Bipolar Disorder ‘misdiagnosed in a quarter of cases’

An excerpt from an article on Medical News Today:

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.

Uhhh…let’s rethink this. Let’s do a bit of “reframing.” Perhaps 25% of people who are diagnosed with feeling shitty for probably some very good reason who need support in their life to successfully deal with their trauma, grief, or difficult life situation or alternately they actually have something physical wrong with them that can be treated with diet or nutrition but they are instead given ANTIDEPRESSANTS which in turn result in an ADVERSE DRUG REACTION that makes them a bit or a whole lot “manic” and THEN they get labeled bipolar and that leads to induction into the cult of hard-core psychiatry and generally to a multiple med cocktail and a life like mine which ultimately sucks real bad as a result of being over-medicated.

22 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder ‘misdiagnosed in a quarter of cases’

    1. frankly I don’t believe there is a proper diagnosis as long as you go to a traditional psychiatrist it’s likely they’ll continue to slap her with whatever diagnosis her med cocktail suggests to them.

      If you want a change the best you can do is see a doctor who doesn’t buy into the strict bio-medical paradigm and see if changing things like diet and lifestyle might help her change her med cocktail—possibly she can be on less meds or none at all with some careful attention to what is really going on.

      it’s not at all unusual for people to decompensate more and more once they get on meds. Trust your eyes and your guts. You saw it happen. Most docs will tell you it’s the “disease” but in my experience now…now that I choose to have my eyes open…I know many many people who feel better once they change their views about what drugs can actually do.

      I’m not 100% anti-drug…but I am pretty much anti-long term use of drugs. That is what really messes us up.

      spend some time on my tabbed pages at the top of this blog. It will introduce you to a new way of considering emotional distress…and give you ideas you might want to do further research on.

      my best to you.


  1. I question if my 20 year old was truly propertly diagnosed with bipolar when she was 15. There were so many other factors going on in her life at that time. She spent 10 minutes max with a psychiatrist that slapped her with that labe and sent us away with some scripts.

    Since then, I have witnessed alot of downhill in her~a beautiful person just slowly became less confident and withdrawn.

    Here is my question: How can we can a proper diagnosis when she has been on the meds for so long? Is it possible?

    Thanks so much to anyone with this experience!


  2. Been there. Done that. Have the tshirt and would give it away at the first opportunity.

    Two years ago I was diagnosed as bipolar II. It was a misdiagnosis. I had been diagnosed with post partum depression 6 months previously and was being treated with meds only. Major depressive episode with homicidal/suicidal ideations and one week long hospitalization later and I ended up withthst diagnosis.

    With the help of your story, I have tapered off everything except lunesta (it’s next). I was a miserable zombie and I have actually gotten back to being a great mother and an active member in society. I used CBT to help me. I am interested in the alpha and omega acids but I haven’t done the research.

    What I am getting at is that I am a very smart person the majority of the time but I still ended being sucked in by psychiatry and Big Pharma. They play dirty by going after you when you are already down. It is an ugly business with such shoddy morals. I am not anti-pharma overall, I have just decided it isn’t right forms and I wouldn’t recommend it.

    Thank you so much Gianna, you probably saved my life.


    1. thanks for sharing that Amanda…if you ever want to share your story on my blog feel free to submit it…sharing stories of hope help everyone.

      glad you escaped and have yourself back.


  3. I think the 25% is actually a low figure. On SSRI Stories there is an article that states the figure at 60%. Of course, this includes Bipolar II, etc. Such a terrible tragedy.

    Here is the article [in part]

    Paragraph 6 reads: “According to Hagop Akiskal, director of the International Mood Centre at the University of California in San Diego, while 1 per cent of the US population suffer from bipolar I or classic manic depression, 4-5 per cent could qualify as bipolar II. If cyclothymia is tossed in, the numbers creep up to 6 per cent or more, equal to national estimates of depression. Sixty per cent of people who have been diagnosed bipolar in the US were first diagnosed as depressed. And leading researchers like Akiskal say that bipolar disorder remains underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed: “Many cases are still missed.” Even more striking, experts are now suggesting that half to two thirds of all depressions may share characteristics with bipolar disorder, and should be renamed.”

