For this Assignment, as you examine the client case study in this week’s Learning Resources, consider how you might assess and treat adult and older adult clients presenting symptoms of a mental health disorder. : You will be asked to make three decisions concerning the diagnosis and treatment for this client. Be sure to consider co-morbid physical as well as mental factors that might impact the client’s diagnosis and treatment. At each Decision Point, stop to complete the following:

Assessment and Treatment of Adult and Older Adult Clients with Mental Health Disorders


Assessing and treating adult and older adult clients with mental health disorders is a complex process that requires a comprehensive understanding of the client’s presenting symptoms, background, and potential co-morbid physical and mental factors. In this assignment, we will analyze a client case study and make decisions regarding the diagnosis and treatment for the client. We will consider the various factors that could impact the client’s overall well-being and develop a holistic approach to addressing their mental health needs.

Case Study: Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith is a 65-year-old male who recently retired. He presents with symptoms of depression, including low mood, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, sleep disturbances, and significant weight loss. Additionally, he reports experiencing feelings of worthlessness and difficulty concentrating. Mr. Smith’s symptoms have persisted for six months, and they are causing significant distress and impairment in his daily functioning.

Decision Point 1: Differential Diagnosis

In order to effectively assess and treat Mr. Smith’s mental health disorder, we must first consider the possible differential diagnoses. Given his symptoms of depression, our initial differential diagnosis would include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia. Both MDD and PDD are characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, loss of interest, and impaired functioning.

However, we must also be mindful of potential physical factors that could contribute to Mr. Smith’s symptoms. For instance, significant weight loss can be indicative of a medical condition such as cancer or thyroid dysfunction, which may present with similar depressive symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct a thorough physical examination and obtain relevant laboratory tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Decision Point 2: Co-Morbid Factors

As we consider Mr. Smith’s diagnosis and treatment, it is essential to examine any co-morbid physical or mental health factors that may influence his presentation. In his case, his recent retirement is a significant life transition that could contribute to the development or exacerbation of depressive symptoms. Retirement often involves loss of identity, social connections, and daily routine, which can lead to feelings of purposelessness and isolation.

Additionally, Mr. Smith’s age places him at higher risk for co-morbid physical health conditions. It is important to explore any concurrent medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or neurological disorders that may impact his mental health. The presence of co-morbid physical health conditions can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, as well as influence treatment choices.

Decision Point 3: Treatment Plan

When formulating a treatment plan for Mr. Smith, we must consider evidence-based interventions that address his specific symptoms and needs. For individuals with depressive disorders, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are the two main treatment options.

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), is recommended as a first-line treatment for depression. Psychotherapy can help Mr. Smith understand and modify negative thinking patterns, improve coping skills, and enhance social support. Due to his recent retirement and potential feelings of isolation, an intervention-oriented approach like IPT may be particularly beneficial in addressing his interpersonal difficulties, grief, and loss.

However, considering Mr. Smith’s significant weight loss and the need to rule out any underlying medical conditions, we should also consider pharmacotherapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first-line pharmacological treatment for depression, as they have been shown to be effective and well-tolerated. However, caution should be exercised in prescribing antidepressants to older adults, as they may be more susceptible to side effects and drug-drug interactions. Regular monitoring, dose adjustments, and collaboration with a primary care provider may be necessary.


Assessing and treating adult and older adult clients with mental health disorders requires a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach. By considering the differential diagnosis, co-morbid factors, and evidence-based treatment options, we can develop a holistic and individualized treatment plan for the client. In the case of Mr. Smith, it is essential to rule out any underlying medical conditions, address his recent retirement and potential feelings of loss, and consider both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy as therapeutic interventions.