With half a million people living with undiagnosed bipolar in the UK – and a delay of around 9.5 years to get the treatment and support they need – a leading mental health charity has created a new digital platform and Mood Tracker app to cut diagnosis time.
Bipolar UK has worked with experts from across the UK, as well as people living with bipolar, to create the ‘could it be bipolar?’ suite of tools to help people identify if they might have the condition and get a quicker diagnosis.
Launching today, the platform invites people to start by taking an evidence-based Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) which provides an instant assessment of how likely it is whether they might have bipolar, along with a video, a 20-minute eLearning course, information about symptoms and a step-by-step guide to getting a diagnosis.
The charity also teamed up with Andrew Thompson, an app developer who lives with bipolar, to create a free Mood Tracker app.
The app has been tested by nearly 7,000 people, helping them to monitor their moods, energy levels and sleep patterns.
Speaking about the app, Andrew, said: ‘My aim was to create a tool that can be as useful for people with bipolar as possible. By using it to track your daily moods, sleep patterns, emotions and any medication, you can collect the data to share with your healthcare team and spot any early warning signs of relapse.’
‘Anyone who doesn’t yet have a diagnosis can also do the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) on the app. If a medical assessment is recommended, they can then show a GP their weekly and monthly mood graphs as a first step to finding out whether or not they have bipolar.’
It’s estimated that over a million people in the UK living with bipolar and many of them manage the condition well, holding positions across all sectors – from law and medicine to retail and banking.
Speaking about digital resources, CEO of Bipolar UK, Simon Kitchen, said: ‘The symptoms of bipolar can appear at any age, and it is common for people to experience distressing symptoms for years before receiving a correct diagnosis.’
‘By getting people struggling with their mental health to ask the question ‘could it be bipolar?’ we are supporting them to take the first step on the journey to diagnosis so they can get the treatment and support to live well.’
‘The new digital platform will also help family and friends understand how best to support someone wondering if they might have bipolar.’
Over 80% of people living with bipolar told Bipolar UK that the primary benefit of diagnosis was that it gave them an explanation for their past experiences. It also helps people living with bipolar to be better understood and leads to them receiving the correct care and appropriate medication.
Simon added: ‘There isn’t a specific test for bipolar, and it doesn’t show up on a brain scan. Diagnosis depends on specific and sudden changes in mood and behaviour, not explained by something else.’
‘For people living with bipolar, their range of emotions is much wider than those of the general population, which is why our digital resources are a great way for someone who suspects they might have bipolar to monitor their moods over a few months to look for specific patterns before seeking help from a medical professional.’
Bipolar UK aims to encourage anyone struggling with their mental health to use digital resources and is asking people to share them to encourage understanding about bipolar and drastically reduce the time it takes to receive a diagnosis.