When screening for depression, also screen for bipolar disorder

LETTER — Posted Feb. 27, 2006

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Regarding "Managing mental health" (Article, Jan. 23): Your article, while informative, fails to mention that a significant percentage of patients diagnosed with "depression" actually have bipolar disorder.

Amar K. Das, MD, PhD, and colleagues, in a study published in the Feb. 23, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that nearly 10% of patients at an urban general medicine clinic screened positive for lifetime bipolar disorder.

A previous history of mania (bipolar I disorder) or hypomania (bipolar II disorder) may not be recognized by the patient or family, and previous manic episodes may go undetected by physicians.

Any program that screens patients for depression should simultaneously screen them for bipolar disorder, for example, by using the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ), which has been scientifically validated and can be self-administered.

Arthur Lazarus, MD, Wilmington, Del.

Editor's note: Dr. Lazarus is senior director of clinical research at AstraZeneca LP.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/02/27/edlt0227.htm.

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