A new international study conducted by researchers in both Australia and Italy has found that there’s an average of six years between the onset of bipolar disorder and diagnosis of the disease. An analysis of 9,415 patients from 27 studies, the largest of its kind, the study notes that crucial opportunities to catch bipolar disorder at its onset, when mood episodes aren’t as severe, are being missed.
While patients with concurring disorders such as psychosis do generally receive timely treatment, most people suffer for years before being able to address their mental illness with proper medications and therapies.
Professor Large, a psychiatrist at Prince of Wales hospital, claims that the delay is most severe for young people, whose symptoms may be attributed to teenaged moodiness. Diagnosing a bipolar depressive episode is also difficult, as that is often mistaken for unipolar depression.
Doctors have to look to detailed medical histories of their patients, as well as symptoms triggered by external events, such as manic or hypomanic phases triggered by antidepressants.