Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation

What is a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation?

A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation may be necessary to diagnose any number of emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders. An evaluation of a child, adolescent, or adult is made based on behaviors present and in relation to physical, genetic, environmental, social, cognitive (thinking), emotional, and educational components that may be affected as a result of the behaviors presented.

Who is evaluated?

Many times, families, spouses, or friends are the first to suspect that their loved one is challenged by feelings, behaviors, and/or environmental conditions that cause them to act disruptive, rebellious, or sad. This may include, but is not limited to, problems with relationships with friends and/or family members, work, school, sleeping, eating, substance abuse, emotional expression, development, coping, attentiveness, and responsiveness. It's important for families who suspect a problem in one, or more, of these areas to seek treatment as soon as possible. Treatment for mental health disorders is available.

What is involved in a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation?

The following are the most common components of a comprehensive, diagnostic psychiatric evaluation. However, each evaluation is different, as each individual's symptoms and behaviors are different. Evaluation may include:

  • Description of behaviors present (for example, when do the behaviors occur, how long does the behavior last, what are the conditions in which the behaviors most often occur)
  • Description of symptoms noted (physical and psychiatric symptoms)
  • Effects of behaviors/symptoms as related to:
    • Work performance
    • School performance
    • Relationships and interactions with others (for example, spouse, coworkers, family members, neighbors)
    • Family involvement
    • Activity involvement
  • Psychiatric interview
  • Personal and family history of emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders
  • Complete medical history, including description of the individual's overall physical health, list of any other illnesses or conditions present, and any treatments currently being administered
  • Laboratory tests, in some cases (may be used to determine if an underlying medical condition is present), including:
    • Blood tests
    • Radiology studies to look for abnormalities, particularly in the brain structures
    • Educational assessments
    • Speech and language assessments
    • Psychological assessments

When a family member is being evaluated

It's natural, and quite common, for spouses and family members to question themselves when it becomes necessary for a loved one to be psychiatrically evaluated. You may have many questions and concerns as to his or her welfare and emotional well-being. Common questions frequently asked include:

  • What is wrong with my spouse/family member/loved one?
  • Are they abnormal?
  • Did I do something wrong in my relationship with them to cause this?
  • Do they need to be hospitalized?
  • Will they require treatment?
  • Will they "outgrow" or stop performing these behaviors at some point?
  • Is this just "a phase" they're going through?
  • What will treatment cost?
  • Where do we go for help?
  • What does this diagnosis mean?
  • How can my family become involved?

Once a diagnosis is made, family involvement and active participation in treatment is extremely important for any individual with a mental health disorder. The physician, or mental health practitioner will address questions and provide reassurance by working with you to establish long-term and short-term treatment goals for your loved one.


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