Clinicians are trained to recognize physiological and psychological symptoms. This is important as many psychological disorders are actually due to medical conditions. For example, neurological disorders can portray as a psychological disorder with symptoms such as “paranoia, hallucinations, attention deficits, mood swings, euphoria, sleep disturbance, personality changes, depression, impaired memory, anxiety, apathy and violence” (Bondi, 1992). Such neurological disorders can be anywhere from epilepsy to traumatic brain injuries. Bondi (1992) articulates that clinicians need to be alert when attending to a client with a head trauma. In particular, these clients may display symptoms of depression, however, do not meet criteria for a major depressive disorder. To illustrate, a clinician may see symptoms of memory dysfunction, psychomotor retardation, apathy, and flat affect (Bondi, 1992).
Two ways to reduce occurrences of misdiagnosing a medical condition as a psychological disorder are to pay attention to sign and symptoms and the timing (onset). For example, if any patient complains of a headache and it is described as a new type of headache, the worst ever had, or has neurological signs it is important to refer to a neurologist (Bondi, 1992). It is important to note that psychological symptoms may be present which can include stress, anxiety or depression. Next, clinicians should assess when the symptoms first initiated. For example, a client might state that he or she has started feeling symptoms of depression one or two days ago. This acute onset may be indicative of a cerebrovascular accident or a stroke (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
If a client is suspected of having a medical condition it would be to necessary obtain blood or urine labs to assess any diagnostic markers that are in connection to the condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Having this diagnostic information can help connect the possibility of a medical condition instead of a psychological disorder, even though psychological symptoms are present. For example, a clinician can test a client’s thyroid to obtain levels looking for potential hypothyroid because the client has depressive features. If the clinician does not feel comfortable reviewing the results, he or she could collaborate with another clinician or physician and/or refer the client to him or her directly