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DSM and DSM-5


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) is a manual published the APA (American Psychiatric Association) which catalogues all classifications of mental disorders. This essay discusses the development of DSM from DSM to DSM, describes the three changes made to DSM5 and outlines the structure of DSM 5. The essay also provides reasons why DSM 5 may be preferable to DSM-IV-R and vice versa.

DSM was first established in 1952 with the most current DSM-IV-TR published in 2000. According to Dziegielewski (2010), the publication of the DSM match up the publications of the ICD with a new version of DSM scheduled for 2013. The first edition of DSM aimed at blending the psychological with the biological framework and offer practitioners a unified perspective referred to as psychobiological point of view. This followed the second version of DSM (DSM-II) which was published in 1968. DSM-II did not mirror a particular point of view unlike DSM-I. DSM-II, however, tried to frame the diagnostic categories in a scientific manner. Both DSM-DSM-II and faced criticism for being unscientific and for augmenting the ability for negative labelling of clients. This led to the establishment of DSM-III in 1980 (Hersen, 2004). DSM-III claimed to be more scientific and unbiased. DSM-III defines disorders with respect to their shared descriptive features. However, with DSM-III, scores of the earlier problems persisted leading to the development of DSM-III-R in 1987 that used data from field trials that were believed to validate the system on scientific grounds. According to Simpson, Neria, Fernandez and Schneier (2010), the most essential change in the DSM-III-R classification of anxiety disorders was elimination of DSM-II hierarchy that had deterred the diagnosis of panic. Following the benefit of DSM-III that informed the revision process, DMS-IV was developed in 1994 using a three-stage procedure of empirical review that included systematic and detailed reviews of published literature, issue-focused trials and re-analyses of secondary datasets. DSM-IV was revised in 2000 with the text revision serving as an intermediary amid DSM-IV and DSM-5. The changes in DSM-IV-R were made to limited text sections (Mash & Barkley, 2014). The DSM-5 was published in 2013 and it tries to balance research developments in the anxiety disorders with the need to uphold continuity with preceding DSM editions.

DSM-5 contains changes that are different from DSM-IV-R.. The three major changes that are different DSM-IV-R include the inclusion of Mild Neurocogntive Disorder and major Neurocogntive Disorder that subsumes amenstic and dementia disorder, and inclusion of other new and notable disorders that include premenstrual dysphoric disorder and binge eating disorder. DSM-5 also removed the bereavement exclusion thereby making it possible for grieving people to be diagnosed with major depression in the first two months of grieving (Morrison, 2014). More so, DSM-5 pays more attention to behavioural symptoms linked to PTSD and includes major symptoms such as avoidance, arousal, re-experiencing and persistent negative mood and cognitions.

Notwithstanding the notable changes made in DSM-5, this diagnostic system may not be better than DSM-IV-R because it makes it easier for an individual to be diagnosed with mental health disorder even when she/he is not ailing. For instance, the inclusion of Mild Neurocogntive impairment may make people to be wrongly diagnosed with dementia through pathologising the normal age-linked changes (Whitbourne, 2013). Another reason why DSM-5 is may not be better than DSM-IV-R is because the broadening of diagnostic in net in DSM-5may make what is normal to appear sick. For instance, a grieving person could be wrongly diagnosed with major depression in the first two month (Roberts & Louie, 2014). On the contrary, DSM-5 may be better than DSM-IV-R because it eliminates stigmatising terminologies linked to some mental disorders. For instance, DSM-5 removed the use of mental retardation and replaced it with intellectual disability. This is a more accurate terminology that helps in eradicating stigmatisation linked to certain mental disorders. More so, DSM-5 is better compared to DSM-IV-R because it eliminates and reorganises some disorders that longer made sense in other editions of DSM including DSM-IV-R (Whitbourne, 2013). For instance, obsessive-compulsive disorder stands on its own category in DSM-5 rather than being positioned with anxiety disorders.


DSM encompasses symptoms, descriptions and other standards for diagnosing mental disorders. DSM offers a common language for practitioners regarding their patients. It establishes reliable and consistent diagnoses that can be applied in mental disorders research. The first edition of DSM was published in 1952 with the latest edition published in 2013. The latest edition (DSM-5) is a revision of DSM-IV-R and it has a set of good and bad changes.


Dziegielewski, S.(2010). DSM-IV-TR in action. UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Hersen, M.(2004). Comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment, behavioural assessment. UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Mash, E., & Barkley, R.(2014). Child psychopathology, third edition. UK: Guilford Publications.

Morrison, J.(2014). DSM-5 made easy: The clinician’s guide to diagnosis. USA: Guilford Publications.

Roberts, L., & Louie, A.(2014). Study guide to DSM-5. USA: American Psychiatric Pub.

Simpson, H., Neria, Y., Fernandez, R., & Schneier, F.(2010). Anxiety disorders: Theory, Research and clinical perspectives. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Whitbourne, S.K.(2013). What the DSM-5 changes mean for you. Psychology Today. Retrieved from age/201305/what-the-dsm-5-changes-mean-you.