The Future of Diagnosis with DSM-5

The Future of Diagnosis with DSM-5

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the text for diagnosis the array of mental illnesses.  The manual covers everything from an overview to lists of specific symptoms individuals must meet in order to be given a diagnosis by a licensed professional.  The publication of the new DSM-5 (the DSM-IV TR, or text revision, is the one in current use) is the most anticipated document in the mental health field.

The DSM-5 makes some significant changes, including diagnostic criteria for:

  • Autism and other Neurodevelopmental Disorders (intellectual, communication, learning, and motor disorders, and ADHD)
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and related disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Trauma and Stressor-related Disorders (including RAD and PTSD)
  • Sexual Dysfunction and Gender Dysphoria
  • Somatic Symptom Disorders

Other areas of the DSM are being revised as well, and it seems like no stone is being left unturned with this new manual.  Many people are in support of the revision, but others are very concerned about the changes.

One of the biggest changes of the DSM-5 that causes concern is the revision of the autism definition.  The diagnoses of Asperger’s and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified) are being eliminated, and everything will fall under the umbrella of the “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”  The New York Times published an article earlier in 2012 about a panel of experts who say many individuals with autism will be left out of this diagnosis.  The DSM-5 does have the Autism Spectrum broken down into levels of severity, which should help encompass all these individuals.  Supporters say the diagnosis for autism is even clearer with the DSM-5 revisions -- check the list of revisions for yourself before jumping into the “extremely concerned” pool.

The American Psychiatric Association is giving you the chance to voice your concerns and leave comments regarding the proposed changes.  Remember the changes are not set in stone, and the APA has already made some additional revisions in response to prior comments. 

To post your comments about the DSM-5 revisions, visit the APA’s DSM-5 Development page.  First check out the “Proposed Revisions” tab to see what changes are planned.  Click on a section (Autism is covered under “Neurodevelopmental Disorders”) to review the changes.  When you reach the bottom of the page, click on “Login or Register Now” after “Want to comment on this proposal?”  You will have to login or register to submit comments; type your comments in the box provided and submit your response.

The DSM-5 website also hosts a wealth of information about the DSM, research, resources, and news, in addition to explaining the proposed revisions.  You may comment on the changes through June 15, 2012.  The final manual will be submitted to the board by December 31, 2012, and the APA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, May 18-22, 2013, will mark the official release of the DSM-5.

Photo by Thought Broadcast

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Written by: Cara Batema See other articles by Cara Batema
About the Author:

Cara Batema is the editor of SpecialNeeds.com.  She has a background in writing and music therapy, and she has worked in individual and group settings with individuals with special needs.

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