View Full Version : Is being misdiagnosed with bipolar or anxiety instead of ADHD a high crime?


sarahsweets
02-09-17, 06:54 AM
I put this here because its not just about bipolar.
And this is long but please give me a shot.

I have been conflicted about this subject for awhile now so please hear me out.
I am not saying being misdiagnosed isnt awful-or that people should be like sheep and take whatever dx they are given and run with it. I am not saying that getting any diagnosis should be "good enough" for someone. Obviously the right diagnosis should be the ultimate goal and a lot of doctors can be more concerned with slapping a label on someone to stroke their own egos- then digging deeper for the real meat of the issue.

So I acknowledge that doctors are not perfect, and neither are patients.

Sometimes patients read about adhd and trim their symptoms to match those of adhd. Sometimes they read about bipolar or some other form of mental illness and make sure to NOT report anything that resembles it- in order to avoid any other diagnosis, other than adhd.

Sometimes the reason is meds- wanting stimulants because of previous positve experiences with them, or being convinced they are magic pills. Sometimes its because we think all options have been exhausted and adhd is the only logical diagnosis.

Sometimes its because the stigma of one diagnosis seems worse than another.
I dont know about anyone else, but I can be a bad self evaluator. Sometimes I miss stuff or have myself convinced that things are one way- and maybe miss an opportunity to treat the right thing with the right means. I avoid web md like the plague.


Please-please do not think I find a dismissive doctor or wrong diagnosis as acceptable- this is not what I am trying to say.

Specifically, it seems like many people complain of being misdiagnosed as bipolar. Like its the worst ever mistake. Like its due to the fact that you have the biggest as*hole of a doctor-who is only interested in churning out patients, pushing BigPharma solutions and under/over medicating.

Why is it so offensive to be diagnosed as bipolar? I am not saying that its ok to be misdiagnosed at all but it seems like there are a lot of people misdiagnosed as bipolar and the indignant misdiagnose-ee's get really upset about it.

When you go to a doctor and you are diagnosed with a cold virus when really its bacterial- its not looked upon as the doctor trying to screw people- its looked at as simply an oversight- something the doctor maybe wasnt sure of and you go back, get the right diagnosis and your antibiotics.

I guess I take offense to it a bit because it seems like of all the things to be misdiagnosed with, Bipolar seems to really get people worked up. Then the anger seeps through at the incompetent doctors as if they are deliberately trying to prescribe the wrong meds for the wrong thing.

I am not saying Big Pharma is innocent- just that its not the conspiracy some people make it out to be.

The same doesnt seem to hold true for people that are misdiagnosed with ADHD. Most people are ok with trying stimulants, even if its not adhd because the rep around stimulants is they do have the potential for abuse or at least euphporia and any way to get these types meds is fine.

What about anxiety? A lot of people have anxiety related to adhd but are just diagnosed with anxiety- which can be devastating yet doesnt seem to have the same stigma surrounding it.

I guess this boils down to me having both bipolar and adhd. I dont view bipolar as some sort of death sentence- and that most doctors do have patients that want help, and they honestly want to give help.

Yes there are the bad apples but I am not convinced they are the majority.
I am trying to make sense here an not offend anyone.....
I guess I feel a little...margionalized? Or stigmatized/sterotyped when it comes to the level of anger or irritation over a bipolar diagnosis that turns out to be wrong.

Its horrible to be misdiagnosed with anything. Its just not the most horrible to be misdiagnosed bipolar and doesnt mean you need to dwell in "crazy town".
Or that us BP's are doomed to live manic see-saw lives. Medication can make all the difference with bipolar- or anything for that matter.

If I was misdiagnosed as having adhd I would be pi**ed that the doc didnt get it right- and want the right diagnosis, yet it seems like there is such contempt when this happens with bipolar.

Being misdiagnosed with anxiety instead of adhd, or adhd instead of anxiety are equally unfair and just as devastating. Or thinking that substance abuse as nothing to do with adhd, when alot of adhd'rs have SA issues as a result of self medicating for adhd.


There are so many comorbids- but its not cool to isolate one particular thing as the root of all evil.

I hope I am making sense and no offense is meant to anyone with any mental illness or condition.
We are all players on the same team.
XXXOOO

Fraser_0762
02-09-17, 08:00 AM
The problem with ADHD is that it has such a broad range of symptoms. No two people with ADHD are exactly the same. We're all individuals who have been impacted in different ways.

Also, it's important to remember that these are merely labels. Life isn't that black and white. Symtpoms from many different labels can often overlap. So you could argue that it's not as simple as getting the "correct" diagnosis. Because the symptoms that you are experiencing could fit a long list of disorders in which some of those symptoms may fall under.

