Bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as depression
in over a quarter of cases, a new study suggests. The research is
presented today at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2009 Annual
Meeting in Liverpool.
Psychiatrists Dr Krishna Gangineni and Dr
Richard Annear, who work in Wales, reviewed the medical notes of
people referred to psychiatric services for assessment. They found
that over 25% of the patients with bipolar disorder had initially
had their condition misdiagnosed as unipolar depression.
Misdiagnosis often occurs because the symptoms
of bipolar disorder overlap with depression and other psychiatric
disorders. However, misdiagnosis can cause serious problems. For
example, if people are wrongly prescribed antidepressants this can
make their bipolar illness worse.
Dr Gangineni and Dr Annear said: “Our study
found that bipolar disorder was misdiagnosed as unipolar disorder
in more than 25% of the patients who first see a mental health
“Recognition of bipolar disorder and its
adequate treatment is paramount because bipolar disorder exacts
such as a high personal and societal toll, with high rates of
suicide and interpersonal problems and a substantial economic
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Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, 2 -5 June 2009