How Do Mental Health Diagnoses Work? This Video Explains

For the most part, mental health issues don’t come with the extremely straightforward diagnostic criteria that many physical illnesses do. You can’t check for the presence of certain antibodies to identify depression or take an x-ray for anxiety. So how do psychiatrists and physicians differentiate between, say, sadness and major depressive disorder, or anxiousness and general anxiety disorder?

This video from SciShow Psych answers that complicated question, digging into signs and symptoms, distress and impairment, and diagnostic classifications from resources like DSM-5. If you’re looking for an even more concise answer, though, it’s generally a good idea to talk to a professional when your symptoms cause you distress or when they get in the way of your ability to live your life. Those are two of the ways a disorder distinguishes itself — and if that sounds like your situation, there is help to be had.

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