popularity. With high–profile personalities like Carrie Fisher, Jim Carey, Sting, Robin Williams, Ozzy Osbourne, Amy Winehouse, and Robert Downey Jr. admitting to being “bipolar” (or more commonly known as “manic depressive”) it has become almost fashionable to have the condition. The trouble with this, besides the obvious celebrity cult status, is that many truly bipolar individuals are not being properly tested and suffering unnecessarily because they do not want to align themselves with “sick” celebrities, many of whom have died, possibly as a result; Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe and Kurt Cobain come to mind.
More On Self-Diagnosis & Benefits of Documenting Bipolar Depression Symptoms
Before any bipolar disorder test is conducted, whether in a medical setting or ..“coughs”.. in front of your home computer, there are some important facts to consider. Authentic bipolar disorder is not just a passing moment of the blues and/or euphoria with a clear and definable trigger. Bliss as a reaction to, for example, a marriage proposal or birth of a baby, is rooted in a happy event and does not in any way represent a state of manic mental illness. Sadness in the wake of a loved one’s death or the loss of love is legitimate, but not a mental illness. The difference between these life events and real manic depression is vast.
Given that it can take qualified clinical psychiatrists years to make an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder, it is unlikely that a layperson (this means you!) can do it any faster or more correctly. You may think you know yourself better than anyone else does, but you have no objectivity whatsoever, nor the medical credentials to risk making a diagnosis.
There is an exception. For those who seriously suspect they or a loved one might be suffering from manic depression, an exploration of its symptoms may be helpful so that you can learn the facts of the illness and then document the circumstances with the individual in question; this will assist you in choosing the right doctor to complete the diagnosis and in your understanding of the management of manic depression. Being knowledgeable is important, but self-diagnosis can be dangerous. What is more dangerous is the incorrect management of a condition you believe you have, but do not.
Some online bipolar disorder tests have a fee attached. The hooks that get you to these websites seem innocuous, but once you sign up for a bipolar test, you may have to create and account and pay for the test. Better you spend your money seeing a doctor who can refer you to the most suitable psychiatric specialist.
With names like “Bipolar Test”, “The Depression Self Test” and “Depression Questionnaire”, online tests minimize the seriousness of mental illness and help to perpetuate the myth that mental illness, unlike a physical ailment, is “all in your head”. Mental illness is every bit as legitimate an illness as cancer and heart disease; no one maligns them… Cute quiz names undermine the gravity of mental illness and invalidate those who truly suffer from them. Another example is the “Geriatric Depression Test”. Seniors are among the most depressed people on earth. An expression that is widely known is: old age isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s true. Many older people have restricted incomes and declining health. Of course that doesn’t make them happy! A test for this is cruel and can only add to any regrets and sorrows of their fading years. Think about it, would you take an online cancer test?
Developed in 1961 by Aaron Beck and three colleagues, “The Beck Depression Inventory” (BDI) has been used in diagnoses by doctors, but also in self-diagnosis by individuals, since it was first published. While it is professionally compiled and has been updated twice, its 21 questions are widely regarded as being insufficient to diagnose much more than an occasional bout of the blues. Still, laypersons rely upon this test as the definitive affirmation of their mental state. The BDI is hard to find online due to copyright issues, but it is a self-assessment for depression that holds some legitimacy. It is not, however, an effective method of accurate diagnosis of depression; it can only assist in the path towards a proper medical diagnostic process that may take months or years.
Understanding Diagnosis of Manic Depression?
As with any disease there are symptoms of bipolar disorder. The list of bipolar disorder symptoms is long. Normally, bipolar disorder has few if any psychotic elements, but the key aspects of it are extreme moods, completely out of control of the individual who is suffering from them.
Accurate diagnosis of manic depression or bipolar disorder is complex and highly involved. It takes into account a set of explicit symptoms as displayed over a long period of time, and takes into account the history of the individual presenting the symptoms. It examines such factors as genetic predisposition to manic depression, brain abnormalities that may contribute physiologically to the illness, even the occurrence of seizures that may have done damage to certain parts of the brain. Genes, emotional trauma, as well as past physical trauma may play a role in the propensity of an individual towards bipolar disorder. When you consider the range of possible causes, it becomes fairly obvious that an online bipolar test is unlikely to deliver precise results.
The chief reason that a doctor should be the only source for bipolar disorder diagnosis and treatment is that the symptoms of bipolar disorder can easily be confused with other similar psychological illness and personality disorders. For example, narcissistic, antisocial personality disorder, schizophrenia may share similar symptoms.
The other thing that can be confused with bipolar disorder, if you are not a medical professional (and even they sometimes need time to sort the difference) is the suppression of emotions. This is more common in men, who tend to keep feelings under wraps, than in women who tend to express emotion more openly. If feelings are kept in check, the emotions can well within and build to a crescendo, so once they are let loose they come out like a cannonball of highs and lows, of mixed anger and joy, not unlike the so-called “mixed” episodes of manic depression. Needles to say, bottling feelings is unhealthy, but does not make for a medically verifiable condition such as bipolar disorder.
If I Suspect I Am Bipolar, What Are My Clues?
Clinical depression sufferers find themselves with a set of symptoms that, in essence, slow them down. They feel lethargic, “down”, hopeless. The difference between clinical depression and episodic bipolar disorder is, in a nutshell, that the clinically depressed suffer only (at least, primarily) from depression, sometimes prolonged, whereas manic-depressive individuals suffer, doubly, from episodes of clinical depression and unrealistic euphoria. Sometimes both at the same time! At least one manic or hypomanic episode is required for diagnosis of bipolar disorder; depression doesn’t necessarily have to occur in order to be diagnosed with manic depression, but it most often does.
