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Diagnosing & Medicating Mental Health Disorders


Diagnosing&amp Medicating Mental Health Disorders

Diagnosing&amp Medicating Mental Health Disorders

Majorityof people diagnosed with mental disorders can experience some relieffrom signs through actively participating in a person treatment plan.Several treatment and diagnoses for mental disorders are available.however, the choice as well as combination of diagnoses and treatmentselected for most cases depends on type of mental disorder, severityof signs, availability of decisions and options made by a person inconsultation with healthcare provider. Majority of people with mentaldisorder argue that combination of services, treatments, as well assupports work best to aid their recovery. Mental disorders can makepeople miserable, and may cause problems in people’s daily life inthe workplace or marriage (Mayes et al, 2009).


Attemptsto diagnose and treat mental disorders dates back to 5000 BCE asrevealed by the discovery of human skulls in areas where ancientworld cultures were found. Early man broadly believed that mentaldisorder resulted from supernatural phenomena like demonic possessionor spiritual, an angry deity, an evil eye, and sorcery. Therefore, heresponded with similar mystical as well as brutal treatments. Thetrephining or trepanning first happened in Neolithic times. This wasdone by making a trephine or a hole in human skull using rough stoneinstruments. Many people believed that evil spirits that inhabitedpeople’s heads, and made them psychopathology, would come outthrough this hole. They believed that this would in turn cure anindividual. Some of the people who underwent this treatment survived,and it is believed that they lived many years after treatment,because trephined skulls of ancient humans indicated signs ofhealing. Many people also believe that pressure on the brain wasincidentally relieved. The procedure endured through centuries astreatment of different ailments like skull fractures, mental illness,and migraines, although with more refined tools like skull drills andsaws developed exclusively for this purpose (Hart &amp Ksir, 2013).

Historyof mental disorder in America is an excellent representation of theways, in which the trends in the cultural and psychiatry’sunderstanding of mental disorder influence national policy, as wellas attitudes towards mental health. United States is considered tohave a reasonable liberal mental health care system, as well as thehistory of mental disorder evolution. Most cultures regard mentaldisorders as a form of demonic possession or religious punishment. Inancient Indian, Egyptian, Roman, and Greek writings, mental disorderwas categorized as a personal problem or religious (Levinthal, 2012).During 5th century, Hippocrates was the first in the treatment ofpeople with mental illness, using techniques not entrenched insuperstition or religion, but instead focused on altering theenvironment or occupation of mentally ill person, or administrationof certain substances like medications. During the middle ages,mentally ill people were believed to be in need of religion orpossessed. Negative approaches towards mental disorder continued in18th century in America, resulting to stigmatization of mentalillness as unhygienic and confinement of the mentally ill persons. In1840s, Dorothea Dix an activist urged for better living situationsfor mentally ill people after witnessing an unhealthy and dangerousconditions that mentally people lived in. For a period of about 40years, Dix managed to persuade America government to financeconstruction of 32 government psychiatric hospitals (Ray, 2004).

Currenttrends and issues

AmericaSurgeon General estimates that one out of ten American adolescentsand children in a year have “great functional impairment” becauseof mental health disorder. The number of teenagers in United Stateswho take psychotropic drugs, which affect behavior and mood arerising at higher rate than other nations. These trends have causedconcern that mental health illnesses are currently overdiagnosed, andthat teenagers are over using psychotropic drugs. However, severalstudies indicate that for many teenagers under treatment and underdiagnosis are the main problems. Behaviors identified as signs of themental health disorders are articulated to various degrees in allteenagers. Values plays inevitable role when diagnosing mental healthdisorders (Zastrow, 2008).

Inyear 2000, United States Surgeon General reported that about one infive adolescents and children experience symptoms and signs of mentalhealth disorder in every year, and about one in ten childrenexperiences “great functional impairment.” Most recent studiessupport these findings, and indicate that most of the mentaldisorders start before age 14, with a high portion manifesting inpreschoolers. In similar developments, the number of teenagers inAmerica who are currently taking prescription drugs to treat thesedisorders is increasing dramatically. Current trends in the use ofthe psychotropic medication drugs for treatment of emotional andbehavioral disturbances, from huge population-based studies indicatea substantial increase in adolescent and pediatric use of stimulantsand antidepressants (Ray, 2004).

Societalconcerns in relation to this topic

Mostpeople have suffered from mental health concerns for a long period.However, mental health issues become illnesses when continuoussymptoms and signs cause regular stress and affect the ability of aperson to function. Mental illnesses have the ability to make peoplemiserable, and may cause problems in people’s daily life in theworkplace or marriage (Varcarolis, 2013). In many cases, mentaldisease signs can be handled with a combination of counseling andmedications (psychotherapy).

