July 27, 2010
An updated edition of a mental health bible for doctors could mean that soon no-one will be classed as normal, experts warned today.
Diagnoses for ‘disorders’ could be based on symptoms including toddler tantrums, mild mood swings and binge eating.
Sweeping changes are being made to the U.S Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which influences practitioners around the world.
However, leading British mental health experts have warned the revisions could devalue the seriousness of mental illness and label almost everyone as having some kind of disorder.
One suggestion of the American authors is a new diagnosis of ‘Psychosis Risk Syndrome’ which singles out people thought to be at risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia.
Individuals falling into this category might experience occasional mood changes, feelings of distress, anxiety or paranoia, or fleeting episodes of hearing voices.
In the past they might have been considered difficult or eccentric. Under the new proposals they could receive a diagnosis that affects their future lives and job prospects. Yet they may never develop ‘full blown’ psychosis.
Other diagnoses under consideration include ‘mixed anxiety depression’, ‘binge eating’, and ‘temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria’.
In addition, the bar could be lowered on some common existing disorders, such as depression, so that more people are considered to have symptoms that warrant a diagnosis.
Professor Til Wykes from Kings College London, said: ‘It’s leaking into normality. It is shrinking the pool of what is normal to a puddle.’
Professor Wykes edits the Journal of Mental Health which carries a “health warning” about the proposals in its latest issue.