The Bantam Medical Dictionary defines manic depression or bipolar disorder as:
“a severe mental illness causing repeated episodes of depression, mania or both. These episodes can be precipitated by upsetting events, but are out of proportion to these causes. Sometimes chronic depression or chronic mania can result.”
The dictionary goes on to explain causes and treatments, including a mention of one of the most common drugs used to effectively control the severity and reduce the frequency of manic depression episodes. In extreme cases, which are not very common, manic or depressive phases of the illness can cause hallucinations and delusions, more commonly seen in more severe psychotic illnesses like ex. schizophrenia.
Understanding a Manic Episode
A manic episode is one side of bipolar disorder that places the person in a state of extreme, unjustified euphoria. This has no significant cause, even though a small positive event may serve as the initial trigger; it soon blows out of control. Many people with bipolar disorder report that they have a “feeling” when this manic episode is about to begin; they feel a weird shift in their perspective, and they can’t do anything about this impending mood adjustment. The manic episode may last days or even months, punctuated overall by a feeling of invincibility and grandiosity.
Hypomania or mania may feel like it’s the best drug you’ve ever taken, your brain is working on overdrive, creative thinking is joyfully overwhelming, you feel confident, like you can do anything, happy, loving, giving & productive. You take on many projects & you may not sleep for days. You want it all, there isn’t a possible compromise & you “know” you can do it.
Everything feels great & possible, there are no worries; you can may end up spending insane amounts on your credit cards or even end up purchasing a vehicle. You may wake up 2am at night & start baking cookies, leave them half way done & move to something else. You may suddenly pack your things and move without giving it any proper thought.
Others may experience paranoia, uncontrollable laughter, increased heart rate, incredibly fast verbal outburst, anger, aggression, irritability, overhyperness (like you’ve just had 100 cups of coffee), experience of racing thoughts, you can’t finish your sentences or even your own thoughts, it feels like your head is spinning out of control.
Are you following it yet?
Out of body experience, delusions & hallucinations may be experienced in extreme cases, like believing that you were kidnapped by aliens, hearing voices or watching yourself as a third party.
Symptoms of Manic Depression
The Feelings/Acts of Euphoria May Include
• Increased senses
• Being over-hyper
• Being overtly goal oriented
• Mental disorganization
• Being easily distracted
• Very rapidly changing thought patterns
• Abnormally heightened self-esteem (often borders on delusions)
• Cocky or arrogant behavior
• Unlimited belief in self
• A shift in ethics and approach to risk
• Experimenting with recreational drugs, gambling, unprotected sex, or crimes (shop-lifting is a common one)
Complete list of symptoms of mania & hypomania can be found here
Manic Depression Symptoms
What is known as “hypomania” produces much the same symptoms, but in a lesser degree of severity, and with almost no psychosis involved. However, 5-15% of those who experience hypomania go on to endure full-blown manic episodes.
In severe cases of the manic episode, some victims have engaged in behaviors they normally abhor; when challenged they may become violent, utter threats or attack physically, and some become suicidal.
Conversely, the depressive episodes show mostly opposing symptoms, but some are curiously similar to manic episode symptoms.
• A sense of abject failure
• Sense of utter helplessness
• Apathy and indifference
• The absence of emotions
• Feeling of weight
• Lack of appetite
• Insomnia (Insomnia, as previously noted, also forms part of the manic episode, and can be dangerous; it’s always insidious. In a depressed state, the lack of sleep creates the fear of lack of sleep and results in insomnia. The cycle is hard, if not impossible, to break without medical intervention.)
• Unwillingness to get out of bed
• Eating too late at night
• Personal neglect
• Excessive worry
• Unjustified feeling of stress
• Inability to enjoy anything
• Headache and nausea
• Obsessive/compulsive behavior
For complete list of depression symptoms & further understanding of them follow the link below
A bipolar person may endure both extremes at the same timeframe, generally with rapidly alternating mood. Mixed episodes lash conflict upon their victims and result in confusion; this is a dangerous time in terms of suicidal thoughts and actions. Luckily, mixed episodes tend to be shorter, and they affect fewer sufferers.
No online bipolar test can come close to making an assessment of this type.
Answers to Questions:
I Think I’m Experiencing A Lot of These Symptoms. Am I a Bipolar?
If you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms on a frequent or regular basis, before you jump to possibly incorrect conclusions, please try to ensure that other “factors” are not present and thereby causing the symptoms. Example might be the existence of another medical condition, the use (or abuse) of recreational or prescription drugs or alcohol, or the aftermath of extreme trauma.
In any case, unless you are having suicidal thoughts or get involved in dangerous or life threatening activities, there is no reason to overreact. Make an appointment with a mental health specialist & make sure your highs & lows are extreme enough to qualify for bipolar disorder or any other mental disorder for that matter. Chances are it’s not what you think it is.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or feel your life or livelihood is under treat, contact a doctor immediately, call suicide hotline, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Are You Saying Online Bipolar Tests Are Dangerous?
Not exactly. If you find yourself interested in a “bipolar test”, for personal reasons or just out of curiosity, then online bipolar disorder tests (providing you don’t have to pay one cent for them) can be entertaining. That said, they should not be taken seriously.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. The only way to properly tell of you have bipolar disorder is under the care, scrutiny and testing of a qualified psychiatrist, and even then over a prolonged period sufficient for the doctor to observe your many states of mind. Do not trust online bipolar disorder tests for anything more than a glimpse into your individuality.
If you suspect that you or a loved one suffers from bipolar disorder, pass on the online bipolar tests, and seek medical intervention.