DSM-V Finalized!

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially approved the final diagnostic criteria for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This update features a number of important changes and some notable exclusions.

The update, due to be released in spring 2013, is the first new version in 20 years. Used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders, the new guidebook was compiled with the help of a team of 1,500 experts in psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, pediatrics, neurology and other disciplines from nearly 40 countries.

Some notable changes include expanding complex diagnoses, as in the case of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is now broken down into four related sub-categories. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, a growing problem among active and former military as well as civilians, will be given special attention in DSM-V. PTSD will be broken down into four distinct diagnostic clusters instead of three. The new diagnostic criteria will pay more attention to the unique ways PTSD manifests in children and adolescents.

The substance abuse category also saw some changes. The APA trustees combined substance abuse and substance dependence into the singular category retitled Substance Use Disorder. The attention couldn’t have come too soon, as a recent study shows that approximately 12 percent of people in the United States are addicted to alcohol, and 2-3 percent are addicted to illicit drugs.

Other changes include new additions. Hoarding Disorder is now recognized as an official diagnosis, as is Binge Eating Disorder. Excoriation Disorder (aka compulsive skin-picking) is a newcomer added to the section on Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. Meanwhile Autism Spectrum Disorder got a significant overhaul, absorbing Asperger’s Syndrome and adding Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Development Disorder.

These changes are important for the help they provide in correctly diagnosing mental health disorders, and they can heavily impact insurance coverage and access to treatment.

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