Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your doctor or other health care provider must determine if you have cyclothymia, bipolar disorder I or II, depression or another condition that may be causing your symptoms. To help pinpoint a diagnosis for your symptoms, you'll likely have several exams and tests, which generally include:

  • General medical exam. During this exam, your doctor measures your blood pressure and listens to your heart and lungs, among other things — or reviews results of recent physical exams — to determine if there could be any medical reasons for your symptoms.
  • Lab tests. These may include a complete blood count as well as thyroid tests and other blood tests. You may also have a urinalysis or tests for drug and alcohol use.
  • Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You may also fill out psychological self-assessments and questionnaires. You may be asked about substance or alcohol abuse. And with your permission, family members or close friends may be asked to provide information about your symptoms and possible episodes of mania or depression.

Diagnostic criteria for cyclothymia

To be diagnosed with cyclothymia, you must meet the criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for cyclothymia include those below.

  • You've had numerous periods of elevated mood (hypomania) and many periods of depressive symptoms for at least two years.
  • Your periods of stable moods usually last less than two months.
  • Your symptoms significantly affect you socially, at work, at school or in other important functions.
  • You don't have manic episodes, major depression or schizoaffective disorder — a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression.
  • Your symptoms aren't caused by substance abuse or a medical condition.
June 13, 2012

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