What is the role of lab studies in the evaluation of bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness)?

Updated: May 30, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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A number of reasons exist for obtaining selected laboratory studies in patients with bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness (MDI). An extensive range of tests is indicated, because bipolar disorder encompasses both depression and mania and because a significant number of medical causes for each state exists. The basic principle remains, "Do not miss a treatable medical cause for the mental status."

Second, the condition necessitates use of a number of medications that require certain body systems to be working properly. For example, lithium requires an intact genitourinary (GU) system and can affect certain other systems, and certain anticonvulsants can suppress bone marrow.

Third, because bipolar illness is a lifelong disorder, performing certain baseline studies is important to establish any long-term effects of the medications.

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