Health Library

Health Library

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 him or her 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 or symptoms as related to:

    • Work performance

    • School performance

    • Relationships and interactions with others (such as, spouse, coworkers, family members, or 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, or loved one?

  • Is he or she abnormal?

  • Did I do something wrong in my relationship with him or her to cause this?

  • Does he or she need to be hospitalized?

  • Will he or she require treatment?

  • Will he or she "outgrow" or stop performing these behaviors at some point?

  • Is this just "a phase" he or she is 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 doctor 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.

Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Nelson, Gail, MS, APRN, BC
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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