Stef (firecat) wrote,

Turning physical illness into mental illness

The DSM-IV had several different diagnoses for people who were distressed about their health (somatoform disorders). The DSM-V will have one. That seems like it might be good, but the criteria for diagnosing people with this condition might have been broadened to the point where the diagnosis might be misapplied.
"People can be diagnosed with Somatic Symptom Disorder if, for at least six months, they’ve had one or more symptoms that are distressing and/or disruptive to their daily life, and if they have one...of the following three reactions:

Criteria #1: disproportionate thoughts about the seriousness of their symptom(s);

Criteria #2: a high level of anxiety about their symptoms or health; or

Criteria #3: devoting excessive time and energy to their symptoms or health concerns.

Can you see how this diagnosis potentially includes everything from a stomach ache to cancer?
I'm of several minds about this.

Mind 1: I have chronic physical health issues and chronic mental health issues. When my mood disorder isn't well controlled, I absolutely fret about my health a lot more. So I think the state of mind they are describing is something real for some people.

Mind 2: But does the state of mind really need its own name and diagnosis? Can't they just include this as an aspect of mood disorders or obsessive disorders in general? Do anxiety or obsessive thoughts about your health require special treatments that are different from other anxiety and obsession treatments?

Mind 3: I'm concerned that this diagnosis will be used to deny people tests that could determine why they are having symptoms, or deny them treatments that would help them manage the symptoms of their chronic conditions. I'm concerned that it will be disproportionately applied to women and people of color.

To meet requirements for Somatization Disorder (300.81) in DSM-IV, a considerably more rigorous criteria set needed to be fulfilled: a history of many medically unexplained symptoms before the age of thirty, resulting in treatment sought or psychosocial impairment. The diagnostic threshold was set high – a total of eight or more medically unexplained symptoms from four, specified symptom groups, with at least four pain and two gastrointestinal symptoms.

In DSM-5, the requirement for eight symptoms is dropped to just one.

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Tags: health, healthism, linkage, neuro(a)typical
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