Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be Careful of Misdiagnosis

Depression is a serious illness which can be quite disabling if it is not properly treated. The good news is that when accurately diagnosed and an appropriate treatment plan is implemented and followed, the severity of the symptoms of depression can be significantly reduced and the likelihood of future relapse minimized if not even prevented. The bad news is that depression can be difficult to accurately diagnose. All too often the illness is misdiagnosed and improperly treated, making an already challenging situation even worse.

Misdiagnosis sometimes occurs because symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder share a number of similarities to those of severe depression. Fortunately, most psychiatrists are fully aware of these similarities and understand how critical it is to conduct a thorough medical history before making a diagnosis and developing a treatment program. The treatment plans for persons who have severe depression are very different than those that are developed for persons in the depressive phase of a bipolar disorder.

Psychiatrists know this. It is the specialty in which they are board certified.

Non-psychiatrists do not know this. It is not their specialty. They may be general or family practitioners, internists, cardiologists or psychologists, but they are rarely board certified psychiatrists, as well. They do not know how to accurately diagnose patients with brain illnesses.

Avoid the serious problems of misdiagnosis. Make sure the physician doing the diagnosis is a psychiatrist. Accept no substitute.

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