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Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2009 Jan;22(1):42-9. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328315a4d2.

Rating scales in bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Mental Health Unit, Center of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.



Bipolar disorder is a complex clinical entity that presents with pleomorphic signs and symptoms varying from depression to hypomania, full-blown mania, mixed states, and psychosis. Therefore, the assessment of patients with bipolar disorder poses a difficult challenge to clinicians, who may find themselves puzzled when having to choose among the many instruments available. This paper aims at briefly reviewing these instruments.


Observer-rated and self-completed instruments for the assessment of depressive, manic, and psychotic symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder are described with emphasis on topics of increasing interest in recent times, such as the assessment of bipolar depression, self-rating of manic symptoms, daily mood monitoring, screening, and early recognition of bipolar disorder.


The use of standardized assessment instruments has many advantages as it enables clinicians to be more systematic and it allows greater precision, increased sensitivity to change, and opportunity to identify longitudinal patterns. Knowledge of available options for the assessment of patients with bipolar disorder may help clinicians and researchers to choose the most appropriate instruments for their specific needs.

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