It takes almost 6 years to diagnose bipolar disorder; scientists find out why

It takes almost 6 years to diagnose bipolar disorder; scientists find out why

The yearning to break free of the clichés surrounding mental disorders is forcing many people to come forward and discuss their struggle against the problems. Many celebrities have also opened up about their psychological disorders and the associated treatment. The revelation by singer Demi Lovato about her bipolar disorder diagnosis at the age of 22 highlighted the pervasiveness of mental disorders among people from all walks of life.

Amidst ongoing extensive researches to find out ways to detect psychiatric illnesses for timely treatment, a study indicated that it takes almost six years to diagnose bipolar disorder. While working along the same lines, a recent study, titled “Meta-Analysis of the Interval between the Onset and Management of Bipolar Disorder,” aimed to understand the time elapsed between the onset of bipolar disorder and its initial phase of treatment.

Experts fail to understand depressed phase of bipolar disorder

For research purpose, the scientists observed 9,415 patients from 27 studies. The study, published online in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in July 2016, found that many patients had been reeling from distress while manifesting signs of troublesome and riotous behavior before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The time lapse between the first noticeable symptom and detection of the disorder is usually longer for teenagers as parents and doctors mistake the indications as mood swings or typical characteristic of adolescents. In such a scenario, doctors continue to administer mood stabilizing medications to treat the problem. And this further delays the diagnosis of the real problem.

Citing failure of medical practitioners to differentiate between the depressed phase of bipolar disorder and other forms of depressive behavior, lead author of the study Professor Matthew Large from University of New South Wales’ School of Psychiatry said, “This is a lost opportunity because the severity and frequency of episodes can be reduced with medication and other interventions. While some patients, particularly those who present with psychosis, probably do receive timely treatment, the diagnosis of the early phase of bipolar disorder can be difficult.”

During a detailed analysis of the patients, the scientists also observed that doctors tend to overlook the disorder as its diagnosis requires a detailed history of the patients and other information from families and this entire process usually takes longer time.

While diagnosing bipolar disorder in patients, clinicians must consider various factors such as mood symptoms, family history and mood swings caused by antidepressants, travelling and substance use, said the researchers.

Time to change

The current methods for the detection of various mental illnesses need to be revamped to prevent delay in diagnosis and consequent treatment. Also, further studies need to be carried out concerning signs that help predict bipolar disorder and the reasons behind such a long time lapse prior to treatment.

The societal prejudice against various mental illnesses impedes patients to share their uneasiness or to seek professional help. More than the increasing pervasiveness of mental disorders, it is the lack of accessibility to treatment facilities which is becoming a major concern.

Considering the symptoms of mood swings associated with bipolar disorder, it is important to start the treatment as soon as it is diagnosed. If you or your loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder or any other mental disorder, consult the Sovereign Health for the best treatment. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 954-0529 or chat online to understand all about bipolar disorder treatment and to know about our various mental health centers.

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