One of the pitfalls of delivering treatment for mental health concerns is the diagnosis. Treatment is too segregated or the program only provides strict guidelines for one diagnosis, age group or gender.  When a treatment program fails to help a client recover, it can be in part because they were misdiagnosed. From that point on, the treatment cycle can get off track quickly. Without the correct training and education, missing the correct diagnosis can create a recipe for failed recovery. This is one area that New Roads Behavioral Health is working to improve on for clients. While there are programs for specific types of mental health concerns, substance abuse and gender specific tracks; each treatment program is customized and adjusted to meet the individuals specific needs. We invest heavily in training for our staff and utilize dual diagnosis to ensure we are treating the real issues. Treatment of the whole person in body and mind are most beneficial and we employ the best of the best in both medical and mental health expertise to achieve long lasting recovery.

Looking at misdiagnosis, there are some overlapping in symptoms between several mental health conditions that can cause confusion. Bipolar Disorder is often misdiagnosed. About 4 percent of the population can be classified as bipolar at some point according to the CDC. While some argue that the prevalence of bipolar is higher, one argument implies that the number is actually lower. One researcher, Mark Zimmerman, thinks that the over diagnosis of bipolar can be tied back to the marketing for prescription drugs that treat the symptoms of bipolar. While they market the treatment so that the diagnosis isn’t overlooked, it is possible that creating awareness can increase the top of mind awareness for those in the field leading to over diagnosis. While bipolar disorder is separate from borderline personality disorder (BPD), they do share many symptoms. Those effected by borderline personality disorder may mistakenly receive the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of depression can also overlap into other diagnosis symptoms. A study by the British Journal of Psychiatry stated that nearly 20 percent of those effected by bipolar disorder are mistakenly diagnosed with depression by primary care providers. Another study released in 2013 by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica showed nearly a decade gap (10 Years!) between the onset of symptoms and treatment with the correct mood stabilizing medications.

These findings aren’t surprising, says Jeremy Schwartz, a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York. Bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose, he says, because people often seek professional help only during their down periods and neglect to mention their up, or manic, periods.

“The manic side of bipolar disorder isn’t always bothersome to people,” Schwartz says. “They have more energy, more motivation to do things. So the mental health professional doesn’t always hear about it.”

As a consequence, Schwartz says, those with bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed with depression and may be given inappropriate treatment.

“When bipolar disorder is missed, people can be put on medications that actually worsen the manic symptoms,” Schwartz says. “So people end up waiting much longer to get the stability in their life that they’re looking for.”
Everyday Health – Why Bipolar Disorder is Often Misdiagnosed

Another reason for the misdiagnosis in bipolar disorder is the high likelihood of other mental health conditions in tandem with bipolar.

A study that examined patients with bipolar disorder showed that 46 percent of the patients suffered from alcohol abuse or dependence and 41 percent had comorbid drug abuse and dependence.
NCBI – Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder 

It is important that those who are seeking treatment to receive the correct diagnosis or dual diagnosis so that the entire person is being treated, and not just outward symptoms. Those properly trained in dual diagnosis can help identify the correct concerns and make sure that the treatment matches the best course of action for long term recovery. When those affected by bipolar, depression, borderline personality disorder or even schizophrenia begin exhibiting symptoms, they may find ways to self medicate to ease symptoms. What this actually does is disguise the true symptoms of their condition. The outward appearance of being high or drunk labels them as having a chemical dependency but the real underlying condition may be what lead to the drug abuse or alcohol abuse.

Misdiagnosis of conditions like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder has heavy consequences. For those that are misdiagnosed with depression, the medications that are used to treat depressive symptoms can increase episodes of mania in those with bipolar disorder. One study found that 55 percent of those with bipolar disorder misdiagnosed with depression and placed on medication developed manic symptoms, while 23 percent of those had episodes of rapid cycling. If you look at those numbers, that is a vast majority with negative or more severe symptoms because of the misdiagnosis. Not only do they experience this increase in severe symptoms, but the rate of suicide, self harm and hospitalization for those with a misdiagnosis increases as well.

With the onset of bipolar falling at around age 20 for most individuals, earlier diagnosis in teens and children can be misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Medical science is learning more about bipolar disorder in children and teens. But the condition is still difficult to diagnose. That’s especially true for teenagers in whom irritability and moodiness commonly co-exist as part of a normal adolescence. A preteen or teenager with mood swings may be going through a difficult but normal developmental stage. Or he or she may be suffering from bipolar disorder with periodic mood changes that shift from depression to mania.

In addition, symptoms of ADHD often mimic symptoms of bipolar disorder. With ADHD, a child or teen may have rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and, sometimes, defiant or oppositional behavior. Children or teens with bipolar disorder often have similar behaviors.
WebMD – Is it Bipolar Disorder or ADHD?

While attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder effects attention and behavior, is is a chronic condition. Bipolar disorder is often labeled as episodic, meaning that the symptoms are exhibited in episodes rather than chronically occurring. Treatment for each can me some what similar in that a combination of therapy and medication can help make symptoms manageable.

To ensure your diagnosis is sound, only seek help from professionally trained individuals that have experience in the field. Both medical and mental health must be addressed. With residential treatment that offers a full community of support, many diagnosis can be corrected and effectively treated. The treatment duration for each person can vary. While some may find improvement comes rapidly, others may have a slower recovery.

New Roads Behavioral Health can help young adults with a variety of mental health concerns, substance abuse or drug addiction. While we focus on the age group of 18-28, we can also provide treatment for clients in their early to mid 30’s as well. Finding the correct diagnosis for bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health concerns is vital to creating the right treatment plan. While we have programs designed for many specific ages and genders, each treatment plan is adjusted to fit the complex and unique needs of each person that we help.

There is hope! Recovery for all these specific concerns is possible. Talk to a professional today: 888-358-8998