December 16, 2021

A misdiagnosis occurs when a patient does not receive the correct diagnosis for their substance use or mental health disorder. This inaccurate diagnosis can lead to inaccurate treatment.


Hi, this is Dr. Bhatt with a moment from Straight Talk With The Doc. I want to talk a little bit about misdiagnosis when we’re speaking about those who suffer with addiction, substance use disorders, and those who have primary mental health conditions.

Often times people who seek treatment are seeking treatment in an emergency situation. When they’re high, when they’re intoxicated, or when they’re psychotic, or they’re having a significant manic or depressive episode. What ends up happening is because so many substances can look like primary mental health conditions and many mental health conditions can look like you’re on a substance of abuse. It’s important that the practitioner take their time in assessing symptomatology that is occurring not only while on substances, but especially when off of substances. This entails taking an accurate and comprehensive psychiatric and substance use disorder evaluation.

The key point is that when somebody is being evaluated that the practitioner takes multiple cross section of a human being’s life and elicit symptoms that are occurring both while on substances and while not on substances and to ensure that diagnostic accuracy is occurring. Because ultimately when people are diagnosed and placed on medications people are living for the rest of their lives often dissatisfied, exposed to medications that are unnecessary, and never get the relief that they deserve.

So, the important take home message is in order to get a good diagnosis please ensure that the symptoms that somebody is portraying or relaying and that when a doctor or practitioner is asking those questions that the questions and symptoms are separated from when they are using substances and when they’re not.