Health + Wellness

Do You Need a Second Opinion?

mental health diagnosis

It’s tempting to believe that the symptoms of mental health disorders are so distinctive that it would be difficult to have a misdiagnosis. However, studies show that disorders such as schizophrenia are being misdiagnosed far more than people may think. Even though hallucinations, hearing voices, and an inability to focus are known characteristics of schizophrenia, it’s not the only illness that can cause them. 

Illnesses That Can Be Misdiagnosed As Schizophrenia

The illnesses that can be confused with schizophrenia typically affect cognitive functions, which then influence how you behave. Here are some of the ones you should know about. 

  • Schizoaffective disorder – This disorder can cause delusions that are similar to schizophrenia. However, people with schizoaffective disorder also have periods of depression and mania, which are not typical of schizophrenia. 
  • Schizoid personality disorder – Those with this disorder may have trouble with social situations as well as expressing their emotions. The difference, though, is that schizoid personality disorder doesn’t cause delusions. 
  • Anti-NMDAR encephalitis – As a type of autoimmune disease, this kind of encephalitis usually causes swelling in the brain. While people with this illness can experience hallucinations and paranoia, they’ll have symptoms that are uncharacteristic of schizophrenia such as seizures as well as fainting spells. 
  • Bipolar disorder – People with this disorder usually have periods of depression and mania. In severe cases, they may also experience hallucinations and delusions. That’s when the misdiagnosis of schizophrenia can occur.
  • Delusional disorder – In this disorder, people believe that unlikely things are happening to them, including rare illnesses. The delusions are usually highly specific, however, with no signs of the psychosis that happens with schizophrenia. 

Apart from the disorders on this list, any disease that affects the brain could potentially cause symptoms that mimic those of schizophrenia. For example, a brain injury or tumor can result in psychotic incidents.  Fortunately, the results of a CT scan would easily show if this is the case. 

READ: Why You Don’t Have To Be “Crazy” To Go See a Therapist

How To Get A Second Opinion After a Mental Health Diagnosis

The first step to getting a second opinion after a mental health diagnosis is talking to your current doctor. It’s possible that everything wasn’t clear when the diagnosis was made.

For example, are you experiencing symptoms that you didn’t discuss? Did they only make a temporary diagnosis while conducting more tests?

Having a more detailed consultation with your doctor may lead to a better understanding of why you were diagnosed with schizophrenia.

If you’re not satisfied with your discussion, that’s when you tell the doctor that you would like a second opinion. They will either agree or

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