The right diagnosis is critical to determining the optimal treatments for mental health patients. Unfortunately, accurate diagnosis of several common conditions like depression, ADHD, and anxiety is extremely difficult.
This is partly due to the fact that psychiatrists can have different opinions about such conditions and, therefore, the corresponding treatments. When in doubt, patients should seek a fresh perspective and additional expertise. Here are four undeniable signs you should consider getting a psychiatric second opinion.
#1 Your diagnosis is uncertain
A person with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder due to their overlapping symptoms, resulting in an uncertain diagnosis. A diagnosis may also be uncertain due to pre-existing medical conditions or the patient’s attitude toward the illness (e.g., under-reporting a condition’s symptoms because of social stigma).
In other words, there are various factors that can result in an uncertain diagnosis, especially since no single healthcare professional knows everything about every mental health condition. Getting a second opinion improves your chances of getting the right diagnosis and receiving the right treatment.
#2 You’re not confident in your prescription
A patient who’s not confident with their psychiatrist’s diagnosis usually results in a lack of confidence in the medicine that has been prescribed.
This becomes particularly relevant with complex conditions like bipolar II. If a single consultation leaves you feeling doubtful, a second opinion is highly advised.
#3 You’re not responding to prescribed therapies
Depression is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed psychiatric disorders. One study found that only 47.3% of depression cases are correctly diagnosed, which means patients who aren’t depressed are taking the wrong medications.
In worst-case scenarios, a misdiagnosis of depression leads to months or even years of failed treatment and a worsened condition. If you’re not seeing the results of prescriptions or feel your symptoms are getting worse, you may need a second opinion to receive better treatment options, at which point you should ask for a clear estimate of how long it will take your prescriptions to yield results.
#4 Your doctor doesn’t specialize in treating your condition
Suppose you do get a correct diagnosis as a result of a second opinion, but that doctor isn’t the best one to treat it.
If you believe that to be the case -- because that psychiatrist's practice specializes in other illnesses, say -- and you’re not comfortable with his or her prescription, it’s perfectly acceptable to explore other healthcare providers who could take your diagnosis and provide better treatment.
Crucial to mental health treatment progress is the doctor’s previous experience with a specific condition. There are exceptions, but mental health practitioners who specialize in your specific issue are far more likely to prescribe the safest and most effective treatments.
Getting the right psychiatric diagnosis gives a patient and his or her psychiatrist more control over an illness. More often than not, it takes a second opinion to achieve that. If you’re seeking a trustworthy mental health professional in Downtown Chicago, Evanston, or Lake Forest areas, Meridian Psychiatric Partners doctors can give you an in-depth psychiatric evaluation.