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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Grief Over New Depression Diagnosis

By Paula Span
The New York Time Blog - The New Old Age
Originally published January 24, 2013

When the American Psychiatric Association unveils a proposed new version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychiatric diagnoses, it expects controversy. Illnesses get added or deleted, acquire new definitions or lists of symptoms. Everyone from advocacy groups to insurance companies to litigators — all have an interest in what’s defined as mental illness — pays close attention. Invariably, complaints ensue.

“We asked for commentary,” said David Kupfer, the University of Pittsburgh psychiatrist who has spent six years as chairman of the task force that is updating the handbook. He sounded unruffled. “We asked for it and we got it. This was not going to be done in a dark room somewhere.”

But the D.S.M. 5, to be published in May, has generated an unusual amount of heat. Two changes, in particular, could have considerable impact on older people and their families.

First, the new volume revises some of the criteria for major depressive disorder. The D.S.M. IV (among other changes, the new manual swaps Roman numerals for Arabic ones) set out a list of symptoms that over a two-week period would trigger a diagnosis of major depression: either feelings of sadness or emptiness, or a loss of interest or pleasure in most daily activities, plus sleep disturbances, weight loss, fatigue, distraction or other problems, to the extent that they impair someone’s functioning.

The entire blog post is here.

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