Mental illness



You have the following options to determine a diagnosis and check for related complications: A physical examination. Your doctor will try to rule out physical problems that could be causing your symptoms.

Laboratory analysis. These may include, for example, a checkup of your thyroid function or a test for alcohol and drugs.

A psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health professional will talk with you about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. They may ask you to complete a questionnaire to help answer these questions.

How to determine your mental illness

Sometimes it is difficult to determine what mental illness may be causing the symptoms. But taking the time and effort to get an accurate diagnosis will help determine the appropriate treatment. The more information you have, the more prepared you will be to work with your mental health professional and understand what your symptoms may represent.

The characteristic symptoms of each mental illness are detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health professionals use this manual to diagnose mental disorders, and insurance companies use it to reimburse the cost of treatment.


Treatment depends on the type of mental illness you have, its severity, and what is most effective for you. In many cases, combining treatments works best.

If you have a mild mental illness with well-controlled symptoms, treatment from your primary care provider may be sufficient. However, sometimes the team approach is more appropriate to ensure that all your psychiatric, medical and social needs are met. This is particularly important for serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.
Your treatment team

Your treatment team may understand:

Primary Care Physician or General Practitioner
Specialized nurse
Medical assistant
Psychiatrist, a doctor who diagnoses and treats mental illness
Psychotherapist, for example, psychologist or licensed counselor
A social worker
Family integrants


Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional. Psychotherapy allows you to know your illness, your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. That understanding and that knowledge allow you to acquire skills to face situations and manage stress.

There are many types of psychotherapy, each with its approach to improving mental well-being. Psychotherapy is often completed successfully within a few months, although long-term treatment may be necessary in some cases. It can be carried out individually, in groups or with family members.

When choosing a therapist, it is important that you feel comfortable and trust their ability to hear what you have to say. In addition, it is important that the therapist understands the life story that has made you the person you are and has defined the way you live.


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