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Educational Activity

Improving the Early Recognition and Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

Roger S. McIntyre, MD, FRCPC

Published: February 15, 2014

Article Abstract

Misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder is widespread, in part because of the overwhelming presence of depressive symptoms. In general, patients tend to seek help during a depressive episode rather than a manic one, leading clinicians to inaccurately provide a unipolar diagnosis rather than one of bipolar depression. To aid in making a bipolar diagnosis, clinicians can watch for several red flags in patients with depressive episodes, such as earlier age at onset, family history of bipolar disorder, and the presence of psychotic features. Other tools to identify bipolar disorder include the updated DSM-5 as well as evidence on the relationship between bipolar disorder and metabolic syndrome. A correct and timely diagnosis of bipolar disorder is crucial for the well-being and proper treatment of the patient.

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