A mental health diagnosis involves many steps, including an evaluation by a doctor or mental health professional. In addition to a physical exam, there will be questions about symptoms and medical history. Doctors also use tests to make sure a medical condition isn’t causing the symptoms. If no other illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health professional.
Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a mental illness. The doctor will base the diagnosis on the person’s report of symptoms — including any problems caused by the symptoms. The doctor will also observe the person’s attitudes and behavior to determine the diagnosis.
The standard manual used by experts for the diagnosis of recognized mental illness in the U.S. is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM), which is compiled by the American Psychiatric Association.
Our staff has expertise in diagnosing mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychotic spectrum disorders and addictive disorders. In addition to making the diagnosis, the assessment will help uncover the person’s strengths which will be essential in the recovery process. The assessment also reveals other challenges that should be addressed, like a learning disability.
Your assessment is your plan for treatment, and will be based on:
- Initial interview with a counselor, including information on symptoms, substance use/abuse, and family/social history. Records from other doctors/counselors will be included.
- Complete history and physical examination, including symptoms.
- Comprehensive laboratory testing, including blood and urine analyses, serum fractionated cannabinoid levels (as indicated) and pregnancy test (for women). Additional tests might include genetic testing for prediction of medication response, serum synthetic cannabinoid levels, medication levels (lithium, Depakote, tricyclic antidepressants), EKG, SLE antibody, and rheumatoid factor, CRP, serum hormone levels.
- Psychological Assessment with a family psychologist to clarify the diagnosis, assess cognitive function and other standardized tests.
- Psychiatric Evaluation with a staff psychiatrist.
- Summary report which indicate the treatment plan, including interventions and referrals to specialists.
This assessment takes place over several weeks, beginning with your first visit and ending with the summary report. Because this process is so detailed, it helps ensure that you get the help you need – so you can move on to create a better life.