Bipolar disorder is one of the most difficult mental conditions to diagnose. Even if, once diagnosed, treatment is often very effective, and patients with bipolar disorder can lead a functional life and be satisfied with it, it takes many years to accurately detect and diagnose this disorder.
The main reasons being that people with bipolar disorder often have other disorders or complications that can mask the specific symptoms of the condition, misdiagnose is more frequent than it should be, and many symptoms of bipolar disorder are actually understated or confused as signs of something different.
For that reason, it is important that you know those symptoms because unlike popular belief, bipolar disorder isn’t just about mood swings, but instead is a complete mental condition with a long list of health complications. The sooner bipolar disorder is correctly diagnosed and treated, the less negative consequences it will have on the patient’s neural structures as well as their personal life.
1. A diagnosis of depression
As stated before, bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed, and the most frequent wrong diagnosis is depression. The manic and depressive episodes don’t have a 50-50 proportion, and most of the time people with bipolar disorder have depressive symptoms. It isn’t uncommon that these patients are diagnosed as being depressive, which is particularly dangerous for them.
Antidepressants, however effective they might be for depression, are terrible for bipolar disorder because they can induce a manic episode. There is even a type of bipolar disorder, called Type III, that is specifically caused by a bad reaction to antidepressants. So when people receive a diagnosis of depression, the professional should explore more to confirm it’s not bipolar disorder.
Asking questions about possible manic episodes in the past should prevent the misdiagnose to happen. Some of the symptoms of a possible manic episode are in this list, and the psychiatrist or psychologist should bear them in mind.