fphlix, just wanted to say hi and hope that you're able to find some help in the forum. I was reading your earlier posts and there are a few things that stand out; it sounds like you need to find another dr. for a second opinion if you feel like your's is jumping to conclusions. As SMSIRL pointed out, there are very few conclusive tests for BP, but it seems in most cases, a dr will usually run a few routine blood tests to rule out other conditions that might be at play - this won't diagnose BP, but can help in the evaluation. Too - its usually easy to find the clinical criteria for BP if you google it. It basically shows the characteristic behaviour and timeline that a doctor will evaluate in order for a proper diagnosis.
Depakote and Effexor are drastically different medications as els pointed out - as far as I know - one doesn't replace the other, although your doctor might try one at a time. If you are indeed BP, the depakote will usually kick in relatively quickly (a few days to a few weeks) and can often cut the extremes of mania. The Effexor is an anti-depressant, and shouldn't be used in a BP patient without a mood stabilizer like Depakote. There are no cure alls, but the depakote is usually a good place to start since it has a wide range of doses, is usually well tolerated with low side effects and makes managing the other symptoms more practical. I currently take depakote and have used Effexor in the past.
Take care and I hope that you're able to find some answers,Putter