Do you suspect that you are bipolar? These are the 3 mistakes that are made when diagnosingDiagnosing a bipolar disorder is not as simple as identifying a cold or a sprained ankle. Its manifestations and intensity vary among people, which makes its evaluation difficult. Psychological disorders usually share symptoms and that is why it is common for a specialist to make a wrong judgment, and not necessarily due to negligence or lack of studies.
The American Psychiatric Association explains that those who suffer from a bipolar disorder experience intense emotional changes, interspersed between moments of a normal mood.
According to the WHO, around 60 million people in the world live with bipolar disorder. This figure becomes even more alarming when contrasted with the numbers of cases misdiagnosed.
What other conditions resemble bipolar disorder? Man with depression ALEXANDR23 / SHUTTERSTOCK A study by the Henri Mondor Hospital Center found that the average time between confirming bipolar disorder and establishing an optimal treatment is 9.6 years. It is estimated that 69% of people suffering from bipolarity received a wrong diagnosis the first time they sought help, as detailed in an article from the University of Toledo.
There are 3 conditions that tend to be most confused with bipolar disorder, as Dr. Russ Federman, who specializes in this disorder, points out:
It is common for one of the first symptoms of bipolarity to be depression. The key is that bipolar individuals feel full of energy, but at the same time they feel angry, irritable and pessimistic. Depression does not cancel its other symptoms, but lives with them.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
A key difference between ADHD and bipolar disorder is when there is hyperactivity and problems in both concentrating and staying calm. Someone with ADHD presents these symptoms at any time, while a bipolar exhibits them only when they suffer from an episode.
Sudden mood swings can be cataloged as a manifestation of a multiple personality disorder, since they seem to come from a totally different person. But, as with ADHD, bipolar people only manifest these symptoms during their episodes. Someone with a personality disorder has them all the time.
Another difference is that personality disorders usually detonate due to interactions with other people, while in bipolarity this does not always happen that way. Sometimes mood swings seem to come from nothing.
Can you avoid the wrong diagnose
The University of Toledo suggests that the best way to combat misdiagnosed cases would be for specialists to also listen to the experiences of the patient’s loved ones. That, plus an evaluation of the family history, would allow to know in greater depth what the person in question lives.
This recommendation coincides with the statement made by Dr. Russ Federman, who advises to be careful when a psychologist arrives at a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with only a few days of knowing the patient. Although there is no method to get a 100% accurate judgment to the first, there are ways to avoid falling into the least amount of possible mistakes. This is why people are encouraged to ask their specialist how they came to that conclusion, and also to get a second opinion. Since an ill-diagnosed case affects an inefficient treatment that can even worsen the symptoms.