Just as a medical doctor runs a series of tests to gather the information they need to make an accurate diagnosis; a mental health professional uses psychological testing to accurately diagnose a mental health disorder.
Information from the evaluation also helps the clinician develop a treatment plan that will be effective for the patient.
Psychological assessments are important tools for helping individuals improve their mental health, but they are also used for other purposes. For example, a company may require job applicants to take an assessment to help determine whether they are a good fit for the job.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has reported a severe worldwide decline in mental health. Such concerns about mental health make accurate testing more important than ever.
There are many reasons a person might decide to undergo screening. Psychological testing may be recommended if you’re experiencing any of these conditions:
- Avoiding friends and family, isolating
- Feeling unusually sad or depressed
- Feeling anxious, fearful, or worried
- Feeling guilty or ashamed
- Extreme irritability, anger
- Fatigue, loss of energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulties in school
- Confused thinking
- Mood swings
Almost everyone experiences some of these warning signs at some point in life. However, if you notice a pattern of behavioral changes or if you haven’t been feeling like yourself for six weeks or more, a consultation with a mental health professional is recommended.
Psychological testing can help a psychologist gain clarity about your diagnosis. If you’re not entirely sure what’s going on, why you’re feeling the way your feeling, or if you just want to know more about how your brain works, testing can help you figure it all out! The more that’s understood about a person’s mental health, the more effective their treatment will be.
A psychologist may use these assessment tests:
- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV)
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test -Fourth Edition (WIAT-IV)
- Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System (D-KEFS)
- Integrated Visual and Auditory Continuous Performance Test-2nd Edition (IVA-CPT-2)
- Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory -Second Edition (MACI-II)
- Behavior Assessment System for Children-Third Edition (BASC-III)
- Behavior Assessment System for Children – Third Edition (BASC-III) – Parent, Teacher
In addition, the psychologist will ask a variety of questions and may even speak with family members for more information.
Poor mental health impacts millions of people in the United States. The effects of mental illness not only impact the person who is experiencing symptoms, but they also impact the friends and loved ones of that person.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five U.S. adults is currently living with a mental illness. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and symptoms do not get better without help. In fact, for most people, untreated symptoms continue to worsen with time.
Here are 5 of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders:
Depression affects nearly 300 million people worldwide. It is the most common mental health disorder. Several factors are known to cause depression, including genetics, medical problems, life events, a chemical imbalance, and some medications.
Symptoms of depression can become so severe that they are debilitating and affect every aspect of a person’s life. Warning signs of depression include:
- Sadness, hopelessness
- Feeling guilty or ashamed
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
Treatment for depression can be highly effective, though it may take time to see results. Your psychologist will likely recommend a number of lifestyle changes in addition to medication and other therapies.
Like depression, anxiety disorders arise from a number of factors. Though it is a highly treatable condition, only about 37% of those living with anxiety seek treatment. Anxiety disorders are divided into three categories: anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and trauma- and stress-related disorders.
Symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person and differ according to which type of anxiety a person has. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Chills, sweating
- Digestive issues
- Fatigue or insomnia
- Irrational fears and phobias
- Nervousness, restlessness
- Feeling easily overwhelmed
Treatment for anxiety may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, exposure therapy, and dialectic behavioral therapy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects people who have experienced or witnessed terrifying or life-threatening events. The disorder is most often associated with military personnel who have served in an active war zone, but it is not exclusive to military service.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that women have a greater risk of developing PTSD than men, and approximately 3.6% of adults in the U.S. have experienced PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to:
- Distressing memories
- Angry outbursts
Treatment for PTSD focuses on managing symptoms and may include medication and psychiatric care, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder that affects adults, teens, and children. The main symptoms of ADHD are the inability to pay attention, a lack of impulse control, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can impair a person’s ability to succeed at school or work and can negatively impact relationships and social interactions.
Medication and behavior management training are the most common methods of treating ADHD.
Neurodevelopmental disorders are disorders that are influenced by brain function. They can affect a person’s cognitive, social, and emotional functions. Some of the most common types of neurodevelopmental disorders include:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Conduct disorders
- Learning disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
There is no cure for neurodevelopmental disorders, but there are effective interventions and methods for symptom management.
Blackhawk Family Development offers psychological testing for children and adults. Contact us today if you or a member of your family could benefit from our testing services.