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Have You Been Misdiagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by uncontrollable mood swings typically from a depressed state of functioning to either mania or hypomania. Most people with Bipolar disorder tend to have a genetic predisposition to the illness, but even those without a genetic predisposition can develop it. The trend in society among psychiatrists and mental health professionals is to make sure that a person with this condition is correctly diagnosed so that they can be properly treated.

Typically Bipolar Type 1 is relatively easy to diagnose. It is characterized by mood swings or “cycles” from depression to mania. The mania is generally easy to observe because the individual will appear highly talkative, stimulated, and euphoric.  In Type 1, the “cycles” are relatively quick, resulting in shifts from depression to euphoria in hours or days. Bipolar Type 2 on the other hand, is more difficult to diagnose because “cycles” aren’t generally as rapid as Type 1 and “hypomania” (as opposed to mania) may get mistaken for personality features.

Bipolar Type 2: Misdiagnosis

Due to the difficulty of diagnosing Bipolar 2 disorder, it can easily be falsely diagnosed. Misdiagnoses are often the result of neurochemical changes as a result of someone that has pursued psychiatric treatment for another condition. Over time, psychiatric medications can alter brain chemistry and lead a person to behave abnormally. In some of these cases, a person will experience medication-induced hypomania and/or discontinuation-induced mood swings.

Although over time a person’s brain will revert to homeostatic functioning after discontinuation from psychiatric treatments, many psychiatrists see evidence of hypomania and assume that it was a result of Bipolar 2 rather than induced from neurochemical changes stemming from psychiatric treatment. They may also assume that it was “latent” and the person has always had Bipolar 2 disorder, when they never did.

What could lead to a misdiagnosis?

There are typically several factors and/or conditions that can lead to a Bipolar 2 misdiagnosis. Many of these conditions can lead to symptoms that are nearly identical to those of BP2, therefore it takes keen observation and a historical perspective of the patient for proper diagnosis.

  • Adrenaline addiction: Individuals with adrenaline addiction could be the most easily misdiagnosed population for having BP2 disorder. Those with high levels of adrenaline may work longer, be more productive, and perform at a high level. They may also feel some degree of pleasure and have an eerily similar predisposition to that of hypomania. However, in the cases of adrenaline addiction, as soon as the adrenaline levels are lowered, the hypomania goes away and the person achieves homeostasis. Typically adrenaline addiction is developed as a result of a traumatic experience. A person can overcome adrenaline addiction with consistent efforts to induce relaxation.
  • ADHD: Someone with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may display similar symptoms to a person with Bipolar disorder. Those who have ADHD may have mood swings and periods of functioning that may resemble hypomanic behavior, when in fact it is hyperactive behavior. Although hyperactivity and hypomania occur simultaneously, generally the individual with ADHD doesn’t actually have hypomania.
  • Anxiety: People with anxiety are unlikely to be diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. However, those with extremely high levels of anxiety, generally resulting from some sort of trauma may develop hyperactivity and become hyperaroused. This state of hyperarousal can lead to behavior that resembles hypomania. However among these individuals, as soon as the anxiety is treated, their behavior appears less hypomanic.
  • Antidepressant-induced hypomania: Many people notice that when they take an antidepressant, they may exhibit symptoms of hypomania. In many cases, the person would have never experienced hypomania had the drug not made significant changes to their brain. We now know that antidepressants alter brain activity within 3 hours of taking them, so it’s likely a result of changes being made by the drug. This is very common among individuals who take SSRI or SNRI medications as the serotonin system can temporarily create this state.
  • Cocktail of psychotropics: A person who is on a poly-drug combination may exhibit unpredictable symptoms. Although we have a general idea of how a person will respond to certain medications, the effects are not universally predictable. When individuals take a cocktail of psychotropic drugs, they may display both symptoms of major depression (if the combination is bad) and periods of hypomania (if they have a certain reaction to the combination). Therefore it is clearly possible that drugs could lead to a misdiagnosis of BP2.
  • Illicit drugs: People using illicit drugs of any sort may be prone to hypomania. Drugs that would likely contribute to the portrayal of hypomanic symptoms include: stimulants such as that of cocaine and/or methamphetamine. The “high” derived from these drugs could be mistaken as a person being hypomanic, when in reality it’s a result of the drug.
  • Medication withdrawal: During withdrawal from psychiatric medication, a person’s entire nervous system goes through a bevy of changes. Depending on the individual, the dosage of drug they were taking, how quickly they withdrew, and how long they had been on the medication can all influence withdrawal symptoms. During discontinuation, a person may exhibit symptoms that may resemble bipolar disorder. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between temporary changes during withdrawal and a factual bipolar diagnosis.
  • Non-responsive to antidepressants: Many people who fail to respond to antidepressant treatment are thought to have Bipolar disorder. Although the evidence for this is somewhat flawed, many psychiatrists suspect that something “must” be wrong if the patient isn’t responding to “clinically proven” treatment options. In some cases a mood stabilizer may be used as an antidepressant augmentation strategy, and if effective (in any way) a psychiatrist may try to “pry” a Bipolar 2 diagnosis out of a patient. In some of these cases, a person ends up being wrongfully diagnosed.
  • PTSD: Many people with PTSD experience high anxiety, high levels of stress hormone (cortisol), high adrenaline, and rapid beta brain waves. This may make a person seem stressed, on edge, and the person may clearly be overstimulated. Due to the stress response by the body and blocking of the “trauma” a person’s body may flood with adrenaline, giving them excess “anxious” energy. As enough adrenaline accumulates in the body, a person can develop a PTSD-induced hypomania. In this case, the person doesn’t have bipolar disorder, rather hypomania that was caused by their trauma. As the person learns how to overcome PTSD or some good coping techniques, they can achieve a more stable mood.
  • Stimulants: Individuals taking psychostimulant medications may appear to exhibit hypomanic symptoms. This is especially common among those who are taking high doses and/or are new to using stimulants. Initially a person may appear to be “hypomanic” when initially administered a stimulant, but over time, the effects may wear off and/or a person could become depressed – leading to a potential misdiagnosis of BP2.

