5 Questions to Ask Yourself After an Initial Diagnosis

How an Initial Diagnosis Isn't Always Correct

Hispanic woman at therapy session

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While not an official clinical term, the phrase “initial diagnosis” or preliminary diagnosis, is sometimes used informally to refer to the diagnosis that a client receives after an intake interview.

Psychological disorders can be complex and difficult to accurately diagnose, but many insurance companies require an immediate diagnosis to pay for treatment. However, after receiving an initial diagnosis from a physician, it's important to verify that you, in fact, are suffering from this condition.

The initial diagnosis is often correct, but many therapists caution their clients that the diagnosis may change after further sessions.

There are many cases of misdiagnosis, especially in the mental health field where one disorder or phobia can have very similar symptoms and causes. A very basic example of misdiagnosis would be a doctor saying you have the flu, when in fact, you only have a viral infection.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself

For this reason, you want to take the proper steps toward treating your condition.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I want to get a second opinion? If you are being diagnosed with a serious medical or psychological disorder it's important to seek a second opinion, as some diagnosis can be subjective. Disease presentations can also change over time, looking a certain way at one time, and looking completely different at another.
  • Do I need a specialist? Make sure the doctor who is providing the diagnosis is qualified to do so. In the case of psychological disorders, this diagnosis is best provided by a mental health professional. Also note that there are different types of mental health professionals with differing levels of training and expertise. Ideally the person with the most credentials would be best qualified but that's not always the case.
  • Do I need to submit this diagnosis to my insurance company? Your initial diagnosis may be important to your insurance company, but may not always be correct. If your insurance policy allows, it may be wise to wait for a final diagnosis before submitting it to your insurance company.
  • Am I covered for further testing and treatment? Even before you submit the diagnosis to your insurance company you may want to speak to a human resource professional at your company to determine what is and isn't covered under your plan, and whether you need authorizations or special approvals going forward.
  • Do I have any reason to believe I've been misdiagnosed? There are countless cases of misdiagnosis for a variety of reasons. This is why seeking a second opinion is important.

By Lisa Fritscher
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics.