Mental Health Diagnoses?

We are ready to kick off our first blog series: Mental Health Diagnoses!  We will be covering eighteen of the nineteen classes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5.  Before we get started, let us cover some general background information.

What is the purpose of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5?

The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) was published in 2013.  The American Psychiatric Association developed this manual along with the previous editions.  The manual is meant to assist helping professionals accurately diagnose clients.  Accurate diagnosis safeguards the selection of appropriate clinical assessments and the development of applicable treatment plans.

What are the classes of disorders listed within the DSM-5?

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How does diagnosis using the DSM-5 work?

First, the manual defines the major classes of disorders.  Then, each individual disorder is distinguished through specific characteristics or criteria.  The manual goes on to describe diagnostic features; prevalence; development and course; risk and prognostic factors; gender and culture related diagnostic issues; diagnostic markers; differential diagnosis; and comorbidity for each disorder (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2013).

Diagnosis depends on the individual meeting the minimum criteria, or characteristics, specific to each individual disorder.  Diagnoses can be further specified based on the presence and/or the severity of additional symptoms.  Some of these specifications include mild, moderate, or severe; with mixed features; in full remission; and so forth.  “Each disorder is accompanied by an identifying diagnostic and statistical code, which is typically used by institutions and agencies for data collection and billing purposes” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  When an individual meets the majority of the criteria for a diagnosis, but not all of them, “provisional” is added to the end of the diagnostic code.  This diagnosis continues to be provisional until additional information is gathered, more time has passed, or whatever required condition is met in order to confirm the diagnosis.

Let us consider Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD.  The DSM-5 categorizes MDD through five main Criterion, A through E, with Criteria A having nine sub-criteria. In order to diagnose an individual with Major Depressive Disorder, they have to meet five of the nine sub-criteria listed under Criteria A in addition to meeting the characteristics described in Criterion B through E.  MDD can be further specified as mild, moderate, or severe.

What classifies something as a mental disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association classifies mental disorders as “a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress or disability in social, occupational, or other important activities” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2013).

What is mental wellness?

The World Health Organization defines mental heath as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (Mental Health, 2014).  Notice that this definition allows wellness to be based upon an individual and not a collective group.  Wellness is a fluid personal venture.

What should I expect from this blog series?

• How the class of disorders is defined

• Names of the disorders within the class

• Descriptions of the disorders within the class

• Criteria for Diagnosis

• Differential Diagnosis

What is a Differential Diagnosis?

Differential diagnosis is the process of distinguishing one disease or disorder from other diseases or disorders that have similar characteristics.  This process is important for accurate diagnosis, which is paramount for developing suitable treatment plans and selecting the most fitting clinical assessments.

Why blog about mental disorders?

Significant stigma surrounds mental health including, but not limited to, mental health diagnoses, psychopharmaceuticals, and attending counseling sessions. Collaborative Means wants to share information on diagnoses, mental illness, and mental wellness in hopes that the information shared will inspire others to also share information and eventually stop the stigma.

There is more than one type of helping professional?

Click HERE to read our post, which describes four types of helping professionals:  counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.


This blog series is intended to give clear information on the mental disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5.  This information is not intended to be a substitute for counseling, nor medical advice, nor professional opinions.  This article does not create a counselor-client relationship.  Information in this blog should not be used to diagnosis yourself or others.  If you think you may exhibit characteristics of any mental disorder, you should seek the aid of a helping professional.

Up Next!

Our first Mental Health Diagnosis article will cover Neurodevelopmental Disorders!


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Web. [access date: 31 December 2017].

Mental health: a state of well-being. (2014, August). Retrieved December 29, 2017, from

14 thoughts on “Mental Health Diagnoses?

  1. We are all subject to some type of mental infraction during this journey through life. If we will get the professional help needed, then perhaps we can help others to do the same.


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