When is a mental status exam (MSE) indicated in suspected anxiety disorder?

Updated: Mar 27, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

A complete mental status examination should be obtained for each patient with anxiety symptoms, assessing appearance, behavior, ability to cooperate with the exam, level of activity, speech, mood and affect, thought processes and content, insight, and judgment. Patients may exhibit physical signs of anxiety such as sweaty palms, restlessness, and distractibility. Patients are generally oriented times 3 and cooperative. Mood may be normal or depressed. Affect is often preserved. Psychotic symptoms are not typical of uncomplicated anxiety disorders. Suicidal ideation should be assessed by asking about passive thoughts of death, desires to be dead, thoughts of harming self, or plans or acts to harm self. Homicidal ideation is uncommon. Cognition is typically intact with no impairment in memory, language, or speech. Insight and judgment are typically intact.


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