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Bipolar Disorder Might Be Overdiagnosed
Date:5/7/2008

Availability of meds and pharmaceutical marketing might be swaying clinicians

WEDNESDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Bipolar disorder may be overdiagnosed, say researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University.

They found that fewer than half of patients previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder were assessed using a comprehensive psychiatric diagnostic interview -- the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID).

Recent reports suggest that under-diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be an issue, while this study indicates that there's an equal or greater problem with overdiagnosis, the study authors said.

They looked at 700 psychiatric patients who were interviewed using the SCID and completed a self-administered questionnaire between May 2001 and March 2005. The questionnaire asked patients if they'd been previously diagnosed with bipolar or manic-depressive disorder by a health-care professional.

While 145 of the patients said they'd been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder, only 43.4 percent were diagnosed based on the SCID. The study also found that people diagnosed based on the SCID were much more likely to have first-degree relatives with the disorder.

The study was published online in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and was expected to be presented Wednesday at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting, in Washington, D.C.

Overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder may lead to unnecessary use of medications and the risk of harmful side effects, noted lead author Dr. Mark Zimmerman, director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University.

"Clinicians are inclined to diagnose disorders that they feel more comfortable treating. We hypothesize that the increased availability of medications that have been approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder might be inf
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