What is the misdiagnosis of mental illness? A lot of people put their complete trust in medical professionals to discover any issues they may have and find the best solutions possible when they visit them for treatment.
However, receiving a mental health misdiagnosis – where the diagnosis is incorrect or the medical professional is unable to identify the disorder – occurs more frequently than you think.
Certain mental illnesses are difficult to recognize. Because these disorders can be complex, an accurate mental health diagnosis is critical. Misdiagnosed mental illnesses can cause a wide range of issues for both the individual and their loved ones.
Misdiagnosis refers to the wrong mental health diagnosis. In order to diagnose a patient, most psychiatrists will use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
However, many symptoms overlap from one diagnosis to the next. Bipolar disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anxiety are the most frequently misdiagnosed mental diseases.
Many of these are initially diagnosed as depression; due to misdiagnosis, people may wait months or even years before receiving a second opinion or re-diagnosis.
Why Misdiagnosis Occur
A lack of competency can certainly contribute to a high rate of misdiagnosis, but other factors can also complicate matters.
1. Patient Background
Numerous tests in medical diagnosis can unequivocally determine an illness or medical condition. In contrast, mental health clinicians must rely solely on reported symptoms and patient history.
Thorough patient history is required because it includes observations from previous providers as well as any relevant medical information. Clinicians are more likely to reach incorrect conclusions when they lack adequate information.
Patients are not always willing to discuss topics such as substance abuse or childhood trauma, and they may be unaware of how important they are in forming an accurate diagnosis. Alternatively, they may not believe that some of their experiences and emotional states are worth sharing.
For example, someone with bipolar disorder may not bring up their manic or high-energy episodes because they feel good at the time.
2. Symptom Masking
Many people believe that diagnosing mental illness is as simple as checking off symptoms neatly arranged in lists.
In terms of symptoms, however, there is a significant overlap between conditions. One common mistake is misdiagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder as a generalized anxiety disorder.
A good clinician does not simply look at a patient’s list of symptoms and choose a diagnosis that fits the majority of the parameters.
Clinicians will consider all possible factors, including some of the more complex conditions, to avoid misdiagnosis, rather than attempting to bandage symptoms with a hasty and incomplete diagnosis. The only way for a clinician to provide a confident, accurate diagnosis for any patient is to separate symptoms and conduct a thorough investigation into their causes.
3. Having Multiple Diagnoses
Misdiagnosis is quite common when the client has more than one condition to diagnose. The second condition can be either medical or psychological in nature.
Because of the severe and intense emotions, someone with an undiagnosed borderline personality disorder may be misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. Because of their lack of energy and lethargy, people with undiagnosed hypothyroidism may be misdiagnosed with depression.
Substance abuse can conceal an underlying mood or anxiety disorder. Clinicians who are skilled and caring understand how common dual diagnosis is and go to great lengths to ensure that the treatment is appropriate for each individual.
Consequences of Misdiagnosed Mental Disorders
A mental health diagnosis is the first step in determining appropriate treatment for the individual. Without an accurate diagnosis, the person may receive ineffective treatment or may not receive any mental health treatment at all, which is far worse.
Misdiagnosed mental disorders can have devastating consequences for both the individual and their loved ones.
Misdiagnosed mental illnesses can be extremely perplexing for patients. When they see that treatment isn’t working, they start to worry or become emotionally distressed. This may lead them to regard their lack of progress as a failure.
They may even experience feelings of guilt or shame because they believe they have let themselves and their loved ones down.
This can interfere with communication between the health care provider and the patient, as well as cause other issues with their families. When the error is discovered, this may eventually discourage them from seeking appropriate treatment.
Not only are primary diagnoses of mental disorders in the mental health program identified, but they also use a variety of mental health treatment methods to address disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety, among others.
Another risk of a misdiagnosed mental disorder is giving a patient the wrong medication. Taking medication for a mental illness you don’t have can have a number of negative side effects.
While Adderall may be beneficial to people with ADHD, it can cause memory loss, cognitive impairment, and even addiction in people who do not have ADHD.
Taking medications for a disorder you do not have can result in additional stress and anxiety, worsening the individual’s condition.
When a mental disorder is misdiagnosed or the individual’s disorder is not recognized, the individual’s condition is likely to deteriorate.
