Misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder
Misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be missed or delayed because people with bipolar disorder may fear the stigma of or be embarrassed by mental illness and not seek treatment. In addition, a person with bipolar disorder may not recognize that they are having symptoms or that their behavior has become a serious threat to their health.
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be missed because symptoms of bipolar disorder can be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. These include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, anxiety disorder, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia personality disorder, and substance abuse....more about Bipolar disorder »
Bipolar disorder misdiagnosis:
is less common than simple unipolar depression (i.e. clinical depression),
and many people with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed with depression.
Part of the problem is that few patients are self-aware
of their manic or euphoric episodes and only seek treatment
during depressive times, and are then diagnosed with depression.
However, depression is not the only possible misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder,
with others including anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and
Unfortunately, many people with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed for years....more about Bipolar disorder »
Alternative diagnoses list for Bipolar disorder:
For a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder,
the following list of conditions
have been mentioned in sources
as possible alternative diagnoses
to consider during the diagnostic process for Bipolar disorder:
Diseases for which Bipolar disorder may be an alternative diagnosis
The other diseases for which Bipolar disorder
is listed as a possible alternative
diagnosis in their lists include:
Bipolar disorder: Hidden Causes Misdiagnosed?
Causes of Bipolar disorder may include these medical conditions:
- People with an immediate family member with bipolar disorder are at higher risk
- Genetic factors
- Environmental influence
- Childhood precursors
- Life events and experiences
- more causes...»
Rare Types of Bipolar disorder:
Bipolar disorder: Medical Mistakes
Related medical mistakes may include:
Bipolar disorder: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:
Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder:
Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)
Bipolar disorder may appear to be a problem other than mental
illness—for instance, alcohol or drug abuse, poor school or work
performance, or strained interpersonal relationships. Such problems in
fact may be signs of an underlying mood disorder. (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)
Bipolar Disorder Research at the National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH (Excerpt)
Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents has been difficult to
recognize and diagnose because it does not fit precisely the symptom
criteria established for adults, and because its symptoms can resemble or
co-occur with those of ADHD and CD. In addition, symptoms of bipolar
disorder may be initially mistaken for normal emotions and behaviors of
children and adolescents. But unlike normal mood changes, bipolar disorder
significantly impairs functioning in school, with peers, and at home with
(Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder Research at the National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH)
Common Misdiagnoses and Bipolar disorder
Rare epilepsy can cause a variety of severe emotional and depressive symptoms: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on
a case of a woman with severe personality and behavioral symptoms,
and a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.
She had extreme symptoms such as depression, cyclic moods, relationship problems,
and many other emotional and neurological symptoms.
After years of unsuccessful treatment, she was finally diagnosed with the
rare Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, a form of epilepsy without seizures.
Treatment for that disorder was highly effective and changed her life.
See Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women (by Klonoff and Landrine);
see also temporal lobe epilepsy.
Physical disorders often hidden causes of depression: It is a common misdiagnosis to diagnose a psychological
or psychiatric disorder, such as depression, when symptoms are
actually caused by an underlying physical disorder.
Some of the conditions that may cause depression-like symptoms
include diabetes, thyroid disorders, chronic fagitue symptoms,
and many others; see misdiagnosis of depression.
Underactive thryoid may be misdiagnosed as depression: Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is an endocrine gland disorder that
is more common in women.
It can mimic many diseases, including depression.
The patient often has depressive type symptoms, and may also have other
symptoms of hypothyroidism such as tingling fingers (peripheral neuropathy), hearing loss,
headaches, cold insensitivity, and many other symptms.
Common misdiagnoses of hypothyroidism include depression, dementia, schizophrenia,
or bipolar disorder (esp. rapid-cycling bipolar disorder).
Cushing's disease can be mistaken for depression: Cushing's disease (or similarly Cushing's syndrome) is a possible misdiagnosis for a person
diagnosed with depression.
It is an endocrine disorder with many depressive-like characteristics,
but also some physical symptoms; see symptoms of Cushing's disease.
Cushing's disease may also have schizophrenia-like symptoms such as paranoia and delusions,
leading to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia.
Manic or euphoria type symptoms are also possible, with a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder.
See overviews of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Cushing's disease.
Manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder often misdiagnosed: Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is often
misdiagnosed before reaching a correct diagnosis.
Some of the common misdiagnoses include depression and schizophrenia.
See introduction to bipolar disorder.
Calcium disorder a hidden cause of depression-like symptoms: Another uncommon endocrine disorder that
can be misdiagnosed as depression is hypocalcemia (low blood calcium),
which is usually due to a disorder of the parathyroid gland called "hypoparathyroidism".
This condition has many depressive symptoms, irritability, fatigue, and other symptoms.
See overview of hypocalcemia and misdiagnosis of depression.
Rare seizure-less epilepsy misdiagnosed as various conditions: A complex partial seizure disorder,
such as temporal lobe epilepsy
can be misdiagnosed as various conditions.
Some of the possible misdiagnoses include depression, bipolar disorder,
schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, multiple personality disorder,
somatization disorder, hypochrondria, an anxiety disorder, sexuality disorders,
Multiple sclerosis often misdiagnosed as mental disorder: The early stages of multiple sclerosis may cause
various general feelings of wellness, happiness, euphoria, or manic-type symptoms
in some patients.
These symptoms may lead to a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder),
hypomania, cyclothymia, histrionic personality disorder, or similar disorders.
Other patients may show depressive symptoms as part of Multiple sclerosis
and risk a misdiagnosis of depression (i.e. non-bipolar unipolar depression).
