There are a number of questionnaires and screening tools that can be helpful in making the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Two are included in this book: The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) and the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale (BSDS). The thing to remember with screening tests is that they can’t be used alone to make a diagnosis, as they’re not 100 percent accurate. What they do is help to rule out, or rule in, the likelihood that someone has a given condition.
The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) is one that is widely used and is especially helpful in teasing out the presence of past manic or hypomanic episodes. It was developed by Dr. Robert Hirshchfeld.
A positive screen, according to the authors, carries roughly a 70 percent chance that the test-taker does indeed have a bipolar spectrum disorder. A negative screen carries a 90 percent chance that the person does not have a bipolar spectrum disorder.
A second screening tool, The Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale (BSDS), created by Ronald Pies, uses descriptive sentences to help identify bipolar disorder.
Scoring the BSDS
Scoring: Each sentence checked is worth one point. Add six points for “fits me very well,” four points for “fits me fairly well,” and two points for “fits me to some degree.”
A score of 13 or above on the BSDS is considered a positive screen. With both of these tools, a positive screen should be followed by a medical evaluation for bipolar spectrum disorders.