By Team NSHM | Mar 12, 2019

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health

Mental health is never an isolated situation. It is measured in terms of the society and the time in which an individual is living. It is a complex area. To help diagnose different categories of mental health disorders, the American Psychiatric Association came up with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the latest version known as the DSM-5 was released.

Now in its 5th edition, DSM 5 It is widely used globally for psychiatric diagnosis, treatment recommendations and even insurance coverage purposes. It focuses mostly on describing symptoms along with valid statistics of the gender, age and effectiveness of the common treatment procedures. Every updated DSM shows the developments and researches in the fields of psychology and psychiatry in terms of social and political changes the world over. So what are the recent finds? Let us understand briefly:

Language: A lot of the nomenclature in the DSM 5 has been switched up, to reflect the inclusive nature of modern society, by eliminating stigma and taboo associated. Some of these changes are:

  • The phrase “Mental Retardation” has been replaced by the phrase “Intellectual Disability” in a long overdue change.
  • “Hypochondriasis” is now called “Illness Anxiety Disorder”.
  • “Paraphilias” are now called “Paraphilic Disorders”.

Anxiety and Depression: Common topics in popular culture nowadays, anxiety and depression are no strange concepts to young people, especially students. There have been some significant changes to that domain, in the face of increasing emergence and changing social climate as well as new research on chronic conditions.

  • Illnesses, such as depression, need to be persistent for at least two months to be eligible for an official diagnosis, thanks to the bereavement exclusion removal. This would allow for the trigger of the condition, such as grief over the loss of a loved one, to be ruled out before diagnosing the patient with a chronic disorder.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has now been placed in its own grouping instead of being grouped as an anxiety disorder.
  • Similarly, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) has been re-grouped in Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders.

Autism: With this DSM a host of disorders have been clubbed under a single group. Four significant disorders that were classified as

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Asperger’s Disorder
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder

are now all classified as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This would make things easier for patients as well as practicing professionals in terms of devising treatments for individual patients.

While the above changes are in no way adequately representative of the shift from DSM 4 to DSM 5, they are some of the major changes that will have an effect on people, communities and legislation.

There has been a major shift in treating and accepting mental disorders. The only way to help break this taboo is by educating ourselves and getting skilled professionals in the area who treat it with the right amount of care and concern.

To be a qualified professional and build a career in this field, one ideally needs M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology. This is also being offered by NSHM Knowledge Campus.

Know your eligibility here