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Mental disorders are currently defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which includes hundreds of distinct diagnostic categories, but a new study we worked on suggests we could do better.

Each category in the DSM has a checklist of criteria. If you meet “enough” (often, just over half) of these criteria, you are placed in that diagnostic category. For example, the checklist for major depression includes a list of nine symptoms, and you need to have at least five of those nine symptoms to receive a diagnosis.

DSM disorders provide labels to help clinicians communicate about their patients, refer patients to treatment programs and provide billing codes to insurance companies. These disorders drive the way we diagnose, treat and research mental illness. Yet the whole DSM system is inconsistent with the nature of mental illness, which cannot be classified neatly into boxes. Using the DSM’s narrow and rigid categories of mental illness thus creates obstacles for effective diagnosis and treatment, and for generating robust research.

It is clear we need an alternative model for classifying mental illness that “carves nature at its joints” instead of imposing artificial categories for classification.

… Read More

Image: By F.RdeC – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27454927

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