Bipolar Disorder Difficult to Diagnose

Just as one bandage cannot heal all wounds, psychological treatment must be specifically tailored for specific mental disorders in order for a person to completely heal. Recovery needs the proper treatment to be successful.

In the world of mental health, many disorders share the same symptoms, making correct diagnosis difficult. A survey conducted by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance stated that nearly half of the individuals with Bipolar Disorder are not correctly diagnosed until they have seen at least three different doctors. Most suffer an average of 13 years before they are diagnosed and can begin the healing process.

More Than Depression

Mood swings from the highest highs to the lowest lows mark the days of an individual with Bipolar Disorder. They struggle with agitation, sleeping troubles, irritability, and irregular eating habits. As the disorder threatens to rule their lives they may seek help from a specialist.

But when someone with Bipolar Disorder finally seeks help, oftentimes they are misdiagnosed as having depression. Many times, depression happens right before a manic episode. Some patients wait until they are suicidal before they seek treatment. If they do not disclose their other manic symptoms, then the doctor may only see depression and nothing else.

Other Disorders With Similar Symptoms

On many days, Bipolar Disorder closely resembles depression, but doctors can also confuse it with other similar disorders. Bipolar shares symptoms of anxiety, irritability and mania with other disorders. Sometimes an individual may be suffering from a combination of multiple disorders at the same time.

Bipolar Disorder is most commonly mistaken for the following:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Delay Makes Symptoms Worse

While the average person with Bipolar Disorder first experiences symptoms in their early twenties, some may experience symptoms during their early adolescence. For years, a person may be suffering from something they don’t really understand or something they brush off as general moodiness. Then, when they finally seek professional help, some still are not receiving the proper treatments.


In the survey, 71 percent of individuals who said that their Bipolar diagnosis was delayed said that their symptoms had grown increasingly worse. They had been given sleeping pills or antidepressants that only complicated their recovery. Antidepressants can actually cause manic episodes.

Those who find no relief from the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder lose hope and often contemplate suicide. They are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person. Delayed treatment endangers their lives.

Talking With Family and Friends

Doctors believe that when screening a patient for mental disorders, it is highly beneficial to involve family and close friends. Individuals who are near to the patient can tell doctors all the symptoms that they see over days, weeks, and months.

When life becomes confused, those with Bipolar need family and good friends to help them help themselves have a life they want to live.

On August 21st, 2012, posted in: Borderline Personality Disorder Research by Tags: