The Dangers of Misdiagnosing Bipolar Disorder

December 17, 2013 Natasha Tracy

Bipolar disorder has the simultaneous problem of being both underdiagnosed and overdiagnosed. While there’s little literature on overdiagnosis, what is clear is that the right people aren’t getting the right diagnosis all of the time. And while no one wants a false positive when diagnosing a mental illness, it’s also absolutely imperative that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder not be missed.

And unfortunately, all too often, bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as Dr. Prakash Masand, CEO and Founder of Global Medical Education, says, "Missing the diagnosis of bipolar illness is all too common in clinical practice with devastating consequences for patients and families."

Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

In Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, published in Psychiatry (Edgmont), authors Dr. Tanvir Singh and Dr. Muhammad Rajput report that:

  • 69% of people with bipolar disorder are initially misdiagnosed
  • More than 1/3 of patients remain misdiagnosed for 10 years or more
  • On average, patients remain misdiagnosed for between 5.7-7.5 years
  • Rates of misdiagnosis do not appear to be getting better

And the effects of misdiagnosis can be life-threatening.

Effects of Bipolar Misdiagnosis

Breaking BipolarAbout 40% of people with bipolar disorder are initially misdiagnosed with unipolar depression (myself included). This type of depression is normally treated with antidepressants. Unfortunately, prescribing antidepressants alone to a person with bipolar disorder can be disastrous. Antidepressants can send a person with bipolar disorder into hypomania, or, worse yet, a life-threatening mania. Antidepressants can also make a person with bipolar disorder cycle from depression to mania over and over again – a condition that is very difficult to treat.

Doctors Singh and Rajput note that other impacts of misdiagnosis include:

  • Incorrect treatment and delay in effective treatment
  • An increase in the chance of recurrence and a worsening of the disease; more chronicity
  • Increased healthcare costs
  • Increased suicide attempts

Reasons for Bipolar Misdiagnosis

Some of the reasons people with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed are easily addressable while others are more complicated. Likely, bipolar disorder is missed due to lapses in patient history-taking. According to Masand, "A family history of bipolar disorder is a huge red flag for bipolarity in patients presenting with depression, but a thorough history must be taken in order to find this flag."

The limitations of diagnostic criteria are another reason bipolar may be misdiagnosed as is the presence of psychiatric and medical comorbidities – which are common. Finally, Singh and Rajput estimate that 50% of people with bipolar disorder are initially treated before their first manic or hypomanic episode has occurred – making an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder near on impossible.

Avoiding Bipolar Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis can be avoided and lives can be saved, but not without the help of conscientious physicians. The first step in avoiding misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder is thorough and accurate history-taking and this can be improved by talking to the family members of the person with the mental illness – a step that is often not taken. Family members can be in the best position to talk about symptoms, both current and historic, as they see them from the outside.

In addition, careful screenings for co-occurring disorders such as substance use disorders must also be a priority as should screening for hypomanias, which can be often overlooked by the patient but should never be by the physician. Patient education can also improve screening as the patient learns what to look for in themselves. According to Masand, "Psychoeducation should be an integral part of treatment for all bipolar patients but it rarely is."

New diagnostic tools such as brain scans will hopefully improve our accuracy in the future, but until they become routine practice, it’s critical that patients be diagnosed carefully and considerately as an inaccurate diagnosis can literally change the course of a person’s life.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2013, December 17). The Dangers of Misdiagnosing Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 19 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Laurie Pettitt
October, 27 2017 at 12:07 pm

I was misdiagnosed as having a bipolar disorder and spent three years on 800mg per day of Priadel. By the end of the three years, I was a shuffling old man. I was taken off the drug instantly and experienced high behaviour. I was hypomania for weeks and then I just dropped. In no other medical environment would poor treatment be the 'norm'. In mental health it is all too common. I am now trying to rebuild my life. I have always had depression and fell foul of Venlafaxine. A drug I was on for ten years without review.

Jennifer hupp
August, 24 2017 at 12:31 pm

I have a diagnosis of ptsd but have major ups and downs every med they give me does not work i cry alot they have also diagnosed me with a nightmare and mood disorder . could i be mis diagnosed?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
August, 24 2017 at 3:54 pm

Hi Jennifer,
Of course, I can't say what your diagnosis might be and no one can unless they are your doctor. What I will say is that bipolar disorder _is_ a mood disorder. You may wish to look into the specifics of whatever your diagnosis is and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
- Natasha Tracy

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 28 2017 at 11:11 am

Jennifer, do not listen to Natasha who thinks she is some mental health expert (no training and does NOT HAVE MANIC DEPRESSION) and that every mood issue is bipolar. It is not.
Actual bipolar disorder - is a very UNCOMMON medical condition.
It used to be, until psychiatrists led by Big Pharma created new categories because drug patents expired and they needed to drug folks like her (antipsychotics, what has disabled her and manipulated her into her "bipolar 2" label), and those like you if you are not educated and smart enough to seek alternative soutions. Be smart.
Research. I actually do have a history of the illness Manic Depression and have been helped to heal.
PTSD is NOT undiagnosed bipolar - don't listen to this misinformation, there are many things that can help you.
There are MANY causes of mood disorders.
Take charge of your health. Heal, find ways to be well.
I won't self promote - this comment may be deleted as I am stating the truth they can't deal with...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
November, 29 2017 at 6:04 am

Hi Jennifer,
You are welcome to read Molly's opinion and agree or disagree, but please understand she seems to have a personal issue with me and you should take her thoughts in that light.
- Natasha Tracy

Laura Burkert
April, 19 2017 at 2:24 am

I think I've been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder my doctor keeps referring to my bipolar and prescribing drugs that make me sick A psychiatrist thought I was ADHD and I work out a lot now I have a lot of anxiety ( childhood, first marriage) I'm not manic or cycling or have huge outbursts How do you get this off your medical record?

