Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

DSM stands for Diagnostic and statistical Mansymptomsntal Disorders. This manual acts as a guide to many mental health professionals. They help to describe the problems of the patient after evaluation. DSM provides V-Axis evaluation, which relates to different aspect of disorder. The information is useful in the planning of treatment, measuring its depth of impact and in evaluating the outcome. They are also used for research purposes. Research done on particular diseases, take people who have the same symptoms listed in DSM for that particular disease. Students can also use DSM as a learning material. Many insurance companies also make use of this V axis evaluation for their clients.

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Diagnosis is figuring out what is wrong with a person from their symptoms. All diagnosis is written in a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Press. This book has a list of all recognized disorders, which include depression, schizophrenia-like problems, drug abuse and childhood disorders. DSM-IV-TR is the latest book, which has come up with a standardized language for evaluation of mental disorders. The main difference of DSM-IV-TR from its earlier versions of DSM is that all the disorders were well studied scientifically while the earlier versions depended mainly on psychoanalytical theory (study of human psychological functioning and behavior). This book also gives an extensive details on information such as how common each disorder is, what age does it get started, in what way does it affect the people in their social life and what are the symptoms they usually get for a particular disorder. If all-important symptoms for a particular disorder are present, then diagnosis can be made. If not, no diagnosis can be made. This relation between symptom and the disorder is useful so that one doctor could diagnose and a different one can treat the patient. The main aim of this diagnostic process is to find out the factors or agents causing this particular disorder. Because to treat the patient effectively, one has to understand the underlying problem. Therefore if doctors could come up with a good diagnostic table that accurately relates to their symptoms then they could get an idea of what made them ill i.e., the underlying cause. This understanding will help them to treat the patient effectively. The important thing about this evaluation is that it does not treat mental disorders as just mental disorders but also includes the mental (psychological), biological (medical), and social aspects of mental illness. This “BioPsychoSocial” approach is achieved by dividing the diagnosis into five different sections, or “axes” (Dombeck). Axis I: It deals with clinical disorders. It includes diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, drug addiction, etc. Axis II: This diagnosis is related to chronic and/or developmental disorders. Some examples are paranoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and mental retardation, etc., Axis III: In this, the physical condition of the patient is recorded. Any physical disorders that contribute to the disturbance of mental health are noted here. Axis IV: Here the social and economic situation of the patient is recorded. For example Problems with the primary support group (divorce, abuse, or death), Problems with social environment (loneliness, retirement), Educational problems (conflict with teachers, academic problems), Occupational problems (job dissatisfaction), Housing Problem (problem with neighbors) and Economic problems (insufficient finances). Axis V: This is called Global Assessment of Functioning. The numbers are from 0-100. The doctor allows a single number to the patient he is analyzing. This number gives an idea about how the patient is performing in the world. It also tells the depth of impact the illness has on the patient’s life. If the scale reads 100, then the person has no symptoms and if it reads 0, then it means that the patient is at high risk of hurting themselves or others and a clear attempt to suicide with the expectation of death (Wood).

So the importance of V Axes Diagnosis is that with this five-part diagnosis system, one can accurately evaluate and diagnose the illness as well as the root cause whether physical or socio-economical and impart the right treatment.


  1. Dombeck,M. Diagnosis and Dual Diagnosis. (online).
  2. Wood,D. Demystifying The Diagnosis. (online).
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