Categorizing Mental Illness
Psychiatric Diagnoses are categorized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition. Better known as the DSM-IV, the manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults. It also lists known causes of these disorders, statistics in terms of gender, age at onset, and prognosis as well as some research concerning the optimal treatment approaches.
Mental Health Professionals use this manual when working with patients in order to better understand their illness and potential treatment and to help 3rd party payers (e.g., insurance) understand the needs of the patient. The book is typically considered the ‘bible’ for any professional who makes psychiatric diagnoses in the United States and many other countries. Much of the diagnostic information on these pages is gathered from the DSM IV.
There is a good deal of overlap among the different diagnoses listed in the DSM IV. The reason for this is the same as for the overlap in medical diagnoses...rarely is a symptom exclusive of anything, and rarely can a diagnosis be made without a pattern or cluster of symptoms. For example, Depression includes feelings of sadness, but anxiety can lead to sadness, as can phobias, psychosis, and many other disorders. Keep this in mind when reading about specific diagnoses or you may find yourself saying way too frequently "Oh my Gosh, I have that."
Diagnoses can only be made by a clinician (e.g., psychologist or psychiatrist) who specializes in these areas and who understands the symptom patterns and idiosyncrasies of each disorder. Don’t self diagnose. If you feel you may have symptoms which are negatively affecting your life, please seek the advice and assistance of a professional. Call HCA today to set up a screening assessment to determine treatment options.