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Seek a second opinion to prevent living with misdiagnoses

It's hard to be sure if the reason you're not feeling better is because your doctor made a mistake or because a treatment simply isn't working. Some conditions may not respond to treatments created for others. For example, if your doctor believes you have epilepsy and treats you for it but the reality is that you're having mini strokes, then you won't get the results you want from the treatments.

Misdiagnoses can be a problem for patients who have symptoms that are hard to pin down. It can mean taking drugs that don't work or struggling with a condition when they shouldn't have to. One of the most common kinds of illnesses that is misdiagnosed is a mental health condition.

Why are mental health conditions misdiagnosed?

Studies in the past have shown that 26 to 45 percent of patients referred to others for the treatment of depression didn't actually meet the diagnostic criteria. General practitioners only correctly identified depression in around 47.3 percent of cases in another study of 50,000 patients in 2009.

A general lack of training in mental health care could be why it's more likely for someone to be misdiagnosed with one of these conditions. This results in inadequate treatment or incorrect diagnoses that lead to treatments for other illnesses.

What should you do if you feel a diagnosis is incorrect?

The first thing you should do is to listen to how the doctor came up with the diagnosis. There is a time to accept that you may have a condition you don't want to believe you have. If you truly believe that you don't have the condition or that the diagnosis is wrong because of not meeting the diagnostic criteria, then you should seek out a second opinion and further testing.

It's your right as a patient to seek care from as many medical providers as you need. If you don't agree with one, you can seek a second opinion to prevent living with a misdiagnosis.

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