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Kumagoro Offline
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How does diagnosis work? - October 13th 2010, 09:16 PM

Just out of curiosity, how do doctors or psychiatrists diagnose you with a mental illness or disorder? Do you just have to tell them what you experience, or are there physiological factors they can take into account as well?
In particular I was thinking about how they diagnose bipolar, OCD and paranoia. I just wondered if they could tell by looking at brain activity, or whether it's purely based on what you tell them.

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Re: How does diagnosis work? - October 13th 2010, 09:30 PM

When I was diagnosed with depression and a possible mood disorder it was all from simply talking about my symptoms and answering questions about how I felt. I would assume that this is usually how people are diagnosed, but it might depend on the particular circumstances and the doctor that you see.

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Re: How does diagnosis work? - October 13th 2010, 09:36 PM

I think it could also depend on if it runs in your family

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Re: How does diagnosis work? - October 15th 2010, 04:58 AM

They'll look at your family history, talk to the people you're around the most (only with your permission) and sometimes they do a brain scan (but that is mostly to rule out a physical problem in your brain). At least that's how I got diagnosed with bipolar.
It is mostly based on what you say though, or if you were seeing a doctor for something else and they stop you mid-sentence to ask if you're manic lol.

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Re: How does diagnosis work? - October 15th 2010, 05:34 AM

Brain scans can be done but there aren't particular brain profiles for certain disorders. Often, various disorders may have a certain pattern but only amongst certain people with that disorder. It's mostly done to make sure that there's no underlying neurological problem because if there is, even if it does affect your behaviour, you're no longer in the hands of a psychiatrist as it's not their area. If there is something abnormal, depending on where it is, you still may see the psychiatrist if it's believed to not produce the abnormal behaviours. For example, if you went to the psychiatrist and you have affective flattening (i.e. no or little emotions), and a brain scan showed damage are prefrontal cortex, if there is no other abnormal behaviour, you won't see the psychiatrist, you'd see a neurologist or neuropsychologist.

They will also ask about current medications and any non-psychiatric illnesses you may have as those may be the cause or can make treatment with medications very difficult to impossible.

When you go for an assessment, you tell the psychiatrist what's going on and they analyze the content of your speech, how you say your speech, your body language, emotional reactions to particular things, your appearance and other non-speech elements. They also may ask about family history or even ask family members if they come with you or you allow them to call family members. The psychiatrist may ask you for a psychological test, such as one where you answer a standardized test (various types and kinds) while at the office.

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