January, 5 2017 at 11:45 am

I am 16 years old For three and a half years i have been depressed.I've had multiple migranes,I get so hyped up and full of energy,decreased sleep,ocd,and hocd.Ive looked up so many things to figure out whats going on.I've told my mother that i was suffering from bi polar and I described to her why I think that.She always would say don't believe everything you read and that you should never look up something because they will always show something that serious when it really not.Ive told her about my hocd she said the same thing and when i came back from the phsyc she told me "see i told you weren't crazy".he gave me antidepressants which make my moods even worse my ocd is way worse then it ever was and all my mom can say is that its just your sleep patterns and that its just your hormones.I have times when im thinking that i feel like I can't breathe.My mom never listens to me and i think it's because when i took the genesight test they said they're was no genetic mark that i have bi polar disorder.He asked my mom if they're was anyone in her family or my dads side of the family that have a bi polar disorder?and she says NO! I got so angry because i thought yes you do! Vicky is my sister and so is my cousin! She told me oh shes just saying she does.When i saw my cousin and my sister they both acted like theu were bi polar.One said(my sister) that she was told she was bi polar but couldn't be properly diagnosed because of her insurance.i got fed up with my mother and tried to get I searched up professional phsyc and found one that deals with everything.I sent him and email of whats been going on and he called me.I didn't have the chance to talk to him because i was scared of him calling my mother and my mom yellig at me because she thinks I'm a liar.i called him and told him everything that was going on.thats when he asked my age,i said 16 amd he said without a gaurdian he can't legally ask me questions and said please talk to your doctor.After that i started bursting out crying i told two of my friends one didn't believe me when i told her multiple times because of my when i texted them the full story she said I believe you and so did the other one and tried to convince me not to run away or hurt myself.I've tried going to the guidance counselor,going to teachers and even the principle but non would help so i just said you know what,I'm done im finished of they don't wanna help me ill run away and come back in two years with a job and money to get the help i need because it's ridiculous putting your faith into your mother when she's just not going to believe you.She was just like that when my doctor diagnosed me with ADD.She couldn't believe it and my friends mom was the one who told her to get me medicine for it but my was like no,no my little girl has to be perfect she can't have anything wrong with her.then after that fight she thought about it and got me my medication for years i have been on it and it worked but then at the age of 13.I had gotten on the Internet and watched youtube videos when i was suprised by the fact that ellen was gay because i never knew and this was around the time i had a little talk with myself because at that age a lot of teens go through the sexual confusion but i knew I wasn't gay because one.i have no sexual attraction towards women and I wanted a boyfriend but not then because then i was still playing.So i told i would get a boyfriend and then i went on the Internet and then that day changed everything i suffured from hocd for years all because i looked at the stupid comments and have a huge generalized anxiety attack.months ive been suffering from it and stressing myself out.until i became clinically depressed.I couldn't handle how it made me feel so i got up and made myself do things and it felt better.When i took my pill i told myself to always look up and then as i went to school my vivanse made it worse and every day since then id how i got bi polar but my moms not as supportive as she was then.Now shes the most unsupportive person and its all because she doesn't want a crazy daughter.She would literally tell me that to my face and say you need to be glad that your nit crazy because i know some crazy people and she was all happy amd glad which made me feel like hating her and now i dispise her.From the fun loving mother to the mother who'll do anything for a perfect family because god forbid if i were to be crazy she might kick me out.

October, 3 2016 at 6:30 am

im 19 and have been dealing with being in and out of mentle institutions for 6 years they say that ill never be able to hold a job or live on my own but everything they say I prove wrong I believe ive been misdiagnosed when I get put on medications im a zombie I feel I don't really fit the qualifications for bipolar 1 with psychotic systoms my treatment team has not been helpful they tried to blame all my problems on my parents when really I was just a rebelous teenager I do better off my meds than on them what would be your advice on how to handle this situation

Laura McCloskey
August, 14 2016 at 4:51 am

Researching this at 65 yo! It's depressing. Been by myself for 6 weeks and I have to accept responsibility at last. At least think that's were I'm going. Everyone says I am too much.

August, 12 2016 at 5:53 pm

When I was 4 I was Diagnosed with sensory integration, bipolar, ADHD, and when I was 5 autism. Over and over I was forced to repeatedly go to Children's Hospital and multiple psychiatrist and received medication to deal with these problems. About eleven years later I attended a mental health study in Washington at one of their universities and I found out that I was misdiagnosed. While I have ADHD and sensory integration, I don't have bipolar or autism. By the time I was in 6th grade I weighed 190 pounds and was forced to utilize weight training. In the meantime I now weigh 315 pounds, have sleep apnea, and social anxiety, but also a 22% body fat ratio and can deadline 575 pds.
The side effects of the medications include weight gain, urination in sleep ,and sleeping during class (pretty embarrassing) as well as slurred speech. This ruined the first part of my life, but I know enough not to linger on past events. With proper inspiration anything is possible, even changing your future.

