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Diagnostic guide for mental conditions may be replaced

A new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly known as DSM, is set to be released in just a few weeks. However, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health said the agency is planning to move away from how mental conditions are categorized in the DSM.

Instead, the director said the federal mental health agency will start working on a new diagnostic system based on more scientifically verifiable standards instead of the DSM's symptom-based diagnostic criteria. The director said the new diagnostic system will be based on "objective laboratory measure," similar to physical illnesses.

In effort to create the new system, the NIMH said it is creating a new project called the Research Domain Criteria which will have gather the data needed through genetics, imaging, cognitive science as well as other techniques and studies. The NIMH's director said it will be a while before the new diagnostic method is complete, but this is an important first step.

Currently, mental health professionals use the DSM, often referred to as the bible of psychiatry, to help diagnose mental illnesses and conditions. It is likely that mental health practitioners of the future will use the new diagnostic system based more heavily on emerging sciences. This will be an important development in the treatment of mental disorders.

Many people who are unable to work because they suffer from recognized mental impairments such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or post traumatic stress disorder are able to collect Social Security Disability benefits to help supplement their incomes. One of the most important steps in the application process is having the conditioned diagnosed by a mental health professional.  

Source: Disability Scoop, "Feds To Move Away From DSM," Michelle Diament, May 6, 2013

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