Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation may help to diagnose any number of emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders. An evaluation of a child or adolescent 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.
Many times, parents are the first to suspect that their child or teen 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, school, sleeping, eating, substance abuse, emotional expression, development, coping, attentiveness, and responsiveness. It is 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.
The following are the most common components of a comprehensive, diagnostic psychiatric evaluation. However, each evaluation is different, as each child's symptoms and behaviors are different. Evaluation may include the following:
- description of behaviors present (i.e., 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 the following:
- school performance
- relationships and interactions with others (i.e., parents, siblings, classmates, teachers)
- family involvement
- activity involvement
- psychiatric interview
- personal and family history of emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders
- complete medical history, including description of the child's overall physical health, list of any other illnesses or conditions present, and any treatments currently being administered
- laboratory tests, in some cases (may used to determine if an underlying medical condition is present), including the following:
- blood tests
- x-rays - a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- educational assessments
- speech and language assessments
- psychological assessments
It is natural, and quite common, for a parent to question himself/herself when it becomes necessary for a child or adolescent to be psychiatrically evaluated. Parents may have many questions and concerns as to the welfare and emotional well-being of their child. Common questions parents frequently ask include the following:
- What is wrong with my child?
- Is my child abnormal?
- Did I do something wrong in raising him/her to cause this condition?
- Does my child need to be hospitalized?
- Will my child require treatment?
- Will my child "outgrow" these behaviors?
- Is this just "a phase" my child is going through?
- What will treatment cost?
- Where do I go for help for my child?
- What does this diagnosis mean?
- How can my family become involved?
If a diagnosis is made based on one, or more, psychiatric evaluations, parent and family involvement in treatment is extremely important for any child or adolescent with a mental health disorder. Your child's physician will address your questions and provide reassurance by working with you to establish long- and short-term treatment goals for your child.
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Online Resources of Child & Adolescent Mental Health