July, 14 2016 at 11:46 am

I had a nervous breakdown when I was 19. Then diagnosed with BP. During the breakdown I felt very high . Lithium treatment antidepressants. Feeling well until my thirties . I got very depressed ... In both occasions I was experiencing extreme family problems ... I'm not sure if iv been misdiagnosed and I'm to scard to talk to the doctor as sometimes the medical profession can be the most judgmental. .. where can I get an answer . Am I BP or not .

April, 20 2016 at 6:31 am

I am so glad I'm not alone! I was diagnosed with depression in my 20s and it wasn't until I was 50 that I was diagnosed with BD. I believe symptoms started about age 10. It is difficult for me to see myself and did not realize I had episodes of mania. My psych gave me antidepressants, which of course made it progress over the years until I had a psychotic episode at work. I kept missing work for depression and didn't realize my anger and irritability were due to BD. My father was hospitalized for schizophrenia and my sister was diagnosed with bipolar I in her twenties. Part of the reason for my misdiagnosis was my ability to bulldoze my way through life. Since my correct diagnosis, I have retired early. I use a combo of lithium, lamictal, Lexapro and ativan. I can't afford the new meds. I have mixed episodes and rapid cycling. It has taken a few years but with counseling and medication I am starting to feel better. Prayers for everyone.

sarah Waldron
April, 8 2016 at 2:05 am

I am 49 years old, all my life iI have suffered from depression, and bouts of mania all my life I have tried suicide twice and when in a depressed state think of it daily. I am in a deptessed state at the moment there is no ryme reason but I get aggitated and angry and sometimes i throw things i am not violent to others but verbally i can be vile. I went to my go a year a go saying i can no longer cope before this i found it hard to accept choosing to stduggle on with what i can only describe a living hell for me to accept I have a problem takes a lot of courage my mother came with me to have my assesment voicing her concerns that she thought i was bipolar. I was sent a letter say they did not think my symptoms were that of bipolar I have done much research and I know that this is the case and just want answers while i mask it well changing my train of thought this is both tiring and deblitating for me. Now I find i can no longer do this emotionally or physically I need help and quickly and i am scared for my well being. After this asesmentvI was offered cbt workshops but suffering from a bad bout of depression and anxiety i as unable to attendwhen i finally rang for help i found they had discharged me again i returnedcto my gp with suicidal thoughts I have just had another assesment to be told that i have to attend cbt workshops i am so frustrated Why wont anyine listen to meU am so scared because of the way im thinking i want to end my life coz noone listens whats the point when noone will help i can not di group therapy becauae of my anxiety. So again i will not go I have contacted mind i am desperate i feel i need to be sectioned why wont no one help me what do i have to do to make everyone listen attemp suicide again no wonder people take their own lives the system letscthem down.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
April, 10 2016 at 5:35 am

Hi Sarah,
I'm sorry people aren't listening to you. I know how difficult that is. If you feel you need to be in a hospital, walk into a hospital and tell them so. Tell them that you feel you are a danger to yourself and that if you're not put into a safe space you're worried you may die. I have done this. It's not easy, but if you say that you are a danger to yourself, they should not turn you away.
You may also want to call your country's helpline which I believe you'll find here: They list interantional suicide hotlines so you can always find yours there (I believe there is online chat at your country's site as well.)
Please reach out in one of these ways for help. People will help you. I know that hasn't been your experience so far, but there are others out there who will.
- Natasha Tracy

January, 1 2016 at 3:58 pm

my child 8 years old suffering bipolar disease & taking drug Epilim (sodium velpoate) + Resperidone and maintain good life.but we see another doctor he prescribe ADHD drug attentrol 40 mg per day + Epilim (sodium velpoate).After taking medicine 2 months now he is serious condition.
We stop attentrol 40 mg & giving resperidone 1mg as per previous doctor advice.
But still we can see mode swings,aggressive & crying sometimes .Pls help

August, 30 2015 at 1:07 pm

As a child I pulled a "home alone" and tied all the doors together using ropes and a dressing gown tie, I was 4 at the time. I've often noticed how my moods have altered drastically over a short period. Along with manic highs came a dark frantic mixed states, often resulting in frantic arguments and diatribes / rants about most subjects.. I remind myself of a cynical aging comic who rants at the world, while I watch it crumble. I've done a lot of research on the matter including downloading the DSM IV along with research papers relating mania and tramadol. All the research and papers I've read leads to a conclusion of bp2 / cyclothemia or borderline personality disorder. I've reached out to the local mental health team but they just do standard depression or anxiety. I've seen multiple dr's and all have ignored the obvious and haven't even offered to refer me for a psych eval or similar.
I'm beyond trying anymore. I'm left to ride the dark waves till I crash on the shore.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Don Trump
November, 23 2019 at 8:01 pm

Even though Matts post ifs over four years old I want to comment. First let me say my reply reeks of general, blanket statements and assessments. There are definitely diamonds in the cesspool of our current state and federal funded mental health system. And there are PhD enabled varmints that mete out awful mental health care and ridiculous diagnosis that that sponge bob square pants fellow could improve on! So yes there are very good skilled qualified people in the system but the majority of them are not so good!
Anyway I am of the opinion that our mental health system is embarrassingly bad when taken as a whole. However, the quality of assistance by professionals that hold at least one PhD are as good as anywhere in the world. Therapists that hold anything less than a masters with additional hour's of education is not very good . I am 65 years old and the very best treatment came from those PhDs. Sorry to say that Therapists who are paid by clients who seek budget medical care or those that are on state or federal medicade receive low quality mental health care. Ask me how I know! Yes, Sadly and happily I have been in the position to receive all tiers of mental health care here in the USA. So what is the answer? Do you have room for a passenger on your boat?

