Half of psychiatric patients receive a different diagnosis within 10 years

Nearly half of psychiatric patients receive a different diagnosis within 10 years, new diagnosis numbers could help predict the course of psychiatric illnesses over time

Psychiatrists often say “let’s see how it goes” after your first diagnosis, not because the diagnosis isn’t correct, but because they know that psychiatric diagnoses tend to change over the years.

what did you find a study of 180,000 psychiatric patients in Denmark is that, in fact, 47% of psychiatric patients receive a different diagnosis within 10 years of the first diagnosis.

This is the typical evolution of the three most common diagnoses analyzed in the study:

  • Depression: 60% of those diagnosed with a single depressive episode are diagnosed with a new disorder within 10 years. 20% develop chronic depression, 10% a stress disorder and 6% a personality disorder.
  • Addiction: 52% are diagnosed with a new disorder within 10 years. 8% develop a stress disorder, 5% a personality disorder and 5% schizophrenia. The category includes all addiction diagnoses such as alcohol, opioids, cannabis, etc. Some forms of addiction are more uncertain than others.
  • stress reaction disorder: 36% are diagnosed with a new disorder within 10 years. 8% develop a single depressive episode, 7% a personality disorder, and 6% recurrent depression.

The study shows which course is likely and which is unlikely for the 20 most common mental diagnoses. The most uncertain, meaning those most likely to change, include diagnoses of acute psychosis, addiction, and depression.

The safest, that is, those least likely to change, include diagnoses of functional disabilities, which are long-term physical disabilities without a physical cause, eating disorders, and sexual disorders such as decreased sexual interest or erectile dysfunction without a physical cause.

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Among the three most common diagnoses analyzed in the study, patients diagnosed with a single episode of depression have the highest risk of being diagnosed with a new disorder within 10 years.

But numbers can be misleading. Because the majority (20%) of people who are diagnosed with a single episode of depression are later diagnosed with chronic depression, which is the name given to recurrent depression.

Along with chronic depression, personality disorder and stress reaction disorders are the most likely diagnoses following a diagnosis of depression. A stress reaction disorder occurs when a serious incident, such as a divorce or death, causes the sufferer to develop a stress-like mental disorder or depression.

REFERENCE

Mapping diagnostic trajectories from first hospital diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder: a Danish national cohort study using sequence analysis

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