Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ)

Screens for bipolar symptoms linked to bipolar spectrum disorders.

In the text below the calculator there is more information about the way the screening works and on how the questionnaire results are interpreted.

The mood disorder questionnaire is recommended in the screening of bipolar symptoms in psychiatric outpatient population.

The MDQ is aimed at identifying those who suffer from bipolar spectrum disorders (bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia).

It consists of a part I with 13 questions referring to bipolar symptoms and a part II with 2 questions, referring to family history of mental disease, past personal diagnoses and the perceived disease severity.

A positive screening outcome from the mood disorder questionnaire needs to satisfy all three of the following criteria:

■ 7 positive answers out of the 13 questions in part I;

■ Positive response to the first question of part II (question 14);

■ Moderate or severe response to the second question of part II (question 15).

Part I

Has there ever been a period of time when you were not your usual self and...
1you felt so good or so hyper that other people thought you were not your normal self, or you were so hyper that you got into trouble?
2you were so irritable that you shouted at people or started fights or arguments?
3you felt much more self-confident than usual?
4you got much less sleep than usual and found you didn't really miss it?
5you were much more talkative or spoke faster than usual?
6thoughts raced through your head or you couldn't slow your mind down?
7you were so easily distracted by things around you that you had trouble concentrating or staying on track?
8you had much more energy than usual?
9you were much more active or did many more things than usual?
10you were much more social or outgoing than usual; for example, you telephoned friends in the middle of the night?
11you were much more interested in sex than usual?
12you did things that were unusual for you or that other people might have thought were excessive, foolish, or risky?
13spending money got you or your family into trouble?

Part II

14If you checked YES to more than one of the above, have several of these ever happened during at least a four day period of time?
15How much of a problem did any of these cause you -- like being unable to work; having family, money, or legal troubles; getting into arguments or fights?
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MDQ explained

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) is a self-report screening tool that focuses on the recognition and prevalence of bipolar disorder signs.

This is used in the evaluation of outpatient psychiatric populations and refers to all the bipolar spectrum disorders (bipolar I, II and cyclothymia).

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition characterized by the alternation of periods of elation (manic episodes) with periods of depression and associated psychotic symptoms.

The MDQ consists of 15 questions divided in two parts. Part I contains 13 questions that refer to most common bipolar disorder symptoms whilst part II questions refer to family history of mental disease, past personal diagnoses and to perceived disease severity.

The questionnaire is straightforward and takes about 5 minutes to administer. The patients should be advised to reflect upon each question and to aim for answers that are as accurate as possible.

The questionnaire can be used in subsequent evaluation as well.


Result interpretation

The outcome of the MDQ screening method is classed as either positive or negative screen. Positive screening cases need to satisfy all three criteria:

■ 7 positive answers out of the 13 questions in part I;

■ Positive response to the first question of part II (question 14);

■ Moderate or severe response to the second question of part II (question 15).

Patients who are rapidly and correctly screened can benefit from faster access to treatment if their symptoms are in the bipolar spectrum of mental diseases.

National DMDA studies have shown that when it comes to mental health disorders, up to 70% of patients are initially misdiagnosed and may wait up to years to receive the correct diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.

The sooner the diagnosis is put for patients with bipolar disorder and the sooner mood stabilizers and therapy are introduced, the more positive the outcomes.

Because this is also a mental illness with high rates of suicide, early screening and rapid initiation of treatment end up being the more important for patients at risk.


About the original study

The MDQ was created following a study by Hirschfeld et al. in 2000, on a cohort of 198 patients from five outpatient clinics.

The self-report questionnaire was aimed at screening bipolar spectrum disorders. A separate research conducted telephone diagnostic interviews based on the bipolar module of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.

Results have been compared and showed that a score of 7 or more in the MDQ yielded good sensitivity (0.73) and very good specificity (0.90).

The MDQ is recommended to be used in the screening of psychiatric outpatient population.


Original source

Hirschfeld, R. et al. Development and Validation of a Screening Instrument for Bipolar Spectrum Disorder: The Mood Disorder Questionnaire. American Journal of Psychiatry 157:11 (November 2000) 1873-1875

Other references

1. Robert M. A. Hirschfeld, M.D. The Mood Disorder Questionnaire: A Simple, Patient-Rated Screening Instrument for Bipolar Disorder. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2002; 4(1): 9–11.

2. Lish JD, Dime-Meenan S, Whybrow PC, et al. The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (DMDA) survey of bipolar members. J Affect Disord. 1994; 31:281–294.

3. Akiskal HS, Pinto O. The evolving bipolar spectrum: prototypes I, II, III, IV. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1999; 22:517–524.

Specialty: Psychiatry

System: Nervous

Objective: Screening

Type: Questionnaire

No. Of Items: 15

Year Of Study: 2000

Abbreviation: MDQ

Article By: Denise Nedea

Published On: August 26, 2017

Last Checked: August 26, 2017

Next Review: August 26, 2023