bipolar disorder, Dr. Paul Markovitz  Q. I was diagnosed with Bipolar quite some time ago and prescribed Lithium to treat it. I was told it was diagnosed by a simple blood test to test 'salt' levels of which my levels were incredibly low. However, I read in your column that there is no medical test for this condition. I'm now a little confused - do I have Bipolar or not? I certainly displayed all the right symptoms for this to be diagnosed and quite freely admit that my life was 'off the rails' for a long time until diagnosis.

I was on the medication for a very long time (and was told it was a permanent thing) but began to feel like a zombie .. I couldn't even get the slightest bit angry or happy if I tried to .. my mood was completely neutral ALL of the time. Not having a great relationship with my doctor at the time I decided to stop taking the medication. This helped immensely and returned me to what I felt was a 'normal' state. I've never taken Lithium since (almost 4 years now) and don't feel a need to. I'm aware of my moods and can generally keep them in check without the intervention of medication.

My father is also a sufferer of Bipolar.

Was my doctor correct in telling me it was diagnosed by 'salt' levels in the blood??

  A. If you behave like a bipolar, that is how the diagnosis is made. There is no blood test to see if you are a bipolar. There are not any blood tests available anywhere to tell if you have a psychiatric illness. The only blood test which might be related, is to measure the amount of lithium in your blood after you start treatment to make sure there is enough lithium being taken to work.