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Mental Health Misdiagnoses are More Common Than Most People Realize


Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness. Unfortunately, many people living with a mental illness get misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed where their symptoms are overlooked by a doctor. Misdiagnosis is a double-edged sword. It creates false hope at the beginning and then leaves a trail of medication or treatment that has to be reversed or abandoned completely before starting from scratch all over again to get to a place where a proper diagnosis can be made. According to 2019 reports by Docpanel, around 12 million adults receive a misdiagnosis every year. That’s 1 out of every 20 adults seeking outpatient care. A misdiagnosis that is not corrected can lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful treatments, physical and emotional pain, increased costs and even loss of life. Research from Johns Hopkins has shown that many Americans have been, and are still, misdiagnosed and are issued prescription medication for conditions they do not have. Some of the commonly misdiagnosed mental illnesses include bipolar disorder, depression, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to NCBI, the rates for misdiagnosed mental health are staggering: 97.8% for social anxiety disorder, 92.7% for bipolar disorder, 85.8% for panic disorder, 71.0% for generalized anxiety disorder, 65.9% for major depressive disorder, A misdiagnosed mental illness may not be the fault of the health care professional alone. Sometimes, when a person fails to disclose all their symptoms, the doctor may be led to an improper diagnose. Many people do not recognize certain emotions and behaviors as symptoms of mental illness, and therefore do not report them. Other people may also feel shame, embarrassment, or stigma as a result of their symptoms, and may find it difficult to share them with their doctor. The Dangers of a Misdiagnosed Mental Illness Whatever the reason for a misdiagnosis, there is no doubt that an improper diagnosis has a negative effect on a person’s health and well-being, as well as on those around them. When a person is wrongly diagnosed with mental illness, it keeps them from receiving proper treatment, and the condition may worsen if left unchecked. Not receiving the correct diagnosis can also have far-reaching effects on a person’s emotional and psychological welfare. A misdiagnosis can result in a prescription of the wrong medication. This can be extremely dangerous for the person involved because many of these medications can worsen the symptoms of an illness if wrongly administered. Research has shown that certain antidepressants tend to heighten the symptoms found in people with bipolar depression when they are wrongly prescribed. People whose bipolar disorder is treated with antidepressants are at heightened risk of mania, increased frequency of mood switching, and more severe depressive episodes than if they received no treatment at all. This is dangerous both in the immediate and long-term, as each mood episode can cause neurological changes that complicate treatment and compromise treatment outcomes. Approximately 20 % of people with ADHD also suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by depressive and manic episodes. Both ADHD and Bipolar Disorder conditions share symptoms, but ADHD is more common, bipolar disorder is often missed or misdiagnosed. Likewise, in a person with severe bipolar disorder, you may have hallucinations or delusions, where you firmly believe in something that just isn’t true. This is when it’s easy to confuse bipolar disorder for schizophrenia. Being prescribed a medication for a condition you don’t have can be dangerous. If, for example, a child who has simple anxiety gets diagnosed with ADHD, they will likely receive a prescription for a medication like Adderall® or Concerta®. In people without ADHD, these prescription stimulant medications can cause impairments in working memory performance and other areas of cognition. Receiving the wrong medication can also lead to a person experiencing all the side effects of the medication without any of the benefits, causing distress and anxiety while leaving the root problem untouched. Addressing a Misdiagnosed Mental Illness If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and you find that the medication or method of therapy prescribed has failed, or make your symptoms worse, the first thing you must do is consult a professional for a second opinion. Stats on a second opinion: 88% of patients that get a second opinion end up with a change or alteration to their diagnosis. 66% get a more specific diagnosis, while 21% get a whole new report. 12% were able to get a confirmation of their original diagnosis, which means they can confidently move forward with treatment. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help. You Are Not Alone 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6–17 experience a mental health disorder each year 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24 Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10–34 Seek help from your health care provider or mental health professional. ******************************************************************* If you have been misdiagnosed and would like to write about it, comment to be a writer with #Read All About It. 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