The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association and classifies symptoms of mental disorder into carefully crafted diagnoses in order to ensure consistency across mental health professionals and their patients. The most recent edition is the DSM-V, published in 2013, includes the updates from more recent research as well as proposed areas of further investigation.
The first edition of the DSM was published in 1952 and has since changed and expanded significantly. As with any social scientific tool, the DSM is not a perfect measure of mental illness and thus it is important that it is constantly being re-evaluated with new research and information.
The DSM-V is intended for use by trained professionals. In this video, a licensed therapist explains the DSM-V, its diagnoses, and common misconceptions about the diagnostic process.
In this video by Living Well With Schizophrenia, Lauren shares her experience of forced treatment and coercion as someone with schizoaffective disorder.
The DSM is the standard for diagnosing and treating mental disorders in the United States and in many other countries in the world. However, many use (either in addition to the DSM or in its place) the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
The ICD is overseen by the World Health Organization and the most recent version is the ICD-11, published in 2018. Concerning mental illness, the DSM and ICD are not generally all that different from each other but neither are they identical.
Because psychology is a social science, other social factors can influence the perception of symptoms differently depending on the individual's gender. Check out this video by Kati Morton, LMFT on how gender relates to mental health.
The mental health system can feel frightening and confusing when you first encounter it, especially if this happens mid-crisis. If you live with chronic mental illness, you might feel tossed around by various professionals, never totally sure what is going on. But this should not be the case. As the patient, you have every right to be an active member of your own treatment team. In fact, it is vital that you are!
If you feel like the passive recipient of your healthcare, remember that you have every right to:
"For the growing number of awareness and education campaigns around mental health and mental illness, the United States still faces an ongoing mental health crisis. For all the behests for those who are suffering to get help, why do 9 million adults with a diagnosed mental illness report attempting to get help and being unable to access it?"
"A few months ago, I read a post on social media from a fellow Catholic which was intended to support other Catholics dealing with mental illness. I was thrilled that more Catholics are beginning to welcome mental illness into their vocabularies and conversations...but then I got to a line that went something like this: "Mental illness is stopping them from being the person God created them to be." And, while I appreciate what I'm assuming was the intended sentiment, I take issue with this wording."
In this memoir, Michelle Graham shares her personal reflections on her experience of psychosis and the label of schizophrenia she was subsequently given.
DSM-5 Insanely Simplified provides a comprehensive overview of the DSM-V's approach to understanding and diagnosing mental illness.
It's easy for patients to feel confused and helpless when it comes to their medication. This resource seeks to empower patients to understand how psychiatric medication works in order to take a more active role in their own treatment.
This book tells the history of contested cases of insanity in England. What does it mean to declare other people insane? How has it been manipulated in the past to wield power? How has it been used to marginalize whole groups of people?
This history of "madness" explains how abnormal psychological experiences have been culturally interpreted throughout human history from biblical times to the psychoanalysts to modern psychiatry.
Elyn R. Saks not only has lived with schizophrenia her whole life, but she also exceeded her doctors' wildest expectations by becoming a professor of law and psychiatry. In this book, Saks unites her fields of expertise to discuss the rights of the mentally ill in our society.