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What is the DSM-5?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often known as the “DSM,” is a reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions and disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is responsible for the writing, editing, reviewing and publishing of this book.
The number “5” attached to the name of the DSM refers to the fifth — and most recent — edition of this book. The DSM-5®’s original release date was in May 2013. The APA released a revised version of the fifth edition in March 2022. That version is known as the DSM-5-TR™, with TR meaning “text revision.”
IMPORTANT: The DSM-5 and DSM-5-TR are medical reference books intended for experts and professionals. The content in these books is very technical, though people who aren’t medical professionals may still find it interesting or educational. However, you shouldn’t use either of these books as a substitute for seeing a trained, qualified mental health or medical provider.
Additionally, the APA also publishes books that supplement the content in the DSM-5-TR. Examples of these supplement publications include the DSM-5 Handbook of Differential Diagnosis and DSM-5 Clinical Cases.
What is the purpose of the DSM-5?
The first step in treating any health condition — physical or mental — is accurately diagnosing the condition. That’s where the DSM-5 comes in. It provides clear, highly detailed definitions of mental health and brain-related conditions. It also provides details and examples of the signs and symptoms of those conditions.
In addition to defining and explaining conditions, the DSM-5 organizes those conditions into groups. That makes it easier for healthcare providers to accurately diagnose conditions and tell them apart from conditions with similar signs and symptoms.
How was the DSM-5 content created?
To create the DSM-5, the APA gathered more than 160 mental healthcare professionals from around the world, including psychiatrists, psychologists and experts from many other professional fields. Hundreds of other professionals contributed and assisted as advisers on specific topics. The creation of the DSM-5 also involved field trials and tests.
For the DSM-5-TR, the APA called on many of those involved in the initial DSM-5 release. In all, more than 200 professionals directly contributed to the DSM-5-TR.
What topics does the DSM-5 cover?
The DSM-5 mainly focuses on mental health conditions. However, because mental health and brain function are inseparable, the DSM-5 also covers conditions and concerns related to how the brain works. The book also contains diagnostic codes, which make it easier for healthcare providers to cross-reference conditions against the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10).
The DSM-5 has three sections:
- Section I: DSM-5 Basics. This section covers how medical professionals should use the book in their work. It also includes guidance on using the DSM-5 when mental health concerns involve legal professionals, court cases, etc.
- Section II: Diagnostic Criteria and Codes. This section is the largest in the book. Each chapter covers a type of condition, with the specific conditions defined and explained within (see the table below for more about this section).
- Section III: Emerging Measures and Models. This section contains information about specific assessment tools, which providers use as guidelines for diagnosing some conditions. It also has information about how cultural differences may affect a diagnosis, and a chapter about conditions that may eventually go into a later edition of the DSM but need further study before that happens.
More about Section II and the types of conditions it covers
The types of conditions that can be found in the DSM-5 include:
|Section title||Examples of disorders in that section|
|Neurodevelopmental Disorders||Autism spectrum disorder.|
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Learning disorders (which covers dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.).
|Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders||Schizophrenia.|
|Bipolar and Related Disorders||Bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.|
|Depressive Disorders||Major depressive disorder.|
Persistent depressive disorder.
|Anxiety Disorders||Generalized anxiety disorder.|
Social anxiety disorder.
Separation anxiety disorder.
|Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders||Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).|
Body dysmorphic disorder.
Skin-picking disorder and hair-pulling disorder.
|Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders||Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).|
Acute stress disorder.
|Dissociative Disorders||Dissociative identity disorder.|
|Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders||Somatic symptom disorder.|
Illness anxiety disorder.
Functional neurological symptom disorder (conversion disorder).
|Feeding and Eating Disorders||Anorexia nervosa.|
|Elimination Disorders||Enuresis (a group of disorders that includes bedwetting).|
|Sleep-Wake Disorders||Insomnia disorder.|
Sleep apnea disorders.
Restless legs syndrome.
|Sexual Dysfunctions||Sexual dysfunctions.|
|Gender Dysphoria||Gender dysphoria-related disorders.|
|Disruptive, Impulse-Control and Conduct Disorders||Oppositional defiant disorder.|
Antisocial personality disorder.
|Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders||Alcohol use disorder.|
Inhalant use disorder.
Opioid use disorder.
Traumatic brain injury.
|Personality Disorders||Borderline personality disorder (BPD).|
Narcissistic personality disorder.
|Paraphilic Disorders||Sexual behavior disorders.|
|Other Mental Disorders and Additional Codes||Conditions that don’t match the definition of another condition, but that still significantly affect someone’s life.|
|Medication-Induced Movement Disorders and Other Adverse Effects of Medication||Tardive dyskinesia.|
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
|Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention||These include circumstances or behaviors that aren’t conditions, but that may affect or happen in relation to diagnosable conditions. Examples include self-harm and suicidal behaviors, a history of any type of abuse, unemployment, etc.|
When will the APA publish the next edition of the DSM?
The APA doesn’t publish editions of the DSM on a regular schedule. Instead, they update the DSM as necessary. The APA published past editions of the DSM (which used Roman numerals before the fifth edition) in the following years:
- DSM-I®: 1952.
- DSM-II®: 1968.
- DSM-III®: 1980. The APA published a revised version, the DSM-III-R®, in 1987.
- DSM-IV®: 1994. The APA published a text revision version, the DSM-IV-TR®, in 2000.
- DSM-5: 2013. The APA published a text revision version, the DSM-5-TR, in 2022.
Is DSM-5 available to the public?
Yes. The DSM-5 is available for purchase in many bookstores and online stores. Many public libraries also have a copy (your local library may restrict this book to in-library use only, meaning you can’t check it out).
While the DSM-5 and DSM-5-TR are available to the public in multiple ways, it’s important to remember that the intended users of this book are medical professionals. As a result, the content in this book is extremely technical. That means the average person will probably find this book difficult to understand.
You shouldn’t use the DSM-5 or DSM-5-TR as a substitute for seeing a medical or mental health professional. It’s best to look at the DSM-5 and DSM-5-TR like you’d look at a book about how to fly a plane. You might find it interesting to read that book, but that’s no substitute for the formal education and training required to become a pilot.
Is DSM-5 still used?
Yes, but there are two variants of this book. The APA published the DSM-5 in 2013. In 2022, the APA published a text revision version, the DSM-5-TR. This text revision version includes updates and changes to the DSM-5 that reflect changes and updates in mental health practice since 2013. That makes the DSM-5-TR the preferred version, as it’s the most current and accurate version of this resource.
Among mental health providers, especially psychiatrists and psychologists, the DSM-5-TR is the most important resource for diagnosing mental health- and brain-related conditions. While it’s a publication of a United States-based organization, the DSM-5 is also an essential resource for providers worldwide, with translations into more than 18 languages available.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The DSM-5 and its revised version, the DSM-5-TR, are key resource books for mental health professionals. This book is widely available for purchase, and many libraries may also make it available to their patrons. This book is intended for medical and mental health professionals, which is why it’s extremely detailed and very technical.
While the average person might find it interesting or informative, it’s not meant for casual use or self-diagnosis. If you think you or a loved one might have a condition defined in the DSM-5 or DSM-5-TR, you or your loved one should see a healthcare or mental health provider. Just like you wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself, it’s best to seek care from a trained, qualified mental health provider.
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