Understanding Psychiatric Diagnoses

Psychiatric diagnoses can be very confusing. In the past labeling of people was considered to be an evil imposed by the psychiatric community. These days many individuals are anxious to know what they "have". It is crucial to understand the issues in psychiatric nomenclature in order for an individual to receive appropriate help.

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Diagnostic Criteria for Post-Adolescent Unstable Obsessive Mood Disorder:

A: At least two periods yearly of increased stress and anxiety lasting a minimum of one week

B: Unstable behaviour or mood indicated by at least two of the following
 (1): inconsistent sleep patterns characterized by late nights or excessive daytime sleeping.
 (2): binge drinking
 (3): illicit drug use
 (4): highly variable moods
 (5): irregular work habits
 (6): irregular eating habits

C: Obsessive thoughts or behaviour indicated by at least two of the following:
 (1): overconcern with achievement:
 (2): excessive concern for future goals
 (3): excessive concern for appearance or body image
 (4): procrastination
 (5): "binge" working
What is the DSM?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a guide to help mental health practitioners and researchers in their work. It evolved from a need to standardize psychiatric diagnoses so that researchers and practitioners would be using the same criteria for specific disorders.
Prior to the DSM, diagnoses were based on presumed etiologies, or underlying causes, of mental health problems. The DSM replaced this with symptom criteria that do not imply etiology. DSM diagnoses are therefore simply based on clusters of symptoms that have been investigated statistically, and agreed to by committee, to represent a valid disorder. It is crucial to understand that DSM diagnoses, for the most part, do not represent disease entities. For example: a group of college mental health professionals could postulate the disorder shown on the right.
A serious problem that has resulted is that many practitioners use the DSM as if it's a sacred text, and treat the various disorders as if they are actual disease entities. Many insurers base payment on these diagnoses and may insist on particular treatments. In actual practice, it is rare to find someone who fits neatly into one diagnosis. Dual diagnoses have developed, partially to meet the demand from insurers for serious indications for treatment. These issues can lead to a cycle that ends up distorting treatment.
Once a diagnosis like PAUOMD is established, pharmaceutical research would likely show a positive, statistical response to certain drugs as compared to placebo. Marketing by special interest groups may then promote the use of medication in all individuals showing the signs of this health care crisis. The "fact" that this "disorder" shows a statistical response to a treatment modality would be seen as validating the diagnosis.           
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Mental Health Essentials
What's wrong with me?
What can I do about it?
Understanding Depression
What is a Chemical Imbalance?
The 5 C's of
What are Mood Dampeners?
What is good treatment?