Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis? That is the question

Being diagnosed with a mental health disorder can be a stressful process and one in four people in England are affected. Mason-Edward Stanford, 19, from Rainham, Kent says he is “feeling hopeful” after seeing a specialist who will hopefully provide him with an official medical diagnosis.

You often hear about mental health conditions and how we should raise awareness for those who are suffering. But what about the people who have not yet been diagnosed, or have been misdiagnosed while trying to seek help?

Mason has suffered mentally for the majority of his life – first trying to seek medical help when he was 14. He was initially told he suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was given medication. Now he is in the process of being officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Mason looks back and can see how his misdiagnosis played a part in his struggles. “I’ve been misdiagnosed a lot throughout my teen years, and it does tend to take a toll when you’re told so many different things,” he said.

Bipolar disorder and BPD are examples of mental illnesses with an extremely high misdiagnosis rates, and they are commonly misinterpreted as other mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. A study by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), shows that it can take around six years to receive a correct diagnosis. It is no wonder that people like Mason are often left feeling very confused and let down by doctors.

The severity of misdiagnosis is not something to be taken lightly. For some people it can lead to further problems, as medication could potentially worsen a condition if it is not actually what they need to be taking. Mason can speak firsthand from this experience, as his tablets for depression often left his moods feeling up and down.

Mason is now on a new set of medication and hopes this will help him to start feeling better.

If you believe you have been misdiagnosed, you should speak to a mental health professional and talk about your concerns.

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