The Compelling and Persistent Problem of Bipolar Disorder Disguised as Major Depression Disorder: An Integrative Review

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BACKGROUND: Up to 40% of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed, usually with major depression disorder. OBJECTIVE: The purpose was to describe the current state of the science of the misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, with the ultimate goal of improving psychiatric diagnostic workups including screening. DESIGN: An integrative review was conducted using standard criteria for evaluating research articles. RESULTS: Forty-nine articles met the eligibility criteria. Articles explored patient-related and health care provider-related factors contributing to the misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder as well as consequences of misdiagnosis. Clinically oriented, reliable, and valid screening tools for bipolar disorder also were reviewed. CONCLUSIONS: Awareness of multiple, challenging patient-related factors and more comprehensive assessment and screening by health care providers may reduce misdiagnosis.

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