Better Treatment Through Better Diagnosis - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Better Treatment Through Better Diagnosis

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web producer: Jason Bailey

Nearly one-out-of-six Americans will battle depression at some point in their lives. A recent study found that depression associated with bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed.

The wrong treatment could have serious consequences. But there is a new and easier way to for doctors and patients to know the difference. David is one of two-million Americans living with bipolar disorder.

It causes mood swings from manic highs to debilitating depression. It has often made it hard for David to play with his son, or even get out of bed.

"I've always felt a little bit off in my life. And I've noticed that through the years that I've gone from extreme highs to extreme lows," says David.

What make bipolar disorder hard on doctors is that it's very difficult to diagnose. It's estimated that two-out-three patients get the wrong treatment because they typically seek help only when they're depressed.

John Gerace, M.D., Primary Care Physician, says patients with bipolar disease have a skewed perception of their condition.

"People with bipolar disease do not have very good insight into their illness. When they're down they don't necessarily remember the downs that followed their ups. And when they're up, they don't remember their downs," says Gerace.

Now there's an easy way to help patients and doctors understand the difference between bipolar and unipolar depression. It's a website where you can log on and answer a few short questions about how you feel.

The site helps doctors and patients rule out bipolar disorder before starting treatment. That's vital because some drugs used for depression can actually make bipolar disorder worse.

Gerace says, "We have the responsibility to screen for biploar disease because when we treat right from the beginning, we potentially avoid life-threatening situations."

Doctor Gerace and David used the website to help find the right diagnosis.

Now David is on the right medication for him and he says good days outnumber the bad.

David says, "I have this readiness, this willingness to pursue my life."

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