New DSM-V Means Parents Must Learn New Mental Illness Terminology


brain mapA few days ago, the American Psychiatric Association released the new DSM-V, or Diagnostic Statistical Manual. This manual is used by physicians to diagnose mental illnesses, including everything from bipolar disorder and depression to autism and anorexia.

Some of the changes to DSM-V include brand new diagnoses, as well as changes to the names of several illnesses that are very familiar to parents:

  • There is now one single diagnosis — autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — for what were previously four separately listed illnesses: autistic disorder (autism), Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PPD-NOS).  Asperger’s, CDD and PPD-NOS are no longer listed as diagnoses. ASD is characterized by 1) deficits in social communication and social interaction and 2) restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities. Because both components are required for diagnosis of ASD.
  • New disorders listed in the DSM-V include hoarding disorder and excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, as well as social communication disorder, for those who have difficulty communicating but do not display repetitive behaviors and thus would not meet the diagnosis of ASD.
  • A new diagnosis called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is included for children up to 18 years old who exhibit persistent irritability and frequent episodes of extreme lack of behavioral control. This diagnosis is meant to help reduce overdiagnosis and overtreatment of bipolar disorder in children.
  • The term “mental retardation”, which was used in the most recent DSM-IV, officially has been replaced with “intellectual disability.” 
  • Stuttering is now called childhood-onset fluency disorder.

Photo credit: © James Thew –

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