Your Life Misdiagnosed with Unipolar Depression - The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Yesterday, in a post, The DSM-5 and Bipolar, I observed that the DSM-5 - due out in May this year - does not address a very critical issue in our lives, namely doctors misdiagnosing those in the bipolar spectrum with unipolar depression. Most of you know from first-hand experience what I am talking about: Our doctors take our outward depression at face value, fail to probe for signs of bipolar, diagnose us with unipolar depression, and send us out the door with a prescription for an antidepressant.


    If we’re “lucky” (as I was), the antidepressant immediately flips us into mania, the doctor recognizes his or her mistake, and we are rediagnosed with bipolar and put on the right meds (and learn to control our cycles through various non-meds measures).

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    If we’re unlucky (as a good many of you have been), the antidepressant may result in a temporary improvement, which the doctor misinterprets as correct diagnosis and treatment. Sooner or later, we tend to feel worse. Perhaps we get agitated. Perhaps the antidepressant poops out. The doctor tries us on another antidepressant, then another. Perhaps we are labeled as “treatment resistant.” After years of this, we may feel much worse - far more unstable - than when we first sought treatment.


    Eventually, some doctor down the line gets smart and rediagnoses us with bipolar. Better late than never. Unfortunately, for many of us, our brains do not automatically reset to the day before we took our first antidepressant. 


    I know I have asked this question in many forms before, but you are my reality check, and I need to hear from you. This question comes in several parts:


    Tell us about your misdiagnosis of unipolar depression? Do you think, in hindsight, your doctor should have spotted your bipolar on your first visit? Do you think your doctor should have considered bipolar when your first antidepressant wasn’t working right? Second? Third? Fourth? What was your experience on antidepressants? Now that you have been diagnosed with bipolar, how is your life now?


    Feel free to write a book. Comments below ... 

Published On: January 14, 2013