    SSRI stories wonders how many of these people now diagnosed as “bipolar” would have escaped a label altogether if they had been treated for depression with exercise, omega 3s, cognitive behavior therapy, social support, correct diet, etc. instead of with antidepressants. As it stands, the mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics given to “bipolars” will shorten their life span by 15 to 25 years according to the latest epidemiological studies. These are heavy-duty drugs with life threatening side-effects and are usually given in high-dose cocktails.

    A big shift in our understanding of mood disorders is under way, with many depressed people now being reclassified as bipolar. But is trading antidepressant drugs for mood stabilisers a sign of progress, or just the latest diagnostic fad?


  4. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder that was actually antidepressant withdrawal and got increasingly worse with the “mood stabilizers” they put me on. I didn’t stay on them too long b/c I never really bought that diagnoses. It’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut when I hear people (a few that I know) enthusiastically identify with their label of bipolar. They don’t won’t to hear it. It pisses them off to be told that bipolar is just a label.


  5. I completely believe these medication make people sick and keep them sick. I hate to hear people are taking them and have tried to warn many with no success. Which brings me to a question about a drug a friend is taking it is prozac but it has anther medication added to it has anyone ever heard of it and could you tell me what the other ingredient is?…. as she does not know.
    She is having a horrid time just now and often quits her meds completely.


    1. Susan,
      there is a prozac/zyprexa mix which literally sounds like it was conceived in hell…it’s called Symbax…

      zyprexa is a neuroleptic which caused diabetes, other metabolic disorders, heart problems, stroke, massive weight gain, cognitive problems and brain shrinkage among other things.



      1. yeah Doe,
        I’ve learned to let people interpret their reality the way they want to. If there is an opening I’ll speak about what I’ve learned otherwise I leave people in peace….

        good to see you…


  6. My hope is that talk therapy (esp. cognitive behavioral) will become widely used as an equal or better choice than medication, for the treatment of mood disorders. And therefore be covered or assisted by public health-care programs, which rarely occurs now. Plenty of studies show equal efficacy, though this seems to be a quietly held fact. Can you imagine the positive impact on both patient health and health-care costs? But of course Big Pharma also imagines the negative impact on their business. We shouldn’t *suspect* them of undue influence on health-care options, we should *expect* it. Positioning for survival is what businesses do.


    1. there are dozens of things people can do…therapy being only one of them…diet, nutrition, meditation, peer support, yoga, exercise are just a few things people use.

      some people find a fix doing one thing…others need a combo of things…but meds are rarely an answer if ever…certainly some people do experience them as such but I have to wonder if they aren’t selling themselves short because they’ve been made to believe they are by nature defective and if so, what a shame.


  7. As a special education consultant I am constantly helping families who need alternative education for their children who are on medications. Not sure which came first, the learning issues or the meds.

    In our family we suffered through my daughter’s illness and jumped into the world of wellness, which you can see more at

    Cheers to everyone who is trying to find the root of concerns and not hide the symptoms 🙂


  8. I agree with you and have heard others claim the same, that bipolar often gets wrongly diagnosed. I think I may fall under that category and was given antidepressants for years. Now I am on mood stabilizers which help to a certain degree. I am pretty sure I suffered from mood swings all of my life, but not to the extent that I do now, so I believe the tendency was there all along. Did the use of antidepressants for years make it worse? I guess that is possible, but I hate to think of it that way because it is too depressing! (if you pardon the choice of words!)


  9. I got sick with bipolar disorder after being medicated. I’m not sure if I’m over it or not, but I’m positive the disease wouldn’t have come into my life if not for the meds.

