What Does Rule Out Mean?
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The term “rule out” is used by mental health professionals who are trying to make an accurate diagnosis. The symptoms of many mental health conditions are similar so before a clear diagnosis can be made, clinicians must rule out a variety of other conditions. If your teen is having trouble concentrating, a therapist may want to rule out ADHD or PTSD. Or, if your teen seems depressed, a mental health professional may want to rule out bipolar disorder before making a depression diagnosis.

Mental illnesses aren’t always cut and dry. Professionals don’t simply use a checklist to arrive at a diagnosis. Instead, most conditions are diagnosed after a series of interviews where a clinician considers an individual’s background and environment. This is important because symptoms need to be taken into context. For example, a teen who is misbehaving at school, may be acting out because he has a learning disability or because he’s bullied, not necessarily because he has a behavior disorder.

How to Get Help For Your Teen
If you suspect your teen may have a mental health condition, seek professional help. Start by talking to your teen’s physician. Express any concerns you have about your teen’s mood or behavior.

Your teen’s physician may make a referral to a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. A thorough assessment and evaluation can help a clinician rule out specific mental health conditions while also arriving at an accurate diagnosis, if a diagnosis is warranted.

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