Mentalhealth diagnosis entails several steps, starting with an assessmentby the doctor or mental health professional in case mental illnesssymptoms are present. The assessment begins with a care providerasking several questions concerning medical history and symptoms aswell as performing the physical assessment. Even though laboratorytests are not conducted to diagnose mental illnesses, mental healthprofessionals can use several tests to ensure something else is notcausing the symptoms. In case there is no other illness is diagnosed,a person can be referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a mentalhealth professional trained to diagnose, as well as treat mentalillnesses. Psychologists and psychiatrists use designed assessmenttools and interviews to evaluate individual who is suffering frommental illnesses. They then base diagnosis on individual’s reportof symptoms, plus any functional or social problems as result ofsymptoms, as well as observation of individual’s behavior andattitudes. The doctors use the result to determine whether a person’ssymptoms, as well as certain degree of disability indicate anydiagnosis of specific disorders (Kinsella &amp Patel, 2006).

Importanceof this topic to the counseling profession

Ina nation where people can buy pain relievers over the counter, todeal with highly specialized discomforts like joint ache, headache,migraine, mild arthritis, and backache, makes professionals to wonderwhether people are over-medicating for the mental discomforts. Mentalhealth professionals have also wondered whether Americans have becomeexcessive consumers of pain relievers. They take pain relievers eachtime they experience pain, even when the issue is minor and canresolve on its own after a short time. Current studies reveal thatalmost a half of Americans are consuming at least one prescripedmedication, and more than 20 percent are presently using medicine formental disorders (Zastrow, 2008).

Dramaticincrease in use of prescription medication

Astudy conducted for ten years by the Medco Health Solutions analyzedmental treatment and medication usage by two million Americans withhealth insurance since year 2001 to year 2010. This study examinedthe use of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-ADHDmedications together with medications consumed for anti-anxietymanagement. The report indicated a noticeable increase amongpopulation groups in use of medications for 10-year span. Everyperson, plus mental health specialists, were left questioning whetherAmericans have developed additional mental health complications, orare basically likely to search for treatment. Many people wonderwhether mental health professionals have become more skilled in theissue of diagnosing mental health illness, or they see it easier togive prescription instead of pursuing more innovative treatments forthe non severe mental illness (Hart &amp Ksir, 2013).

Researchershave discovered that American women have higher chances of accessingdifferent healthcare issues including mental health treatment.American women are the greatest customers of anti-depressantmedication with more than 20 percent of the women populationcurrently consuming anti-depressant drugs. The use ofanti-depressants by American women has increased by 40 percent in thelast decade with women at age 45 to 65 years using this medication ata high rate. American women are also high consumers of anti-anxietymedications, which they consume at twice the rate of men. However,use of anti-anxiety medications by the older American women hasdecreased by 47 percent. Some mental health professionals havesuggested that American women are manifesting emotional impact of thelast decade, which was started by terror in nine out of eleven, andended at the point of financial uncertainty (Varcarolis, 2013).


Areport indicates mixed outcome as far as medications on mentaldisorders for children is concerned. On an encouraging note, use ofmedication for treatment of ADHD have decreased since year 2005.According to a study conducted for ten years by Medco HealthSolutions, when prescriptions are used to treat mental disorder, boysare more right than girls to get medications. However, when theybecome adults, this trend changes, although when girls are twice theboys they have high chances of receiving ADHD medications. A decreasein the childhood treatments was also recognized in anti-depressantclass. This decrease can be associated with the response to year 2004FDA awareness about risks of the miserable ideation, which could belinked to use of anti-depressant in children (Kinsella &amp Patel,2006).


Statisticsindicate that majority of Americans are taking more mental healthdrugs than they used to take ten years ago. However, it is hard todetermine the cause of this surge, and whether it is necessary ornot. Some mental health professionals believe that instead of usingmedications to get out of anxiety, insignificant depression cases maybe useful in assisting Americans to handle issues of life as well asidentify patterns that may lead to change. They argue that in nearfuture there could be alternatives for dealing with non-severe mentalillnesses.


Medicationson mental illnesses do not cure the problem but help in managing it.Mental disorder medications can greatly improve symptoms and aid inpromoting recovery. Most of medications are recognized as initialtreatment for many people. Most cultures regard mental disorders asdemonic possession or religious punishment. In many cases, mentaldisease signs can be handled with a combination of counseling andmedications (psychotherapy).


Hart,C. L., &amp Ksir, C. (2013). Drugs,Society &amp Human Behavior (fifth Ed).New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kinsella,C., &amp Patel, V. (2006). Introducingmental health: A practical guide.London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Levinthal,C. F. (2012). Drugs,behavior, and modern society.Boston: Allyn &amp Bacon.

Mayes,R., Bagwell, C., &amp Erkulwater, J. L. (2009). Medicatingchildren: ADHD and pediatric mental health.Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Ray,O. S. (2004). Drugs,society, and human behavior.Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Varcarolis,E. M. (2013). Essentialsof psychiatric mental health nursing: A communication approach toevidence-based care. St.Louis, Mo: Elsevier/Saunders.

Zastrow,C. (2008). Introductionto social work and social welfare: Empowering people.Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.