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We’re All Crazy Now?

by Shadra Bruce on August 3, 2010

‘Normal’ is a word that may not apply to very many people, say mental health experts, when the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published in 2013. This Mental Health Bible is being expanded to include so many minor disorders and conditions that nearly everyone in the world will be able to be diagnosed with some mental health condition.

While the DSM is designed to help mental health professionals determine precise criteria in diagnosing those with mental health problems, expansion of the book to include things like “mild anxiety depression” and “temper dysregulation disorder” may make it impossible to find anyone who is not suffering from some kind of mental health condition.

The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is considered the most reliable standard by which mental health professionals around the world diagnose mental health disorders. The book is also used by pharmaceutical companies who are working to develop new treatments for the disorders.

Several mental health professionals are protesting the direction the DSM is taking. “It’s leaking into normality. It is shrinking the pool of what is normal to a puddle,” said Til Wykes, of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

The concern is that people who do not really need medication will be given it. The DSM also has the potential of causing false epidemics, causing undue worry among parents, and causing several disorders to be overdiagnosed. “During the last decade, how many doctors were harangued by worried parents into giving drugs like Ritalin to children who didn’t really need it?” questioned the colleagues.

Wykes and his colleagues are not the only ones concerned. There were 10 articles published in the Journal of Mental Health expressing concerns over the upcoming DSM publication. The APA was not available for comment, but has indicated that the book’s contents have not yet been finalized and feedback from mental health professionals was still being solicited.

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