Monday, May 12, 2008

Oops, Wrong Patients

A new study published online by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry concludes that there may be a serious problem with the over diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Mark Zimmerman who oversaw the study at the Rhode Island Hospital stated:

“We hypothesize that the increased availability of medications that have been approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder might be influencing clinicians who are unsure whether or not a patient has bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder to err on the side of diagnosing the disorder that is medication responsive.”

If this study is correct, it means that many psychiatrists may be subjecting patients who do not even meet the clinical criteria for a bipolar disorder diagnosis to unnecessary treatments and medications. The great irony is that while many such patients may be receiving improper diagnoses and treatments they don’t need, literally hundreds of thousands of other people who are most severely ill and who are imprisoned by their psychosis are receiving no treatment at all.

We desperately need a mental health system that prioritizes helping the sickest of the sick.