July, 18 2015 at 3:39 am

My first outreach to mental health professionals was in 1997 while I was on active duty in the US Navy. I had asked if there was a chance I could be Bipolar; I was told no, major depressive disorder and given anti-depressants. I asked again in 2000 and then three times in 2008. Same diagnosis yet with alcohol dependence (self-medicating the anxiety, hypo manic, and manic moments) added in 2008. Quit drinking then. Kept taking anti-depressants since 2008 until April this year when I went into full psychosis and was gravely disabled causing me to be involuntarily detained for 72 hours. I lost my children and my occupation because of the psychotic breakdown.

Shiloh Wall
April, 24 2015 at 2:43 pm

In 2004, I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar 1. I was seeing a therapist to deal with my impending divorce and starting having major back issues for which I was prescribed...Prednisone. I react badly to Prednisone as it was later discovered. Based upon my actions and moods while I was on it, my therapist shunted me off to a shrink and after that..all hell broke loose for lack of a better term. I spent two and a half years on a never ending cycle of moods, medication cocktails so numerous I'm surprised I could even tell anyone my name at that time. I finally (after having enough of it all, attempted to OD on 24 150mg Wellbutrin...and finally got a doctor who LISTENED to what I had to say and traced my 'Bipolar' to the Prednisone and the subsequent reaction to such. I lost two and a half years of my life and a couple of friends to misdiagnosis and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bitter about that.

Karen S
February, 20 2015 at 11:57 am

Also, what do I do when my 28 year old son cries and says "mom, please don't be sick"? I have let my family down. I have always been their rock, and it takes more and more energy to keep faking and hiding my depression.

Karen S
February, 20 2015 at 11:49 am

How could I be treated for almost 30 years for major depressive disorder, then suddenly be told I have bipolar 2? Many outpatient treatments over these years with different therapists and doctors, and no one mentioned bi-polar to me. Only as an inpatient for the first time at age 50 was I told I was bipolar. How do I know? What if they were wrong? Yes my behaviour become more erratic after a sudden job loss. I have had thoughts of suicide since the age of 12. What makes them determine after all these years of treatment that I am bipolar?..I don't think I have ever been "manic". I would have enjoyed it!

February, 15 2015 at 7:53 am

I used to think the same thing Emil until I learned that some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder often overlap with those of borderline personality disorder... my understanding is that the latter is often more difficult to treat but that sometimes the same medications can be useful in both diagnosis, ie a mood stabilizer. Also a person can have what they call a comorbid condition where more than one illness is applicable to a greater or lesser degree such as in depression and anxiety

February, 14 2015 at 10:03 pm

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011, Ive always known I wasn't and remeber asking the doctor why they diagnosed me as that.
Here we are 5 years later and I actually have borderline personality disorder, not bipolar. How did you mix the two up?

December, 1 2014 at 8:52 am

I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2. I had many of the symptoms... difficulty sleeping, mood swings, etc. The Dr decided that since the symptoms matched, it must be bipolar, right? THAT'S WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES. They are not asking enough in-depth questions. Thankfully I didn't take him for his word and went on my own journey to figure out what was going on in my brain. I discovered GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, after some Google searches. While difficulty sleeping is a bipolar symptom, he failed to ask WHY I was not sleeping. With bipolar, it's because you are high energy and do not feel the need. With GAD, it is because your brain just. Won't. Stop. I'm exhausted as I lie there, not high energy. The mood swings come from the racing thoughts. I think them, therefore my brain feels as if it's experiencing them. Also, with the mood lows that come with it, it can feel like low-to-normal mood is a "mood swing", while bipolar mood swings go from low and pass normal on it's way to high (manic). There's a lot more to it, but that's a summary. Very glad I was not on the bipolar meds for long (risperidone and depakote), pill R made me a drooling zombie, and pill D made me aggressive and very suicidal. Sad thing is, when I went to talk to the Dr about my thoughts, how GAD sounds exactly like me and, when broken down, bipolar did not, he stuck with his bipolar diagnosis. I didn't back down, as I did not want to be treated for something I do not have, and when he finally gave in and prescribed me nortriptyline, he did it with an annoyed attitude and said " Well we'll treat you as if you have GAD and when you have a manic episode caused from it, let me know." I've been on it awhile now and feel better than I have in a long time. I do not act recklessly or act out sexually or feel I'm invincible. I just feel calm and normal. Doctors need to start getting more in-depth.

Heather Britain
November, 1 2014 at 4:34 am

My husband was overdiagnosed by his family physician. He was told he was bipolar, when in fact he just has a serious case of ADHD, and because of his childhood, he has anger issues. The doctor had him on some SERIOUS meds (dosage too high for someone that is bipolar), and it almost cost him his life. We learned our lesson... Do not trust doctors, do your own research, and NEVER takes ANY mood altering meds without getting a second, or even third opinion.

