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Mental health issues are diagnosed in a different way to physical health problems. Doctors can’t do a blood test or take a sample to find out whether you are ill.
They are diagnosed by looking at a combination of different things.
If you are worried about your mental health, the first step is to go to your doctor (GP). Doctors can diagnose some common mental health issues If they think you need input from a specialist then you will usually be referred to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist.
You may also have been diagnosed with a mental health issue after a crisis period, for example, when you have been admitted to hospital, either voluntarily or involuntarily (what people sometimes refer to as, “sectioning”). Read more about hospital admission and the Mental Health Order (Northern Ireland) 1986 here.
A doctor or mental health professional may make a diagnosis by:
They may want to see you more than once over a period of time to monitor your symptoms. The diagnosis you are given is usually the one that is the best fit for your symptoms and experiences. If these change, you may be given a different diagnosis.
Not all of us feel the same way about getting a diagnosis.
We might feel more than one of these emotions at once. This can be really confusing – but there are lots of places you can turn to for support.
There are lots of ways you can get support.
You might not think that our doctor or mental health professional has given you the right diagnosis. Find out more about how to challenge a diagnosis and ask for a second opinion.