Do I Need a Psychiatric Evaluation? 8 Signs to Look for

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You might have heard the term “psych eval,” but what exactly is it? And how can you tell if you need one?

Read on for more information about what a psychiatric evaluation is, and 8 signs that you might benefit from requesting one.

What is a psychiatric or mental health evaluation?

When you go for an annual physical, your primary care provider evaluates your overall physical health. They might test your reflexes, listen to your heartbeat, and run a basic blood panel.

Psychiatric evaluation (which you might sometimes hear referred to as a “psych eval”), on the other hand, is a thorough evaluation of your overall mental health. During an evaluation, a doctor or mental health provider will ask you questions about mental health symptoms. Based on what they observe (and what you tell them about your experiences), they can provide you with the right diagnosis (if you have a mental illness) and get you connected with the treatment that’s most likely to help you.

A psychiatric evaluation is critical if you’re experiencing mental health symptoms. So many people are prescribed psychiatric medication without a full psych eval, but without a full evaluation, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s going on with your mental health.

8 signs you should request a psychiatric evaluation

You can request a psychiatric evaluation at any time if you feel like your mental health is suffering. If you’re experiencing any of the following 8 signs, it might mean that you need a mental health evaluation so you can get connected to the treatment you need.

You’re having unexplained physical symptoms like stomach aches or headaches

Sometimes, mental health evaluations are necessary to help figure out what’s going on with you physically. The mind and the body are connected, and illness in one area can often lead to symptoms in the other. If you’re having unexplained physical symptoms like fatigue, stomach problems, or headaches, your doctor might recommend that you get your mental health evaluated.

A thorough mental health assessment provides your doctor with a fuller picture of what’s going on. For example, might your headaches be attributed to stress and anxiety, or should they test you for other conditions? If you’re experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms and your doctor has told you you’re physically healthy, then it may be a good time to request a psychiatric evaluation.

You’re having suicidal thoughts

If you’re having thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life, then it’s a good idea to get a mental health evaluation. Sometimes we have thoughts like these without actually having the intention to hurt ourselves — for example, we might think, “I just don’t know how to do this anymore.” But suicidal thoughts are often a symptom of depression and other mental illnesses. These illnesses are treatable, and you don’t need to live with these thoughts forever. A psychiatric evaluation can be the first step to getting the treatment you deserve.

If you do feel like you may hurt yourself, call the crisis line at 1-800-273-TALK or visit your local emergency room.

You’re having trouble with memory

Mental health problems can affect us in many ways. Sometimes, they can affect our concentration and memory. If you’ve found yourself being more forgetful than usual lately, or if others around you have commented on your memory, then it’s a good idea to get a mental health evaluation.

A psychiatric evaluation can give you insight into whether or not you may be experiencing dementia or other neurological problems. Depression and anxiety can also cause problems with memory and concentration.

You have new or worsening mental health symptoms

Even if you’ve already had a mental health evaluation before, if your symptoms start getting worse, or if new symptoms appear, then you should get evaluated again. Mental health evolves over time, and it’s important that your diagnosis and assessment stay current. 

On top of this, it’s important to mention that if you received a mental health diagnosis that you don’t agree with, then you have the right to get a second opinion. Although it’s important to trust your mental health providers and follow their instructions regarding treatment, you also have the right to a second mental health evaluation if you feel like the first one wasn’t conducted properly. People often get misdiagnosed.

Others have expressed concern about you

Usually, the people who love you have your best interests at heart. If multiple people in your life, who you usually trust, have expressed worry or concern about your mental state, it may be a good idea to get a psychiatric evaluation. Mental health problems come with different levels of insight 一 often, we’re aware that our mental health is struggling, but at other times, we’re not. If people who love you are worried about you, then your mental health may be in a worse state than it appears to you.

Remember that a psychiatric evaluation is just the first step. It may feel scary, but no one can force you into receiving any type of treatment that you don’t want to. However, a mental health evaluation can open up options for treatment for you that might help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Related Podcast: 15 Minutes On The Couch "Suffering in Silence: Mental Health + the Black Community"

Your treatment isn’t working

Maybe you received a mental health evaluation at some point, and the provider gave you a diagnosis and prescribed you psychiatric medication. You hoped that would be the end of the story, but you’re now finding that the medication isn’t working as well as you hoped it would. You’re still experiencing symptoms, and you’re still suffering.

If you’re experiencing this, then you may want to consider requesting a second evaluation. As we mentioned earlier, sometimes even licensed providers get it wrong, and you might be misdiagnosed. A good provider will be more than willing to re-evaluate you or refer you to someone else who can.

You feel mentally confused or are having hallucinations

If you’ve felt like you sometimes can’t tell reality apart from fantasy, or are seeing or hearing things that others can’t, then this may be a sign of psychosis. Psychosis is a mental health symptom that can be treated with the right medication and therapy.

If you’ve felt mentally confused lately and are having trouble differentiating fact from fiction, then a mental health assessment can help you get the right diagnosis and start your treatment.

You’re having trouble taking care of your basic needs

Lastly, if you’re having trouble with basic self-care, then it might be a good idea to get a mental health evaluation. For example, does it feel impossible to get out of bed in the morning to get ready for work? Do your mental health symptoms get in the way of you showering or changing out of your pajamas? Have you completely lost your appetite?

Related Blog: Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?

It’s important to note that these aren’t the only things that indicate you might need a psychiatric evaluation. If you notice any symptoms of mental illness - including feelings of depression, anxiety, or severe mood swings - it’s a good idea to get your mental health evaluated. An evaluation helps your healthcare provider get a better sense of what’s going on with your mental health, and set you up with the best treatment for you.

A psychiatric evaluation is the first step to getting treatment. If you feel like your mental health is suffering, talk to your primary care provider about setting an evaluation up. Mental health treatment is effective, and there is hope for recovery.

What Should I Do Next?

Option I: Reach out to a therapist from the directory

Option II: Read 10 Mental Health Apps

Option III: Check out our Healing Mug

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