November, 1 2014 at 12:49 am

My diagnosis was "gradual". I know now that I had symptoms since my teens. Didn't know enough about mental illness to recognize for myself that I had an actual medical condition. That was in the '70s. I just thought I had low self esteem, and when I was manic (more 9 ten hypomanic) I forgot all about my troubles as I rode that wave. I thought the mania was just a "normal mood. In the early '90s, after my first marriage failed, I was diagnosed by a therapist with dysthymia. A year or so later, that therapist decided it was clinical depression and referred me to my first psychiatrist. It wasn't until '97 when, after a mania - driven stint in local theater, that I plummeted into my worst depression so far and landed for a week in the mental health unit of my town's hospital. Then I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I think the input of a good friend finally tipped the scales with my psychiatrist, and I finally got the bipolar diagnosis and subsequent treatment that I needed. Since then, I've had a total of 6 hospitalizations with MN ultiple med changes. The med tinkering seems to be a necessary evil that will likely never end. I'm 52 now.

October, 31 2014 at 4:50 pm

I was originally diagnosed with unipolar depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia (I most certainly did NOT have agoraphobia).
I started on an antidepressant which swung me into hypomania immediately after. I thought I was miraculously cured.
Then came the subsequent crash, and the rises and falls until my hospitalization.
I said it was likely I had bipolar from the get-go, but the doctor refused to listen. Only after my second hospitalization did he admit that I "maybe had cyclothymia" (which is also a misdiagnosis).
My current psych understood me within 5 minutes of meeting me. I described my history and symptoms and treatment from the other psychiatrist, and he said that I had been treated wrong from the start.
I have Bipolar II with rapid cycling and mixed states (which I guess could also be bipolar I). I am on medications which have helped me to control my moods, and it's thanks to a proper diagnosis.

October, 31 2014 at 1:12 am

I was just diagnosed by my MD with bi-polar but I must not have it very bad because I just don't seem to fit the symptoms, I guess he sees something that I don't. I tend to have more depression then anything and once in awhile I get in these happy moods that are just wonderful but I'm always waiting for the ball to drop. I'm so frustrated. All I take is prozac.

Sally C
October, 29 2014 at 11:43 am

My daughter was diagnosed with bi polar , by a college counselor, within the first 20 minutes , shipped off to a mental health facility for a week and immediately started on Risperadol, Depakote and Zoloft. That was 1 1/2 yrs ago . She is still trying to stay in college, but with all these different drugs they have tried , she has actually developed symptoms of bi polar behavior , that were not present before ! It has been a nightmare that we need to to get out of !!!!! Once you have been medicated , against your will , your brain chemistry is out of whack . How do you find your way out if , incorrectly diagnosed?????

Irma Rosary
September, 2 2014 at 10:26 am

Wow. I love this blog. It is so true that people are misdiagnosed. My family jave diagnosed me as bipolar. Although I have not been clinically diagnosed, child protective services had assigned me anger classes due to obvious signs of experiences where chronic anger has to be involved where a peaceful mind would hand the part where it says that interviewing the have reacted differently. Better said acted differently U and not have «re-acted». The part where it says that the interviewing of family should be done and that sometimes is neglected leaves out a big help to properly diagnose the patients reason of having this condition. In my case, ot was my parents being narcissistic. My parents did not want theseme to become AUTONOMOUS. My parent$ did NOT like that. The sknowlegew that I was mentally equipped . Self esteem intact Thought myself as able and competent, and that is what they went after to destroy. At first i didn't understand what was going on. But after giving my life to the Lord and seeking his guidance. He instructed me to research things on line and this is how i have come to meet with healing through Jesus Christ. is power. Its HIS LIVING WORD that Christ speaks and it comes to pass.I digressed a bit...i cried and mopes to be able to get a job at the age of 23. There are no bus stops and there is a highway to go into civilization and they were my only source of transportation back then. They underminded any offers from school art.schools that saw my work were awed by the paintings but my mother would say that it was not a real job...i can go on and on about examples on how i grew to become bi-polartowards them. I became angered at any new insult after a while until i began to hit myself and then i had kids i continue to strive to be the best prent hat i can be bit my mother always competes with me for their affection ...she looks miserable whem i am happy...or when my kids are happy with me. Well its i Obvious that parents that are ill also teach that to theirchildren when they dont care about hurting the and use them for selfish gains...but not me i choose To STOP that chain. I choose to be a healthy mother raising autonomous kid s who know that they can be all that they want to be and that they are not slaves to serve me. !

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

leann hendrickson
February, 1 2019 at 2:05 pm

in all the joy of finding your capabilities, YOU are onto a day of hope and cheer by learning--in CHRIST--to balance your esteem and to give space for better memory-building. Take your good memories along the journey. Forget the mess your poor, poor parents made. Forgive them but give yourself all the freedom to be parented by saints who indeed know building esteem is the root of mental, emotional, even physical health. Prosper and bloom under some of this sweet newfound guidance. Read all that you can about esteem and the renouncing of shame and guilt. The Christ died to set us free of those consequences of either of those. YOU are a flower in the rough. A diamond who will and is sparkling now. Drop the meds carefully under professional guidance. At least as much of it as you possibly can being watched over by authorities willing to allow it. Then tell the world to sing a new song of love for each of us who have learned self-love replaces the mess of misdiagnosis and mismanaging parents, kin, doubters.

August, 17 2014 at 1:43 pm

I have felt like none of my doctors that I saw really listened to me!I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder,bi polar 2,insomnia,major depression,anxiety and they never ruled out ocd even tho I have the symptoms....I have other things going on but I learned the hard way that they really don't have time for all the things that go on with me and proper diagnosis...I'm also scared to go back for treatment all the medications i was put on did not work for me.Whst do I do?

