Psychiatric Nursing Mnemonics


Yesss you know you’ve read about it and yes, you know that you got those signs memorized last night, but still, blank. No answer. Nada. What were those again? With so much to do, tons to read about and lots to memorize in so little time, you sometimes just couldn’t help but experience a bit difficulty when it comes to retaining concepts and remembering them during exams.

But you know you have to pass, more importantly, you know that for someone who dreams of becoming a successful nurse someday, forgetting what you have learned in nursing school is a no-no. But how do you do it? How will you be able to remember all those nursing concepts? Below are some mnemonics in psychiatric nursing that could be of help to you in remembering things much more easily.


Alcohol Use Screening: CAGE

  • C | Cut back: Has anyone ever suggested that you cut back on drinking?
  • A | Annoyed: Has anyone ever expressed being annoyed at your drinking habits?
  • G | Guilt: Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?
  • E | Eye opener: Do you ever feel the urge to have a morning drink (referred to as an “eye opener”)?
  • S | Shakes: Do you ever experience “The Shakes” when you don’t have a drink? (More common in the morning)

Altered Mental Status: DIM TOP (as in his head ain’t right!)

  • D | Drugs: Prescription, illicit, accidental overdose, and toxicity of unknown origin
  • I | Infections: Meningitis, encephalitis, sepsis, urinary tract infections, and others
  • M | Metabolic: Hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, and other imbalances
  • T | Trauma: Head, c-spine, and blood loss
  • O | Oxygen deficit: CNS hypoxia, metabolic
  • P | Psychological: Diagnosis of exclusion

Bipolar Disorder Manic Episode Signs: DIG FAST

  • D | Distractibility
  • I | Indiscretion, impatience, and irritability
  • G | Grandiosity
  • F | Flight of ideas and energy
  • A | Activity increase
  • S | Sleep deficit/Sexually hypoactive
  • T | Talkative- excessively

Depression Assessment Signs: CAPS

  • C | Concentration impaired or decreased
  • A | Appetite changes
  • P | Psychomotor function decreased
  • S | Suicidal ideations and sleep disturbances

Depression: Assessment Findings | SIGN

  • S | Sleep disturbances
  • I | Interest decreased
  • G | Guilty feelings
  • N | No energy

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Worry WARTS

  • W: Wound up
  • W: Worn-out
  • A: Absentmindedness
  • R: Restless
  • T: Touchy (as in increased emotional sensitivity)
  • S: Sleepless

Major Depressive Disorder: SIG E CAPS

  • S | Suicidal thoughts
  • I | Interests decreased
  • G | Guilt
  • E | Energy decreased
  • C | Concentration decreased
  • A | Appetite disturbance
  • P | Psychomotor changes
  • S | Sleep disturbances

OARS: Motivational Interviewing

  • O | Open-ended questions
  • A | Affirmations
  • R | Reflections
  • S | Summaries

Psych Assessment: Always Send Mail Through Post Office

  • A | Appearance
  • S | Speech
  • M | Mood and Memory
  • T | Thoughts
  • P | Perception
  • O | Orientation

Schizophrenia: Primary Symptoms | 4 A’s

  1. A | Affect
  2. A | Ambivalence
  3. A | Associative looseness
  4. A | Autism (autistic-like behavior; including limited affection/difficulty making interpersonal connections with others)

Suicide Attempt Warning Signs: IS PATH WARM?

  • I: Ideation
  • S: Substance abuse
  • P: Purposelessness
  • A: Anxiety
  • T: Trapped
  • H: Hopelessness
  • W: Withdrawal
  • A: Anger
  • R: Recklessness
  • M: Mood Changes


Sources: Health

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4 thoughts on “Psychiatric Nursing Mnemonics

  1. What a quick way to note salient things about psychiatric disorders. I really found it useful and informative. Good and nice concept as we have a lot to read and master in nursing. As a retired nurse admistrator I do appreciate it.

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