Mental illnesses are not only incredibly hard to diagnose, but they can completely catch the afflicted off guard by developing at random times in one’s life. Someone can be completely symptom free for a good portion of their life, only to develop some form of mental illness in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc.

Can you imagine waking up one day to a world that you believe is real, but really isn’t? Many people with mental illness have to question their reality everyday. And there aren’t many ways to test for it; it’s often diagnosed based on self-reported symptoms.

So, as you can imagine, people often get diagnosed with depression, but are really suffering from some other type of disorder altogether. In fact, a study conducted in 2009 found that general practitioners could only correctly identify depression in about 47.3 percent of their cases.

Here are for common disorders that are often mistaken as depression:

Diabetes
People suffering from Type 2 diabetes may believe that they are simply suffering from depression as they can share many of the same symptoms, like loss of weight, irritability, and fatigue. Unfortunately, problems with insulin resistance have been significantly correlated to depression, making it even harder to properly diagnose.

It’s also been found that people with diabetes develop quite a bit of stress in response to their condition. So, instead of their symptoms being caused by depression, it is actually the stress they are suffering from due to their chronic illness that is causing the depression-like symptoms. Bottom line: if you have a chronic illness and are suffering depression-like symptoms, it’s likely the illness that is causing you to ruminate.

Bipolar Disorder
While depression and bipolar disorder both have people suffering from incredibly sad, “low” periods of time in their lives, those with bipolar disorder also ride extreme “highs” in life.

People with bipolar disorder can mistake their condition for depression during their lows, as they feel completely hopeless, worthless and in extreme cases, suicidal. These are often followed up by periods of extreme highs where they’re feeling confident, motivated and happy with their life.

One study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry reports that almost 22 percent of people with bipolar are misdiagnosed with depression.

Hypothyroidism
Thyroid hormone is vital to achieving proper functionality in both the body and the brain, meaning that if it becomes disrupted in any way, a variety of different symptoms can start to occur. These include fatigue, inability to focus, and feeling “low”; all symptoms that can also be said of depression.

Thyroid disease is fairly common, with about 20 million Americans having some form of it. However, about 60 percent of them have no idea that they have thyroid disease, as they often mistake it for depression. The main difference between the two is that people with hypothyroidism are very sensitive to cold temperatures or feel cold most of the time.

A simple blood test will determine if your thyroid gland is not functioning properly.

Chronic fatigue syndrome
This condition, which is also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease, is marked by extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate, muscle pains and troubles sleeping--all of which seem to have no apparent cause, and are symptoms related to depression. This combination often leads to this condition being misdiagnosed as depression.

Published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,one study discovered that over 80 percent of people who have this condition are under-diagnosed, instead being treated as having depression.

The biggest difference between these two is that people with depression become uninterested in their hobbies and passions, while those with chronic fatigue syndrome will still want to do their routine activities and interests, even though they do not have the energy to do so.

h/t Psychology Today

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