Parents are often the first to suspect that their child or teen is challenged by feelings, behaviors and/or environmental stressors that cause him or her to act out, rebel or be sad or anxious. Examples may include problems with friends or family, sleeping, school, eating or substance abuse. It is important for families who suspect a problem in one or more of these areas to seek help. Treatment for mental health disorders is both available and effective.
The following are the most common parts of a comprehensive, diagnostic psychiatric evaluation. However, each evaluation is different, just as each child's symptoms and behaviors are different. Some information will be gathered during an interview. Other information may involve the child, family member, or another significant person (teacher, school counselor, pediatrician) filling out paper forms.
Evaluations may include:
- Description of current behaviors (i.e., when the behaviors occur, how long the behavior lasts, what the conditions are in which the behaviors most often occur)
- Description of how the behaviors affect relationships and interactions with others (i.e., parents, siblings, classmates, teachers), school performance and involvement in social activities
- History of previous treatment for emotional or behavioral disorders
- Psychiatric interview
- Family history of emotional, behavioral or developmental disorders and any treatment for these disorders
- Complete medical history, including description of child's overall physical health, list of any other illnesses or conditions present, and any treatments currently being administered
- Developmental history
- Laboratory tests and scans, in some cases (may be used to determine if an underlying medical condition is present), including:
- Blood tests
- X-rays, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Other types of testing may include educational assessments and/or speech and language assessments