Is my DSM mental health diagnoses correct? How do I know? I don’t feel Bi-Polar!

Well. I said it was coming and the plane has landed on this topic. I like to keep my posts easy to read and filled with information, yet brief enough that you can take the time to read them. My best shot here at doing this. Asking the question “is my diagnoses accurate” is really not one that can be answered by anyone.

If you ask ” do my symptoms seem to meet the criteria for a diagnoses of depression” for example, it is much easier to answer. Everyone experiences periods of depression at some point in their lifetime. Usually a medical professional will call this “situational depression”. If the symptoms last longer than a certain period of time, you may be bumped up to a new level of depression, such as Major Depressive disorder, or Depression not specified, which is also known as NOS. Not otherwise specified. So say you have a loved one die, and you are slightly depressed. That is normal. However, after a few weeks you begin to drink a little nip throughout the day to get you by. The next few weeks are even worse, so you see a psychiatrist. You tell him you have been feeling depressed for a month or more, and leave out the drinking part. You are now just a few questions away from a major depression diagnoses! The doctor may ask you if you ever have mood swings. Maybe next a quicky about if anyone in the family has suffered from depression. Family history plays a part in diagnosing too! You answer “well, uncle Jim is a big drinker and gets depressed all the time, but the rest of us are good.” Then a few more questions and suddenly you are leaving with prescription for an anti-depressant in hand, and a label to go with it. You are now “suffering” from major depressive disorder.

How can that be, you ask? Simple, it is all in the bible of mental health, the DSM-V which is the latest edition. Recently, some diagnoses were removed under the Autism spectrum, not because they do not exist, but the cost to treat the child or adult was too much. So, they take it out of the DSM and POOF! The diagnoses is not valid anymore and the benefits go away. The DSM is a book with a list of diagnoses and the criteria needed to meet those diagnoses. Many people could easily meet criteria for some type of psychosis, as we have all had our moments.

However, when I was collecting information with a psychiatrist for years helping to rule out, or issue a diagnoses, I noticed something unsettling. Many times after I screened a client and either found that they met criteria for a diagnoses, such as AD/HD, I realized that the information I received from the parent was often verbatim of at least 10 symptoms which must be present out of the 13 needed to be diagnosed with AD/HD. They knew what to say to meet criteria since they did their homework! When a child has a “disability” many places will issue a check to the guardian each month for the “disability”. I once had a mother tell me that she had 3 small boys and got them all diagnosed with something, and made more money than she ever could working for a living!

There is also the huge problem of living up to the label, which we often see in public everyday. People are told they have ” anger control” problems, so what do they do? They live up to the expectation! They have a good excuse. Now let me be clear,thereĀ are people who have uncontrollable behaviors that need medication and 1 on 1 monitoring all the time. These are not the ones I refer to. There will be more detail on the DSM-V and the power it gives a mental health professional in coming posts. Right now, think about how you, or someone you know was diagnosed with whatever disorder they have. Do they act any different since they were told about their new-found disorder? People tend to believe what they are told!

People do not often dispute anything they are told when it comes to mental health issues, unless they have a background in it, just like any other profession. For example-

I posted a statistic yesterday about what percentage of information we believe and how we adopt information from what other people say. Specific numbers. I made it all up. I did not get one bit of feedback or a comment disputing my numbers. I will not do that again, but it needs to be shown how vulnerable we are sometimes.

Please leave any comments or questions you may have, and do contact me personally for help in whatever situation you are in. I am a trained Social Worker with 25 years in the field, working with all ages, and disabilities. I can help you for an hour, for a month, or support you through an even longer period if needed.

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