The Mental Status Examination



The Mental Status Examination

A Psychiatric Glossary

JUST as a physical examination commonly moves from head to toe, the mental status examination begins with an older adult’s outer appearance and progressively proceeds to his interior experiences. To describe these experiences, clinicians use a specialized language. Comprehensive glossaries of psychiatric terms are available elsewhere (e.g., Shahrokh et al. 2011). The following lists include brief definitions of some common specialized terms and serve as a format for organizing your findings in the mental status examination.


Note the following about a person’s appearance:

  • Dress
  • Cleanliness
  • Habitus
  • Posture
  • Appropriateness for his age
  • Ability to make and maintain eye contact


Describe the patient’s behaviors, including the following:

  • Mannerisms (unnecessary behaviors that are a part of goal-directed behavior)
  • Stereotypies (non-goal-directed behaviors)
  • Drooling
  • Tics (involuntary, recurrent, nonrhythmic movement or vocalization)
  • Posturing (striking a pose and maintaining it)
  • Presence of waxy flexibility (resistance of limbs to passive motion)
  • Catalepsy (maintaining of any position)
  • Tremor
  • Agitation
  • Movement retardation
  • Akathisia (sense of restlessness accompanied by fidgeting, pacing, or being unable to stop moving)
  • Signs of extrapyramidal symptoms or tardive dyskinesia
  • Ambulatory status and, if possible, gait
  • Ability to relate socially during your encounter


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Sep 1, 2019 | Posted by in PSYCHOLOGY | Comments Off on The Mental Status Examination
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