What are the main elements of a mental status exam (MSE) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

Updated: Mar 27, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Two main elements of the mental status examination should be assessed in generalized anxiety disorder. The first involves asking about suicidal/homicidal ideation or plan, such as the following:

  • Have you ever wished you were never born, thought you would be better off dead, wish to harm yourself or others, have a plan to harm yourself or others, or ever tried to kill yourself or seriously injure yourself or others?

The second involves formal testing of orientation/recall, such as the following:

  • Does the patient respond when you call them by name (oriented to person)?

  • Is the patient oriented to place and time? When you ask what place, season, day, month, year is it, does the patient respond appropriately?

  • Does the patient have intact short- or long-term recall? Ask the patient to spell the word WORLD forward and backward, count backward from 100 by 7s, recall what he or she did to celebrate his or her birthday last year and the name of his or her first-grade teacher.

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