Bipolar disorders is actually a number of different disorders- Bipolar I being the most clearcut and straightforward diagnosis. Bipolar II, Cyclothymic disorder and Bipolar NOS can be trickier to sort out because the symptoms on the manic end of the spectrum can be harder to specify or notice. On the depressive side of the coin, a whopping major depression can be fairly easy to spot, but variations of it can be less visible. Furthermore, when the first episode of major depression presents itself, you don´t know if manic symptoms will develop down the road; although family or personal history may hold some clues, the information isn´t 100 percent reliable.
Additionally, bipolar disorder is likely to occur with other symptoms that can be misleading in the diagnostic process.
Anxiety symptoms, psychosis, and substance abuse are the most common overlapping disorders in adults, with ADHD being a common related disorder in kids.
You´re more likely to receive varying diagnostic opinions if your diagnosis isn´t Bipolar I. When you seek a second opinion, you should pay as much attention to how the doctor arrived at the diagnosis itself. What symptoms has she considered? How has she put them altogether with other information, such as family history? What additional diagnoses does she think are present? The answers you receive paint a diagnostic portrait that helps you understand what´s going on with your brain; this picture provides you with something much more valuable than a label and a prescription.
Source: Bipolar Disorder, candida Fink, MD, Joe Kraynak