Problems with Bipolar 2 diagnostic criteria…

While most people have no qualms when it comes to diagnoses of Bipolar I, many people aren’t so sure that they have Bipolar II.

Bipolar 2 diagnostic criteria:

In order to be diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder, an individual must fit the criteria listed below.

  1. The presence of a hypomanic or major depressive episode.
  2. If currently in major depressive episode, history of a hypomanic episode. If currently in a hypomanic episode, history of a major depressive episode. No history of a manic episode.
  3. Significant stress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

There are several problems with this definition for Bipolar II disorder. The first major problem is that all a person needs to have in order to be diagnosed with this condition is: one-time occurrence of hypomania, one-time occurrence of major depression, and stress or impairment in various areas of life.

  • Cycle-length unspecified: Perhaps the worst aspect of the BP2 diagnosis is that cycle-length estimates are unspecified. Although we know the person must have one episode of hypomania lasting more than 4 days, how long does it take (on average) for the hypomania usually take to shift to depression? What if a person had hypomania for 5 years followed by depression for 2? If a person had a favorable ratio of hypomania to depression would they really benefit from treatment? Most people with BP2 diagnoses claim that their moods shift “weekly” or “monthly.”
  • Marketing/media portrayal: Many people see Bipolar disorder in the news and among celebrities and believe they also have it. Although the illness “bipolar disorder” is thrown around like hot-cakes among news programs, gossip sites, and celebrities – it is seldom used correctly. Many individuals in the media hypothesize that certain celebrities are “bipolar” simply because they have other issues or exhibit some mood swings. The reality is that everyone that is human has changes of mood, but this does not indicate bipolar disorder. The problem is that someone may see a news article speculating that a celebrity has this diagnosis, even when the speculation is completely misinformed. That same person will read something vague about bipolar disorder such as “mood swings” and may think they have the same condition – even when they clearly don’t. A major problem is when a person takes it one step further and markets the symptoms to fit a “bipolar diagnosis” even when they don’t actually have it.
  • Organic hypomania: In a legitimate diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, the hypomania should be organic, rather than induced by a medication, trauma, or another condition. In cases that the hypomania is a result of a traumatic experience, does the person really have Bipolar 2 disorder? According to the actual definition, “yes” – but in reality, once a person learns to overcome and cope with the trauma, the hypomania will naturally reduce. Only those who became hypomanic without influences from trauma and/or medication are likely to have a genuine diagnosis of BP2.
  • Psychiatric “interpretation”: Different psychiatrists interpret what patients tell them differently. A patient may say that they have mood swings, without much detail and the psychiatrist may initially assume that the person could have bipolar disorder. They may then note any (even tiny) details that may even partially suggest BPD2. Other psychiatrists may be better at distinguishing between someone who has “mood swings” and a person who truly has the disorder.
  • Vague diagnostic criteria: One of the most unfortunate aspects of the Bipolar 2 diagnosis is that the criteria is relatively vague. Someone treated for major depression may experience hypomania during their treatment, are they automatically classified as having bipolar disorder? What if the hypomania would have never occurred had they not taken an antidepressant? Does that still qualify for the diagnosis? It shouldn’t.

