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In case you have apparent symptoms of depression, the DSM IV might be used by your mental health care providers to help them determine what type of depression your symptoms point to.

“DSM IV, which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition, is the guide that mental health professionals utilize to classify psychological disorders,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, manager of the counseling centre and adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in Nyc.

Mental health professionals using the DSM IV comprise:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Other doctors
  • Shrinks
  • Social workers
  • Other counselors or therapists

DSM-IV and Depression: Organization

“DSM IV arranges mental disorders into a number of different types, among which is mood disorders, where one sees the group of depression,” explains Dr. Shadick. “The manual breaks down depression into groups, including depressive disorders and bipolar disorder. Each class provides very specific criteria which help mental health professionals determine the type and severity of a depressive disorder.”

The DSM IV doesn’t feature information regarding treatment or causes of depression. It does, however, contain these features:

  • Symptoms. DSM-IV uses current psychiatric research to determine how symptoms of different kinds of depression cluster together.
  • Course. The guide provides a description of the way in which a certain sort of depression starts and how long it might continue.
  • Prevalence. This tells the mental health professional how commonly certain forms of depression are seen.
  • Routines. DSM-IV includes information about family routines, age, culture, and gender which are typical for certain kinds of depression.
  • Differential diagnosis. The manual tells the mental health professional which other types of depression can have similar symptoms.
  • Codes. Each type of depression is assigned a code that can be used for data collection and charging purposes.

DSMIV and Depression: Use

“After an appropriate identification is made, then the mental health professional has a good idea how to proceed with treatment,” Shadick says. “For instance, if someone has a severe type of depression as portion of a bipolar disorder, then drug and psychotherapy are most powerful. If someone has a continual but light form of depression, psychotherapy alone may be indicated.”

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It’s very important to remember that DSM IV will not tell your mental health provider the best way to treat you. The DSM IV needs expertise and clinical training to use and isn’t meant to be used like a cookbook. You may respond differently to treatment, although you could have exactly the same analysis as someone else.

DSM-IV and Depression: History

The first DSM was published in 1952. At the time, it was an effort to classify and summarize the kinds of mental health illnesses that were being found by psychiatrists in the 1950s. Ever since then, there is a boatload of research into mental health, and our understanding of the conditions has increased a whole lot. Over time, new kinds of depression have now been included and some types have been removed.

As its name suggests, there have been four important revisions to the manual. DSM-IV was published in 1994. Since 2007, specialists have now been meeting regularly to review new research on depression as well as other mental disorders. DSM-V is likely to be prepared for launch in May 2012.

As it was printed, the DSM has become a significant tool in diagnosing depression. It’s been translated into 22 languages.

DSM IV isn’t a substitute for experience and clinical judgment; it is meant only to our current knowledge about symptoms of depression as a guidebook. It is expected that over the forthcoming years, the manual will continue to change as knowledge of depression along with other mental disorders enhances and evolves.