How does a psychologist make a clinical diagnosis?

Psychology in Your Life

The intention for this post is to introduce you to one aspect of the diagnostic process — specifically: differential diagnosis.

And ultimately to help you understand that psychological assessment is a complex, worthwhile process.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo

What’s normal 🆚 clinical?

To answer that question, I would like to invite you into my clinical psychology class. 

Specifically, when I teach the concept of “Differential Diagnosis” using the STATE versus TRAIT anxiety distinction. 

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STATE 🆚 TRAIT ANXIETY

Misdiagnosis

People often believe they have generalized anxiety or panic disorder, when in fact, what they are experiencing is an acute reaction to a short-lived, stressful circumstance.

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Differential Diagnosis

For example, STATE anxiety involves temporary and situational symptoms to stress inducing events (public speaking, midterms, first dates) universal to all of us. 

In contrast, TRAIT anxiety has more lasting, debilitating, and pervasive symptoms (eg., impacts all aspects of an individual’s life) independent of external events.

Psychology on Campus

For additional insights into the diagnostic process, including how I teach this concept in the liberal arts program, check out my latest video:

Reflection Questions

1. How is understanding the state 🆚 trait distinction applicable and/or helpful in your daily life?

2. Have you ever jumped to the conclusion about yourself or someone else regarding a diagnosis, only to discover later that the condition was temporary?

3. What psychology topics and ideas would you like to learn more about?

Dr. D 📕❤️

DrAndreaDinardo.com

FOMO ANXIETY Simple Tips for Feeling Better

This post is for anyone experiencing FOMO. Particularly on a long weekend holiday!

Psychology Insight:

Holidays heighten social anxiety of every kind.

FOMO especially.

Consider these questions as you explore what’s going on below the surface.

1. Do you remember the first time you experienced FOMO?

2. How did you cope with the anxiety of missing out?

3. What if anything would you be willing to give up in your life in exchange for the fantasy of someone else’s life or experience?

4. What about your life do you cherish above all else?

Please share in the comments below, including your own strategies for handling FOMO. I’d love to know!

Savour this moment.

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EMPOWERING THOUGHTS

Choose the THOUGHTS that emPOWER you today.

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It takes

one word

one thought

one mantra

to shift our mind

from pain to power.

What will your empowering thought be this week?

I’d love to know.

Share your WORD in comments below ⤵️

uplifting thoughts

Related Post: Empowering Conversations

Thanks for visiting my psychology blog!

Dr. D 💖☀️

Optimism Bootcamp for Health & Happiness.

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Hope Lights The Way

Nathalie Begin author of the Gutsy Feeling Blog invited me to give a positive psychology workshop called Optimism Bootcamp at a Symposium for Crohn’s & Colitis Canada.

The audience was filled a very special group of people. Individuals that have been battling the chronic condition of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) their whole lives.

Click Here to join the workshop

What’s IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of conditions, the two main forms of which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD also includes indeterminate colitis.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt your body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner.

Source: Chrohn’s and Colitis Canada

Health Warriors

Individuals with chronic health problems such as IBD often feel a sense of helplessness and disempowerment over their bodies.

Which is why teaching concrete strategies for focusing on what’s within one’s control (beliefs and attitudes; deep breathing; present moment awareness) and letting go of what’s not (waiting times; IBD diagnosis; doctor availability) is so important.

Believing you can is half the battle.

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Optimism Research

Research in health psychology shows that optimism and having hope in one’s future has a significant impact on whether patients follow through on medical advice.

Optimism has also been found to improve the overall quality of life, well-being, and happiness of cancer patients.

Click Here for Research on Health, Hope, and Optimism

“Hope changes everything. It transforms pessimism into optimism. It changes winter into summer, darkness into dawn, descent into ascent, barrenness into creativity, agony into joy.” Daisaku Ikeda

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Optimism Can Be Learned

The good news is that optimism is a skill that can be learned!

  1. Optimism / pessimism are not fixed personality traits that someone is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be born with.
  2.  Optimism / pessimism are states (not traits) that are malleable and open to change.
  3. Optimism / pessimism are attributional styles that can be taught and reinforced over time.

Additional insight on how our minds work

Excerpt from Optimism Article:

Using Attribution Theory, I can tell a lot about someone by the way they interpret the events that happen in their lives, particularly the explanatory style they use in analyzing setbacks versus successes.

attribution theory table

The pessimist perceives failures as personal, permanent, and pervasive, and thus has difficulty moving beyond setbacks. They often get lost in a recurrent loop of negativity.

In contrast, optimists see setbacks as universal. to everyone, temporary in time, and limited to one or two areas of their lives.