How to understand if you were misdiagnosed with Bipolar II disorder

There are several questions you can ask yourself to understand whether you were wrongfully diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.

1. Did you have bipolar symptoms prior to taking psychiatric medication?

In other words, think about your life from an objective perspective. Did you have periods of hypomania followed by periods of depression (or vice-versa)? If you did, well then your diagnosis is likely correct, however if you never had these symptoms prior to taking medication, you may be a victim of misdiagnosis.

2. Do you really have a history of hypomania?

Many people who are misdiagnosed with this mental illness do not have a history of hypomania. The hypomania may have been induced by a traumatic experience and/or medication that they took. Certain people who are resistant to depression treatments may continue trying medications and find no relief. A psychiatrist may then experiment with drug combinations that may trigger hypomania-esque symptoms.

3. Do any immediate relatives have bipolar disorder?

If immediate relatives have bipolar disorder, your chances of also having it significantly increase. First determine whether there are any people in your immediate family with a bipolar diagnosis. Then think about whether any blood-relatives have the illness. Assuming no relatives have the illness, the odds that you have it are less likely.

4. Have you suffered any sort of trauma?

If you have suffered some sort of trauma, it may have created an ideal breeding grounds for the misdiagnosis for BP2. Although trauma at a young age can affect various brain networks and functioning, and may be a potential cause of an actual bipolar disorder diagnosis, in certain cases trauma leads to development of symptoms that may be mistaken for BP2. For example, some individuals become hypomanic in response to trauma, does that mean they have bipolar disorder? Not usually.

5. Do symptoms occur in homeostasis?

Do your symptoms occur in your natural state of functioning without the influence of outside substances? Take the time to think about when you felt “normal” and evaluate whether you were prone to bouts of hypomania and/or depression. Many people get too caught up in how they feel after taking a medication and sometimes forget that their current symptoms may me more related to the medication than their actual state of functioning.

6. Do you use illicit drugs?

Individuals who use illicit drugs may be prone to mood swings as a result of this drug usage. Before an accurate diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder can be made, a person must be free of illicit substances. For example, a user of methamphetamine may display signs of mania and/or hypomania while high on the drug, followed by bouts of depression when they “crash” – this does not qualify for a diagnosis.

7. How frequent are your mood “cycles”?

Although you only need one episode of hypomania and one of depression to fit this diagnosis, most people have multiple episodes. Organic Bipolar II disorder is generally something that was present prior to any sort of psychiatric treatment and/or outside intervention. Mood cycles may occur each week, each month, but for many people, they seldom experience more hypomania than depression. Most professionals would agree that it is rare for hypomania to persist for years.

Dangers of misdiagnosing Bipolar 2 disorder

If a person has Bipolar 2 disorder and doesn’t get properly diagnosed, it may significantly impair their functioning and livelihood. However, there are also some dangers associated with falsely diagnosing the condition including: exposing patients to unnecessary medications, forcing additional stigma upon the patient, and further confusing the patient (especially when a diagnosis doesn’t really make sense and is done out of speculation).

