Introduction to DSM-5

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This center contains a series of informative articles that discuss the new DSM-5. Because we are committed to providing the most current, contemporary, and relevant educational resources, we have been actively preparing for DSM-5 over the past several years. Our proactive approach enables us to align our library resources with the conceptual framework, language, diagnostic criteria, and organizational structure of the new DSM-5. We started making changes in 2012 based on drafts and will continue to make updates and revisions throughout 2013.

Overview of changes found in DSM-5:


There has been a great deal of mystery, excitement, and uncertainty about much anticipated release of DSM-5. In December 2012, the APA Board of Trustees voted to approve the new DSM-5. The DSM-5 was unveiled at the American Psychiatric Association's National Conference in May 2013. Copies were available to the public shortly afterward.

In an interview with Psychiatric News, the DSM-5 task force chair, David Kupfer, M.D. identified the conceptual framework that guided the development of DSM-5. This framework included 1) a life-span, developmental approach to psychiatric disorders; 2) an attention to the contextual influence of gender and culture with respect to symptom presentation; 3) a movement toward a more dimensional approach to severity; 4) a greater alignment with ICD-11; and, 5) a greater reliance on the genetic and neurobiological research that support a biologic etiology of many psychiatric disorders.

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The new DSM-5 will consist of three sections. Section I provides instructions on how to use the manual. Section II delineates the categorical diagnoses with a new organizational structure that eliminates the multi-axial system and instead follows a life-span, developmental progression and organization. Section III will include conditions suggested for further research, a dimensional alternative for several diagnostic categories, as well as cultural and other contextual information.

The most significant and global changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5 that have particular importance to clinicians are: 1) the life-span, developmental framework; 2) the elimination of the multiaxial system; 3) a new suicide concern scale that can be used with any diagnosis; and, 4) the addition of dimensional measures of severity for several disorders.

In subsequent articles, we will discuss changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5 as they relate to specific categories of DSM-5 disorders and how we are aligning our content to conform to the new manual. We will further discuss the impact of these changes for clinicians, diagnosticians, and mental health service participants.

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