I try to look at it in a more neurodiverse way. It's not the specific labels that are important, all that's really important is the treatment options that work for you.

If stimulant medication makes your life better and helps you to function better, then the question of whether you specifically have ADHD or not doesn't really matter all that much. It's about doing all that you can to be the best that you can be and taking any help that you can get to help you to get to where you want to be.

Fuzzy12
02-09-17, 08:06 AM
I'm not offended (nothing offensive in your post) but I don't really see wgat you are seeing ie people getting upset about their bp misdiagnosis. This doesn't mean that it doesn't happen but just that my post might be a bit off topic because I don't really get what you are seeing.

I've been diagnosed with bp 2 and o suspect it's a misdiagnosis. I'm not upset about it. I'm not even upset that no one spotted adhd for a long time and that many people refused to even just entertain the idea. It's notoriously difficult to diagnose I think.

However I don't think it's that difficult to differentiate adhd from bp. They seem to have quite different symptoms to me so I'm not sure why so many people get misdiagnosed with bp. I think it's partly due to the fact that psychiatrists might be more comfortable slapping a bp label on an adult rather than an adhd label and that is frustrating. Not because of the stigma of bp or because I'd want to distance myself from bp but because there seems to be such am obvious bias against diagnosing adults with adhd.

I don't think the stigma lies with bp. I think it's with adhd. If you even mention the possibility of adhd you are very easily labelled as a drug seeker. I doubt that happens with bp. It's ridiculous that some of us have to go through every possible diagnosis under the sun before the notion of adhd is entertained.

The reason why bp might stick out is because a lot of adhders have depression and anxiety to varying extent anyway. It doesn't seem that far fetched to be diagnosed or treated for those. But bp is pretty distinctive. It shouldn't be so difficult to rule out

So I yhink for many people the problem isnt with bp but with the fact that their suffering had to be prolonged unnecessarily because of a bp diagnosis

Little Missy
02-09-17, 09:25 AM
I have to be brief :eek:

What is a crime is being diagnosed with ADHD, being totally stable on Dex for many years and then some goofy new shrink decides I have bipolar, takes away the Dex and puts me on Zyprexa-???!!!!- and tells me, "No, no, no, many people do very well on this and have important jobs in banking." Yeah right, if they can get out of bed and dressed and wear a drool bib. It was a NIGHTMARE!!!:eyebrow:

Needless to say I only took it for three days and went haywire until I found another shrink. I don't even like thinking about it. Ancient history now.

sarahsweets
02-09-17, 11:36 AM
If stimulant medication makes your life better and helps you to function better, then the question of whether you specifically have ADHD or not doesn't really matter all that much. It's about doing all that you can to be the best that you can be and taking any help that you can get to help you to get to where you want to be.
Do you mean you support the idea that anyone who has a positive reaction to stimulants should be allowed or encouraged to have them? The only negative I can see with that is for someone without adhd it would give them an advantage whereas someone with adhd has a chance with a level playing field.

sarahsweets
02-09-17, 11:43 AM
I'm not offended (nothing offensive in your post) but I don't really see wgat you are seeing ie people getting upset about their bp misdiagnosis. This doesn't mean that it doesn't happen but just that my post might be a bit off topic because I don't really get what you are seeing.
Well I have seen threads here where people seemed pretty upset at being misdiagnosed as bipolar so I guess thats where Im coming from. Ive also seen people kinda reference it in other threads in a way that leads me to believe that they were almost offended by the mention of bipolar or anxiety as a cause-


However I don't think it's that difficult to differentiate adhd from bp. They seem to have quite different symptoms to me so I'm not sure why so many people get misdiagnosed with bp. I think it's partly due to the fact that psychiatrists might be more comfortable slapping a bp label on an adult rather than an adhd label and that is frustrating. Not because of the stigma of bp or because I'd want to distance myself from bp but because there seems to be such am obvious bias against diagnosing adults with adhd.

I agree with you on this. Thats one of the things that puzzels me- how easy it seems for people, especially doctor's to confuse the symptoms of bipolar and adhd or anxiety. They share common symptoms for sure, but once you get down to specifics they seem pretty different to me. Maybe its because Ive treated my bipolar a lot longer then the adhd that makes me over-sensitive to this subject.

I don't think the stigma lies with bp. I think it's with adhd. If you even mention the possibility of adhd you are very easily labelled as a drug seeker. I doubt that happens with bp. It's ridiculous that some of us have to go through every possible diagnosis under the sun before the notion of adhd is entertained.

