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How Does a Psychiatrist Diagnose?

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Awareness of mental health issues are rapidly growing these days. Proper treatments are very important for regaining healthy mental health. Different reasons may distort the mental health of a person.

People may seek a psychiatrist’s appointment for many reasons. Sudden problems like weird or frightening hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, or panic attacks may occur in any one’s life. Or long term problems like feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness, as well as depression or anxiety, that disrupt the mental health of a person.

The cause of these mental disorders may be other physical illnesses, problems, or emotional issues. To choose the proper treatment of the type and reason for your mental problem, it is always important to diagnose first.

The diagnostic process for mental disorders

There are two different ways to perform the diagnosis. Diagnosis not only means the act of examining and identifying a disease, illness or mental and physical problems but also helps in reaching a conclusion that describes the disease or the problem.

Getting the right diagnosis is important, as it helps in recommending and starting the exact and effective treatment. Wondering about how a psychiatrist diagnose? Here are the three major steps in which psychiatrists diagnose before moving on to further treatments: 

Gathering information about the problem

The first step of the diagnosis for a mental health disorder is gathering information. As suggested by the Houston psychiatrists to find out the person’s main concern, a detailed interview is needed. It is important to know about the person’s main concern, personal problems, including life histories, and symptoms.

Information can also be gathered by interacting with other family members and friends, or from previous treatment records. A physical exam also includes in this step. Other physical problems can also cause depression and anxiety. Problems like thyroid and other diseases are also sometimes misdiagnosed as mental problems. So it is important to go through lab tests and other physical tests to get the right diagnosis. 

Conducting a psychological evaluation

This step also includes a conversation with the person more intensely about the current symptoms to begin an evaluation. The therapist diagnoses through a structured psychological evaluation to identify the correct disease. After obtaining all the information, the therapist should assess the patient’s answer with other official diagnoses to determine the appropriate diagnosis for the problem.

There are some common signs and symptoms in each diagnosis. The therapist will compare the list of diagnoses with another person’s. Most psychiatrists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to diagnose the problem. From this, the therapist finds out the right criteria that fit the patient’s condition.

Preparing a diagnostic impression

After reviewing all the gathered information, the therapist will form a diagnostic impression using the established diagnostic treatments and terms. There are more than 200 different diagnoses for mental health issues.

Often, a person may have to go through more than one diagnosis if he is dealing with more than one problem at the same time. And after that, a treatment plan should be created. The treatment plan includes talk therapy, medications, or other methods based on the type of diagnosis.


It is important to follow and get a proper diagnosis to start an effective treatment. And understanding the diagnosis also serves as a source of relief or hope sometimes. Learning about the condition from a therapist and knowing the recovery process instills a light of hope inside the person. Also, the initial stages of the entire process work as a form of communication. This communication between the therapist and patient is necessary to coordinate the treatment.

Helen Bradfield, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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