Bipolar disorder typically develops during the adolescent years. One of the signs of bipolar disorder is a condition known as "hypomania." During this phase there is a sudden rush of unusual energy the patient often perceives as productivity. Left untreated, however, hypomania can progress to severe mania and in some people, is followed by depression.
A true manic episode is diagnosed if an elevated mood occurs with three or more of the symptoms related to sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior most of the day, nearly every day, for at least one week. If irritability is present, then four or more symptoms are required for diagnosis.
A depressive episode is said to exist if five or more symptoms exist for most of the day, every day, for two weeks or more.
A psychiatrist is usually the type of doctor who makes the determination of bipolar disorder. Frequently blood and urine tests are done to rule out drug use as the cause of symptoms, or certain illnesses such as thyroid disorder.