5 Common psychological disorders that are mostly misdiagnosed

psychological disorders

Around 2-5% of people around the world suffer from hypochondria. Access to the Internet adds it’s own flavour to it. People read symptoms of mental health illnesses on the Internet and start feeling that they are actually suffering from those particular illnesses about which they just read. When they go to the doctor, they describe not what they actually feel, but what they think they feel. If the doctor is not thoroughly experienced in the field, he would most probably misdiagnose them with the disease they think they have, not the actual one.

The actual disease remains hidden. Many diseases are more prone to this type of disease misdiagnosis. If the medication you are taking isn’t helping you in improving your condition, maybe you should re-evaluate it. For your reference, here is the list of five common psychological disorders that are mostly misdiagnosed.

1. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar DisorderWhile suffering from Bipolar disorder, one experiences a series of highs and lows. The highs take you to an extremely intense euphoric state, while the lows plunge you into a deep depression. The reason why bipolar disorder is mostly misdiagnosed is that many of its symptoms overlap with the symptoms of other common psychological disorders.

Bipolar Disorder as depression

According to research by British Journal of psychology, in 22% of cases, the bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as depression. But unlike Depression, a person suffering from bipolar also experiences a maniac phase during which they feel highly productive and confident. They even forget all about the phases when they were feeling low. According to study, on an average, it takes a person about 10 years before they are correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder as ADHD

Bipolar disorder has a lot in common with ADHD. Both involve mood swings, shifting between highs and lows, mania and depression. However, there are certain differences that differentiate the two. ADHD can start early, whereas bipolar disorder usually sets during or after one’s adulthood. The mood swings of ADHD last for not more than half an hour but those of bipolar disorder last much longer.

2. Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder(According to estimates, around 2 to 6% of people all over the world suffer from a Borderline Personality Disorder. The range of symptoms includes narcissism, social isolation, destructive behaviour, depression, mood swings, anxiety. With such range of symptoms, detecting BPD becomes very difficult. It can very easily misdiagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, or some eating disorder etc.

BPD as Bipolar Disorder

According to a study, 40% of people who were showing all the symptoms of BPD, were misdiagnosed for Type-2 Bipolar Disorder. The Compulsive and self-destructive behaviour of people suffering from both these conditions is quite similar. However, they are diagnosed differently and have different treatments. It is very important that they are not mixed up.

3. Anxiety


Anxiety is something that we all experience when we are in a particularly tense situation. It’s the feeling like panic, fear, increased heartbeat, and insomnia that are collectively referred to as anxiety. But when a person starts experiencing such feelings on a regular basis and without a valid reason, he is suffering from anxiety disorder. It is very common and it affects the lives of around 18% of American people.

Anxiety as ADHD

Anxiety and ADHD share many common symptoms like restlessness, obsessive thinking, and anxiousness. Thus, disease misdiagnosis becomes very easy. However, in every respect, anxiety is much more damaging than ADHD. The worse is that a person can simultaneously suffer from both. The only difference between the two is that in ADHD one thinks about one’s obsessions, and in anxiety one is more preoccupied with fears than obsessions.

4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

As the name suggests, in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a traumatic event that lies at the root of one’s mental illness. The symptoms of PTSD include anger, irritability, and insomnia. The patient moreover suffers constantly from the recollections traumatic incident.

Unless the doctor finds out more about the traumatic incident, he is very likely to misdiagnose PTSD as anxiety, depression or even schizophrenia. Moreover, the patient because of feelings of guilt and pain associated with the incident would invariably try to hide it. In such cases, the proper diagnosis becomes very difficult.



ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed psychological problem in children under 18. It can result in a wide range of behaviours like lack of attention, immaturity, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems etc.  Not understanding the symptoms vital to ADHD makes it easy to misdiagnose it as autism, mood disorders, anxiety, or some other condition. As it is mostly children who suffer from it, if it is not diagnosed properly, it can have a detrimental impact on a child’s personality. Proper diagnosis of ADHD is very vital.

Why we frequently misunderstand common psychological disorders?

Unlike physical diseases, mental illnesses don’t exhibit very singular symptoms. Their diagnosis is very complicated and an unprofessional doctor having less practical experience in the field is more likely to err on the wrong side. Apart from that, here are some of the factors responsible for such misdiagnosis:

1. Lack of time

The worst thing about going to good doctors is that they are either too expensive or too busy. Proper diagnosis of mental health illnesses requires a lot of time. Rushing things would make it more of guesswork than diagnosis. This is what happens in hospitals where doctors are overworked and can’t give the patient the time needed for proper diagnosis.

2. Going by the trends

decisions of the doctorBack in the 80’s eating disorders were more in trend. Nowadays, Borderline Personality Disorder is showing a significant rise. Too many diagnoses of one and too little diagnosis of other clearly means that there has been a significant amount of misdiagnosis. Social stigmas, trends, and recent researches on disorders are very likely to influence the decisions of the doctors.

3. Disease Overdiagnosis

Some doctors fail to realize that there is also something called a normal human being in psychological terminology. Disease Overdiagnosis is trying to find a disease where is none. And diagnosing someone with  common psychological disorders on a remote suspicion is more likely to do harm than good.

Today's Top Articles:

Scroll to Top