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Denial of Bipolar Diagnosis


What a long word, you may think, and rightly so. It is a very long word for a condition found quite often in bipolar disorder.

It seems strange to some people that a person might go to a doctor or psychiatrist and be given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder but not believe it. However, if you think about it, who wants to admit that they have a mental illness? It can be very distressing indeed. It is so tempting to say this happens to other people, but not to me. Yet, that can be very misleading and can alter the course of the illness.

If you think you are not ill, you do not take medication. And when you do not take medication you get ill. Yet people who deny their illness will not see this and think they don’t need medication.

Others think they are starting to feel better so can’t have bipolar disorder when in fact it is because they are taking the medication that they are feeling better.

There is no cure for bipolar disorder. It is a lifelong condition.

People do not deny a diagnosis on purpose. It is not a conscious decision. If you have denied your diagnosis it will likely be because you are lacking in insight or awareness because you are ill. It will be very difficult to convince you otherwise.

Denial can affect the following:

  • An increased use of street drugs
  • Suicidal thinking and actions
  • Trouble at work or at school
  • Trouble with relationships
  • Legal problems
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness


If you are in any doubt as to your doctor’s diagnosis do seek a second opinion. Then believe what the experts say. They are trained to recognize mental health conditions.

I personally went through a very long period of anosognosia when I was originally diagnosed with bipolar. I said surely I can’t have a mental illness. I had never thought of myself as being mentally ill. And it took me many years of taking medication, going in and out of hospitals, and attending mental health clinics to finally admit that I really did have bipolar.

If you are suffering from this, do see your doctor and discuss it with him/her.