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25 June 2007
Members of the public can now measure their lifetime experience of mania through a new web questionnaire developed by School of Medicine researchers.
The Bipolar Lifetime Mania Scale is the same test as that undertaken by entertainer Stephen Fry last year when he came to Cardiff to film a BBC documentary about his own bipolar disorder.
The test measures an individual’s place on the spectrum of manic behaviour. At one end are those who have severe and frequent manic episodes and the other are those who have only mild and infrequent periods of elevated mood.
The research team, at the department of psychological medicine, stress that the new test is in no way diagnostic. Anyone concerned about their score should discuss their symptoms and any treatment with their doctor.
The team is also asking for feedback from the public about the test. More research is needed before the scales could be used by psychiatrists as part of their diagnosis.
Nick Craddock, Professor of Psychiatry, and Scientific Advisor to MDF-The Bipolar Organisation said: "A diagnosis is helpful but cannot capture the huge variation in illness experience. To help with our research we have developed scales that help to describe a person’s lifetime experience of illness. It is likely that in the future scales like these will be used routinely in psychiatric clinics.
"We need to move away from thinking of people in terms of diagnostic categories and towards taking proper account of their lifetime experience of illness."
Professor Michael Owen, Head of Department of Psychological Medicine: "We hope that this type of new approach to clinical diagnosis will allow us to translate our scientific advances into major improvements in clinical care. Our goal in Cardiff is to use research to make life better for our patients."
The questionnaire can be found at: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/medicine/bipolar/. The Cardiff team has also recently identified a number of the genes which contribute to the risk of developing bipolar disorder.
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