The Hypomania Checklist (HCL-32) is a screening tool widely used in Europe for finding subtle bipolarity in people with depression. It’s a simple list of subtle feelings and behaviors that often occur during hypomania. You may find it useful if you’re asking “do I really have bipolar disorder?” or wondering if your loved one might have it.
Remember, however, that this is not exactly the right question. As at the Harvard bipolar clinic, we should instead be asking “how bipolar are you?” In their Bipolarity Index, hypomania or mania only account for one fifth of the possible score. The other 4/5th’s of the points possible come from other factors such as family history, age of onset of depression, course of the depressions since, and response to medications. (If that’s not familiar information, go back to the Diagnosis page…)
Thus you should not look at the HCL-32 as a “yes or no” tool for detecting bipolar disorder. It’s simply a handy way to check what should be considered when looking for hypomania or mania — which is just one part of the story. Okay, with that reminder, here are the 32 items, starting with Question #3 below. (Or you can just print the list of 32 items).
At different times in their life everyone experiences changes or swings in energy, activity and mood (“highs and lows” or “ups and downs”). The aim of this questionnaire is to assess the characteristics of the “high” periods.
1. First of all, how are you feeling today compared to your usual state?
Much worse than usual
Worse than usual
A little worse than usual
Neither better nor worse than usual
A little better than usual
Better than usual
Much better than usual
2. Compared to other people, my level of activity energy and mood: (Not how you feel today, but how you are on average)
is always rather stable and even
is generally higher
is generally lower
repeatedly shows periods of ups and downs
3. Please try to remember a period when you were in a “high” state (while not using drugs or alcohol). In such a state:
- I need less sleep
- I feel more energetic and more active
- I am more self-confident
- I enjoy my work more
- I am more sociable (make more phone calls, go out more)
- I want to travel and/or do travel more
- I tend to drive faster or take more risks when driving
- I spend more money/too much money
- I take more risks in my daily life (in my work and/or other activities)
- I am physically more active (sport etc.)
- I plan more activities or projects.
- I have more ideas, I am more creative
- I am less shy or inhibited
- I wear more colourful and more extravagant clothes/make-up
- I want to meet or actually do meet more people
- I am more interested in sex, and/or have increased sexual desire
- I am more flirtatious and/or am more sexually active
- I talk more
- I think faster
- I make more jokes or puns when I am talking
- I am more easily distracted
- I engage in lots of new things
- My thoughts jump from topic to topic
- I do things more quickly and/or more easily
- I am more impatient and/or get irritable more easily
- I can be exhausting or irritating for others
- I get into more quarrels
- My mood is higher, more optimistic
- I drink more coffee
- I smoke more cigarettes
- I drink more alcohol
- I take more drugs (sedatives, anti-anxiety pills, stimulants)
In the official version of the HCL-32, there are additional questions about how these “highs” affect your life (positively/negatively); other people’s reactions to them; how long they last; whether you’ve had one recently; and how much of the last year has been spent in such a state. Print the whole form here.
This test was originally published by noted Swiss epidemiologist Jules Angst and colleagues. It has been translated into over 15 languages.