The new holy bible of psychiatric diagnosis is about to go on sale tomorrow. No matter what our conclusions of it are, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is destined to be a best seller as it is the defacto guide to mental illness that most all institutions, physicians, therapists, healthcare providers and educational systems use. But it’s important for us to take a step back once in a while and ask, is this book helping or hindering the field of mental health and in turn, our individual and cultural stigma of mental health?
It has also struck me as strange that someone could struggle with, let’s say depression, and show completely different symptoms than the next person struggling with depression, yet it’s still major depression. Are we just creating another dis-ease from the human experience of suffering? For example, the experiences of anxiety, depression, and Post-traumatic stress disorder all show over activation in the fear circuit of the brain, the amygdala.
Now we don’t want to reduce mental health conditions just to neurobiology because there’s more to it than that. However, I often think of panic attacks and depressive episodes through a trauma lens. Do these always need to be teased out as different and given a specific label like this?
Here’s a new label for you: Apparently there’s a new diagnosis for kids of “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” a term that was earlier referred to as temper tantrums.
There is a place for diagnosis, it gives us a common language and allows us to test interventions that can be helpful to one group of people suffering with similar symptoms. Also, some people feel relieved with a diagnosis because something concrete has been identified and can be worked with.
However, since the dawn of man there has been suffering and perhaps creating more diagnoses complicates the human condition. Perhaps the answers to healing are simpler.
What do you think?
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Doctor reading book image available from Shutterstock.