Study suggests one in three diagnosed with depression may have bipolar disorder

A study involving over 5,000 patients with major depression from 18 countries in Europe, Asia, and North Africa has concluded that approximately one in three people diagnosed with major depression may actually have bipolar disorder.

The study, by the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, listed five characteristics that could help pinpoint accurate diagnosis of the illness in the future.

They are:

• Family history of mania
• Having at least two mood episodes in the past
• Occurrence of first psychiatric symptoms before the age of 30
• A switch to extreme mood swings
• Mixed states in which symptoms of mania and depression occur together.

The research drew on recent studies which suggested that as many as 40% of patients receive another diagnosis first and that it can take years before they’re correctly diagnosed. Researchers found that many are diagnosed with major depression, resulting in inappropriate use of antidepressants.

“Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose, even by experienced Psychiatrists,” Charles Bowden, MD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center told the webMD website.

Bipolar disorder – sometimes called manic depression – is a serious mental illness which affects about 1 in every 100 people during their lifetime. Bipolar disorder causes extreme shifts in a person’s mood. People with bipolar disorder often have recurring episodes of mania and depression throughout their lives, although many are free of symptoms between these episodes.

To read “An Introduction to Bipolar Disorder by the Welsh mental health charity, Hafal, please visit:

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