Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Study suggests bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed

In Brief

Study suggests bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed

Researchers at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University have concluded that more than half of bipolar diagnoses may be wrong.

The report is one of the latest from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) project, a collaborative effort between academic researchers and a community-based outpatient psychiatric practice. Researchers interviewed 700 psychiatric outpatients, using a comprehensive diagnostic tool, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders (SCID). Participants also completed a self-administered questionnaire that asked if they had ever been diagnosed as bipolar or manic depressive.

Among the outpatients, 145 indicated on the questionnaire that they had been previously diagnosed as bipolar. However, the researchers diagnosed only 63 of these patients as bipolar based on answers provided during the SCID.

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