Any mental health condition can be truly debilitating and getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan. Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test that can accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, to assess symptoms and make a diagnosis. The manual lists criteria including feelings and behaviors and time limits in order to be officially classified as a mental health condition.
First, seek a medical diagnosis
One thing to keep in mind – although you’ve described symptoms that are often associated with more serious mental health conditions such as Schizophrenia and related disorders, it is very important to rule out any underlying physical medical issues that may be causing or contributing to one’s symptoms. If you/your loved one have not been examined by a primary care physician, you may want to start there.
Mental health symptoms/diagnosis
It’s important to understand your diagnosis. NAMI’s Know the Warning Signs page provides initial guidance on how to tell the difference between what expected are behaviors vs what might be the signs of a mental illness. Learning more about the mental health condition and treatment options helps you to better establish a treatment plan that works for you. Being well informed allows you make decisions about finding a mental health professional and which treatment settings may be most effective in helping you achieve wellness.