This work may not be copied, distributed, displayed, published, reproduced, transmitted, modified, posted, sold, licensed, or used for commercial purposes. By downloading this file, you are agreeing to the publisher’s Terms & Conditions.

Original Articles

Practical Clues to Early Recognition of Bipolar Disorder: A Primary Care Approach

Article Abstract

Early treatment can favorably impact the course of bipolar disorder, a lifelong illness. Because bipolar disorder can masquerade as various mental and physical illnesses–primarily major depressive disorder–patients with this condition frequently go unrecognized for years. During this recognition lag, such patients may present to their primary care physician on multiple occasions. Accordingly, primary care physicians would benefit from knowing the “clues” to early recognition of the disorder, because early recognition and management can reduce disability, improve social and employment stability, and result in improved functional outcomes. This review describes 3 pathways to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder relevant to the primary care setting: detection of mania or hypomania, differential diagnosis of recurrent depressive episodes, and identification of interepisode disorder and its comorbidities. We summarize these pathways in terms of a practical tool that a primary care physician can use to trigger further evaluation or referral.


Some JCP and PCC articles are available in PDF format only. Please click the PDF link at the top of this page to access the full text.

Related Articles

Volume: 7

Quick Links: Bipolar Disorder

References