  • Hopelessness: A person who is wrongfully diagnosed as having Bipolar disorder may become hopeless and feel as if they have no way out. This may trigger deeper depression and the person may end up feeling suicidal as a result. Although this happens among people who actually fit the criteria, patients who are misdiagnosed as having this condition are put through unnecessary stress.
  • Medications: Most people with Bipolar II disorder are put on mood stabilizers like Lithium and/or antipsychotics. The medications tend to carry a variety of side effects and typically a patient must have blood-work done often to avoid any adverse reactions.
  • Side effects: People often have a difficult time putting up with the side effects from medications used to treat this condition. A person may gain a significant amount of weight, become lethargic, and lack zest for life. Although they work well for balancing out those with bipolar disorder, exposing someone to these side effects who doesn’t have the disorder is wrong.
  • Stigma: Many people have to deal with stigma from family members, friends, and society for carrying this diagnosis. Although those who understand the illness are empathetic to sufferers, those who lack understanding may poke fun at a person with it. In the event that someone is wrongfully diagnosed, they may have to deal with the burden of putting up with the stigma.

Do you really have bipolar 2 disorder?

Most people who have this condition are well-aware of it. People who transition between mania and depression are aware of these frequent shifts in mood. Bipolar Type 1 is less frequently misdiagnosed than Type 2 because it’s easier to notice manic symptoms such as talkativeness, happiness, compulsive shopping, etc. Bipolar Type 2 is tougher to diagnose, but also significantly easier to misdiagnose.

If you know that you never had any Bipolar disorder symptoms prior to psychiatric treatment, chances are good that you do not have this condition. Medications such as antidepressants can trigger hypomania even among those who do not have Bipolar disorder – it all depends on how an individuals’ neurochemistry reacts to a certain class of drugs. Additionally during a transitional phase coming off of a medication (e.g. in withdrawal) a person may experience hypomania-like symptoms until their brain readjusts to homeostatic functioning.

Others may experience hypomania as a result of elevations in arousal such as in cases of PTSD and anxiety. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between whether the individual actually has Type 2 Bipolar disorder or another condition that mimics many of the symptoms. Although self-diagnosis should never be encouraged in mental health, most people are aware whether they have always had Bipolar disorder or were misdiagnosed.

Note: It seems I am no longer alone in recognizing this rampant misdiagnosis by psychiatrists… Read this:  http://www.madinamerica.com/2015/01/antidepressant-induced-mania/

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • sophia burdett February 20, 2015, 8:50 am

    I suffered traumatic stress and anxiety after a divorce and was diagnosed as bipolar 2 which I personally feel is incorrect. I was given seroquel, epilim, olanzapine, and all its done is ruined my body. I have more than tripled in weight, my self esteem and dignity has been taken away from me, and the stigma attached to it is unreal. I am the one having to deal with the problem, not the doctors who of course wouldn’t admit they were wrong in their diagnosis. Its been a month now since I stopped all medication and feel mentally well, but still have to deal with the weight issues (that I never had before). I must say my condition has made me become more of an introvert lately. I have to live with the consequences now which is so unfair!

    • Nathalie May 9, 2015, 10:34 pm

      Excellent article. I have been doing research on my own into secondary mania caused by SSRIs and whether this necessarily unmasks an underlying bipolar disorder. I have found a lack of nuance in the current diagnostic criteria. I was lead to believe that my hypomania strongly indicated BP 2 and / or ADHD however a highly experienced Psychiatrist has reviewed that matter and is attributing elevated, racing mood to hyperarousal and mood swings caused by unresolved trauma (SSRIs also in the mix in my view) basically PTSD. Thank you for pulling together such a comprehensive digest of causes of hyper behavior/hypomania.

    • Henry Ochoa January 28, 2016, 8:12 pm

      I am right there with you also because of a divorce. I was taking the bipolar meds for 15yrs and was I was useless as a human. I trusted doctors. I had to leave the country for 3 months to be away from family to get off the Meds, I tried several times around family and was unsuccessful. Now I’ve been off all meds for approx a year and have to deal with feelings etc. that I had completely lost. I need help with this and no doctor or therapist will help or point me in any direction.

    • Emma October 5, 2016, 6:22 pm

      Hi. I have just been told that I was wrongly diagnosed with bipolar 2, 7 years ago. I’ve have been on a very high dose of seroquel and citalopram continuously. Ive been re-diagnosed with emotional irregularity brought on from cyclothymia. I have gained 6 stone over the years and have feelings of loneliness and lethargy alongside complete sexual distance which has affected my relationship with my husband (though he is very caring and understanding).

