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Diagnostic Criteria for Behavioral Health

By:  Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Published:  February 16th, 2017

In order to arrive at a diagnosis and check for related complications, a healthcare provider needs to evaluate the patient condition. This may include:

  • History: This can include the patient's personal history as well as that of the patient's family.
  • Physical exam: The healthcare provider will try to rule out physical problems that could cause the patient's symptoms.
  • Lab tests: These may include, for example, checking the patient's thyroid function or a screening for alcohol and drugs.
  • Other tests or evaluations: A healthcare provider uses many different tools and tests to narrow down diagnosing options.

Diagnosing mental health conditions is not always as straightforward as other medical conditions such as a broken leg. Symptoms for mental illness (aka diagnostic criteria) are detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This manual is commonly used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions by evaluating key diagnostic criteria in much the same manner as a lab test lists results that are outside a normal range.

Additionally, many organizations also recommend the Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines (sometimes known as the “blue book”) which is published by the World Health Organization. It includes both clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. However, it should be noted that the ICD-10 code set was published by the WHO in 1990 and there have been some changes in terminology and evaluation processes since that time.

CLICK HERE to view the Blue Book by the World Health Organization.

Note: The WHO's Diagnostic Guidelines are available at the code level to FindACode.com subscribers.

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