DSM-V Draft Open for Public Comment

On Feb. 10, the American Psychiatric Association released proposed diagnostic criteria for a revised version of the “psychiatric bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and is now accepting public comments on the draft.

APA President Alan Schatzberg, MD says the revision is “by no means final” at this point.

The DSM classifies and describes psychiatric disorders, aiming to ensure accurate and consistent diagnostic practice. It is fundamental to the medical model of psychiatry. Even the smallest change to the text carries tremendous weight – and now, some big changes are on the table.

Among the proposed changes for the fifth edition of the manual (DSM-V), currently planned for release in May 2013, are the following:

  • Elimination of the “bipolar” label for kids. The suggested criteria eliminate the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder, replacing it with “Temper Dysregulation Disorder.” While the change could reduce overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in children, with accompanying overprescription of pharmaceuticals, some are saying the new label is so broad it could “diagnose” most kids.
  • Replacement of “Asperger’s Syndrome” with high-functioning autism, eliminating Asperger’s as a separate diagnosis. This proposal is causing consternation among those currently diagnosed with Asperger’s, who would, under the draft language, be relabeled “autistic.”
  • Addition of a new category, “behavioral addictions” – with gambling as the sole disorder. Other behaviors, such as Internet use, were considered for this category, but were rejected.
  • Inclusion of “risk syndromes,” intended to allow diagnosis of certain disorders in their earliest stages. This change, however, might prompt some doctors to diagnose and treat “illnesses” before they actually exist.

Being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder can impact your life, your self-image, and even your ability to get insurance or a job. Take the time to read more about proposed changes for the DSM-V, and take the time to tell the APA what you think. Submit your comments at the DSM-V website by April 20, 2010.