Depression might be bipolar disorder

GPs should be assessing patients with depression to rule out a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, say UK researchers.

As many as one in four patients diagnosed with depression in primary care were found to have had episodes of mania when questioned, the latest study showed.

It focused on 790 patients with a diagnosis of unipolar depression who attended a GP practice in Darlington, Cleveland.

Patients were sent the mood disorder questionnaire (MDQ). Of 278 patients who returned the questionnaire, 24 per cent had an episode of mania or mild mania. Subsequent assessment of the patients showed that half had bipolar disorder.

Lead researcher Dr Stuart Watson, from the psychiatric department of the University of Newcastle, said treating bipolar patients as though they had depression could exacerbate the condition.

'The guidelines say that bipolar patients shouldn't be on an antidepressant drug without an antimania drug,' he said.

The concern is that treating bipolar disorder with antidepressants alone can exacerbate the mania side of the disorder.

Dr Dave Tomson, a Tyneside GP who has an interest in mental health, said his practice was already trying out the MDQ.

'Some people who are being treated for depression may have bipolar disorder,' he said.

But, Dr Tomson said as bipolar disorder is not a single condition, outcomes may vary: 'What we're not sure about is how often a different diagnosis will help. It's not clear it'll help everyone.'

The latest research was presented at Faculty of General and Community Psychiatry Annual Meeting in Newcastle last week.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

Comment below and tell us what you think 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:


Just published

Mobile phone

GPs urge caution over plan for NHS health checks to go digital

GP leaders have warned that changes to the NHS health checks programme must be evidence-based...

Debbie Boughtflower

How career coaching can transform the lives of veterans

GPs across England and Wales can refer patients who used to work in the armed forces...

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne

RCGP raises 'major concerns' over practice-level appointments data

The RCGP has written to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay warning that...

Labour shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting

GPs condemn 'ignorant' Labour rhetoric over access to appointments

Doctors' leaders have accused the Labour party of 'demonising' GPs after it claimed...

coins

Government NHS pension reform plans 'too little too late', warns BMA

Government plans to boost retention of doctors through reforms to the NHS pension...

Child in bed with a fever

GPs told to have 'low threshold' for prescribing antibiotics in possible strep A cases

GPs have been urged to have a 'low threshold' for prescribing antibiotics and hospital...