What if I get a bipolar condition diagnosis?
When you speak to your GP about your experiences and symptoms, your GP may make a referral to a psychiatrist, who is a medical doctor specialised in mental health. Psychiatrists diagnose mental health conditions and you may be given a diagnosis.
Health professionals use diagnoses to describe the symptoms someone is experiencing and to identify how to support their individual needs. They are based on sets of guidelines known as ‘diagnostic criteria’. In Scotland, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) is used to determine a diagnosis of a bipolar condition.
Diagnosis and Stigma
People who receive a diagnosis sometimes worry about other people’s reactions. This is understandable, as mental illness is often misrepresented and misunderstood. ‘Stigma’ is when someone is treated differently to other people in a negative way. Although steps are being taken to change social attitudes, many people still experience stigma related to mental illness.
It is important to remember than when someone is mentally unwell their behaviour is not necessarily a reflection of their personality (who they are as a person). One of the best ways to overcome stigma is to educate your friends and family about what you are going through. For more information on challenging mental health stigma, click here to go to the SeeMe Scotland website.
Diagnosing mental illness is controversial within the mental health services and in the wider community. Many people with a diagnosis disagree with it or think other things could explain their symptoms. Others find a diagnosis useful, as it puts a medical name to the experience and can help people connect with others who have the same diagnosis.