What is the DSM-5?

Psychologists and psychiatrists are well aware of what the DSM-5 is, but for patients, the question of what it is and what it does is murky. The wariness surrounding it is growing as well; Slate published an article about the fact that 46.5 percent of all adults in the U.S. could be diagnosed with a mental disorder using this tool. This quick introduction will explain what this psychology tool does and how it can be used so that you can feel empowered when talking about mental health.

The DSM-5

In simple words, the DSM-5 is a guidebook that is used by health care and mental health care professionals worldwide to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM in the title refers to the full name of the book, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The number five refers to the fact that this is the fifth edition of the guidebook. It was put together by a group of more than 160 clinicians and researchers who reviewed all of the current scientific data to update the guidebook with the most recent and relevant data pertaining to mental disorders.

What It Does

The American Psychiatric Association states that this is a handbook for diagnosis of mental disorders. It lays out the descriptions of mental disorders, their symptoms, codes, and other measurements for diagnosis purposes. It also provides psychiatry researchers to have one common language for their work as well as clinicians who may be referred to a client by a colleague. The idea that one guidebook can serve as a reference guide for the entire community is supported by the fact that the guidebook has been revised five times and currently acts as the manual of choice for clinicians around the world.

Who Uses It

This guidebook is used by psychiatrists, psychologists, researchers, and clinicians as part of their day-to-day work. Some work directly with patients in private care or in hospitals; some focus on detailed research on a particular set of disorders; and still others use it as a way to diagnose and refer patients to specialists in the field of the disorder they have been diagnosed with. The guidebook can also be used for insurance purposes, as this current edition is fully compatible with the HIPAA-approved ICD-9-CM coding system; insurance companies use this system for their patients.

Why It Is Important

This guide book is the reference guide for the psychiatry field; the fact that it is constantly revised and updated shows how important it is to professionals. It is also making it easier for people to get an accurate diagnosis; there are 157 recognized mental disorders in this guidebook that have varying levels of severity. The guidebook is ever-evolving, however, and will continue to grow and change the mental disorders listed as more research is done in psychiatry.

Learning that this guidebook is a guidebook for the diagnosis of mental disorders will no doubt be of immense help to you, regardless of the reason that you chose to learn more about it. By understanding what the DSM-5 is and how it works, you are guaranteeing that you will view the guidebook as a resource whether you're a student, a professional, a journalist, or just generally curious about mental disorders.

Related Resource: What is the Best Degree for a Mental Health Professional?