August, 14 2014 at 3:52 pm

Hi everyone, unfortunately I realized two years ago, that I have been mis diagnosed with bi-polar by my local doctor in South Jersey. I have been through hell and back to come to a miracle conclusion that I don't have it. I found it extremely difficult, or even impossible to wake up and attend my college classes due to the cocktail prescription medications my parent and she have given. Two colleges later my dad, who is divorced from my mom, has been left with large amounts of money lost due to me failing my college experiences. I never had the opportunity to take the SAT's or have rational feelings in high school while this long dreadful period occurred. The doctor has prescribed me with medications like depakote, risperdal, and lithium, all at once. After reading this article I realized that my over diagnosis is a common trend. Part my life and most of my childhood has been lost and unlearned due to this toxic confusion. For those who may consider diagnosing their children with bi-polar, think twice or more and do research to help prevent this epidemic.

Echo Bravo
July, 6 2014 at 9:18 am

Greetings from the high desert, after a lifetime of feeling strange, out of place and like I've been cursed for eternity, and after many many unfortunate incidents that I feel could have been avoided, and of course the recent suicide of a really close friend of mine, it pushed me to re-analyze my entire life. Many of the symptoms I've read about bi-polar disorders seems to fit the bill, but the biggest problem for me is that I have internalized so much, because I've been pressured and mistreated all of my life, always being blamed, or being cited as "imagining" my symptoms, and I feel for 26 years, I've been misdiagnosed as just generalized anxiety and depression, because I feel my problems are always being minimized even though deep down in my soul I knew there has been something seriously wrong with me since as far as my good memory serves me. I've gone up and down and over and out so many times I had lost all hope but somehow I always found a sliver of hope and kept soldiering on, hoping to one day feel a much desired sense of normality, or how I call it, I'd give an arm and leg to feel happy, and stay that way. I've been pumped with anti-depressants mostly and not much of a variety at that, only to find that it doesn't do much, and only seems to agitate me further making me feel like Mr. invincible. It has been a very painful 26 years of life with only 7 months of 2007 being the most productive and (ultra productive) and (ultra happy) time of my life, followed by a major plunge once more far worse than the previous ones, which at this point keep getting worse and worse. I have a doc's appointment again this coming Monday for my work panel results, and I think it's time to mention all of the things I always failed to say out of fear of being judged and put down more than I always was.

April, 17 2014 at 3:51 am

We all have simular issues & again another case of docs guessing and sending you off with crappy pills.knowing since the age of 15 & feeling like some thing was wrong but not having a supporting family i contained myself as much as i could joined the Army at 16 to get away. Finally at the age 24 i started opening up to myself that i needed help. 31 Now & still no better but seen a shrink for the First time Today and guess what? Same questions as always but different pills called "risperidone", Instead of anti-depressents.
Sorry your all ill but at least im not on my own any more, you all totally get it. Very weird that no One understands me for years but here reading other posts your just the same.

March, 28 2014 at 2:05 pm

I've had issues with my moods ever since I can remember. When I was younger I was known for mischeif in so far as I'd tied all the door knobs together along with both front and back doors, I was about 5 at the time.
I thought everyone had violent mood swings, bouts of intense agitation etc. But after intense research and several arguments with multiple doctors I came to the conclusion I either have borderline personality disorder or BP both are similar in nature, I know now its bipolar spectrum, idk which specific type but I know Its not psychosomatic.
I don't trust doctors. The ones I've seen in the past few years are beyond useless. I've been forced to self diagnose and self medicate. Its stressful enough without having to fight every inch of the way.

January, 15 2014 at 5:18 pm

I am only 24. I started having chronic migraines at age 9. I hated school, was bullied, and at age 15/16 I was diagnosed with depression. The neurologist I was seeing for my migraines was actually the one who prescribed the antidepressant for the depression. Nothing helps. Since then, Ive been on Lexapro, Zoloft, Citalopram, Wellbutrin, and buspar for anxiety. But for someone who has deep suicidal depressions, I have times where I am bouncing off the walls, wanting to go do anything and everything.
Seasons don't affect me. It happens more often than the seasons change. Through all of this, the doctors and everyone would say oh you're just a teen, oh you're just hormonal, or you're just a girl. I begged and screamed and pleaded for help. Finally, in December after a really rough depression, I went to a nurse practitioner and she rudely told me oh the holidays will do that and put me on birth control. I said you help me or I will act wreckless and get forced help. She sent me to a social worker. After a month of having to talk to her and her note taking I flipped out in a fit in her office. I asked her if migraines could be connected to me mental health and rapid mood shifts. She said I wasn't 'dangerous enough in what would be my manic state' to be bipolar. I had a meltdown asking wth it would take to get help. She had me in the psych's office the following week to be evaluated by a nurse. The following week (yesterday) I saw the psych for the first time. We talked well over an hour about everything, in such detail, and he kept shaking his head, and by the end he said what medicine have you been on? I said I HATE antidepressants and I will not take another one because they do not help me. He smirked and said you've never seen a psychiatrist? I said no. He said normally he NEVER mentions a diagnosis on a first meeting because usually it takes time to get to know a person and their history. But my medical history was very detailed and well documented and my symptoms were detailed enough from ten years of saying the SAME THING OVER AND OVER. He looked at me and said, " I really think you are dealing with bipolar ii. Your not reaching mania, but the way you describe your 'energy' sounds like hypo mania. It is uncomfortable for you BC you cannot sleep or concentrate, etc." It felt good to have someone understand .. Finally. While it feels to to know he has an idea of a diagnosis that fits me (especially since bipolar ii people suffer migraines often) I am kind of put off at how quickly he was willing to jump to a diagnosis. But it is a fitting one. And is further than Ive ever been. And he is getting me off the antidepressants. Instead he is wanting to see how lithium works. I see a long road ahead of me. But at least now, I can actually see a road.

