What is Bipolar Disorder?

Also known as manic depressive illness, bipolar disorder is characterized by severe and disabling highs (mania) and lows (depression). Affecting 2.2 million Americans, this illness typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life, with 80% of patients experiencing multiple manic episodes and 15% ending their lives in suicide. However, effective medical treatments are available, and new research is constantly expanding the range of possible treatment options. With proper treatment, most people with bipolar disorders are able to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Bipolar Disorder is distinguished from Major Depressive Disorder by the presence of manic or hypomanic episodes. It is distinguished from Schizoaffective Disorder by the absence of psychotic symtoms (such as delusions, halucinations) during periods of stable mood.

Bipolar Disorder is really a spectrum of disorders. Bipolar I disorder is characterized by a history of at least one manic episode, and (usually) depressive episodes. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by hypomanic episodes alternating with depressive episodes. Cyclothymia is characterized by highs which fulfil some but not all criteria for hypomania and lows which fulfil some but not all criteria for depression.

Download the Mood Disorders Questionnaire

The MDQ was developed by a team of psychiatrists, researchers and consumer advocates to address a critical need for timely and accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which can be fatal if left untreated.

If your answers indicate the possibility of bipolar disorder and you would like to participate in research, please contact the Stanford Bipolar Clinic at 650-498-8459. This questionnaire is not a replacement for a diagnosis from you physician. If you have questions or would like to learn more about the questionnaire, please bring a copy of your responses to your next visit. 

For more information on the MDQ:

Hirschfeld, R. M., Williams, J. B., Spitzer, R. L., Calabrese, J. R., Flynn, L., Keck Jr, P. E., ... & Russell, J. M. (2000). Development and validation of a screening instrument for bipolar spectrum disorder: the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(11), 1873-1875.

This website and its contents are designed for informational purposes only and must not be substituted for professional care.