Other possible misdiagnoses of multiple sclerosis include somatization disorder,
conversion disorder, neurotic disorders, or other psychological disorders.
See the overview of multiple sclerosis.
Lupus is often misdiagnosed as other conditions: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often simply called "lupus",
is a difficult disease to diagnose and can manifest with numerous symptoms.
Some of the possible misdiagnoses include depression, bipolar disorder,
anorexia nervosa, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia,
schizophrenia (a less common manifestation of lupus with hallucinations and/or delusions),
conversion disorder, somatization disorder,
and other diagnoses.
See the overview of lupus or symptoms of lupus.
Rare copper disease insidious and misdiagnosed: Wilson's disease (a form of copper overload) is a rare disorder that
has a slow and insidious onset that can often fail to be diagnosed.
Copper builds up in the liver and in the brain,
usually in the late childhood, teens, or 20's.
Brain changes can lead to a variety of neurological and psychological type symptoms,
such as speech symptoms, language difficulty, behavioral symptoms, and various others.
Possible misdiagnoses include depression, behavioral disorders, schizophrenia,
mental retardation, learning difficulty, anxiety disorders,
hysteria, and other psychological disorders.
Physical symptoms related to liver damage, such as jaundice, often appear later,
leading to the delayed diagnosis.
See overview of Wilson's disease.
Insidious cancer misdiagnosed as mental health condition: Pancreatic cancer is fortunately relatively rare,
but this dangerous condition can be misdiagnosed as a mental condition in its
Psychological symptoms similar to depression are common (including suicidal symptoms),
leading to possible misdiagnoses of depression.
Patients also often have difficulty sleeping leading to a misdiagnosis of insomnia (particularly
with difficulty falling asleep),
or some sleeping disorder, including the revere symptoms of excessive sleeping (hypersomnia).
See the overview of pancreatic cancer.
Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of
medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present
in a variety of different severities.
Diseases in this group include multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia,
thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism),
chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes - all of these can have vague symptoms in their early presentations.
Also, depression can have some symptoms similar to these conditions, and also the reverse,
that many of these conditions can mimic depression and be misdiagnosed as depression.
Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who
had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness
because he suffered from sudden inability to speak.
This was initially misdiagnosed as a "nervous breakdown" and other mental conditions.
He was later diagnosed as having had a stroke, and suffering from aphasia (inability to speak),
a well-known complication of stroke (or other brain conditions).
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom might be Alzheimer's,
whereas there are many other less severe possibilities.
Some level of memory decline is normal with aging,
and even a slight loss of acuity may be noticed in the 30's and 40's.
Other conditions can also lead a person to show greater forgetfulness.
For example, depression and depressive disorders can cause a person to
have reduced concentration and thereby poorer memory retention.
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions,
such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease,
it can also occur from a side effect or interaction between multiple drugs
that the elderly patient may be taking.
There are also various other possible causes of dementia.
Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms
of severe brain injury are hard to miss,
it is less clear for milder injuries, or even those causing a mild concussion diagnosis.
The condition goes by the name of "mild traumatic brain injury" (MTBI).
MTBI symptoms can be mild, and can continue for days or weeks after the injury.
See the symptoms of MTBI or misdiagnosis of MTBI.
ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD
in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults.
Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the condition has usually been
overlooked throughout childhood.
There are as many as 8 million adults with ADHD in the USA (about 1 in 25 adults in the USA).
See misdiagnosis of ADHD or symptoms of ADHD.
MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms
such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked.
This is particularly true of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), for which the
symptoms are typically mild. The symptoms has also relate to a relatively
mild brain injury (e.g. fall), that could have occurred days or even weeks ago.
Vestibular dysfunction, causing vertigo-like symptoms, is a common complication
of mild brain injury.
See causes of dizziness, causes of vertigo, or misdiagnosis of MTBI.
Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder)
often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians.
Many patients with bipolar seek help from their physician, rather than a psychiatrist
See misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with
an eating disorder is female.
The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or
have a delayed diagnosis.
See misdiagnosis of eating disorders or symptoms of eating disorders.
Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be
undiagnosed in teenagers.
The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression
to be overlooked.
See misdiagnosis of depression or symptoms of depression.
Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition
that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed.
It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease or dementia (such as Alzheimer's disease).
The condition is called "Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus" (NPH) and is caused by having
too much CSF, i.e. too much "fluid on the brain".
One study suggested that 1 in 20 diagnoses of dementia or Parkinson's disease were actually NPH.
See misdiagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or misdiagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had
suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return.
A variety of symptoms can occur in post-concussion syndrome and these were not being correctly
attributed to their concussion injury.
See introduction to concussion.
Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be
correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients.
These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in children.
See misdiagnosis of migraine or introduction to migraine.
Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression)
may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of anxiety disorders).
Failure to diagnose these anxiety disorders may worsen the depression.
See misdiagnosis of depression or misdiagnosis of anxiety disorders.
Bipolar disorder: Rare Types
Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:
- Brain & Neurological Disorders: Rare Types:
- Chronic Mental Health Disorders -- Rare Types:
- more rare diseases...»
Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder:
The following medical news items
are relevant to misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder:
General Misdiagnosis Articles
Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.
When checking for a misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder
or confirming a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder,
it is useful to consider what other
medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative
conditions relevant to diagnosis.
These alternate diagnoses of Bipolar disorder may already have
been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible
alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder.
For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases,
see Overview of Misdiagnosis.