Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which can make it hard for a doctor to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people have bipolar disorder along with another illness such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.
Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. For example:
- Someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may believe she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers.
- Someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may believe he is ruined and penniless, or that he has committed a crime.
As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.
Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.
Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.