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Can a gp diagnose bipolar?

(12 Posts)
Nicki282 Wed 17-Aug-16 02:03:39

Just a quick question. Can a gp give a diagnosis/treatment of bipolar or does it need to be a specialist?

My friend was diagnosed by the doctor with mild ocd but her moods fluctuate, one minute she's sky high second she wants to kill her self. Doctor says they can only diagnose depression and anxiety etc and something like bipolar would have to be a specialist? Is this true? And how long is the waiting time after the refferal?

Question on behalf of her

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Wed 17-Aug-16 02:39:00

Why are you so convinced she's got bipolar? Rapid mood changes are not a symptom of biploar.
On that symptom alone she's likely to be diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Wed 17-Aug-16 02:45:36

GP is correct about needing to be referred on for further assessment and potential diagnosis. The waiting time varies by area - could be several months.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Wed 17-Aug-16 02:54:47

And also a proper psych diagnosis takes time. It's not just rocking up to a psychiatrist appointment and them saying oh yes clearly this is bipolar, here are some drugs.

Mine took 2 years.

Nicki282 Wed 17-Aug-16 09:14:01

I don't think she has it, the doctor dows

Clonakilty Wed 17-Aug-16 11:26:20

The answer is no. They are not especially trained in that area and an assessment is a long, complicated process; it cannot be done in 10 minutes. Don't know how long the waiting time would be in your area.

gandalf456 Wed 17-Aug-16 11:29:31

No but if she's suicidal, she needs to be seen urgently

ImperialBlether Wed 17-Aug-16 11:59:59

I suppose there are classic symptoms for any health problem and it's not that the doctor diagnoses a patient, but is correct in his/her assumption that that's the problem. Anything as serious as that would have to be diagnosed by a consultant at hospital.

Her symptoms don't seem to be classic for bi-polar, but it certainly sounds as though the poor woman needs urgent help.

whatishistory Fri 19-Aug-16 12:08:34

As others have said, a GP can not diagnose bipolar. In my experience, many GPs have an extremely limited understanding of mental illness. The description of your friend's moods doesn't sound much like bipolar. Episodes usually last much longer. There is rapid cycling bipolar, but that is considered to be 4 or more episodes/mood shifts per year. I think ultra rapid cycling is 4 or more shifts in a month. But apparently people in these categories will often have longer episodes as well. There's a lot of misunderstanding about bipolar and it seems it's jumped on to explain any mood swings. She should request a referral to a psychiatrist and keep a mood diary in the interim to show how her moods change, how they affect her, and if there are any triggers evident. I hope she gets some help flowers

heknowsmysinsheseesmysoul Fri 19-Aug-16 17:23:40

No they can't. Anxiety and depression is about the extent of a GP diagnosis.

heknowsmysinsheseesmysoul Fri 19-Aug-16 17:25:14

And bi - polar isn't about being 'up and down' daily, there are specific diagnostic criteria.

NanaNina Sat 20-Aug-16 01:00:27

As others have said, GPs can only diagnose depression/anxiety usually. If the GP suspects that your friends has another type of mental illness then he/she should refer to a Consultant Psychiatrist, and this is done on the basis of clinical need, in much the same way as a GP might refer a patient to a gastroenterlogist, or other specialist for a physical illness.

They do sometimes refer to the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) first, made up of Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs) and social workers specialising in mental health, who are very knowledgeable and they can refer to a consultant psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment.

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