I see your point although I have seen doctors assume someone with anxiety or bp just wants benzos.


So I yhink for many people the problem isnt with bp but with the fact that their suffering had to be prolonged unnecessarily because of a bp diagnosis

Agreed.

Lunacie
02-09-17, 11:51 AM
I think it's a crime if the therapist or psychiatrist has a preconcieved idea of
what adhd or bipolar or autism looks like based on limited experience with
those disorders, and then quickly slaps that label on person without looking
at their family history and other things.

This happened first with my granddaughter. The therapist has an autistic son
and based on his symptoms he thought my g-daughter appeared more bipolar.
When he discussed it with a mentor who has more experience, she showed
him how autism can look quite different from person to person. He didn't even
believe the results of a Connor's examination before talking to his mentor.

Next I went to a counselor for anxiety issues. She decided my anxiety was
based on bipolar without asking for family history or anything and put that in
my notes. So when I saw the psych for a script to treat anxiety he pretty much
refused to believe I am much more likely to have either adhd or autism based
on family history. I have no family history of bipolar.

So for me it's not about the way any of these diagnoses are viewed by society.
It's about the way they are perceived and diagnosed by medical professionals.

ToneTone
02-09-17, 01:46 PM
Great post, Sarah.

I think it is so easy to assume that doctors are magicians ... but the truth is these conditions are all on a continuum ... and a number of symptoms appear in multiple conditinos.

And wow! ... you nailed a brilliant point when you said that people will trim out details (in reporting to doctors) so as to steer the doctors towards one diagnosis and not another ... because they can accept one diagnosis but another diagnosis threatens them.

I agree there seems to be some stigma around bipolar that isn't around depression. Depression has become much more "acceptable" to talk about in the last 20 years or so ... bipolar much less so, in my view. Even ADHD apparently is much more "acceptable" than bipolar--at least in the last decade or so.

The challenge of getting better and making the most of doctors and therapists is to really report things as honestly as possible--even if we're embarrassed or don't think "x" behavior is relevant.

This is slightly in a different direction, but in my recent and ongoing therapy, I have repeatedly noticed that I didn't want to talk about a subject, often because I thought, "oh, that's minor." Over time, I've learned that those "minor" issues--sometimes they seem petty--are some of the most helpful and fruitful to bring up with my therapist.

Really being able to report our symptoms and being able to allow the diagnosis "chips" to fall where they may is one of the best things we can do for ourselves in mental healthcare and in physical healthcare.

A close friend of mine was at her doctor's office, and the visit was almost over. She told the doctor everything was good, life was fine ... They were almost done, and the doctor said, "anything else?" And my friend hesitated, then said, "well there is this little chest pain I've been having occasionally."

The doctor gave her an EKG (I think) right then and there, and as soon as the results came back, the doctor ordered her to go to the hospital ER immediately for heart surgery. My friend had had a heart attack and she didn't know it. She was 52 at the time. The idea that she could have had a heart attack hadn't even crossed her mind.

Literally the doctor wouldn't allow her to go home--before going to the hospital. My friend was saying, "I need to think about this." They ran more tests at the hospital and the bypass surgery was scheduled the next day. Long story short: my friend was in danger of having another heart attack, and this one would likely have been fatal .. .and she just happened to mention her chest pains. That was 13 years ago, and my friend is doing well.

Very thoughtful and helpful post. Thank you. And yes, I think we need to remove the stigma from bipolar.

Tone

Fraser_0762
02-09-17, 02:13 PM
Do you mean you support the idea that anyone who has a positive reaction to stimulants should be allowed or encouraged to have them? The only negative I can see with that is for someone without adhd it would give them an advantage whereas someone with adhd has a chance with a level playing field.

People have ADHD of varying degrees and are affected in different ways. Should only "certain" people with ADHD be allowed access to medication, as it might give others with ADHD an advantage over them? Or perhaps certain ADHD meds should be restricted to those who are considered "severe" and weaker stimulants prescribed to those who are considered "less severe"?

It's easy to take a black and white view on things, but the world aint black and white Sarah. ;)

Fraser_0762
02-09-17, 02:16 PM
How would any psychiatrist be able to decern the difference between somebody with a combination of SCT & Bipolar from that of somebody with ADHD? It would be so damn hard to tell the difference between them beyond any reasonable doubt. As there would be so many corresponding symptoms to consider.

ToneTone
02-09-17, 03:21 PM
Add in embarrassment and shame about some of the symptoms--and the resultant hiding of information--and the tasks of doctors becomes all the harder.

Fraser_0762
02-09-17, 03:28 PM
Add in embarrassment and shame about some of the symptoms--and the resultant hiding of information--and the tasks of doctors becomes all the harder.

