Delays In Diagnosis and Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Disorder

PLOS-1According to a study in PLOS One journal, there is often a substantial delay before diagnosis and treatment initiation of patients with bipolar disorder. Researchers sought to investigate factors associated with the delay before diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the onset of treatment in secondary mental healthcare.

Medical records of 1364 adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder between 2007 and 2012 were reviewed. Results showed that some individuals experience a significant delay in diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder after beginning care in a mental health treatment facility. This was particularly true for those who have prior diagnoses of alcohol and substance misuse disorders. The median diagnostic delay was 62 days and median treatment delay was 31 days.

Authors state that “these findings highlight a need for further study on strategies to better identify underlying symptoms and offer appropriate treatment sooner in order to facilitate improved clinical outcomes, such as developing specialist early intervention services to identify and treat people with bipolar disorder.”


Delays before Diagnosis and Initiation of Treatment in Patients Presenting to Mental Health Services with Bipolar Disorder. PLOS One. May 2015.