The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Comparing DSM-IV and DSM-5,

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been used for decades as a guidebook for the diagnosis of mental disorders in clinical settings. As disorders and diagnoses evolve, new versions of the manual are published. This tends to happen every 10 years or so with the first manual (DSM-I) having been published in 1952. For the purpose of this discussion, we will look at the DSM-IV, which was published originally in 1994, and the latest version, DSM-5, that was published in May of 2013. Each version of the DSM contains “three major components: the diagnostic classification, the diagnostic criteria sets, and the descriptive text” (American Psychiatric Association, 2012). Within the diagnostic classification you will find a list of disorders and codes which professionals in the health care field use when a diagnosis is made. The diagnostic criteria will list symptoms of disorders and inform practitioners how long a patient should display those symptoms in order to meet the criteria for diagnosis of a disorder. Lastly, the descriptive text will describe disorders in detail, including topics such as “Prevalence” and “Differential Diagnosis” (APA, 2012). The recent update of the DSM from version IV-TR to 5 has been controversial for many reasons. Some of these reasons include the overall structure of the DSM to the removal of certain disorders from the manual.
One change that has been met with disdain is the removal of the multi-axial system of assessment contained in the DSM-IV. The multi-axial system was an assessment format with five different axes listed in numerical order. The different axes included the following topics: Axis I – major mental disorders, Axis II – personality disorders and ment...

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...spective offers, “the DSM-5 balances the dimensional and categorical frameworks better than any previous version” (Ozonoff, 2012, p. 1093).
I have to admit; during the research of this paper was the first time I have ever held a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in my hands. After comparing the overall structure of the two versions, DSM-IV and DSM-5, I would conclude that the DSM-5 layout is more user friendly. Many of the changes seem to be a step in the right direction and will hopefully inspire new research that gives new insight into mental disorders. Change is usually met with resistance in any form because it causes individuals to step out of their comfort zone. If clinicians and practitioners can get over the initial hump of being awkward to use, I’m sure the DSM-5 will improve the process of diagnosing and treating mental disorders.

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