The American Psychiatric Association’s board of trustees has approved the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5.

The association’s diagnostic manual was last revised in 1994, also known as the DSM-IV. Changes include an end to the system of “axes” used to class diagnoses into broad groups, and an associated restructuring of diagnostic groups to bring disorders thought to be biologically related under the same headings. In addition, many of the diagnostic criteria will now include so-called dimensional assessments to indicate severity of symptoms.

The DSM-5 Is also said to include many of the most controversial of the proposed changes from DSM-IV:

  • Removal of the “bereavement exclusion” in the major depression section – patients may be called clinically depressed sooner than two months, although the criteria will include advice to clinicians about distinguishing normal grief from depression that should be treated.
  • Addition of “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” diagnosis for children > 6 years old who show frequent bursts of anger along with chronic irritability.
  • Collapse a number of autism-related conditions treated as separate disorders in DSM-IV into a single “autism spectrum disorder” category.

The manual will be formally released at the APA’s annual meeting next May.

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