Average of 6 Years Between Onset and Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

HealthDay News — The average delay to diagnosis of bipolar disorder is 6 years, according to a review published online July 26 in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

The new research reviewed the results of 27 past studies. Those studies included 9415 patients.

Many patients had distressing and disruptive symptoms for many years before they received proper treatment, the researchers noted. The delay in diagnosis and treatment was often longer for young patients because symptoms such as moodiness can sometimes be mistaken by parents and doctors as just part of being a teen, the researchers said.

“Clinicians should look more closely at a patient’s history of mood symptoms, looking for distinct changes in mood, and other risk factors; for example, a family history and mood swings caused by external events such as treatment with antidepressants, overseas travel, and taking drugs,” study leader Matthew Large, MBBS, a professor psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said in a university news release.


Dagani J, Signorini G, Nielssen O, et al. Meta-Analysis of the Interval between the Onset and Management of Bipolar Disorder. Can J Psychiatry. 2016; doi:10.1177/0706743716656607.

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