The Mental Status Examination
Every clinician conducts a mental status examination in the course of each clinician/patient interaction as he or she decides how much faith to place in the patient’s history and how intensively to pursue it. For example, by noting how the patient looks as he or she describes the illness, the clinician makes a judgment about the patient’s mood. By listening to the patient describe the onset of the illness, the clinician notes how well the patient is able to remember recent events, calculate the number of days of illness, or understand the seriousness of the problem; the clinician thereby assesses the patient’s higher cognitive functions. An important skill, therefore, is to convert such naturalistic observations into a reliable and valid examination of the patient’s mental functioning.
KeywordsDepression Dementia Schizophrenia Coherence Tempo
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