Have I Been Misdiagnosed?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I have been diagnosed with bpd but i cannot agree with this diagnosis. i have researched this extensively and can honestly say that i do not fully meet the criteria for diagnosis. i feel that my psychiatrist has taken my self harm, rather numerous suicide attempts and history of sexual abuse and used this as the sole basis for diagnoses. personally, after much research, i think a diagnoses of schizophrenia would be more appropriate. i, more or less constantly, hear voices and often hallucinate visually as well. delusions can be a big problem. i recently lost a close friend because i was convinced he was in mi5 and plotting to kill me. i used to have a great sense of humour but this enormous flat affect has taken over me. i find it very difficult to cope with life and have spent much time in hospital. do you think that it is possible that i have been misdiagnosed? is it possible that i have some other psychotic disorder, if not schizophrenia?

A. It is possible that you have been misdiagnosed but it is difficult to know this based on a short letter. Generally speaking, if someone experiences paranoia, delusions or hallucinations, they usually are thought to have a psychotic disorder. These types of symptoms indicate a break from reality and generally mean that a psychotic disorder is present.

You mentioned being diagnosed with “bpd” and I am not sure if this means borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder. I have seen these acronyms used for both disorders. If you were diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and you displayed paranoia, delusions or hallucinations then it would seem that you may have been misdiagnosed. Borderline personality disorder can mean that someone is literally “bordering” or teetering between reality and nonreality. If a person is experiencing paranoia, delusions or hallucinations, this means they have essentially crossed that hypothetical “border” and are likely suffering from some type of psychotic disorder. A person can also be diagnosed as having a psychotic disorder and show borderline personality traits.

Conversely, if you meant to ask about bipolar disorder, then your diagnosis may be more likely to be correct. Many people with bipolar disorder do experience some of the symptoms you have described, including paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

The bottom line is that without knowing more about your symptoms, I cannot say with any certainty whether or not you have been misdiagnosed. What is important is that you are getting treatment for all of your symptoms, especially the paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. If you are not, consider a new doctor and therapist. The actual diagnosis does not matter nearly as much as good and appropriate treatment. Take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Have I Been Misdiagnosed?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/01/30/have-i-been-misdiagnosed/

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