The Dangers of Misdiagnosing Bipolar Disorder

People in New Mexico who struggle with psychological health issues know that mental health crises can be just as painful and dangerous as physical difficulties. Mental health providers who fail to provide an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment can make things even more difficult.

As reported by Psychology Today, most people with bipolar disorder face a gap of 10 years or more between the time they are diagnosed with the disorder and when their symptoms first manifested. One important reason that this gap exists is that it can be difficult to distinguish symptoms of bipolar disorder from other psychological disorders. For example, the restlessness, diminished need for sleep and impatience that is associated with a manic or hypomanic episode of a person suffering from bipolar disorder can easily be mistaken for the fidgeting, wakefulness and impulsivity of a person experiencing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

The trouble is that an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder can have a major impact on a person’s long-term mental health. When a person with bipolar disorder is mistakenly diagnosed with depression and given antidepressants, those antidepressants can trigger a manic episode, making the struggle with bipolar disorder that much harder. Misdiagnosis is all too common. HealthGrades estimates that 70 percent of bipolar patients are misdiagnosed at least once. While proper treatment makes bipolar disorder manageable for most people, the lack of treatment that can result from misdiagnosis can have serious consequences. Untreated bipolar disorder can make it difficult for a person to hold a job or maintain healthy relationships. Sadly, untreated bipolar disorder can also result in suicide. 

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