Not just embarrassment and shame, but being completely in denial, or completely oblivious to many of the symptoms that have been plaguing you in your life. (I know all about that!)

InterestedInPsy
02-10-17, 07:56 PM
I can understand where you are coming from. I do believe there is a lot of stigma around bipolar than some of the other mental illnesses. I mainly here people talk about OCD the most (in terms of stigmatizing comments), but talking about being diagnosed with bipolar instead of AD/HD, people are more scared of it.

Some of it I believe is the cliches. Like people may think of mood swings. Some of the statistics are bad for people with bipolar. The amount of people who stay married when they have bipolar is quite low. I read this somewhere, but I don't remember and can't find the link... Plus, more people find it scary to be put on anti-psychotics, with the side effects and the name itself is not very helpful to the general public. Being told you are on anti-psychotics may make people think negative things about you.

On the other hand, there isn't as much stigma (still is some, yes) about it. Like, if you were to tell the general public about AD/HD, they may think you are bouncing off the walls as a cliche, which isn't as bad as the bipolar disorder cliche in their minds.

My opinion though is that you should be diagnosed with the truth. You shouldn't hold back anything or deny things being said to you. I personally denied myself about having autism for like 6 months because I compared myself to other autistic people and didn't see myself in them. But after learning more, I now do see it.

Many people are diagnosed with the wrong thing. Bipolar disorder and AD/HD are confused due the signs of a manic episode mimic symptoms of AD/HD (ie impulsivity, racing thoughts, irritable (not a criteria of AD/HD, but common symptom)). It's just important to tell the professional everything. Don't cookie cutter yourself.

Also, I am friends with someone with bipolar disorder, and can understand the stigma. She didn't tell me for 2 years that she has bipolar disorder so that may show you the stigma about it.

BellaVita
02-10-17, 10:04 PM
I didn't find being mis-diagnosed with bipolar to be offensive, I just found it to be ultimately unhelpful for me. Like, when I got off of all of the medications they tried putting me on, I suddenly got much better.

I wish doctors were more aware of autism in females. If they had diagnosed me with it back then, instead of me having to find out about it on my own, I think it would've opened my eyes to a lot of things and provided lots of answers for me.

I never did feel like bipolar was a good fit, but since I was Un-educated about other conditions I just went with it and didn't think there could be another thing. It makes sense to me now why the treatment never helped. ( in fact made things worse, I'm very sensitive to medications and tend to get all the bad and paradoxical side effects)

My life has improved the most is figuring out what the true cause of my issues are.

There isn't a medication for autism, but all of the reading and research and going aha! that's why I am that way! has made a really huge difference in my life.

dvdnvwls
02-10-17, 11:51 PM
Sarah - I wonder whether you're experiencing the kind of bias where something familiar to you seems to occur more often than it does because you're already primed to take notice of it.

I don't think misdiagnoses of bipolar are necessarily treated differently from the way other psychiatric misdiagnoses are treated.

dvdnvwls
02-11-17, 12:57 AM
There is a lot of pressure, and conflicting kinds of pressure, on both patients and doctors. Neither the patient nor the doctor is free to just tell the truth and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Potentially addictive drugs are one source of pressure on both parties - doctors to take care in prescribing them, or to avoid it altogether, patients to avoid appearing to demand them, or to avoid being prescribed them, or to try to obtain them regardless of diagnosis - pressure from many sources, including governments, peers, quacks and their publications, individual politicians, schools, teachers, ... you get the point.

Pressure to avoid stigma, pressure to become a "better" person, pressure to avoid expenses, pressure to stay employed, pressure to maintain the appearance of ethical behaviour, pressure to meet medical administrators' expectations including to get through a certain patient load per day... you get the point here too.

All this pressure can't help but lead to hasty, ill-informed, and inaccurate diagnoses, on a regular basis.

Jeftheginger
02-11-17, 01:42 AM
I can understand were you are all coming from
But
can I just say that being a doctor must be hard
Getting the perfect diagnosis every time is not possible
I see the flats in the system
Yes
But I also.see.that we have a system.
And that is more than some can say.

Johnny Slick
02-11-17, 03:11 AM
OK, maybe, but as a person who had to wait until he was in his 40s in part because a previous therapist didn't diagnose him (I guess in fairness I had like a jillion issues at the time), even if it is like any other misdiagnosis it's still kind of frustrating. You think think X is what's wrong with you when all the while it was easily medicatable thing Y.

