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Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder with various symptoms and unique challenges. Bipolar disorder is characterized by difficult shifts in mood. These shifts alternate between extreme highs and extreme lows. About five percent of adults in America will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, it is sometimes challenging to get a proper diagnosis.
Issues With Misdiagnoses of Bipolar Disorder
The reason that this particular disorder often goes undiagnosed may be due to the extremes in mood that might prevent a person from feeling they need to seek proper treatment. During a manic state, a person might feel extreme confidence, high energy, and increased productivity. While experiencing the highs that accompany these phases, it may be challenging to recognize that there is a problem.
A depressive state causes a person to experience feelings of extreme depression and worthlessness. They might be overwhelmed by the bare minimum of their day-to-day responsibilities. During these phases, a person may not have the mental capacity or strength to reach out for help.
There are several other factors that might cause a delay in getting a proper diagnosis of bipolar disorder. A misdiagnosis of the symptoms that a person is experiencing is one cause for concern. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can mimic other disorders and make it harder to pinpoint. This disorder has been negatively stereotyped as well, which may cause people to avoid seeking a diagnosis.
Common Misdiagnoses of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is different than other disorders because a person will have cycles between extreme highs and extreme lows. In order to determine if you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, you would need to be aware of the cycle. Being diagnosed with depression is a common misdiagnosis when those with bipolar disorder first seek treatment. Often, patients seek treatment only for depression because they don’t recognize the manic episodes as what they are.
Bipolar disorder also has a high rate of co-occurring disorders such as substance use disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Experiencing more than one mental health disorder at a time can make pinpointing multiple correct diagnoses very difficult.
Why a Proper Diagnosis Is Vital
Misdiagnoses of bipolar disorder can often cause the symptoms to worsen, especially if a patient is diagnosed with depression and treated with anti-depressants. When anti-depressants are taken they often trigger manic episodes or rapid cycling, which is when a person experiences four or more episodes of mania or depression in one year.
In the long run, misdiagnosis for people struggling with bipolar disorder can be detrimental. Without proper treatment, a person struggling with bipolar disorder may experience severe disruption in their life. They may have to miss work days or experience a loss of productivity. Undiagnosed or Misdiagnosed BP may lead to hospitalization to treat symptoms. Living a disrupted life may also have a negative effect on life skills such as maintaining relationships.
Early diagnosis and proper treatment can make all the difference in handling the challenges that accompany this disorder. Getting a diagnosis in the earlier stages of the disorder can help avoid dangerous cycling and the accompanying challenges that affect daily life. It is crucial to know what conversations to have with your healthcare provider if you or a loved one may be struggling with the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Getting a Correct Diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder
There are several things that can contribute to the correct diagnosis of BD. Self-awareness of the symptoms of manic episodes is key for most patients in the journey toward a correct diagnosis. Getting input from people that are close to you or your loved one may provide some insight into the scope of the disorder’s effects.
One effective tool that you and your health care provider can use when considering a bipolar disorder diagnosis is the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ). It is a short quiz that evaluates the cluster of symptoms and how much the symptoms are affecting your life. The MDQ is not used to diagnose bipolar disorder by itself. It is a useful screening tool that can start leading your healthcare provider toward the correct diagnosis when followed up with more extensive diagnostic evaluations.
Educating yourself is crucial for you to manage your health care and advocate for yourself. The more you know about bipolar disorder the more you can start to identify what unique challenges you face. This will empower you to take a more active role in your diagnostic process. You will also be able to be more proactive when forming a treatment plan once you receive a correct diagnosis.
Where Can I Find the Mental Health Services I Need?
Alter Wellness Care offers a variety of services that can help you find the support you need for yourself or your loved one. We provide assessments and evaluations that will form the basis for an individualized treatment plan. The outpatient services that we provide are focused on maintaining and improving functional abilities through an interdisciplinary approach to treatment.
At Alter Wellness Care, we understand the challenges that a bipolar disorder diagnosis can pose for you or your loved one. We want to make sure that you get the correct diagnosis as early as possible so that we can get you on the path toward feeling better. At Alter Wellness care we have a compassionate team of professionals that are committed to improving your quality of life. We strive to make every client that we serve feel welcome and comfortable.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, Alter Wellness Care is here to help you navigate those challenges. From diagnosis to treatment, we strive to provide the most compassionate care to our clients. Alter Wellness Care provides outpatient care for a variety of mental health care needs. We have an exceptional team that enables us to offer a variety of structured clinical programs. These programs take an interdisciplinary approach to treatment and are individualized to each client’s individual lifestyle needs. We want to help you get on the path toward living and feeling better. Call us today at (866) 311-3510 to find out how we can support you through the diagnosis and treatment process.