A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is one of the best ways to pinpoint the source of problem behaviors for patients of all ages. Narmin Aliji, MD, with 360 Psychiatry in Santa Monica, California, provides this increasingly common medical necessity for patients — whether they’re children, teens, or adults — because it offers them valuable information about various aspects of their mental and physical health. It's a starting point for people who are experiencing behavior or mood changes they don't fully understand.
When a person gets sick, often the first thing they do is visit the doctor. A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is another kind of checkup, one that focuses on current and past moods and behaviors. Dr. Aliji investigates these as they relate to:
Each of these can factor into mental health conditions affecting your quality of life.
Dr. Aliji starts with the individual, and she may look at other factors, such as the patient’s family and environment. A true comprehensive psychiatric evaluation may involve:
Looking closely at work, school, and home environments, Dr. Aliji wants to examine personal relationships, lifestyle choices, coping mechanisms, and daily habits, along with other telling details that may contribute to your diagnosis.
Dr. Aliji bases her evaluation on the needs of each patient in two typical stages:
The evaluation starts with you and/or your family member offering a description of the current moods and behaviors, as well as some details such as how long they last and how often they occur. Dr. Aliji makes a note of all symptoms, both physical and psychiatric, as well as the effects of these moods and behaviors on your everyday life, such as:
A complete psychiatric evaluation also includes questions about your family history. Dr. Aliji also takes a complete medical history at the same time. There are some situations where your mood or behavior problems may stem from physical or medical reasons and not from strictly psychiatric sources. In some cases, she may order lab tests to rule out an organic cause for your condition. Information may also be gathered from other relevant individuals to allow for a better understanding of the presenting problem.