For the Classroom

Guess the Disorder Quiz: Bipolar Disorder

  • Published3 Jul 2018
  • Reviewed3 Jul 2018
  • Author Emma Lindberg
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN


Neurologists and psychiatrists work every day to diagnose patients. One way they do this is by observing patients and asking them to describe their symptoms. In this activity, students will fill the role of a neurologist trying to diagnose a disease or disorder based on the evidence provided.

After studying the provided materials on diseases and disorders in the eighth edition of Brain Facts, students will investigate the symptoms of an unnamed disease using a handful of clues. Students will sift through their knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases, injury, and psychiatric disorders to eliminate wrong answers and solve the mystery.

Prep Work

This activity is based on chapters 11–15 (pages 71–104) of the eighth edition of Brain Facts. Encourage students to read the chapters during class time or on their own to study for the Guess the Disorder Quiz.


  1. Provide your student with the “Disorder Clues” prompt.
  2. Ask your students to read the prompt and use the information they learned from the Brain Facts book to determine the diagnosis. This can be done individually or as a group.


After your students have completed the quiz, ask them to share their answers with the class. Ask each student or group to give their rationale as to why they chose the diagnosis they did.

Disorder Clues

People with this disorder experience very intense mood changes. Their moods swing between extreme highs and severe lows, each lasting anywhere from a few hours to several months.

High, or manic, episodes involve boundless energy, racing thoughts, and insomnia; they may also involve substance abuse and harmful behaviors like risky sex or other unsafe activities. During low, or depressive episodes, people with this disorder feel very sad and hopeless, worried, and sometimes suicidal.

Some individuals with this disorder are hypomanic: they are highly productive, feel great, and function better than normal. These changes may be outwardly subtle — only noticed by a friend or family member — but can be a clue to more intense developing mania.

This disorder is difficult to diagnose. No specific tests, other than a set of symptoms medical professionals use, differentiate it from other psychiatric disorders.


Bipolar disorder



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