Diagnosis and treatment of Bipolar affective disorder
As with other mental health diseases, bipolar disorder may be confused with other psychiatric disorders, especially in the early stages due to overlapping or similar symptoms.
* Bipolar disorder may be associated with spontaneous psychotic behavior, which may be confused with the onset of schizophrenia. Although psychotic phases in both bipolar and schizophrenia are treated with antipsychotic medication, the psychosis symptoms in schizophrenia are usually more persistent, predictable and recurrent.
* Bipolar disorder may also be confused with the early symptoms of fronto-temporal dementia, but the clear differential diagnosis can be made in later stages when the individual affected by dementia exhibits a progressive worsening of cognitive abilities and other signs of mental decline.
* Physical health conditions such as thyroid disorders can also mimic symptoms of bipolar disorder, as can the use of certain medications.
*Brain imaging evaluations through MRI scans or CT can exclude tumors, which may be associated with symptoms similar to bipolar disorder.
Treatment of symptoms can often be challenging and requires careful and professional evaluation of symptoms.
- Mood stabilizers are usually utilized to achieve a stabilization of symptoms and mood.
- Antipsychotics are prescribed to relieve psychotic symptoms if present.
- Antidepressants can also be used to treat the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, however this requires careful consideration due to the risk of mania.
- Psychotherapy may also be helpful in early stages.