5 useful questions to ask if you suspect mental health misdiagnosis

ID: 5 useful questions to ask if you suspect mental health misdiagnosis - Background picture of two people's arms leaning on a table, with a purple box and white writing on top.

5 useful questions to ask if you suspect mental health misdiagnosis*

It was my autistic counsellor who first thought I’d been misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and suggested that I was autistic with ADHD.

After seven years of seeing me, she got to know me better than I knew myself. That’s why I trusted her judgement and to this day, still do. It’s also thanks to her that I now have the correct diagnosis of autism and ADHD. 

The road to diagnosis was not an easy one but it was essential. 

Questioning medical professionals can be very intimidating. We trust their judgement and we have respect for their knowledge. Sometimes however, and through no fault of their own, they get it wrong. After all, they are human and they can’t know everything. Throughout my diagnostic travels, I’ve encountered all kinds of doctors, nurses and psychiatrists who are lovely people but don’t quite understand me. Or my brain.

This was really obvious when they told me I had BPD (thanks to my mood swings, impulsivity, meltdowns and my uncertainty around my identity). However, when I asked for a review of this diagnosis and the strong medication they’d given, they wouldn’t see me. It’s then that I really did suspect mental health misdiagnosis and wanted not only a review, but answers.

Below are 5 useful questions to ask if you suspect mental health misdiagnosis. If you feel like you’ve been misdiagnosed but don’t know where to start in terms of questioning your doctor or psychiatrist, try some of these.

*Please be aware: The questions listed are ones that I asked during my experience and are not set in stone. I’m not a medical professional but asking the below really helped me along the way.

 

1 How do I get my diagnosis reviewed/looked at?

Call your doctor or psychiatrist and ask about a diagnostic review. At first I felt quite intimidated asking directly but it’s good to know so you can mentally prepare yourself.

ID: How do I get my diagnosis reviewed/looked at

 

2 What is the process for getting a diagnostic review if I think I’ve been misdiagnosed?

Leading on from the previous question, ask for them to explain what the process is if a misdiagnosis has happened and what they can do to review it/change it. 

ID: What is the process for getting a diagnostic review if I think I've been misdiagnosed?

 

3 Can I see someone different for a second opinion?

Depending on your doctor/psychiatrist/health system, you might be able to see someone other than the person who diagnosed you. I saw the psychiatrist who diagnosed BPD several times and each time, she wouldn’t change her mind. I finally saw someone different and right away she told me that I didn’t have BPD and that autism and ADHD were more likely.

ID: Can I see a different doctor or psychiatrist for a second opinion

 

4 How long is the wait to see a doctor/psychiatrist?

Again, depending on your health system, waiting times can vary. I made sure to ask for an estimated timeframe so I knew what I was letting myself in for. A lot of receptionists told me they had no idea whatsoever and tried to palm me off. Politely but assertively I said “Are we talking weeks or months? It’s just so I can weigh up my options.”

ID: How long is the wait to see a doctor or psychiatrist

 

5 What information should I bring to my review?

I’m an eternal optimist so whenever I spoke to someone about diagnostic review, I asked what information the medical professional would need to help them assess me properly. I was told ‘Oh nothing, we have everything we need’ but I didn’t trust that. And quite rightly. Make sure you have a record of any self assessment tests you do or any research or anything at all that could help with your review.

ID: What information should I bring to my review

I hope that some of the above questions help in your quest for the correct diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can and does have a huge effect on people and it’s not talked about enough. 

Have you been misdiagnosed before? What are your must-ask questions to help others in the same situation?

 

Useful links

‘Misdiagnosis’ – Mind Charity

‘What to do if you think your mental illness has been misdiagnosed’ – The Mighty

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