Patients with bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed with unipolar depression due to a lack of knowledge about manic and hypomanic symptoms. This is a nightmarish odyssey for many families, as doctors may prescribe psychiatric medications that don't work. It is widely accepted that the greatest challenge to avoiding misdiagnosis is to differentiate bipolar depression from unipolar depression. Studies suggest that patients with bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed with other disorders, and the APA72 guidelines for the treatment of bipolar depression recommend not using antidepressant monotherapy.
The presence of bipolar disorder should lead to greater scrutiny for manic and hypomanic symptoms, both in terms of past history and future evolution. Observed symptoms are useful tools for evaluating a patient's bipolarity, and the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) has been reported to be most useful in the diagnostic process. Manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder may not be as obvious and may be confused with other behaviors, such as those commonly found with ADHD. Hypomania is less likely to be recognized by mental health professionals, the person with bipolar H II, or their close family and friends.
A person with bipolar disorder may not have a precise memory of their past moods. It is important for doctors to be aware of the potential for misdiagnosis when it comes to bipolar disorder. A thorough investigation and careful consideration of the data obtained should be conducted in order to make an accurate diagnosis. If a doctor stops with a patient's primary anxiety complaint, they may overlook more subtle symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is also important for family members and friends to be aware of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder so that they can help ensure an accurate diagnosis.