Sue Anderson
December, 23 2013 at 4:54 pm

Hi Natasha,
I too was misdiagnosed... Sadly part of the "criteria" is questioning whether or not you actually have bipolar disorder.. :: insert eye roll here ::
After several trials of unsuccessful medications, the last gave me bouts of vertigo, which my Pdoc swore was not due to the medication...
The bright side was that a tumor on my right balance nerve was found & removed... 6 months later I was STILL having bad bouts of vertigo. After a fall resulting in a Broken nose, the ER doc said it was likely due to a medication... Called Pdoc, he agreed to discontinue & as that was the last med I could take... He said "If you really do have Bipolar disorder, we'll know it pretty quick".. No more vertigo... No Bipolar disorder.

Patty Christiansen
December, 23 2013 at 10:02 am

I understand this clearly and feel for all those who have been misdiagnosed, I however am one who has been wrongly diagnosed with bipolar 1...I just found this out recently when my new doctor mentioned it to me during our first visit apparently I was diagnosed back in 2007 yet I was never informed and I have never been treated for this diagnosis not by medication or counseling. How is this possible? It certainly explains why the doctors have treated me funny as if they walk on eggshells with me. My doctor showed me my chart and sure enough in big black bold print there it was! I talked to my counselor who I have had since 2007 and she is just as confused as I am. She said I don't have any symptoms that meet the criteria for a Bipolar 1 or any Bipolar diagnosis. I need it removed.
I asked to have it removed and explained to my new doctor everything she seemed to understand yet 3 months have gone by and I still have this diagnosis.
Anyone know what I can do about this? I don't think it's right to diagnosis someone like that I mean if my doctor honestly felt I had this she should have been a big enough person to inform me and my counselor as well as properly treat me. I am wrong to be really upset about this? Some people think I am overreacting but it's my life she's messing with! I don't have an issue with being
Bipolar I know a few people personally who are and I love them dearly I have issue with the dr. Diagnosing something not telling me or treating me for it I mean it's not like a zit or anything it's a major diagnosis right?!?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 29 2018 at 2:25 pm

Silmilar thing happened to me. I had hyperthyroidism in2002 and was discharged by a psychiatrist saying all symptoms due to that. Treated for hyperthyroidism and have lived succcessful life for 15 years no symptoms or treatment. 5 years after hyperthyroidism treated I returned to locum doctor with weight loss. My mouth hit the floor when I discovered diagnosis of manic depression on my record! She removed it. 15 years later I visit another doctor as struggling to conceive. I book blood tests for fertility hormones and an ‘annual review ‘ at same time. Discover too late this is mental health review! New gp surgery had gone through my file and coded my pre hyperthyroidism diagnosis symptoms as ‘manic episode’ and found myself on the serious mental health register. Blood then taken to fufill UK government target to ‘Monitor the physical health of those diagnosed with serious mental illness’ Surgery got points and funding in exchange for my blood. It is a disgrace and I am very angry about it.

December, 23 2013 at 5:55 am

I was misdiagnosed for almost a decade. Antidepressants made me miserable so I quit taking them. It was a lose-lose situation. Now that I'm on the correct medicine, I have way more good days than bad. I feel like I'm living as normally as possible.

December, 23 2013 at 4:41 am

Ha! I was misdiagnosed for OVER 20 YEARS.
One reason isn't a doc's fault: I am bp type 2. I only went to the doc when I was deeply depressed. When I was hypomanic, I saw no reason to go to a doc because I was feeling well. I thought the new antid & therapy were working and I had emerged from the latest depression. I saw no reason to tell a doc (though none ever asked)about the too good moods.
I thought my chronic depressive illness was under control again, which it was, sort of. I wasn't correctly diagnosed til 2009 and it wasn't by a doc! It was my long time PhD. therapist who had known me well for at least five years.

Jaspar B
December, 22 2013 at 9:01 pm

The guy who "diagnosed" me never even saw my face, yet his decision changed my life. The worst part about being officially diagnosed is that you are suddenly everyone's topic of juicy gossip, and it only takes one set of "loose lips". I feel like I'm on a blacklist now. Every day I dream about running away and starting a new life where nobody knows about it.

Ann W,
December, 22 2013 at 1:38 am

The reluctance of some doctors to diagnose this condition early on is incredible. I understand the need to be diligent, and not apply labels, especially when it comes to children, but a pattern of sleeplessness, disruptive behavior is indicative of more that just teen angst. This has touched my family through my cousin's young son. Brief description on website.

