Psychiatric Evaluation

What is a Psychiatric Evaluation? 

Psychiatric evaluation is defined as a systematic evaluation of the causes, the symptoms, the course and the consequences of a psychiatric disorder in order to formulate a diagnosis and a treatment plan and to answer any questions the patient or referring specialist may have. The main components of a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation are the patient interview and observations of the patient’s behavior. The comprehensiveness of the psychiatric evaluation is affected by contextual, patient-related and situational factors. In the psychiatric diagnosis, a distinction is made between the diagnostic classification (according to the DSM-IV-classification) and structural diagnosis. The sequence of the elements of the psychiatric evaluation is based on medical tradition. In the mental-status examination, all objective and subjective psychiatric symptoms are systematically reviewed. The grouping of the symptoms is based upon the classical division of mental functions into cognitive, affective and conative functions.

What happens during a psychiatric evaluation? 

You might think of a psychiatric evaluation as “pre-therapy.” During a psychiatric evaluation, your doctor will sit down and talk with you about your symptoms, concerns, and overall health. This will help them get a better idea of your mental-health needs. This will help determine the possible causes of your emotional distress, and what treatment may be best.

Some of the things you can expect during a psychiatric evaluation include:

  • Questions from the doctor based on what you tell them, what they see, and what they read in your medical chart
  • Filling out questionnaires or other forms about your family history, physical and mental health history, and lifestyle
  • Taking cognitive tests, such as memory tests, which can help find possible causes of your symptoms
  • Development of a medication plan, referral to another provider for additional treatment, such as a therapist for talk therapy, or a neuropsychiatrist for cognitive treatment.

Do I need a psychiatric evaluation?

Everyone experiences stress, sadness, mood swings, and other types of emotional distress on occasion. Sometimes, however, negative feelings and other symptoms can interfere with your daily life, your relationships, or your work. Your loved ones may be concerned for you. Alternatively, you may be concerned about your loved one’s symptoms or behavior.

Here are some signs that a psychiatric evaluation can help you or your loved one:

  • Confused thinking, delusions, or hallucinations
  • Persistent feelings of depression, sadness, irritability, or hopelessness
  • Extreme highs or lows in mood
  • Excessive fears, worries, or anxieties
  • Withdrawal from socializing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Strong feelings of anger or guilt
  • Trouble completing daily tasks, work, or school assignments
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Excessive or unusual rebellion, theft, vandalism, or skipping school in children or teens

An evaluation with your psychiatrist can help determine whether you or your loved one might have a mental problem that needs treatment.

Seeing a psychiatrist for mental-health symptoms can feel scary or embarrassing. However, studies have found that the sooner you get help, the more likely your symptoms will improve or even go away. 

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