How Does a Mental Health Diagnosis Work?

Unlike physical illnesses, mental health conditions are difficult to detect and identify. The symptoms are not as evident and patients may keep such symptoms to themselves. With the development of modern psychiatric techniques, it is possible for a practitioner to come up with an accurate mental health diagnosis that determines the best possible treatment.

But how accurate is a mental health diagnosis? And what do you expect when you undergo one with the help of a psychiatric professional? 

A case for the accuracy of mental health diagnoses

Diagnostic procedures are important across all medical disciplines and sub-disciplines. Each of these areas, however, uses diagnostic methods that are unique to each other. Physicians simply look for physical signs and symptoms to identify a certain disease. When it comes to mental illness, however, psychiatrists rely on having conversations with patients about the symptoms they are having. 

But do these conversations lead to a proper mental health diagnosis? What if a patient provides misleading or conflicting statements during these exchanges? If such is the case, will the diagnosis come out as accurate? 

One thing’s for sure, psychiatrists do not ask questions on the fly. They refer to a set of principles that allow them to uncover latent (or hidden) meanings in a patient’s responses. 

Many psychiatric clinics rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (DSM-5). 

Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-5 contains authoritative resources that help mental care professionals conduct evaluations and propose the best options for treating certain mental disturbances and conditions.

While much has been said about the accuracy of psychiatric evaluations, what is certain is that mental health professionals are trained to look below the surface and dig out as much information as they can about the patient’s well-being. 

What to expect if you undergo a mental health diagnosis?

If you or a loved one decides to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, it helps if you are able to document your thoughts and your general well-being in a journal. 

Put into writing the emotions you have experienced each day and observe how your mood drastically shifts. You can also mention the flashbacks you are having and determine what triggers these flashbacks. 

After that, the clinic may require you to undergo a physical exam. This is important later on in determining a link between your mental condition and your physical condition. 

From there, you will undergo a self-harm and risk assessment. The clinic will need to determine if you pose a risk to yourself and to others. Once you are cleared, you will need to sign a consent form. A family member is needed to sign this form before you can undergo treatment. 

How a diagnosis is conducted

During the evaluation, a psychiatrist will ask you detailed questions ranging from the most basic to the most personal. Along the way, they will be able to extract information on your medical and social history. They will also find out certain trends or patterns that led to the formation of addiction, trauma, or other mental health conditions.

In some cases, the psychiatrist may require additional tests to see what other factors are causing the disturbance. From there, they will be able to come up with an accurate picture of what you are going through.

A mental health diagnosis can span days. Regardless of the length of time, mental health professionals are dedicated to helping patients find the path to a full recovery.

This has been the mission of MidCities Psychiatry ever since it was founded. We are committed to helping individuals find hope using the right tools and approaches to diagnosing and treating a wide range of mental illnesses.  

Give us a call and find out how we can help you on the road to a more fulfilling life!  

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