Fuzzy12
02-11-17, 06:07 AM
I can understand were you are all coming from
But
can I just say that being a doctor must be hard
Getting the perfect diagnosis every time is not possible
I see the flats in the system
Yes
But I also.see.that we have a system.
And that is more than some can say.
Huh??

What's the system?
Who is we?
Who is it that doesn't have a system?

:scratch:

Lunacie
02-11-17, 11:54 AM
I can understand were you are all coming from
But
can I just say that being a doctor must be hard
Getting the perfect diagnosis every time is not possible
I see the flats in the system
Yes
But I also.see.that we have a system.
And that is more than some can say.

I don't think anyone actually expects doctors to be perfect.
But it sure would be helpful if they knew the right questions to ask, were
better at following up, and especially if they actually listened to their patients
instead of assuming that they know so much more than we do.

When I did CBT one of my classmates had been misdiagnosed for years.
She actually had bipolar but the doctors wouldn't listen when she reported
that the depression meds weren't helping. For years!

I had a doctor who kept treating me for sinus headaches for years, even
though I have a family history of migraine disorder, even though the pain
wasn't always around my sinuses, mostly because I didn't have the aura of
flashing or zig-zag lines. I get blurry vision instead. Even though I reported
that none of the sinus meds were helping and often actually made it worse.

Just listen to us dammit! :mad:

dvdnvwls
02-11-17, 12:20 PM
Huh??

What's the system?
Who is we?
Who is it that doesn't have a system?

:scratch:
"We" is we who live in countries where doctors and a medical system are available to the public.

Hiddencreations
02-11-17, 10:00 PM
Specifically, it seems like many people complain of being misdiagnosed as bipolar. Like its the worst ever mistake. Like its due to the fact that you have the biggest as*hole of a doctor-who is only interested in churning out patients, pushing BigPharma solutions and under/over medicating.

Why is it so offensive to be diagnosed as bipolar? I am not saying that its ok to be misdiagnosed at all but it seems like there are a lot of people misdiagnosed as bipolar and the indignant misdiagnose-ee's get really upset about it.

When you go to a doctor and you are diagnosed with a cold virus when really its bacterial- its not looked upon as the doctor trying to screw people- its looked at as simply an oversight- something the doctor maybe wasnt sure of and you go back, get the right diagnosis and your antibiotics.

I guess I take offense to it a bit because it seems like of all the things to be misdiagnosed with, Bipolar seems to really get people worked up. Then the anger seeps through at the incompetent doctors as if they are deliberately trying to prescribe the wrong meds for the wrong thing.



I did get upset because receiving a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder during my teenage years had a deep impact that only within the past 2 years I've been able to distance myself from.

I received that diagnosis after being hospitalized for suicidal ideation at the age of 16 y/o. My mom pushed for that diagnosis because that is what she had and the attending psychiatrist agreed because after 3 days of being back on my anti-depressant I was feeling happier. Meanwhile, my psychologist who had been working with me for a year and a half did not agree with that diagnosis instead stating that it was major depressive episode and dysthymia given that my depression symptoms started at the age of 10.

The diagnosis led to 2 years of being a guinea pig which entailed gaining 70 pounds, worsening of self-directed anger, diagnoses on top of diagnoses, seeing so many MHPs, and feeling that I was being medicated so that everyone else could deal being around me rather than being understood and helped so that I can deal with me. I faced the stigma of having a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at school, where any behavior was pathologized, and was threatened with a more restrictive environment.

I felt like I was drowning because no one was listening to me or my concerns because to them I was a minor that was sick and was unable to make my own decisions. I had no control, I didn't have independence, I felt like I wasn't free to make mistakes, and I certainly didn't have any self-worth or hope for the future getting better.

My problem or frustration wasn't just that there was an error made, it was that as a 16/17/18 year old high school student I didn't have a voice in my treatment and when I did voice discontent over my medication or said that something wasn't working it fell on deaf ears. Everyone made an assumptions without having the complete picture.

So, when I decided to come off all of the medication I was on my freshman year of college, I felt a sense of control. Was life perfect? No, but I didn't feel constrained and it allowed my original psychologist and I to tease out what was going with me--Dysthymia and ADHD.

However, I will say a few things did come out the misdiagnoses--I learned how to self-advocate for myself and what I need succeed. It has also helped me connect to the kids I work with.

It wasn't the diagnosis itself that made me upset, it was the hastened process on which I received that diagnosis, the lack of a voice/control in the matter, and the proceeding events.

Nelson1967
02-23-17, 08:36 PM
One can have it all not really

Pilgrim
02-27-17, 06:44 PM
I think when suffering from anything I guess it's the labels you put onto it yourself. When I have those real ADD moments is the only time it really hits home.