Hi @Shashi and @Aaron_Denham - apologies for the delay. Some things that I think provide important context are:
-> Inciting incident, if known (e.g., when did the mental health problem start? Was it preceded by a stressful external situation, or did it just start with no inciting incident?). If there’s a clear inciting incident/event or series of events, then symptoms may not necessarily represent a mental health disorder but instead a normal physiological/neurological response to an extreme or untenable situation.
-> Has the mental health problem occurred before; if so, how many times or how often (or all the time)?
-> If the mental health problem has occurred before, was there an inciting situation then or not (and if so, was it similar to or different than any inciting situation this time around)?
Possible inciting situations: food insecurity, warfare or societal upheaval, disease outbreak, death of family member, financial catastrophe, abuse, etc. Presence of these situations may indicate a mental health issue is a response to a point-in-time situation and may resolve when the situation resolves (i.e., may not be a persistent disorder).
If the inciting situation was long ago and is now resolved or has subsided but the mental health problem persists, that is more likely a disorder.
If there was no inciting situation identified (e.g., “I’ve always been like this” or “it just happened’), or if the magnitude of the mental health issue is far out of proportion to the magnitude of the inciting situation, that is more likely a disorder.
It’s probably important to note that an inciting situation can be long-standing and severe/systemic/structural, such as armed conflict or abuse that goes on for years or decades.
I hope this helps.