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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Test for Psychiatric Diagnosis
August 2000

Q. Which medical test or screenings do you recommend as part of a thorough history and physical assessment when making or ruling out a psychiatric diagnosis for children and adolescents?

A. Your family doctor can get you started on this kind of evaluation. A standard physical exam is unlikely to reveal the exact cause of the problems you are noticing, but will give an assessment of general health. Lab tests will likely be ordered. Standard blood tests would include a blood count (red cell count, white cell count), a chemistry panel measuring liver and kidney function, blood glucose, and thyroid function. In younger children it will likely include a blood or urine test to measure for any toxin exposure (lead poisoning is not uncommon in some areas of the U.S.) and in adolescents will likely include a test for the use of illicit drugs. If these tests are normal, referral to a psychiatrist is likely. A neurologist may also be consulted if any questions remain from the screening process described.

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

  • http://www.psych.org/public_info/fam_and_child.html
  • http://www.ncpamd.com/books.htm
MEDICAL REFERENCES (usually available through the library of your local hospital):
  • Carson AJ, Ringbauer B, MacKenzie L, Warlow C, Sharpe M.
    Neurological Disease, Emotional Disorder, and Disability: They Are Related: A Study of 300 Consecutive New Referrals to a Neurology Outpatient Department. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2000 Feb;68(2):202-6.
  • Comerci GD, Schwebel R.
    Substance Abuse: An Overview. Adolesc Med. 2000 Feb;11(1):79-101. Review.
  • Weller EB, Weller RA, Fristad MA, Rooney MT, Schecter J.
    Children's Interview for Psychiatric Syndromes (ChIPS). J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Jan;39(1):76-84.
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