tendencies blog.png

Diagnosis vs Tendencies in Mental Health

When it comes to mental health, understanding the distinction between a diagnosis and tendency is crucial. It helps individuals recognize the severity of their symptoms and seek the appropriate level of care. This clarity is essential for developing effective coping strategies and treatment plans. In this blog, we'll delve into the differences between mental health diagnoses and tendencies, explore examples of various mental health disorders, and discuss how Innerspace Counseling can assist you in navigating your mental health journey.

Mental Health Diagnosis vs. Tendencies

What is a Mental Health Diagnosis?

A mental health diagnosis is a formal identification of a mental health disorder, made by a qualified mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. Diagnoses are based on criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which includes specific symptoms, their duration, and the impact on an individual's daily functioning. A diagnosis often leads to a structured treatment plan that may include therapy, medication, or other interventions.

What are Mental Health Tendencies?

Mental health tendencies refer to experiencing some symptoms or behaviors associated with a particular mental health disorder, but not to the extent that it meets the criteria for a formal diagnosis. These tendencies may not significantly impair daily functioning but can still affect one's quality of life. Recognizing tendencies can be a precursor to seeking help, as they might indicate a risk of developing a more severe condition if left unaddressed.

Examples of Mental Health Disorders: Diagnosis vs. Tendencies

Anxiety Disorders

  • Diagnosis: An anxiety disorder diagnosis, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), involves persistent and excessive worry about various aspects of life. Symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms must be present for at least six months and significantly interfere with daily activities.
  • Tendencies: Experiencing occasional anxiety, especially in response to stressful situations, is normal. Tendencies might include feeling anxious before a big event or during times of uncertainty. While these feelings can be uncomfortable, they do not meet the threshold for a formal diagnosis and usually subside once the stressful situation resolves.


  • Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in most activities. Additional symptoms include changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts. These symptoms must be present for at least two weeks and cause significant distress or impairment.
  • Tendencies: Feeling down or experiencing short-term sadness in response to life events is common and does not necessarily indicate depression. Tendencies might include temporary feelings of sadness after a loss or disappointment. These feelings usually improve over time and do not have the same pervasive impact on daily life as a depressive disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Diagnosis: OCD is diagnosed when an individual experiences persistent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and engages in repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) to alleviate the distress caused by these thoughts. These symptoms must be time-consuming (taking up more than one hour per day) and cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • Tendencies: Many people have occasional intrusive thoughts or engage in specific routines or rituals without having OCD. For example, double-checking that the door is locked or feeling the need to organize items in a certain way are common behaviors. These tendencies do not interfere significantly with daily life and do not meet the criteria for an OCD diagnosis.

Bipolar Disorder

  • Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, including episodes of mania (elevated or irritable mood, increased energy, and activity) and depression. To receive a diagnosis, these mood changes must be severe and affect daily functioning, with manic episodes lasting at least one week and depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks.
  • Tendencies: Experiencing occasional mood swings or feeling euphoric after a positive event does not constitute Bipolar Disorder. Tendencies might include fluctuating moods in response to life circumstances, but these changes are typically less extreme and do not cause significant impairment in daily life.

How Innerspace Counseling Can Help

At Innerspace Counseling, we understand the complexities of mental health issues and the importance of distinguishing between a diagnosis and tendencies. Our team of experienced professionals offers comprehensive assessments to help you understand your mental health status and determine the most appropriate treatment options.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides structured support for individuals who need more than traditional outpatient therapy but do not require inpatient care. IOP at Innerspace Counseling includes individual and group therapy sessions, focusing on developing coping skills, managing symptoms, and improving overall functioning. This program is ideal for individuals dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues who need intensive support while maintaining their daily responsibilities.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

The Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Innerspace Counseling offers a higher level of care for individuals experiencing severe mental health problems. PHP includes comprehensive treatment plans with a multidisciplinary approach, including therapy, medication management, and holistic treatments. This program is designed for those who need significant support but do not require 24-hour supervision.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cornerstone of our treatment approach at Innerspace Counseling. DBT is particularly effective for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), suicidal thoughts, and other mental health disorders. It focuses on teaching skills to manage emotions, improve relationships, and reduce self-destructive behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another effective treatment offered at Innerspace Counseling. CBT helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their mental health issues. This therapy is effective for treating anxiety, depression, and various other mental health disorders.

Developing Coping Skills and Understanding Yourself

Whether you have a formal diagnosis or tendencies, Innerspace Counseling can help you develop coping skills to manage your thoughts and feelings. Our personalized treatment plans are tailored to meet your unique needs, ensuring you receive the best possible care.

Support for All Ages

Innerspace Counseling offers specialized programs for children, adolescents, and adults. We understand that mental health issues can affect individuals at any stage of life, and our team is dedicated to providing age-appropriate care. For children and adolescents, early intervention can prevent the escalation of mental health problems and promote healthy development. For adults, our programs offer the support needed to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Involving Friends and Family

We recognize the importance of involving friends and family in the treatment process. At Innerspace Counseling, we offer family therapy sessions to help loved ones understand mental health issues and provide support. This collaborative approach ensures a strong support system, which is vital for successful treatment outcomes.


Understanding the difference between a mental health diagnosis and tendencies is essential for seeking appropriate care and developing effective coping strategies. Innerspace Counseling is here to help you navigate this journey, offering a range of programs, including IOP, PHP, DBT, and CBT, to support your mental health needs. Whether you're dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders, our experienced team is dedicated to providing comprehensive, personalized care. Contact Innerspace Counseling today to start your path to better mental health and well-being.