Most medications take a certain amount of time to work. A patient who has been misdiagnosed may expect to see improvements while their condition actually worsens. This can be extremely upsetting for the individual and their loved ones, and it may increase the individual’s risk of substance abuse and suicide.
Many people who have been misdiagnosed with a mental disorder or who are suffering from an unidentified mental illness seek solace in alcohol and drugs. A co-occurring disorder occurs when addiction and mental illness occur at the same time.
What to do if you are misdiagnosed
Seeking legal aid should be the last resort. The procedure is costly, but the individual involved may experience unnecessary stress as a result
- Learn the details
What DSM criteria did your psychiatrist believe you met, and what proof did they have? Once you have this knowledge, contact your psychiatrist to arrange a consultation to discuss this diagnosis. Make sure you have acquired facts and explain why you believe this is required.
A family member can help you with this process.
- Take a second look
If you disagree with your initial diagnosis, you can seek a second opinion from another healthcare provider.
You are not legally entitled to a second opinion. However, it is uncommon for healthcare professionals to refuse the request.
Depending on who made your first diagnosis, you may only seek a second opinion from that doctor or request a referral to a psychiatrist if it was a general practitioner.
- Speak to PALS
The primary responsibility of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) is to assist patients in resolving any problems they may have with their care.
- File a grievance
Utilizing their online complaints system, send a letter explaining your concerns to the provider you are dissatisfied with. You can ask the NHS Advocacy service for assistance if you need it in this regard.
- Get legal counsel
Find a lawyer right now if all other options have been exhausted. For those engaged, this kind of clinical incompetence can be detrimental or even lethal.
The extreme aggravation and harm that this procedure may cause are recognized and the need to assist you in resolving it and obtaining the compensation you are due.
How to Prevent Misdiagnosis
Although there is no way to guarantee that a clinician will not misdiagnose or fail to recognize a person’s mental illness, these risks can be reduced.
Be open about your symptoms: Many people are embarrassed or ashamed of their mental health problems, but there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Being completely honest about your symptoms is one of the best ways to avoid misdiagnosis. Providing as much information as possible aids in the identification of your disorder and reduces the risk of misdiagnosis.
- Make a list of your symptoms, thoughts, and feelings
Recording your symptoms is an excellent way to assist your clinician or health care provider in determining whether you have a mental illness
- Consult a specialist
There are specialists for every age group, and seeing one who treats patients in your age group increases the likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis. You should also seek multiple opinions before deciding how to proceed with treatment.
Make time to interact with patients in a productive manner. Closely collaborate with radiologists and lab staff to interpret challenging test results or diagnoses.
- Follow up
Specify who is in charge of following up on unusual test results. When numerous stakeholders are involved, make sure that everyone on the healthcare team is in agreement about a diagnosis.
- Patient-clinician involvement
Encourage patients to participate in the diagnostic procedure and review their own medical records to look for discrepancies.
Conclusion on the Misdiagnosis of mental illness
For youngsters as well as parents and other authority figures, receiving a mental health diagnosis is a major thing.
A diagnosis informs all parties involved of what to anticipate, and if that expectation is off, the patient may suffer.
Misdiagnosis of mental illness Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
Below, you will find the answers to the most asked questions about the misdiagnosis of mental illness;
- Why is misdiagnosis prevention important?
A diagnosis may be completely missed, the incorrect one may be given, or a diagnosis may be delayed.
All of these scenarios can result in injury from improper or delayed treatments and testing. Diagnostic errors entail various forms of missed opportunities to make a right and timely diagnosis.
- What is the problem with misdiagnosis?
When the suggested course of therapy doesn’t work, a misdiagnosis will cause the patient to become puzzled and possibly upset.
Also, When they don’t improve according to the diagnosis, they can think it’s a personal failing and perhaps experience feelings of guilt or shame.
- What is the most common misdiagnosis?
The most frequently misdiagnosed disease overall is cancer. Numerous cancer kinds are misdiagnosed, so it’s crucial to have a thorough medical history of the patient, enough time to analyze the patient, and full knowledge of symptoms and drugs.
- Do doctors give a false diagnosis?
The misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis of a medical disease, illness, or injury is the cause of a significant portion of medical malpractice claims.
A patient’s condition can get significantly worse, and they might even pass away if a doctor’s inaccurate diagnosis results in the wrong therapy, a delay in treatment, or no treatment at all. To that end, a misdiagnosis by itself does not constitute medical malpractice under the law.
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