Depressed or not? Revisions to the DSM spark controversy about where to draw the line.

by yassin.elnaggar on October 22, 2013 - 2:17am

This article points out some of the changes made in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and how they change the social and medical understanding of who is a considered mentally ill. 

Some of the changes made are considered quite controversial, as the changing criterias may cause some people to be wrongly diagnosed for illnesses, or even more significantly, to remain undiagnosed for an illness that they might suffer from and need help with.

This edition of the DSM takes into account 20 years of new research about mental disorders, many of which had not been well defined in the previous version. One of these disorders, depression, which is also the topic of my interest, has always been difficult to diagnose because of its vagueness. The latest revision blurs the line between grief and depression, so someone who would have been exempt from a depression diagnosis earlier, might now be considered for it. 

Prof. Allen Frances at Duke University notes that the dropping of these thresholds will cause more people to be diagnosed as being mentally sick, which may be harmful. While there is now a larger group of people who may become entitled to medical help, critics of the changes argue that a lot of people who do not need strong medical help, may become dependent on medication that they do not need. 

The article provides an interesting vision into how random some thresholds are for diagnostic criteria and how it can become controversial thinking about where to draw the line. I strongly disagree with the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual because of the way patients are diagnosed. For depression you have to have suffered FIVE of around ten symptoms in order to be diagnosed, if you suffer four symptoms you're not diagnossed with depression, which is something i find very uncountable. I think many people were victims of this unaccurate system of disgnosis, it has to be changed soon.


i agree with your point about people becoming dependant upon medical help and medication they dont need. some people who are slightly mentally ill, will be diagnosed and will start acting the part. this affects peoples minds and they become dependant one the help they get adn the medication they receive. all this while taking away from some people who are very sick and really need the help. this is a probleme in a country like canada where people will receive treatment almost free, taking away from others who are in dire need of some help.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and state your opinion on it. I agree with your point that people can get too dependant on medication especially when its for free in countries like canada. The issue that worries me most though is the DSM criteria that I personally think is unfair to a lot of patients that actually have the mental illness, but aren't diagnosed. Something needs to be done about this issue

I disagree with you because it has been researched for 20 years. they have been researching on disorders that have not been defined properly in the previous DSM. I feel like they know what they are talking about now and would not provide false information. They may still make mistakes but I believe that they have made improvements of the DSM-IV and it will be better for the diagnosis of the patients and the different disorders. It is only normal that they would make improvements after 20 years of research instead of the DSM being inaccurate. Also, the DSM had added new disorders and has changed divided some disorders so everyone can be helped with their disorders depending on their symptoms. I think that they have made it better taking into account the high rate of people who are suffering from mental illness.

Thank you for taking the time to state your opinion on my article. As I mentioned before I think that it's unfair for patients that suffer four of five symptoms, whats their illness? They must suffer from something if they have four reoccurring symptoms over a long period of time. If we follow the DSM-IV these patients don't suffer from depression. Then what do they suffer from?