The Mental Status Exam is analogous to the physical exam: it is a series of observations and examinations at one point in time.
Focused questions and observations can reveal "normal" or pathological findings. Although our observations occur in the context of an interview and may therefore be ordered differently for each patient, the report of our findings is ordered and "paints a picture" of a patient's appearance, thinking, emotion and cognition. The data from the Mental Status Exam, combined with personal and family histories and Psychiatric Review of Systems, forms the data base from which psychiatric diagnoses are formed.
A synopsis of the four MSE sections is presented below.
In following pages, there are elaborations of each section, with sample descriptors. MSE Components in greater detail: these adjectives and descriptors may be helpful in describing your mental status exam findings.
Usually some apply more than others and you may find your own descriptors that fit your patient best. Signs and symptoms of psychiatric illness are often described in the history of present illness.
The ROS in psychiatry "covers all the bases" and queries for important signs and symptoms that have not been discussed during the first part of the history. Similar to the ROS in other fields of medicine, the ROS in psychiatry is a systematic inquiry, searching for pertinent positives and negatives over a period of time preceding the time of interviews.
Psychiatric History Taking and The Mental Status Examination - USMLE & COMLEX
Suggested Texts and references for the Clerkship In Psychiatry: suitable for in-depth reading on a patient problem or formulation in a write-up. C73 vs.
Stoudemire: Clinical Psychiatry - Dept. Manley Mosby Internet Searches on topics in Psychiatry for up-to-date information on medications as well as published research in psychiatry Advanced PubMed search : at University or with special access.