Expected Changes in 2013 DSM-V increase scope of diagnostic categories

Jan 12, 2012
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The “DSM” stands for the title “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” – a book published by the American Psychiatric Association as the manual all doctors use to diagnose medical / psychiatric mental illnesses. The “V” means five, in Roman Numerals. So the key info here is that doctors will soon be getting a new manual – the fifth in a series- to use in determining disability diagnoses like Autism, ADHD, Depression and so on.

The changes in the manual are always preceded by months of meetings at which the new changes are hotly contested. The psychologists and psychiatrists who work in each of the diagnostic areas can offer research- and practice-based opinions on the impending changes at the series of meetings prior to any changes being made by the ruling board. These meetings are underway as I write, and the new DSM-V manual is due for publication in May 2013.

The current topics being heatedly debated include a push-back from practicing clinicians on the criterion used to diagnose Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity (ADHD) Disorder, Autism or Autism Spectrum and Childhood Bipolar disorder.  A new diagnosis, tentatively termed “Psychosis Risk Syndrome” is particularly unsettling to many doctors as it will create diagnosis and medical (drug) treatment for an illness that has yet to develop. This is of most urgent concern to practitioners who work with children as some doctors fear that the increased medication of younger and younger children is not in the best interests of the child’s long term development. [Even if medication makes the child easier to manage in the short term.]

Additionally, some psychiatrists believe that by including “temper tantrums” among toddlers and “heartache” due to the loss of a spouse as criterion to diagnose mental illness, the result may be that absolutely no one in the country will be left without a diagnosis of a disability of mental illness.  After all, what toddler did not have a tantrum? What spouse would not grieve the loss of a life-mate?

You can read more about this discussion online in the Journal of Mental Health, August 2011 issue. Or Google the term “DSM-V proposed changes”- without the quotes.

Author: Tanya