What is a Psychiatric Evaluation? How Do I Know When to Seek Help for My Mental Health?

It’s probably time to schedule a mental health check up if you’re having thoughts, emotions or behaviors that are affecting your relationships, your work or your sense of well-being. A psychiatric “psych” evaluation may sound intimidating, but a psych eval is a simple way for your health care provider to understand what you’re going through at the moment.

How Does Psychiatry Work?

Although mood and anxiety disorders are highly treatable, many people struggling with their mental health go a long time between developing symptoms and receiving appropriate treatment and support. Early intervention can make a big difference by saving a person and their loved ones from stress, developing more serious symptoms, and reducing the likelihood of problems with work, family, school and substance misuse.

If you have physical symptoms, a doctor may order blood work or X-rays to better understand the cause of the symptoms and help inform an effective treatment plan. With mental health symptoms, a psychiatrist often takes a similar approach by using questionnaires to measure, diagnose and treat your symptoms. It is important to know that psychiatric evaluations are not one-size-fits-all, and mental health professionals often choose specific sets of assessments and tests for each individual.

What Does Psychiatry Treat?

Getting timely and appropriate help for a mental health issue can make a big difference. Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs) can help you understand your symptoms and choose the best treatment option for your health goals whether that’s a referral for therapy and/or a medication or non-drug treatment like TMS.

Psychiatrists and psychiatric NPs are qualified to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
  • ADHD
  • PTSD
  • Panic Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Abuse and Addiction
  • Dementia
  • Personality Disorders
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Pain
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Postpartum Depression

Psychiatry can also be used to help people coping with loss, struggling to make major decisions, as part of addiction recovery treatment. Additionally, psychiatrists can help people diagnosed with acute or long-term physical illness or injury cope with their medical diagnosis. 

What Is a Psychiatric Evaluation?

A psych eval (sometimes referred to as a consultation) is a mental health assessment during which a professional helps you understand and manage any mental health issues or symptoms that may be impacting your life. This evaluation can involve answering questions verbally, providing a mental health history or completing a questionnaire. A psych eval is often the first step when seeking treatment for a mental health concern.

Psychiatric evaluations are usually conducted during an initial consultation session. The purpose of this session is to:

  • Learn more about the patient, their current issues, and their goals and objectives.
  • Develop a baseline for their condition. 
  • Discuss different types of treatments and options that could be beneficial.
  • Confirm or make a diagnosis. 
  • Map out a treatment plan with input from the patient. 
  • Discuss short-term and long-term goals the patient may have.

In general, you can expect an initial assessment to take between 20 and 90 minutes, depending on the individual person and their symptoms. Psychiatric evaluations and consultations can be completed virtually or in-person. Some psychiatrists may split the session into two different visits. 

Why Do You Need One?

When considering whether to meet with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner, it can be helpful to treat yourself like your own best friend. If someone you care about asked you what they should do about your symptoms, how would you guide them?

Some reasons to consider a psychiatric evaluation include:

Mental Health Concerns

If you’re experiencing tearfulness, hopelessness, chronic stress, loss of interest in normal activities, sleep disturbances, extreme mood swings, trouble concentrating, withdrawing from social situations, or unexplained weight loss/gain, it can be beneficial to speak to a psychiatric professional.

Thoughts of Self-Harm

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, find yourself wishing you were dead, or think everyone else would be better off if you were gone, seek help right away. You may also need a screening if you have certain risk factors including a family history or a history of trauma or abuse.

Engaging in Risky Behaviors

Some people will act out sexually in questionable and risky behaviors. For instance, they might send nude selfies to others who do not want them or have unprotected sex with multiple partners without regard for the potential consequences. 

Required for Employment

For some careers that can be very stressful or demanding, a psychiatric evaluation could be required for employment. For instance, many government jobs require federal agents and military personnel to obtain a psychiatric evaluation. 

Pregnancy or Postpartum Mental Health Concerns

Of all medical complications affecting women during pregnancy and after birth, mood and anxiety disorders are the most common. While “postpartum” depression is commonly known for occurring after birth, 50% of postpartum major depressive episodes actually begin prior to delivery. A psychiatric evaluation can help alleviate expectant or new moms understand their symptoms and explore treatment options.

Needing Someone to Talk To

Sometimes people just need someone to talk to outside their family and friends that will not judge them or give biased opinions. A psychiatric evaluation can help determine what forms of talk therapies and other treatments could be beneficial. 

How a Psychiatric Evaluation Helps Determine Treatment

The primary purpose of a psychiatric evaluation is to help determine what forms of treatment would benefit you and your physical and mental health and well-being, such as:

  • Talk Therapies
  • TMS 
  • Medication
  • IV Ketamine Therapy
  • Spravato Therapy
  • MeRT
  • IV Nutrition
  • Photobiomodulation

Psychiatric Evaluations and Treatments In Los Angeles, CA

At Neuro Wellness Spa, we are here to help our patients understand their symptoms and choose the best treatment option for them. 

For more information or to schedule your initial consultation, please feel free to contact us or call at 1-877-847-3984 today.

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