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 them 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 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 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 is each individual'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:

    • work performance

    • school performance

    • relationships and interactions with others (i.e., spouse, co-workers, family members, 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 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

When a family member is being evaluated:

It is natural, and quite common, for spouses and family members to question themselves when it becomes necessary for a loved one to be psychiatrically evaluated, and may have many questions and concerns as to his/her welfare and emotional well-being. Common questions frequently asked include the following:

  • What is wrong with my spouse/family member/loved one?

  • Is he/she abnormal?

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

  • Does he/she need to be hospitalized?

  • Will he/she require treatment?

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

  • Is this just "a phase" he/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 physician will address questions and provide reassurance by working with you to establish long-term and short-term treatment goals for your loved one.

Medical Reviewer: [Ballas, Christos MD, Kanipe, Jennifer RN, BSN] Last Annual Review Date: 2010-03-11T00:00:00-07:00 Copyright: Copyright © 2007 Staywell Content Services, Inc. except where otherwise noted.

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Research shows that more women than men experience depression. This could be because women are more likely than men to report and seek help for depressed feelings.