What is a mental status exam?

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A mental status exam (MSE) is to your brain what a physical exam is to your body. The MSE can be an important part of neurologic and psychiatric evaluations. It is an examination designed to test your mental functioning and behaviors. The MSE may be performed by your own doctor, a psychologist or psychiatrist or other medical professional. To conduct the MSE, your doctor may simply ask you a number of questions to determine how well your brain is functioning in areas such as language/speech, motor functions, recent and past memory, mood, judgment, attention span and more.

If your doctor notes deficiencies, impairments or other problems in any component of the MSE, he or she may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. The MSE is often a solid starting point in the diagnosis of a mental disorder or illness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.