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New Disorders Stirring Up Controversy

Mental Health

MEDFORD, Ore. — To diagnose mental health disorders, psychiatrists use a manual called “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” or the DSM.

The American Psychiatric Association just released its latest fifth edition of the manual and according to local psychiatrists, it’s causing quite a bit of controversy.

A group of about 1600 psychiatrists and psychologists get together to create this manual. After field trials, fifteen new disorders are on now in this fifth edition of the DSM. Illnesses like Hoarding Disorder, Caffeine Withdrawal and Skin-Picking Disorder are now in the latest manual.

Also, what you might call a temper-tantrum now has a name in the DSM, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. But these new items were not tested like other medical conditions for validity, local doctors say they can’t do a simple blood test or chest x-ray to make a diagnosis, a lot of what they go by is the patient’s self-report.

This idea leads some doctors to fear more malingering among patients with minor problems. Another fear is whether or not the creation of these categories will drain funding for more severe conditions.

“The funding available for mental health has rapidly dwindled, the prospect of having a whole bunch of new psychiatric conditions many of which are relatively minor um, that is concerning,” says Rogue Psychiatry psychiatrist James Hammel.

Psychiatrists are also concerned that the controversy among doctors about diagnostic categories will lower their credibility and that the public could see their disagreements and doubt their ability to care for them properly.

Dr. Hammel says at the end of the day it’s not necessarily about an official diagnosis, but just taking care of the patient, keeping them safe, and on the track to recovery.