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Diagnosing Mental Disorders

            With one in five Americans suffering from at least one form of mental illness in his or her lifetime it is important that the treatment of mental illness be as comprehensive as possible (CPA, 2003, para.1). Although there are many steps in the treatment of mental disorders, one of the most important of all may be the initial diagnosis of the disorder. The diagnosing of mental disorders can be a challenging step to overcome in the treatment of mental disorders not only by psychiatrist, but also by primary care physicians and others mental health professionals. The correct diagnosis of mental disorders has greatly increased in recent times thanks to new discoveries in genetics, modern brain research and advances in psychiatry. Although there have been these advances in diagnosis it is important to continue in the advancement of correct diagnosis of mental disorders and treatment. .
             In many cases the diagnosis of mental disorders is done by the primary care physician, where at least 20 -36% of all primary care outpatients are attributed to mental disorders. In fact there are more patients with mental disorders that are cared for in the primary care sector than in the mental health sector. However, several studies have shown that primary care physicians have difficulty in diagnosing these disorders in the majority of patients, who usually present symptoms suggestive of a medical condition, while volunteering few psychological complaints. Some of the problems that occur with primary care physicians include inadequate knowledge of the diagnostic criteria, uncertainty about the best questions to ask for evaluating whether those criteria are met, and time limitations inherent in a busy office setting. (Schmitz 1999) Despite the considerable effort that the field of clinical psychology has taken to make the diagnosis of mental disorders an "objective" process, the theoretical beliefs of clinicians still appear to play a major role in the process.

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