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Doctors Encourage Physicians to give Mental Evaluations Along with Physicals

Update Date: Mar 13, 2013 02:09 PM EDT

Going into a normal physical check up with a primary care physician might entail more than just a few questions regarding any physical pains and symptoms. Doctors state that the brain should be treated like any other organ in the body, and it should be evaluated along with other organs. According to a new study, a mental health check up for anyone, regardless of age, gender, and risk factors could benefit overall life quality, and thus, physicians should administer them and patients should ask for them.

According to the Mental Health America, an estimated 25 percent of adults in the United States suffer from mental illnesses every year. These adults tend to try living with their conditions for an average of 10 years before seeking medical help and treatments. Not only is waiting detrimental for the people since their conditions can worsen and make life miserable, the medical bills would add up later in life with all these extra complications.

Although some physicians already do mental checkups, the study done by researchers from the University of Cambridge recommends that all physicals should include mental health exams. A mental health exam usually includes several questions about lifestyle, eating habits and alcohol consumption habits. These types of questions help doctors access a patient's mental wellness, which might reveal mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders and stress disorders. The purpose of these tests would allow physicians to refer patients to psychiatrists or psychologists for further testing.

If patients identified their own problems early on instead of living life miserably, the stigma behind mental health can improve. Mental illness can afflict anyone and the more people know about it, the less they will perceive it as a rare disorder that only certain types of people develop. In addition, mental health evaluations can educate patients about the signs and factors of these illnesses.

"People shouldn't be apprehensive about going to a psychiatrist. Mental health is just as important as physical health. You just need to take care of both," Pattie Wollenburg, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness stated.

The study, headed by Dr. Nizar El-Khalili listed several symptoms for people to look out for. Some of the symptoms include sleep problems, low tolerance to frustrations, random bouts of sadness, overeating, and unreasonable fears stemming from no logical source. The study stresses that in order to successfully treat mental disorders, people must first acknowledge that they can affect any one. 

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