Borderline Personality Disorder,  Other Disorders

Why Bipolar Disorder Is Often Misdiagnosed

Zimmerman says, bipolar disorder shares some symptoms with borderline personality disorder, a condition marked by impulsive behavior and problems relating to other people — and because of this, people who have borderline personality disorder are often misdiagnosed as bipolar.

Why Bipolar Disorder Is Often Misdiagnosed
By Jennifer Acosta Scott
Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD

yo-yo-261195-mBipolar disorder is missed in some people and mistakenly diagnosed in others. Find out why.

About four percent of people in the United States are diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years, however, some researchers have called some of those diagnoses into question, while others have maintained that the number of people with bipolar disorder is actually greater.

In 2008, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a study that suggested bipolar disorder is often diagnosed in people who don’t actually have the condition. The researchers determined that fewer than half the people in the study who said they had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder met the clinical criteria for the illness, which causes severe swings in energy levels and mood.

Mark Zimmerman, MD, the lead researcher on that study and a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, says the study also revealed that some people who met the criteria for bipolar disorder had never been diagnosed with it. But far more people had been given the bipolar label by mistake, he says. Dr. Zimmerman believes part of the reason for this overdiagnosis trend is aggressive marketing to doctors by companies that produce the drugs used to treat bipolar disorder.


One Comment

  • invisiblerain

    Let me say this..From 1999 to 2007, (and long before and long after these dates) I was having serious, I said serious, inter-personal conflict issues with my co-workers, managers, supervisors and assistant supervisors. I had been through some psycho-therapy already prior to 2008, but had never, ever been diagnosed. Imagine that! Wth?! In 2008, I went to this psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, who after talking with me for approximately 10 minutes, he diagnosed me with Bi-Polar. I didn’t know it then, but I was NOT Bi-Polar! I was, and AM Borderline Personailty Disorder. SAY IT! I’m not ashamed of what DOES define me! But at the same time, I will NOT allow this disorder to control me any more. I recognize it, yes. I acknowledge it, yes. I embrace it, YES! My whole life I have been angry, pissed off, depressed, lonely..because I had no idea WHY! I just was all those things; and I never, ever had any type of loving, lasting relationships..even with my own children! Gaww, that is so sad, and screwed up. But, I am also a Christian woman; and I have been delivered. Crazyy?? I no longer give two shites what anybody says, snickers, laughs, mocks about me any more. After all, umm, yeah, that is what DBT teaches us to IGNORE A-holes! I am a borderline. After years of psycho-therapy, group therapy, anger management, emotions management groups, one to one psycho-therapy, researching online, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and reading books about my disorder..I AM a Borderline. So! I am closer to my Creator because of it! I am a writer because of it! I am at peace, because of it..well,..not completely at peace, still working on it. I still have much growing to do, yes..but I have been delivered! Oh, I’m 52 years of age. Peace out!

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