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Misdiagnosis of Addiction

Alternative diagnoses list for Addiction:

For a diagnosis of Addiction, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Addiction:

Diseases for which Addiction may be an alternative diagnosis

The other diseases for which Addiction is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Rare Types of Addiction:

Addiction: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Addiction: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Common Misdiagnoses and Addiction

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).

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.

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.

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 or psychologist. 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.

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.

Addiction: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Failure To Diagnose Addiction

Failure to diagnose Addiction may be associated with the following:

  • Many addictions remain undiagnosed as patients are often unable to acknowledge they have a problem or are unwilling to overcome their problem. Patients may feel ashamed of their addiction and are too embarrassed to bring it up with their doctor
  • Addictions often co-exist with at least one mental disorder such as depression and often only one or the other condition is diagnosed which leaves the patient at a much greater risk of relapsing. Both the addiction and the resultant or underlying mental disorder need to be treated for an optimal prognosis

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Addiction

The following may be hidden causes of Addiction:

  • The underlying cause of addictions may be conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Some people are genetically predisposed to addictions such as alcoholism. Environmental factors may play a role in addictions. For example, a child raised by parents with addictions may tend to follow the same behaviours. Also, people who have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse are more prone to developing an addiction as a way of coping
  • The underlying cause of sexual addiction may be a brain lesion, seizure disorder (e.g. temporal lobe epilepsy) or a side effect of certain medications such as antiparkinsonian agents
  • Risk factors for developing an addiction include poverty, lack of education, unemployment, stressful environment, cultural and social factors and an unhappy childhood

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Addiction

Wrong diagnosis of Addiction may be associated with the following:

  • Patients with addictions for prescribed drugs feel comfortable with making up fictitious complaints in order to obtain further prescriptions. Health professionals need to carefully monitor patients who complain of persisting symptoms despite receiving treatment which would normally be sufficient. The matter becomes complicated by the fact that patients may genuinely have persisting symptoms (especially if their condition has been misdiagnosed) and the health physician may come to the conclusion that they have developed an addiction and refuse them further treatment. For example, a patient suffering from chronic pain may have no obvious cause for their pain or their pain may be misdiagnosed. This means that the patient will continue to demand painkillers which the health physician may suspect to be the result of an addiction. These kinds of situations can in fact lead to addictions. Chronic pain, fatigue, stress-related condition, depression and other mental disorders are common underlying conditions that lead to addictions to various medications
  • Patients with addictions may present which symptoms similar to depression and be misdiagnosed as a result
  • The symptoms of methamphetamine addiction may be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. Common symptoms include agitation, paranoia, violence, hallucinations, weight loss and other behavioural problems
  • Patients suffering from substance abuse usually manifest symptoms similar to psychological or mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder
  • Psychiatric symptoms can mimic those of addiction but addiction may also cause or magnify psychiatric symptoms which increase the risk of misdiagnosis
  • Withdrawal symptoms from gambling addiction include anxiety, tremors and headaches which are similar to substance withdrawal
  • Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine can cause psychosis and may be misdiagnosed as such. Stimulants may also cause mood swings which may be misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder. Also, stimulants (or withdrawal from them) can cause depressive symptom which may lead to a wrong diagnosis of depression

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Addiction or confirming a diagnosis of Addiction, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Addiction may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Addiction. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.


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