Introduction toMental Status Examination (MSE)
Patrick Enking, PA-C, MSUniversity of New EnglandPA Program
A snapshot of the personDescribes the person in current state of mindHelps substantiate a diagnosisIs obtained naturally during the conversationDon’t need to know terms, use descriptions
Components of the MSE
EthnicityApparent age (younger, older, or appeared stated age)SexCoordination/gait/notable movementsAdherence to social conventions (i.e., shakes hands, military bearing)Build (Average, underweight, emaciated, petite, thin, obese, muscular)Grooming (Good, poor, adequate, immaculate, neglected)Dress (Casual, stylish, mismatched items, formal, tattered, appropriate for particular setting)Psychomotor activity (Described as increased in the case of agitation; decreased in cases of depression or catatonia)
MSE - Appearance
MSE – Appearance:relationship
ClearCoherentNormal ratePressured (fast)Soft-spokenStutteringIncludes profanityImpoverishedMonotone
MumbledAnimated/ExcitedDifficulty finding wordsSlurredSpontaneous speechConfabulationImpressionistic/little detailNo speechPoor articulation
MSE – Appearance:Speech
MSE – Appearance:Eye Contact
Vicky is a 65 year old obese African American woman who appeared older than her stated age. She was dressed in a wrinkled, dirty (riddled with food stains), and obviously expensive red business suit with matching red bonnet, which made her appear overdressed for the intake interview. Her hair was immaculately cut and styled; she also had copious amounts of make-up applied as well as dirty fingernails and mismatched earrings. She was noted to be quite gregarious, cooperative, and overly familiar with the interviewer, commenting on several occasions that the interviewer looked like her grandson, Dwayne. She had obvious, low, rhythmic motions of her lower jaw and tongue, as well as a slow tremor in her hands bilaterally – these appeared not to bother her. Eye contact was noted to be intense and, at times, unwavering as she looked at the interviewer with wide eyes. Her manner of speech was noted to be quite loud accompanied with a pressured rate, rhythm, and spontaneity with overvalued content around “hogs not being pigs.”
MSE – Appearance:Example 1
Johnny appeared to be his stated age of 30. He was a fairly tall, thin, and slightly balding Caucasian male. While he greeted the interviewer appropriately with a handshake, his palm was notably sweaty. He nervously and sheepishly apologized for this. Throughout the course of the interview, he tapped his fingers on his knees, looked around the room frequently, and smiled nervously every few seconds. He was well-groomed, dressed in well-maintained in his Class B uniform, cooperative, and interactive throughout the entire interview. Eye contact was sporadic. Speech was of normal rate, rhythm, volume, and spontaneity; speech content was overrepresented with themes of worry. For example, these included worry whether he locked his car door or not and if he said “hello” to his boss this morning.
MSE – Appearance:Example 2
Euthymic(normal)AnxiousDepressedElated/euphoricCalmIrritatedAlexithymia(no words for feeling)Dysphoric
Variables of AffectRangeIntensityLabilityAppropriateness
MSE – Mood and Affect
Valarie stated her mood as being, “okay … no, actually it is really good.” Her range of affect was expansive and of increased intensity; she often gestured wildly with her hands and appeared as if she were on the brink of moving toward the interviewer. Her affect was noted to be labile, as she would be happy and elated one moment which would quickly change to tears with a return to being extremely happy. Her affect was not appropriate to given context, as she was extremely emotional while relating even the trivial portions of her account.
MSE – Mood and Affect:Example 1
Ernest stated his mood to be “pretty depressed.” His affect was restricted to the depressed range and was noted to be quite blunted, with very little change even while discussing potentially happy content. His affect was not labile and was appropriate to given context and congruent with his stated mood.
MSE – Mood and Affect:Example 2
PersonPlaceDateSituationCan also record results ofFolsteinMMSE herehttp://utswfm.googlepages.com/NH_MMSE.pdfCan also mention memory status (remote and immediate)
She was oriented to person, place, time, and situation. She achieved a 27/30 on the mini-mental status exam, which she missed one point for recall of one of the three objects, one point for sentence writing, and one point for repetition of phrase.
MSE –Sensorium:Example 1
Bobby was oriented to person and place; however, he was not oriented to time (a couple of days off and noted it to be the incorrect year) and was not entirely sure of why he was in the emergency room giving the reason, “They just want to look at my stuff.” He obtained a 22/30 – missing 3 points for the time/date, 2 points for “WORLD” backwards, 2 points for recall, and 1 point for sentence writing.
MSE –Sensorium:Example 2
These are clinicallyestimatedbased on:General Fund of KnowledgeVocabularyAbility to understand complex conceptsDescribed as:Below AverageAverageAbove Average
MSE –Intellectual Functioning
Mr. Roberts’ intellectual functioning was estimated to be above average. He demonstrated a large fund of knowledge, with an emphasis on religion and philosophy. He discussed recent events of the world and how these were predicted by previous events. He also quoted correctly many famous authors and discussed the “timelessness” of such prose. His vocabulary was quite extensive and utilized the words correctly.
MSE –Intellectual Functioning:Example 1
Trisha’s intellectual functioning appeared to be below average. She supplied simple one to two words answers to questions. These questions had to be repeated numerous times by the interviewer because she stated, “I cannot understand such big words.” More complex questions were met with literal interpretations followed with literal answers. For example, when asked “Where do you live?” - she answered “in a house,” and did not elaborate on this.
MSE – Intellectual Functioning:Example 2
This can be tested with an examination such as theFolstein.This is important if the client has memory problems or is unable to follow the interview.Examples:visuospatialportion of cognitive functioning can be tested with the drawing of a clock or copying the intersecting pentagrams on the mini-mental status examinationAbstractioncan be tested with proverbs (i.e., “What does the proverb, ‘Don’t cry over spelled milk mean?’”) or similarities (i.e., “How are a banana and apple alike?”) might be able to elicit problems with thought processes by revealing concrete thinking, which might suggest a thought disorder.Memorycan also be tested with the recall components within the mini-mental status examination, or by asking the patient the order of the past presidents, what he/she had for breakfast, recent significant national events, etc.Executive functioning(i.e., ability to sequence, plan, and initiate action) can also be tested with the drawing of a clock and a variety of other neuropsychiatric bedside tests.
MSE – Cognitive Functioning
Ernie’s intelligence appeared average based on his use of vocabulary and general fund of knowledge. In regard to his cognitive functioning, he appeared to not to maintain attention and concentration to the interviewer’s tasks and had to be frequently reminded and redirected. His clock drawing portrayed a very narrow oval with the numbers squeezed to one side of the oval, repeated numbers (for example, “3” was on the clock 4 times), and without hands. He also could not recall what he had for breakfast (even though the remnants were right in front of him) and the past three U.S. Presidents, even with prompting.
MSE – Cognitive Functioning:Example 1
Trent was easily able to follow the instructions and questions of the interview. His clock drawing was completed without difficulty and his memory for recent events was intact. He had difficulty with abstraction. For example, when asked what “Every dark cloud has a silver lining” meant, he paused, smiled, and stated, “It means that behind that dark cloud is Mr.Ziebiuswho is tormenting me and has always done so. There is no silver, but just the darkening of other metals.” When asked what “Don’t cry over spilled milk” meant – he stated, “It means if you spill the milk on the floor, really you shouldn’t cry.”
MSE – Cognitive Functioning: Example 2
Process:organization and flowCoherence –well organized?Logic -sound or flawed logic?Goal directedAssociations – connected thoughts?LooseBlockingFlight of ideas
Content:Themes, beliefs, statementsDangerousness(Suicide, homicide with intent or plan)PerceptionsHallucinationsIllusionsDepersonalizationBody imagesDelusions(fixed false beliefs)Persecutory, jealousy, grandiosity, somatic, ideas of reference, thought broadcasting, thought withdrawal, thought insertionsOther: phobias, overvalued ideas, obsessions
MSE – Thought
Judgment-the ability to make good decisions concerning the appropriate thing to do in various situations.Insight-understanding of presence, nature, cause, and significance of any mental or emotional problem.Impulse control –can they control their actions?
MSE – Thought
While Thomas’ thought processes were coherent and goal directed, his conclusions that the young lady he just met was in love with him was illogical. He believed that her calling the police, calling his Command, striking him, and being arrested and thrown in jail as “Testaments of her love …” and that she was testing him. He did not demonstrate looseness of associations, thought blocking, or flight of ideas. In regard to thought content, prominent delusions were apparent, as he believed, despite evidence to the contrary, that this woman was for him and that all of these activities were a “test” he must pass. He exhibited ideas of reference, as demonstrated by interpreting her wearing pink on Monday and waiting by Bus Stop number 5 as definite signs that he must pursue her. He denied auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, thought broadcasting, thought insertion, thought withdrawal, and suicidal ideation. Although he denied specific homicidal ideations, he mentioned that if “I can’t have her … then I will make it so no one does.” His insight was noted to be poor; his judgment was also poor. Impulse control was noted to be poor, as he continued to pursue this young lady despite many warnings not to do so. His abstraction ability, as demonstrated by discussing the meaning of certain proverbs, was intact.
MSE – Thought :Example 1
George’s thought processes were coherent, logical, and goal directed. While he denied auditory hallucination, visual hallucination, and delusions, his thought content was significant for near obsessive quality themes of worthlessness and how those around him would be “better off without me.” He endorsed present suicidal ideation, intent, and plan stating that he “did not want to live this way anymore,” and considered using his revolver in order to “end it all in the most definite and fastest way possible.” He denied homicidal ideation. Insight and judgment were poor, as he was brought in by the police after waving his revolver at his apartment complex and does not see that he has a problem. His impulse control was considered poor, based on his activities at his apartment complex and other self-harming behavior preceding this event.
MSE – Thought :Example 2
Peter appeared his stated age of 26. He was noted to be well-groomed, tall, thin Caucasian male who was causally dressed in civilian attire. This consisted of a cowboy hat, black Metallica concert shirt, jeans, large shiny rodeo belt buckle, and clean white sneakers. He walked with a stiff and slow gait into the interview room with very little arm swing as he walked. He greeted the interviewer with a quick glance and did not offer to shake hands until the interviewer presented his hand. Even so, he appeared somewhat confused by the gesture, but eventually shook hands after a tentative 15 second pause. Although he was noted to be very cooperative, forthright, and volunteering during the entire interview, he was quite restricted in his range of facial expressions and movements of his extremities. He resembled a statue for the entire 60 minutes. Psychomotor activity was noted to be decreased; he was without odd mannerisms, tics, ordyskineticmovements. Eye contact, for the most part, was appropriate with occasional bouts of unremitting staring at the interviewer. Speech was of a slightly stilted rate and rhythm, but with otherwise normal volume and spontaneity. Mood was described as “good.” Affect was noted to be flat (nearly no variation) in range, not labile or intense, not appropriate to stated mood, and contained very little change with content of interview.Sensoriumwas intact to person, place, time, and situation. He scored a 30/30 on the mini-mental status exam. Thought processes were significant for blocking –in which he would start a thought, then stop for 30 seconds, and then continue on with his thought. Otherwise, his thought processes appeared coherent, logical, and goal directed. In regard to thought content, he denied suicidal and homicidal ideation. He denied auditory and visual hallucinations and ideas of reference. He expressed some thoughts of paranoia (not well focused, he labeled it as “just a feeling”), but was without overt delusional content. Insight was fair; judgment was fair. Impulse control appeared to be intact.
MSE - A Full Example
Carrie appeared her stated age of 33. She was an attractive, petite female dressed well-groomed, in a blue blouse and jeans. Overtly, she noted to bedysphoricand tired. This was maintained throughout the entire interview. She ambulated to the interview room with minor limping and obvious discomfort. She was cooperative, forthright, and engaged well. Eye contact was appropriate; speech was of quiet volume with regular rate, rhythm, and spontaneity with prominent discussion about the pain in her foot, how no one understands how bad it is, and how doctors have not been able to help. Psychomotor activity was slightly increased with shaking of her right leg and foot, which protruded in the space between her and the interviewer. Mood appeareddysphoric; affect was restricted, contained nolability, congruent with mood, and appropriate to given context. Insight was fair; judgment was fair.Sensoriumwas intact to person, place, and time. Thought processes were linear, logical, and goal directed. Thought content: She denied suicidal and homicidal ideation. She denied auditory and visual hallucinations, phobias, obsession themes, and overvalued ideas.
MSE - A Shorter ExampleThe following might be an example of one that might be included for follow-up appointments and/or intake appointment.