Diana Moon, DCoE Public Affairs on August 22, 2013
Chaplain (Capt.) Troy Parson encourages service members, family members and civilian employees who are battling depression to seek help. (U.S. Army photo by Ms. Jennifer Clampet)
When the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) was released May 2013, it marked the end of more than a decade’s journey in revising criteria to diagnose and classify mental disorders.
During last month’s Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) webinar, participants heard about revisions to diagnosis criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that take into account information learned from scientific research and clinical experience.
Removing criterion A2 and splitting ‘avoidance’ into its own category were among the major changes to the diagnosis of PTSD in the DSM-5. Criterion A2 requires that the person’s reaction to a traumatic event involve fear, helplessness or horror. It was removed because research suggests it doesn’t improve diagnostic accuracy, according to DSM-5 literature.
Other significant changes include:
- PTSD is no longer classified under “Anxiety Disorders.” It’s now in a new category, “Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders.”
- The DSM-IV listed three types of PTSD symptoms: re-experiencing the event, avoiding thinking of the event, and hyperarousal (trouble sleeping, always being anxious or “on edge,” etc.). The DSM-5 includes the previous categories and adds “negative cognitions and moods.” This category includes a distorted sense of blame or guilt, inappropriate anger, social withdrawal, inability to remember key parts of the traumatic experience, and other related signs and symptoms.
- There are two new subtypes of PTSD: PTSD in children younger than 6 and PTSD with prominent dissociative symptoms. Dissociative symptoms include “out-of-body” experiences where a person feels he’s outside his body as in a dream, or having amnesia for parts of an event.
- A person no longer has to directly witness or be involved with a traumatic event to be diagnosed with PTSD. Learning of a traumatic event that happened to a close friend or family member or experiencing first-hand repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of a traumatic event (not through TV, media or movies) qualifies a person for the diagnosis.
Although the release of a new medical text doesn’t normally generate the kind of fever-pitch anticipation of a new tween vampire novel or smartphone model, the DSM-5 is an exception. Clinicians use the DSM to diagnose mental disorders. It lists diagnostic criteria, symptoms, associated features of the disorders and relevant demographic information. The DSM-5, which also informs the way psychiatrists prescribe medications, advances 15 new diagnoses — including hoarding, now considered distinct from its previous classification as an obsessive compulsive disorder, and cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, withdrawal — while eliminating and combining others.
You can download the entire podcast of Hoge’s presentation and additional resources on the DSM-5 from the DCoE website. And, because of interest in this subject, join us for a second webinar from 1–2:30 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 5, “Understanding Changes to the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder Diagnosis in DSM-5.” Look for registration information in the DCoE News Room coming soon.