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Critics of Mental Health Disorder Manual Say Mental Illness Being Overdiagnosed

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Critics of the soon-to-be-released updated manual used to identify mental illness, say it will expand the list of what constitutes mental illness and will lead to a needless increase in diagnoses, according to CNN.

A growing number of psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers say depression and other normal responses to life events are too often labeled as mental illness, increasing the use of potentially dangerous medication, the article notes.

In late May, the American Psychiatric Association will publish the updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5. A group called the International DSM-5 Response Committee plans to launch a campaign designed to block the publication’s release.

Dr. Allen Frances, who led the task force that produced the DSM-IV in 2000, and is now spearheading efforts against the DSM-5, said the new version would incorrectly label one in four people who have chronic pain and irritable bowel syndrome as instead having the DSM-5′s newly created “somatic symptom disorder.” This is diagnosed when a person has spent at least six months thinking of and being anxious about their medical illness.

Detractors of the manual say some of its recommendations lack scientifically conclusive field testing. They note the manual does not consider the prior effectiveness or ineffectiveness of anti-psychotic medications when considering a patient’s current diagnosis. They also criticize the manual’s combining people with a spectrum of depressions into one group.

The DSM-5 will combine problem drinking and alcoholism into a single condition known as “alcohol use disorder.” A recent study suggests these changes may not improve the diagnosis of alcoholism.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of John
    John / May 3, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Part of the problem is that in order to get insurance to pay for treatment there must be a diagnosis. Many clinicians do not label their clients with a diagnosis if the client is self-pay.

  2. Avatar of notwhatyouthink
    notwhatyouthink / March 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    This is about one thing $$$$$$. You can bet your you-know-what, for every new diagnosis, there will be a drug to treat it. I have worked in community mental health for years where I have watched the treatment focus go to Psychiatry and production line, medication mill therapy.

  3. Carlos / March 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Mental Illness is not the only thing that psychiatry is over diagnosing. Seems like even the test that we use like the Millon MultiAxil Inventory and other test has shown to be a bit over pathologizing (which I think is virtually the same thing). I have a tendency not just to read the Test Manual which can do a bit more marketing and hid the scince. I also read Buro’s Mental Measurement Year book, there are reviews from researchers or review of the literature.

    Seems like our clinical judgement has a lot more limitations and tendancy for error than we are willing to admit.

    We seem to also do the same thing with psychotherapy. The patient comes in for a tune up and we want to do an overhaul. We seem to seek pathology a lot more than normal behavior. Is part of this Confirmational Biase we have to deal with as humans and clinicians.

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