• Accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder is essential for effective treatment.
• The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is particularly complex, resulting in lengthy delays between first presentation and initiation of appropriate therapy. Inappropriate therapy destabilises the course and outcome of the disease.
• Although the defining features of bipolar disorder are manic or hypomanic episodes, patients typically present for treatment of depression and commonly deny symptoms of mood elevation.
• A correct diagnosis can easily be masked by comorbidities, personality issues and complex phenomenology.
• A diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be assisted by:
→ asking about symptoms of mania or hypomania in every patient presenting with symptoms of depression.
→ recognising mixed states in which manic and depressive symptoms occur simultaneously.
→ identifying the features of bipolar depression that distinguish it from unipolar depression.
• There is a risk of over-diagnosis of bipolar disorder among patients who are histrionic, show abnormal illness behaviour MJA 2006; 184: 459–462 and/or have issues of secondary gain.
Field of Research
119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences