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Neuropsychological Testing for Depression

Tips for Parents

By

Updated September 20, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Neuropsychological testing is a specific form of psychological testing that your child may undergo if she is being tested for depression or other mood or cognitive disorders.


What is Neuropsychological Testing?

Neuropsychological testing is a type of testing that is used to diagnose disorders related to brain functioning. This may include issues with memory, thinking, language, perception, or coordination.

Your child may be referred for neuropsychological testing if she has issues learning, paying attention, behavioral problems or problems controlling her emotions. Testing can help determine the underlying cause of a child's problems. Additionally, when issues are very mild, testing may be the only way to detect the problem.

Neuropsychological testing can help differentiate between depression and other disorders like attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADD/ADHD).


Who Will Test My Child?

Your child will be referred to a neuropsychologist, a psychologist who specializes in brain functions and behavior for testing.

The same neuropsychologist who tests your child may then provide treatment, such as psychotherapy or behavioral management; or make recommendations for outside treatment with additional professionals.



What To Expect

Neuropsychological testing is typically performed within the community at a psychologist's office, possibly within a hospital setting.

There is no preparation involved for the testing. However you may want to explain the process to your child on an age appropriate level beforehand.

Neuropsychological tests are very sensitive, so make sure that your child is not overly tired, sick, or anxious on the day of testing. If she is, just let the psychologist know before the testing starts.

On the day of testing you and other caregivers may be interviewed about your observations of your child, or you may be asked to complete assessments as well.

Your child will likely be interviewed separately and then asked to complete paper and pencil assessments on her own (if appropriate). The neuropsychologist will determine the appropriate assessment tools based on what your child is being tested for and her developmental level.

The whole testing process may take several hours, with built in breaks for rest.

When Will I Receive The Results?

Each assessment and interview will be scored and interpreted by the neuropsychologist. It may take a few days to a few weeks to receive the results from the evaluation.

You and your child, if you decide, will likely to return to the neuropsychologist's office for the results. When the results of the evaluation are discussed, possible treatment options will also be discussed, or if needed your child will be referred for additional testing.

Psychological testing can be distressing to parents and children alike, but knowing what to expect, and encouraging your child to answer to the best of her ability can help to ease fears. Getting an accurate and timely diagnosis is extremely important in finding the safest and most effective treatment for your child.

Sources:

Clinical Neuropsychology: A Guide for Patients and Their Families. American Psychological Association. Accessed: 11/09/2010. http://www.div40.org/pdf/NeuropscyhBroch2.pdf

Gary Groth-Marnat. The Handbook of Psychological Assessments, Fourth Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2003.

Pediatric Neuropsychology: A Guide for Parents. American Psychological Association. Accessed: 11/09/2010. http://www.div40.org/pdf/PedNeuropscyhBroch3.pdf

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