According to the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), those suffering the loss of a loved one could be classified as depressed rather than bereaved, which was the old approach to such a catastrophic event. Now, exhibiting such characteristics as loss of appetite, lack of sleep, or irritability for more than two months after the passing of a loved one, a psychiatrist could prescribe medications for something entirely different from what the patient needs. This is just one of the many convoluted issues surrounding the newest edition, DSM-V, which is the guide for every professional therapist in our country. The guide is overseen by the American Psychiatric Association in partnership with the National Institute for Mental Health, and a panel with members from both organizations gives the final approval in advance of the May 2013 scheduled release.
There isn’t much known about the issue, apart from the above and some very dynamic rulings about autism. The guide includes a funny tangent about tantrums thrown by toddlers indicating a certain disorder along with an equally frivolous disorder assigned to those preferring one parent over another. Much is kept under wraps; there have been some organizational edits but aside from that it won’t be until May that the actual contents will be known. The real issue of significance is the reclassification of autistic-like behaviors. Under current rules those suffering with Aspergers have a higher likelihood of receiving proper diagnosis and help living with such a condition. This will not be the case when the new DSM is released. Because of the broad-based groupings of disorders those afflicted will see a decline in categorization to the proper autistic class, if assigned to the disorder of autistic at all. The new regulations back down those qualifications for what makes an individual autistic, leaving out potential sufferers to struggle with the disability on their own.
In terms of the bereavement issue, the new DSM will challenge corporate laws surrounding healthcare and paid time off to console oneself and loved ones posthumously. That period of time may be reduced and further removed from the control for millions of Americans when they need it most not just for their own well-being, but the health of one’s entire family. Yes, it is necessary to update such an important medical tool, and as long as it is under those most capable of such a task with appropriate oversight and regulation. But the first rule in medicine is the Hippocratic Oath: First do no harm. It seems that with this new ‘bible of psychiatrists’, patient focus has slipped away.