Source:  Dr. Andrea Dinardo, The Drive Magazine

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Click Here to Watch Optimism Video Workshop

Hope you enjoy the workshop and have fun doing the interactive exercises!

Dr. D 💖☀️

Anxiety Relief Technique: What’s Under the Fear?

Shifting from Fear to Peace

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The 5 WHYS is a simple and effective technique for getting under the fear one why at a time.

The goal is to discover the root source of what causes stress or anxiety in a particular time, place, or situation.

With the ultimate intention of enhancing inner peace, self-compassion, and understanding.

BELOW THE SURFACE PSYCHOLOGY

Try the 5 WHYS technique along with me (click here to participate) and let me know what you discover! Dr. D 💖

Empowering Conversations.

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In today’s psychology class, we discussed how important it is to empower friends, family, and clients going through difficult times.

And how even if we’re an expert in psychology, medicine, or business – it does not make us the master of someone else’s life.86413B3A-117A-451E-9318-CB334FF5E5CC

Together we explored strength based techniques for uplifting and encouraging others in conversation and in daily life.

Acknowledging that we still have so much left to learn about friends and family.

And the only way to do this is to create an inviting listening space between ourselves and the people we meet.

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Next Steps

Helpful tips for enhancing conversations with clients and family members can be found in the June article in The Drive Magazine (click here) and in the psychology video below —


The Story Behind the Story

This post was inspired by my sister Noelle.

12BB321D-E44A-4F1F-A3DF-D616562A0831“When my sister was 19, she had a brain aneurysm. Every day since, she has struggled to maintain her independence and financial security.

Despite her trauma, Noelle continues to thrive in unexpected and beautiful ways. She never gives up, no matter what comes her way. Over the years, I have discovered the difference it makes when I support Noelle from her perspective, rather than dictating what she needs.”

Excerpt from The Drive Magazine | Issue 122, p. 49

EMPOWERING

Someone with a Brain Injury

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Written with the help of my sister ❤️

How we talk to ourselves matters.

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How we talk to ourselves matters tremendously.

Particularly in the eye of the storm.

Having a “go to” mantra in times of stress helps.

Especially in the uncomfortable (agonizing) moments between stress and strength.

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

A mantra that has helped me over the years is imagining myself:

g r o w i n g + e x p a n d i n g

during the dark times.

Chanting “I am expanding” as the rain falls.

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Today I wish the same for you.

May you see the blessing in every storm. 

Expanding you.

Preparing you. 

For the next level of your destiny.🎈

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Helpful Tips: Optimism Bootcamp

Cultivating Mental Health Daily.

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In Celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month in Canada

In this video, I share an overview of my latest psychology article in The Drive Magazine (May, Issue 121). An issue devoted entirely to mental health awareness, treatment, and prevention. With the ultimate goal of ending the stigma of mental illness.

Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden to be shouldered, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy. In the same way that we make time for our physical needs (eating and sleeping) we must devote attention to our psychological needs.

Excerpt from The Drive Magazine, Issue 121, pages 58-60.

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Building a mental health reserve

In the article I discuss the importance of daily self-care as a preventative and restorative health strategy.

In the same way that save money to buy our dream home, it is critical that we contribute daily to our mental health bank account. Health is wealth after all!

Everything little bit counts. Everything adds up. Spa coffee dates especially. ☕️💗

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Read Magazine Article ⇒ Click Here

Optimism Bootcamp Workshop.

Come join us at my most recent positive psychology workshop.

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Have fun and do the interactive exercises with us!

Video Clip of the Workshop:

OPTIMISM BOOTCAMP is based on an article of the same name that I recently wrote for my psychology column in The Drive Magazine.

I believe that optimism is a life skill that can be learned. A thriving mindset that helps people focus on what’s within their control. Making it easier to let go and move on to what matters most: Life itself 💃💥

To Read Optimism Bootcamp Article 
 ⇒ Click Here

Shifting from anxiety to excitement.

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They say we only use 5-10% of our brain’s full potential.

A statement I tend to agree with.

Know thyself.

Understanding ourselves better, including our brains, is always the first step in tapping into what’s possible, within, and all around us.

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Hacking the brain.

Did you know that fear and excitement share the same set of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, glutamate, and acetylcholine.

  • Opposite emotions. Identical neurotransmitters.
  • Same neural activity. Different cognitive appraisal.

And the best way to shift from performance anxiety to excitement is to say one sentence on repeat.

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Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2014, Volume 143

Watch my latest YouTube video “Shifting from anxiety to excitement” to discover the simple phrase for shifting out of nervousness during high anxiety situations.

And learn why telling someone to “calm down” when they’re anxious rarely works.

Related Post: Are you left brain or right brained?

One small change.. 🧠

Changes everything.