      I have been told to come off seroquel slowly. I am so scared of coming off as I don’t know who I am after 7 years without the medication. I am also extremely angry as was told that the person who diagnosed me also diagnosed a great deal of people incorrectly. This is so wrong. Is there anything I can do about it???

  • Michael Brewer June 5, 2015, 9:47 pm

    Well done. Comprehensive and pragmatic. Thanks for making all those distinctions as my very psyche is composed of those distinctions. Like the folks who adhere to narrative therapy maintain…we are more than categories of diagnostic criteria… MB/ Marine/ Ret.

  • Jasmina July 2, 2015, 10:14 am

    Thank you for this article. I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002. Doctor gave me a diagnosis based on my reaction of stress because I was dealing with grand mal seizure and when found out I had epilepsy. I was pretty young, 22. It was stressful for me. I had no mood swings, no up or downs for 14 years… Just one emotional reaction then. Since that stress happened when I had to except that I am ill of epilepsy. I blame it on a bad doctors, I have two beautiful children. If I could get tested or find a doctors who really know about bipolar disorder I would do it in a second. Because it is horrible to be diagnosed with a disorder you don’t have!

  • Dick September 3, 2015, 6:58 am

    Very helpful article thanks. I have been a GP and MHAct approved doctor for years. Now retired. I fully acknowledge that I have always had a cycling personality. My wife used to to I was either full on or asleep. I had social panic disorder for many years. The difficult issues surround my wife’s death pushed me into an exhausted state. The cavalry were called in and a diagnosis of hypomania made. Worsened by a switch from SSRIs to Trazadone and ongoing sleep problems due to arthritis. This is hard to bear.

    I firmly believe one is entitled to be a tad up and down in a bereavement and with stressful family, social and physical issues. (Pain and sleeplessness)
    I would say this hyper alertness is inevitable. So if I didn’t have a really good psychiatrist I would probably be hit with body-ruining antipsychotics and lose my driving licence. Hypomania is a label to be used with great care and for the benefit of the patient and not those around him.

    • Giselle wilding November 11, 2015, 8:09 am

      So sorry and sounds ridiculous diagnosing you with bipolar. Grief I have heard will soon be a mental disorder with some psychiatrists. Should hear my story.

  • Giselle Wilding November 11, 2015, 8:06 am

    I am a person who had to be shut up in 2005. I had exposed my ex husbands crimes and he had been doing his best to destroy me so I could not expose him more. He either paid or blackmailed a doctor, Johannes K.L. Khor to section me just before critical court cases. My own lawyer was in on the act. Due to depression from my ex husband’s serious abuse and constant stalking I had been on Effexor for five years.

    I am still researching what this doctor did as only a couple of years ago did I get FOIs for these actions of 2005. It has totally disturbed me beyond belief. He has faked almost an entire medical file; fake visits to me; fakes interviews with doctors I never saw while locked up and forced cold turkey off Effexor and onto anti psychotic and sodium valproate. I saw NO consultant it the eight days of lock up.

    I had had NO hypomania even in withdrawal and hardly made a fuss on purpose. He was trying to get me on a community based order while he replaced real medical notes. I have spent countless hours researching what these three men did and in conspiracy with a bribed detective. My ex was risking millions unless I was destroyed. I had NO bipolar symptoms. I have great trouble getting any support for my trauma at all. I can get no response with letters to the health practitioners whose notes were faked.

    I allege I suffer permanent vision impairment from this assault with diplopia and other problems no doctor can explain. I am in such trauma I no longer wish to see a doctor ever again following my investigations. Three times since this horrific treatment I have attempted suicide. I was so knocked out by the drugs my lawyer got me convicted for stalking; I would yell at my ex husband outside my home as he was there maybe hundreds of times and he tortured my daughters. I did not stay long on the drugs but I was in terror they would force them on me. Any attempt again would result in instant death. Best this.

  • Jennifer March 16, 2016, 8:15 am

    Thanks for this article. This sheds a lot of light on doctors misdiagnosing patients with bipolar disorder. The difficult thing is getting the misdiagnosis removed from your medical record.

    • Deborah McDonald September 2, 2016, 4:24 am

      I’m sorry to read of your traumatic experience. If you ever find a way to get the bipolar off your record please, please share. Stay blessed and positive.

  • martin robson April 24, 2016, 6:56 am

    Hi I agree with so much on this site. 25 years ago I suffered a Closed Head Injury, 11 days comatose. In the thickness of a boat hull I went from 50 mph to 0 mph. In total 26 days in hospital, crazy then DISCHARGED out. Months later back at home with my wife and three young children, my ex wife gave birth to our third 2 weeks after I was DISCHARGED.

    Over the next few months I was becoming agitated annoyed etc I could not accept how I had changed, I was advised to become an inpatient at a Psychiatric Hospital from observation for 12 days. I did this and no Label at that point was put on me. I was placed on medication to calm me which I needed at that point.

    However that Registrar moved on straight away and I fell under the Consultant who then Diagnosed me as Bipolar and put me on Lithium. He totally ignored my Brain Injury and said I was a Congenital Defect. This Consultant 10 years before had treated my father for depression on retiring.

  • Rachel May 28, 2016, 4:58 pm

    This was an interesting article. My 16 year old daughter has experienced anxiety and depression for 14 months. We took her to a psychiatrist to discuss medication. He read her 20 school reports and spent 10 minutes with her and then proclaimed to us that he knew she was bipolar.

    He recommended starting lithium and another drug immediately. Thankfully we trusted our gut reaction and said we would think about it. I have since realised how wrong he was. She has never experienced mania or anything close to it.

  • Sidra June 17, 2016, 3:19 am

    I’m positive I’ve been misdiagnosed with bipolar. Some background: I was diagnosed years ago with low level depression (can’t remember the medical term). I took antidepressants on and off for years. When the stressful situations in my life was less I was fine being off meds, but whenever the stress was ramped up, I found myself unmotivated, more tired then usual, easily crying about things, even about tragedies I saw on the news and the sorry state of the world, but I was always able to work and take care of my personal life.

    Stressors included long periods of high-stress related to a job that took advantage of my labor; a husband (an ex as of Jan 2015) with a severe alcohol problem who refused to get help, was abusive and frequently unemployed which caused financial stress; death of my mother 4 years ago and 2 friends within a week of each other in Dec. 2014, and back problems. Years ago I was put on various anti-depressants, which would work fine for a few months, but then would stop.

    I was finally put on Effexor, which worked great for years. Then I went through a period of less stressors and wanted trying being off Effexor, since I was worried about long-term effects. Due to severe withdrawal symptoms, I went very slowly coming off Effexor, tapering very gradually over 8 months. I was successfully off anti-depressants for maybe 4 years, then about 2004 I went through another very stressful period. I was also experiencing body aches, so I was given Cymbalta which worked well for both the depression and body aches.

    After I left my ex and retired from my high-stress job, I found a low-stress job, and then decided in April of 2015 I wanted to taper off the Cymbalta, to see if I could do it on my own. Before making an appointment with a new doctor (new HMO due to job change) I read about Cymbalta, and understood that it’s chemical makeup was similar to Effexor, and I knew how severe Effexor withdrawal had been until I went very slow. I also read many statements in forums like this one of people detailing the horrors of coming off Cymbalta, with recommendations to taper very slowly.

    I also found a document on the FDAs website that recommended doctors taper patients slowly. According to this document, the Pharma responsible for Cymbalta states that only 2-3% of patients experience withdrawal symptoms, while the FDA believed it was closer to 40%. So armed with this info, I finally saw my new GP doctor. He told me that this HMO didn’t use Cymbalta, and was reluctant to renew my prescription, even though I was almost out from the Rx from my former doctor.

    He finally did agree to renew, but only gave me a month to taper, even after I told him about my former experience with Effexor, the info I had found out online, and the fact that I had been on Cymbalta for over a decade. I then made an appointment with mental health, hoping they would be more helpful, but I couldn’t get an appt for 4 weeks. By the time I saw a MH professional I was sick as a dog. I could barely function.

