Experts call for earlier diagnosis of bipolar disorder

A study part-funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at SLaM and carried out by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, found that delays in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, particularly in those with alcohol and substance misuse disorders, could be preventing people from receiving effective treatment for the condition.

Published in PLOS ONE, the study found that two months was the average delay from presenting to mental healthcare services to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. However, in people with alcohol and substance misuse disorders the average delay was two years, with some experiencing delays of over five years. This was in addition to a period of around 10 years from first experiencing symptoms to receiving specialist mental healthcare.

According to the study authors, the substantial delays reported among those with prior diagnoses of alcohol or substance misuse disorders could reflect a failure to recognise the symptoms of bipolar disorder and attribute them to alcohol or substance misuse, rather than considering a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or dual diagnosis of both disorders. Dual diagnosis is when someone with a mental illness also misuses alcohol or illicit drugs. Failing to recognise and treat dual diagnosis leads to worse outcomes as alcohol and drugs can worsen the symptoms of mental illness as well as reduce the effectiveness of treatment.

The study was carried out by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London.

 

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More articles     Posted on: 26 May 2015