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Problems with Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis that should be avoided

Aug 17, 2007
Currently, there is no laboratory or medical test that would give a straightforward conclusion that a person is suffering from bipolar disorder. This makes it difficult to determine if the symptoms (associated with bipolar disorder) that are present to him or her are indeed signs of this mental illness. Meanwhile, it is very important to detect whether or not this person really has bipolar disorder to provide the right treatment.

Furthermore, the symptoms that could be clear indications of bipolar disorder can be related to other identifiable physical or psychological illness. This makes it more difficult to give treatment since the focus is to give relief to the existing physical pain; rather than identifying if the patient is suffering from any psychological problem. And to complicate these things even further, a person who shows physical signs of bipolar disorder goes to medical doctors rather than a psychiatrist.

Therefore, bipolar disorder often remains unknown until it is too late to give treatment.

But this does not end here. There are other factors that cause problems in diagnosing bipolar disorder. These are:

Doctors' Dissimilar Opinions

There is an internationally accepted and standardized way to diagnose a patient whether he or she has bipolar disorder or not. The problem is, many therapists do not follow it. The result would be this: one patient can get several diagnoses from each therapist. The DSM-IV or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Revision, by the American Psychiatric Association is an internationally accepted standard for psychiatric diagnosis.

Self-denial on the part of the patient

Since there is a negative notion about mental illness, people are likely to deny their condition to escape from criticisms and discrimination. The result is, instead of seeking for immediate diagnosis on the onset of the illness, the patient prefers to keep it to him or herself. And if this happens, the effects could be far worse than previously imagined.


When people are ill, they go to the doctor for treatment and obviously this is generally a good idea. However, there are physical illnesses that are not related to any disease or physical conditions. Some medical doctors are limited to treating medical and physical conditions. They are not qualified to diagnose if the medical and physical conditions are caused by psychological illness. And since the patient complains about a certain physical pain, the treatment given is that which corresponds to the complaints. In other words they're treating the symptoms and not the source of the problem.

In addition, psychological symptoms of bipolar disorder can also be associated with other psychological illnesses. These might be psychotic disorders (Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder) substance-induced mood disorder, major depressive disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition.

With all these problems hindering a person - to know of his exact psychological condition, it is important to recognize his condition, accept that he needs help, and seek out a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist who is experienced with this kind of case. In this way, bipolar disorder can be managed properly and the effects would be minimized.
About the Author
Did you know 16% of the world's population suffer from depression? Are you a sufferer? The author of this article, Matthew OConnor runs a site dedicated to the latest news and developments in depression treatments, particularly bipolar disorder diagnosis.
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