Hypomania is perhaps the most difficult psychiatric syndrome to rule out retrospectively. However, the retrospective detection of hypomania is crucial for a correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and particularly bipolar II, and for the implementation of the right pharmacological treatment. Unfortunatelly, still nowadays, the misdiagnosis of bipolar II disorder as unipolar depression is very frequent, and may carry serious consequences for the patients. The availability of a good screening tool for past hypomania episodes would be extremely helpful.
The psychometric study of the development of the HCL-32 scale in Spain exhibits high internal consistency and similar stability over time, in comparison with other instruments such as the MDQ and suggests that this scale may be very useful for the detection of bipolar disorder and past hypomania.
The results of our study suggest the usefulness of the HCL-32 to screen out previous hypomanic symptoms in psychiatric patients, thus leading to better detection results than with the MDQ, although with the possibility of obtaining more false positives. HCL-32 has been shown to be a useful instrument for the detection of hypomania in patients with an affective disorder. The Spanish version exhibits good psychometric properties in relation to sensitivity and specificity. Given the difficulties involved in both the retrospective and cross-sectional diagnosis of hypomania, a key aspect of appropriate management of bipolar disorders, this questionnaire represents a potential improvement in clinicians’ ability to detect and correctly treat bipolar disorder, and in some aspects such as internal consistency, obtains better results than the MDQ.