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Mental Health Treatment and the DSM-5

June 14, 2013

Mental health treatment and the understanding of mental and behavioral health in general, has undergone many changes over the past 20 years. The recently released Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has created controversy for mental health clinicians, researchers, insurance companies, and even the general public, as the definition and diagnosis of mental disorders has undergone its most recent revision. For most people seeking help for mental and behavioral health problems, changes in the DSM will not affect the quality or availability of care.

Because there are no clear-cut clinical tests that can determine if a person has a particular mental illness, clinicians and researchers have to rely on measurable behaviors as a way of classifying mental disorders. Our methods of measuring behavior have changed and evolved over time. Conditions and changes within our culture also affect mental health disorder classification and mental health treatment, making periodic revisions to the DSM necessary. The DSM is the standard book of mental health conditions used by therapists, psychiatrists, and doctors. It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and the last revision was in 2013.

Mental Health Treatment and the DSM-5 Changes

One controversial change in the DSM-5 is the elimination of Asperger’s Syndrome as a separate 2013_03_08FBPMdiagnosis. Instead, autism will now be viewed as a one continuous spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild to severe; separate categories of autism-related conditions used in the past have now been eliminated. Some people with milder forms of autism and their families are concerned they may have trouble getting help due to these changes, but whether this will actually occur has yet to be seen. Although the name of some disorders is now different, the change should not be detrimental to the development of mental health treatment programs.

The inclusion of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMD) is one of the other controversial changes in the new DSM-5. This diagnosis applies to children who have intense and long-lasting tantrums, and it has replaced pediatric bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that had a dramatic increase in incidence in recent years. While the name used to describe this problematic behavior has changed, mental health treatment options and help are not likely to be affected.

Many descriptions of mental health conditions in the DSM-5 have not changed. Several of the changes that have occurred are attempts to clarify how certain behavioral health problems are defined, measured, and related to one another. Although these changes may create confusion for people who are now facing a different diagnosis, they should have little impact on mental health treatment.

If you or a loved one in your life is suffering from a mental illness or exhibits symptoms that prevent them from living a healthy, productive life, it may be time to seek mental health treatment from a professional mental health facility. We offer personalized treatment plans to help with mental health disorders.  Please call us at 1-888-205-2775. The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center is a full service mental health facility dedicated to helping individuals who suffer from mental illness find a path to living better.


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