Why is the diagnosis of mental disorders believed to be more difficult than the diagnosis of somatic, or general medical, disorders?
The diagnosis of mental disorders is often considered more challenging than that of somatic or general medical disorders because it relies on subjective measures and is not as clearly defined. Mental health problems can manifest differently in different individuals and often have no clear physical symptoms. Additionally, many psychological phenomena such as emotions and behaviors are present across a wide range of scenarios which makes them difficult to define using traditional diagnostic criteria. Furthermore, many diagnoses rely heavily on self-report from patients which may be unreliable or biased due to differences in language use and cultural background (Barnett & Steinberg, 2015). In contrast, somatic diseases can usually be diagnosed with laboratory tests that provide objective data about the condition. As a result, mental disorder diagnoses require clinicians to integrate evidence from multiple sources including behavior observations, patient reports and family information along with their previous experience and clinical knowledge (Mueser et al., 2006).