December, 20 2013 at 5:12 pm

My partner is 35 and he's been seeing a psychiatrist for over a decade. He's been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter depression) and adult ADHD. He also has a very disturbed sleeping pattern, often unable to sleep throughout the night, and a night-time eating disorder - he often eats uncontrollably during the night. After doing a lot of reading and researching, I am confident that he has a Bipolar Disorder. I mean ADHD+Winter Depression - that should tip you off, right? But his psychiatrist has never mentioned that he could possibly have bipolar. She prescribes him anti-depressants and stimulants like Adderall for his ADHD. I am definitely going with him to his appointment next time. In her defense, my psychiatrist has been asking my partner to bring a family member for an interview, but my partner was refusing to do so.

Charles Mistretta
December, 19 2013 at 3:18 am

There is no empirical data on bi polar behavior, only shadows of observation made by the few who are qualified to guess. Its no wonder they themselves are viewed with skepticism. The mind cannot observe the mind and know what it is seeing. Try looking at your back without a mirror. The mind's mirror hasn't been invented yet (nor will it - opinion). The brain's synapses can be mapped, like grains of sand the complexity hasn't been categorized by design or intent.
As yet there is no cure for a bipolar mentality, only adaptation to the illness with the help of chemicals and people who post some understanding - not an easy topic for discussion. Gratitude for your continued effort.

December, 18 2013 at 10:07 am

I am told I suffer from very bad depression. So wrong! After all these years, I remain with the wrong diagnosis. I am disabled and have had to fight to get all the right diagnosis, which I diagnosed myself and was right everytime! They do not want you to know more than they do. God forbid you step on their toes.

December, 17 2013 at 10:20 am

Natascha, I didn't mean to rant, but thank you for your reply. The next part of my story is, though, that I found out after the diagnosis, that my family had recognized my symptoms of bipolar disorder as soon as they started to happen. You know, because the symptoms were monthly, persistent and "nearly on a schedule" my mother told me. Sooooo, why didn't you tell me, I asked her. The truth was, of course, that she was an abusive alcoholic and was far too drunk most days to care. My symptoms were a source of irritation to her, not something I needed to get treated. And my biological father, someone I had never met, and who my mother hated, was the genetic link to the illness. (All of a sudden, I understood why my mother said to me, "you are just like your father." I'd never met him, but apparently our versions of bipolar disorder were similar or exactly alike.) But more than that, in the 1970s, in a small town, manic/depression was treated with hospital stays, and it was nothing you talked about. Apparently my bio-father was treated for 14-weeks each year in a psych ward. (Wow!)
I can only hope that doctors know that the stigma of mental illness exists in some families, it is a Thing of Shame; and that the doctors will be correspondingly aggressive in asking mothers or fathers or grandparents of a patient about the history of mental illness in the family. I also hope that doctors know that parents may lie on medical histories, as apparently my mother had lied. I hope this is also addressed in the study ... the reluctance, shame, unwillingness to discuss, a belief that mental illness is just bad behavior that the doctor may have to deal with ...

Natasha Tracy
December, 17 2013 at 8:52 am

Hi cmM,
I'm so sorry that happened to you. It's not fair and it's not right. You _should_ have gotten better help.
But what I will say is that I agree with you that many doctors don't know how to listen. I've seen it myself so many times and I know how often people leave their doctor's offices not feeling listened to.
All I can say is, thankfully you finally got some decent help. I know it took far too long and it's totally okay to feel angry about that, but at least now you can move forward with wellness.
- Natasha

December, 17 2013 at 8:40 am

Gosh, for 30 years I described perfectly my mania to depression and depression to mania cycle to various doctors ... The first time I did so was when I was 15, when I hesitantly explained to a doctor that I would be up & awake for a week, ***UNABLE*** to sleep, and then overnight, I would be so tired, I couldn't get out of bed. I gave him more details, explaining how this happened monthly and was quite disruptive. He got quite angry with me, and told me to "quit being a teenager and go to bed." You see, he ignored the word "unable" ... and confused unable to sleep with not wanting to sleep or even more stupidly, that I expected to stay up for a week for some unknown reason, each and every month, without eventually crashing. After the doctor literally threw me out of his office, over the next year, I had to quit all the sports I was in, all the other extracurricular activities I was in and of course, my grades went down.
I'm still angry about this doctor 35 years later; but truly, this scene played out many many times over the years. Eventually, a doctor heard the part about not being able to get out of bed and prescribed an anti-depressant ... but when I demurred a bit and said, "the thing is, the depression lasts for a week, and then it seems to go away and then it comes back again ... so it can't be just despression ... "
I haven't read the study, but I think doctors don't know how to listen, and they don't know how to interpret symptoms nor how to ask questions to establish the severity of symptoms. They instead hear a buzzword, because maybe they've attended an on-going education seminar, and wa-lah, they make a diagnosis.
So, age 13 my bipolar symptoms start, at age 15, I go to see the doctor and accurately explain my symptoms, am rebuffed and it took 20 more years of accurately explaining my bipolar cycles in even more detail to doctors to get a diagnosis.
Well, that's not true, it was a suicide attempt that landed me in a psych ward, where I was diagnosed. When I explained my cycle to the pdoc, he said, "you've been explaining it that way since you were 15?" and I said, yes, of course. He looked down at his notepad, and wouldn't look at me for a while. And I finally said, realizing what he was asking ... "You mean, I gave text book definition of bipolar disorder ...? Unsubjective?" And he sighed a little bit. To his credit, he did not tell me that bipolar disorder is often first treated as unipolar depression, especially since, through the years, I had corrected or more accurately, argued with doctors who said I had clinical depression.
Listening, asking questions: basic skills a doctor needs but doesn't always have.

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