What's Included in a Psychiatric Evaluation?

More and more people are seeking out psychiatric care each year. The push for receiving mental health has grown exponentially, but what does it mean to see a psychiatrist? It’s best to know what to anticipate before sitting down with one of our experts. 

Our team of psychiatric professionals at Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates led by Dr. Ron Winfield in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is dedicated to preparing you for your first evaluation and supporting you through our expert care. 

Understanding psychiatry

Psychiatry is the sector of medicine that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing various mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists differ from therapists and psychologists in that psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication along with offering counseling and support through therapy. 

Because our psychiatrists are highly trained, professional doctors, they’re able to see any connections between medical conditions like heart issues, thyroid problems, and high blood pressure and your mental health, so it’s important that we receive your full medical history.  

Our team takes into account physical, environmental, mental, and emotional factors when developing your psychiatric care. 

Do I need a psychiatrist?

Our psychiatric team is able to treat a wide variety of mental health issues. We can assess your depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, addiction, and other mental health needs from a medical viewpoint. We provide care for a sudden onset of symptoms along with long-term care. We’re first able to diagnose you through an initial psychiatric evaluation. 

What happens during a psychiatric evaluation?

Before we can create your treatment plan, we must first conduct an initial evaluation. Here are some things you can expect:

General background

We discuss with you your overall medical and family history. Understanding your overall health, level of function, quality of living, and background information gives us more insight into your needs and helps us develop an even more customized plan. 

We’re especially interested in learning about any past psychiatric treatments or diagnoses you’ve had and how you’ve responded to those interventions.

If you’ve engaged in any substance abuse, it’s important to disclose that information so we can better assess your psychiatric situation. 

Psychiatric evaluation

During the evaluation, we assess your mood, anxiety levels, cognition, thought process, and perceptions. We conduct an overall mental status examination taking into account any and all biological, psychological, and social factors. 

A part of your evaluation includes an assessment of any previous or current trauma or suicidal ideations. We also evaluate your risk for exhibiting aggressive behaviors.

Developing your treatment plan

Because none of our patients is the same, none of our treatment plans is the same either. After gathering all the important information and conducting our evaluations and tests, we create your customized treatment plan. 

We strike a balance between therapy and medications based on your specific needs and circumstances. We also work in tandem with your primary care provider and other specialists to make sure your care is exactly what you need. 

How do I prepare for the evaluation?

Coming prepared for your initial evaluation helps our team better tailor your treatment plan. Here are some things to consider before arriving:

Create a list of questions

You’ll undoubtedly have just as many questions as we will. Start writing down questions you have about any potential medications, our approach to psychiatry, and expectations. We’re happy to discuss any concerns and answer any questions you might have about your care. 

Maintain a log or journal

Before you arrive, it’s very helpful if you track your symptoms, moods, and thoughts. Have a journal or app on your phone where you can log events that trigger behaviors or thoughts, track your emotions throughout the day, or any medications you take and how you react to them. Collecting this data beforehand only adds to our ability to better assess you. 

Be aware of your physical symptoms

Taking note of your mental and emotional reactions is important, but it’s also best to recognize any stomach problems, issues sleeping, and other physical symptoms that might be associated with your mental health. 

If you’ve decided to schedule a psychiatric evaluation, it means you’re serious about treating your mental health. We’re committed to you and your mental health and would love to begin your journey as soon as possible. Call our office or schedule an appointment online today to get started. 

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