A comprehensive medical evaluation can generally provide a unique understanding of the status of an individual’s health. However, it does not provide depth of information as to the actual state of mental health and wellness of an individual. As thought processes can only be assessed and analyzed through certain tests that are not normally included or sometimes only briefly or superficially included in medical evaluations, the value of an in-depth psychiatric evaluation is very important. At Sprout Health Group, our team of clinical psychiatrists and psychologists focus on the assessment and evaluation of an individual’s thought patterns, behavior, and personality.
Although some of the information that can be used to highlight the possibility of a co-occurring mental illness can come from the physical and health history assessment findings during the medical evaluation, these can be further explored during psychiatric evaluation. For example, while grooming may not necessarily be equated with a mental disorder, its absence or excess will often indicate a different thought pattern. Observations such as the individual’s slouched position, very few answers to questions, and even gait or posture while sitting may already warrant suspicion of a mood disorder, possibly depression. These are just examples of how our Sprout clinicians can approach and conduct the psychiatric evaluation of each individual in order to really identify and establish any mental disorder that may coexist with chemical dependence or substance addiction.
The clinical interview is where the clinical psychiatrist can thoroughly evaluate the mental health status of an individual. Here, subtle signs of mental health disorders such as the use of monosyllabic responses, irrelevant replies or illogical answers to questions, as well as excessively detailed speech can point to altered thought processes. If the individual goes into sudden silence even without any obvious reason, this is often duly interpreted as a sign of a possible thought alteration.
The individual’s mood is also carefully observed and evaluated as a reflection of his emotions; hence, indirectly measuring his state of mental well-being. During the interview, the individual is strongly encouraged to verbalize his feelings in order to identify any problems in thought patterns, coping mechanisms, and even speech patterns. Repetitive speech patterns, slurred speech, and flight of ideas are all indications of altered thought processes which can only happen in an altered state of mental health.
Cognitive and behavioral assessments will also be performed in addition to the clinical interview. Cognitive testing focuses on the intellectual competence of the individual with regards to solving problems a normal person his age would normally be able to answer. The behavioral tests will focus on activities of daily living and how these are carried out on a daily basis. The results from these tests will guide our clinicians at Sprout Health Group to design a plan of care that is appropriate for the individual’s condition.
Whether medical illness is the cause or the result of chemical dependence or simply a co-occurring condition, it is very important to establish a very comprehensive baseline information as to the mental health status of all individuals seeking addiction treatment with or without co-occurring mental illnesses. This is needed to devise a plan of care that is not only responsive to the needs of the individuals but also offers them the highest level of success at regaining full control of their lives.