Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Psychiatr Pract. 2006 Mar;12(2):124-7.

Underdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in men with substance use disorder.

Author information

  • 1Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, MA 02143, USA.



Recent reports indicate that bipolar disorder is frequently underdiagnosed in the clinical population, leading to overuse of antidepressants and underuse of mood stabilizers. This study assessed rates of diagnosis of bipolar disorder in a substance abuse population.


The study involved a retrospective chart review of data from 295 patients admitted to an inpatient substance abuse program for men. Data were then analyzed from the 85 patients in the sample who were diagnosed as meeting DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder on intake into the program. Charts were reviewed for relevant clinical and demographic data. The primary outcome measure was the rate of previous misdiagnosis.


Of the 85 patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder upon intake, 42 (49%) had not been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder; of these 42, 6 (14%) patients had not been assessed previously, while 36 (86%) had been assessed previously and had received many other psychiatric diagnoses, including major depression (77%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (20%), and panic disorder (3%). Among the comorbid substance use disorders in these patients, alcohol dependence was the most common (62%), followed by cocaine (38%), opioid (26%), polysubstance (12%), and sedative-hypnotic (2%) dependence. Other comorbid Axis I disorders included posttraumatic stress disorder (14%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (10%), panic disorder (2%), and generalized anxiety disorder (2%).


This study found that bipolar disorder had not been previously diagnosed in approximately 50% of a sample of Caucasian males in a substance abuse population who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder upon admission to an inpatient substance abuse program.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk