The Bipolar Index Quiz

There are two common misconceptions about bipolar disorder. First, most people think of it in binary terms: either you have it or don’t. Second, it is often believed that the diagnosis is derived from only one piece of evidence: current symptoms (e.g. irritability, impulsive behavior, or periods of abnormal mood.) However, experts suggest thinking of bipolar disorder as a spectrum illness meaning that it exists in varying degrees of intensity ranging from inconvenient to debilitating. Experts also suggest deriving a bipolar diagnosis from multiple lines of evidence, not merely current symptoms.

In their journal article The Bipolarity Index: a clinician-rated measure of diagnostic confidence, psychiatrists Chris Aiken, Richard Weisler, and Gary Sachs created and validated a scale to improve the assessment of bipolar disorder. This tool uses five types of evidence to evaluate for a bipolar diagnosis: mood symptoms, age of onset, course of illness, response to medications, and family psychiatric history. The goal of this index is to determine a given individual’s likelihood of having bipolar, as well as how severe their case is. A score of 50 corresponds to a presumptive positive diagnosis and higher scores imply increased illness severity.

The following quiz is adapted from The Bipolarity Index but has not undergone validity analysis (i.e. its sensitivity and specificity are currently unknown.) This quiz is NOT intended to serve as a replacement for a professional psychiatric evaluation. However, it is likely helpful as a preliminary screen for bipolar and may assist individuals in understanding the methodology of correct psychiatric diagnosis.

Responses to this quiz are anonymous.