    I was actually being given antidepressants at age 14, which may be most of that problem. Most aren’t approved for people under the age of 28, and I’m only 21 now. I’ve had things happen within the past two years that seem to challenge the bipolar diagnosis: the presence of severe trauma (which I’d been repressing until I turned 14, and didn’t fully recall until age 20) and the fact that my mood swings with my menstrual cycle…besides the fact that I’ve been off all meds for over a year without drastic, Bipolar-sized consequences.

    The diagnosis follows you everywhere. Besides the risk of being given meds you don’t need (and that’s true on both sides…I have some existing side effects and physical ticks I’m positive came from anti-psychotics I didn’t need), there’s also the risk of being unnecessarily/unjustly stigmatized for having a label you didn’t truly deserve. I don’t think the stigma needs to exist anyway…I really feel that if people were more willing to discuss all of this, there’d be less misinformation, and less of a tendency to misdiagnosed and systemically dope people up as well.

    Seriously…I sometimes wonder if prescribing antidepressants, knowing the risks of doing it incorrectly, is a means of purposely inducing people into more costly forms of mental illness. Is that too cynical?


  10. I totally agree gianna. People get slapped with labels that will unfortunately follow them in their medical histories for the rest of their lives. Often these diagnoses will be made after one visit to the physician who will not take the time to consider one alternative detail of what might be contributing to the patient’s presentation. This is what really happens… it’s so easy and quick to do. Label the patient with a pick and choose from the DSM, find the right billing code for said choice, prescribe a plethora of drugs that you have just been detailed on by the friendly drug rep and collect the payment. Never mind that the diagnostic choice is unprovable and not quantifiable. Oh, I forgot. Now you have a billing forever. The patient is not going to get better, the friendly drug rep will have new and improved chemical concoctions, plus look at all the side effect relieving medications there are to try! The billing code may change, but at least you have a nice steady income. What? The patient died? It’s too bad, they were hopeless cases anyway and probably non compliant as well. There are plenty more less troublesome candidates lining up for your valuable treatment anyway.

    ps: I am glad I am not in the misery business anymore. I am sure gianna that you are glad to be out of it too.


  11. Yeah, in the ’90s they tried to give me prozac because I started crying during a family therapy session when my mother said, “Everything that’s wrong in this family is kimbriel’s fault”. I refused to take it (and my parents, who sucked in most ways, always let me make my own medical decisions, even about the surgeries when I was 5) though, because I was not depressed. I had a crappy home life.

    Then in 2003, they gave me something that gave me TD within TWO days. I have brought that up to my doctor several times, and he has never addressed it, which makes me think it was emitted from my medical record, or else my doctor is a piece of sh*t who doesn’t believe my account of that hospitalization. Probably both. After that, they gave me Risperdal, best-selling drug for J&J. 5 years later, Abilify, the newest, hottest thing to hit the market. I’m ready to unsubscribe from Oprah magazine because they advertise there, usually as a depression treatment!

    This is not science, it is fashion.


  12. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder initially because I reacted badly to anti-depressants. I always said that if I wasn’t crazy before taking the meds then I certainly was after taking them. I never experienced any highs that would indicate bipolar disorder. At one point after slipping into psychosis after having my anti-depressant increased I ended up being put on a neuroleptic and have been kept on it. It’s easy to get sucked into a system that can be very difficult to get out of.


    1. sorry Laura,
      that sucks…you are in no small minority unfortunately…

      I hope you manage to sort things out…

      we were posting on each others sites at the same time!!


  13. I am not certain if bipolar disorder or schizophrenia even exist. It has bsen my experience that most if not all of the people told they have these trendy diagnostic entities do not actually suffer from any mental illness and ccan be healthy with a firm committment to Natural Health Care.


    1. uh…yeah, I pretty much agree…it’s sorta implicit on my blog…keep reading. I don’t tell people how to interpret their own reality though. That’s up to them.


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