    I was experiencing so many symptoms including diarrhea, throwing up, severe headaches with bizarre energy zaps in my brain, severe tingling in my fingers, and hypomania with inability to sleep (exact opposite of my life long sleep habits, never had a problem falling to sleep, always slept at least 8 hours, more if I could). MH gave me lithium, as a temporary med to help me through the withdrawals, but after another month or so the symptoms hadn’t gone away. MH also told me that what the GP had told me about the HMO not using Cymbalta was wrong, but since I was already off the Cymbalta for awhile, she thought it best not to put me back on just to then taper me slowly.

    The withdrawal symptoms never went away, and at the next appt about a month later she became worried, said the symptoms should have subsided by then; and per blood tests I was actually having a negative reaction to the lithium, and ended up in the hospital. I didn’t know anything about lithium until this, didn’t know it was for bipolar, I thought it was for depression.

    The hospital gave me a saline IV for several days, and I felt great after that. MH then put me on 100 mg of lamotrigine. Gradually over 6 months the depression increased, although not as severe like in years past. Saw MH again in Feb. 2016 and she upped the dosage to 200 mg. Didn’t make much difference. I was suppose to go back in 6 weeks for a check-in, but I was still paying off a large bill from appts and hospital from last summer, and this new bill was over $100 for maybe a 15 min visit, so I cancelled next appt since money was tight.

    I told the nurse I was doing better, although not really… figured once I was caught up financially I would go back in, especially since the depression wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately, during the Feb. visit, I got a bit chatty about a political issue, which I’m very passionate about. I thought it was no big deal. I also started having a churning in my stomach off and on starting in Jan, which I mentioned to her.

    She told me that would never go away, she didn’t elaborate and since the appt was about done, I left it alone. I had digestion issues and heartburn for years, so attributed it to that, but she must have felt differently. In May I saw my new provider a NP (I quit that first GP) for back and leg pain and was referred for PT. I was given a printout summary of the visit, listing my meds, diagnosis, etc. and was shocked to find that my MH diagnosis had been changed to Bipolar 2 (HCC).

    I discovered that the MH professional (who isn’t a physician) had changed my diagnosis without even informing me, after only seeing me for 4 visits over the year, for maybe 15 min each visit, and hardly asking any relevant questions in order to Dx me! After decades with other MH health professionals who spent a lot more time with me and dx me with mild depression and prescribed both Effexor and Cymbalta which had worked great for me (I just wanted off both after years of taking these meds and since the stress in my life had been reduced during those times). She barely knows me, but changes my Dx to bipolar 2, which I understand after reading various medical websites can be difficult to do.

    She must have made that Dx based on my churning stomach (which she said would never go away, which meant nothing to me at the time) and my intensity while talking to her about something Congress had done that I had just read about on my cell while in the waiting room, something I wasn’t happy about. After reading many websites regarding bipolar 2, I find none of the symptoms fit me. I don’t experience any ups and downs, just a mild down.

    I don’t have problems taking care of my professional or personal business. I don’t have anger issues in my personal relationships. People at work, family, friends and others find me to be congenial and accommodating. I’m known for being willing to help others, I have no problems with concentration nor racing thoughts, don’t talk fast, no problems with sleeping, and just that one incident with hypomania when reduced off Cymbalta too quickly.

    As someone who reads a lot about politics and is frequently alarmed by what I’ve read, I can get intense when talking about politics. I don’t know why I decided to talk about what I had just read about Congress during my last appt with MH, but probably because I had just read about it and she basically let me do most of the talking! I remember being passionate about the issue.

    So I’ve been Dx’d with bipolar 2 because I’m passionate about the direction this country is heading? She never even asked me questions for possible other symptoms to make this Dx. I understand from others on the internet that once you’ve been dx as bipolar, medical professionals are very resistant to changing it. I haven’t figured out what I want to do about my mis-diagnosis.

    I’m coming into some money soon, and think once I get it I’ll make an appt with a physician who’s an expert in bipolar and independent of my HMO. Depending on what happens with this doctor, I might file a medical malpractice suit. Any suggestions on what to look for and how to evaluate an expert when doing my research to find someone? Any thoughts on a malpractice suit?

    Other thoughts or suggestions would also be greatly appreciated. Thank for reading my story and for any advice you can provide.

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