Psychiatrists move to redefine mental disorders
Written by Janet
Be prepared, there’s soon to be a new doctor’s dictionary released, and many of the old terms to describe mental illnesses are redefined. One is no longer “mentally retarded”, they now have an “intellectual disability.” There’s no more diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome – call it a mild version of autism instead. Newly added are “behavioral addictions.” Internet addiction never made the cut.
Today the American Psychiatric Association is proposing new changes to its diagnostic bible. This is the manual that doctors, insurers and scientists use in deciding what’s officially a mental disorder and which symptoms to treat. In a new twist, it is seeking feedback via the Internet from psychiatrists and the public about whether the changes will help.
The manual now includes many new diagnoses. Gambling is now a behavioral addiction, while learning disabilities are problems with both reading and math. Also new is binge eating, distinct from bulimia because the binge eaters don’t purge.
The draft also proposes diagnosing people as being at high risk of developing some serious mental disorders – such as dementia or schizophrenia – based on early symptoms, even though there’s no way to know who will worsen into full-blown illness.
The psychiatrist group’s own leaders say, it’s a much needed category, so they don’t miss someone along the way who needs counselling…the drafts also sets scales to estimate both adults and teens most at risk of suicide, stressing that suicide occurs with numerous mental illnesses, not just depression.
Now the draft’s biggest changes will eliminate diagnoses that it contends are essentially subtypes of broader illnesses – and urge doctors to concentrate more on the severity of their patients’ symptoms. A new category alone titled: Autism Spectrum Disorders as the diagnosis that encompasses a full range of autistic brain conditions – from mild social impairment to more severe autism’s lack of eye contact, repetitive behavior and poor communication – instead of differentiating between autism, Asperger’s or “pervasive developmental disorder” as doctors do today.
Psychiatrists think this new categorization will lower the numbers of people actually diagnosed mentally ill.