Unlocking the Secrets of Psych Evaluations: What They Are, When You Need One, and What to Expect!

New to therapy or exploring different treatment options? It’s natural to have questions about getting started, and often there are always misunderstandings between the differences between a psychological or “psychiatric” evaluation.
First of all, don’t let those terms intimidate you. A psychological evaluation is a simple mental health evaluation that helps your therapist or health care provider understand what you are going through right now.

Psychological Evaluations – What, When, Where and Why.

Psychological evaluations look at the social or personal aspects of mental and emotional health conditions and are usually done by a family doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They may involve answering questions verbally, receiving a physical test, and completing a questionnaire. Think of these evaluations as serving the same purpose as medical tests for physical symptoms. They are essential to measure and observe their behavior to diagnose and treat specific issues. Treatment may include individual, family, or group therapy, medication, self-care techniques, or a combination of all of these.

If you or a loved one is showing signs of a mental health condition, it may be time to talk to a professional. Signs to look out for include sudden mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and unexplained memory loss, among others. It is essential to schedule an evaluation if symptoms interfere with relationships, daily life, or the ability to function on a daily basis. It’s also vital to speak to a professional right away if someone is struggling with thoughts of self-harm.

Psychological evaluations may include clinical interviews, IQ tests, behavior assessments, and personality assessments. They may use one or more during the screening process, depending on the person and their concerns or symptoms.

If you’re considering a psychological evaluation, know that it may include formal questionnaires, checklists, surveys, interviews, and behavioral observations. The depth of the evaluation will depend on your needs and concerns. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Your honesty about your emotions and how they affect you is key to an accurate assessment.

Signs that someone may need a psychological evaluation may include:
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Unexplained memory loss
  • Social retreat
  • Difficult to focus
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
  • Problems at school or work.
  • Loss of motivation or interest in activities, especially those that were previously enjoyed
  • Increased sensitivity to noise, images, or touch
  • Paranoia
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Feeling disconnected from what is going on around you
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Depression
  • Other uncharacteristic behaviors

While these symptoms are not always cause for concern, it is wise to seek help if several new or unusual symptoms occur. Don’t hesitate to schedule an evaluation if your symptoms are interfering with relationships, daily life, or the ability to function on a daily basis. Practices such as yoga, meditation or making small changes in certain aspects of life can also be a great incentive to keep stress, anxiety or depression at bay and enjoy a full life again.

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