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Postgrad Med. 2005 Feb;117(2):15-6, 19-23.

The many faces of bipolar disorder. How to tell them apart.

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  • 1New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA.


Bipolar disorder is a chronic disease characterized by depressive, manic or hypomanic, and mixed episodes. Bipolar disorder may be confused with unipolar depression, because patients with bipolar disorder are usually symptomatic with depression rather than mania. Bipolar disorder may also be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, since both disorders can present with psychotic symptoms. For children, the principal differential diagnostic consideration is ADHD. Making the correct diagnosis has important prognostic and treatment implications. Comorbidities with personality disorders, substance and alcohol abuse or dependence, and anxiety disorders complicate assessment, treatment, and recovery. Effective pharmacotherapy and maintenance monitoring are critical in order to minimize the risk of relapse and associated disability, morbidity, and mortality.

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