Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5) is a comprehensive psychiatric reference work developed by the American Psychiatric Association and designed to provide clear and detailed guidelines for the diagnosis and classification of mental disorders.

Each new edition of DSM which was first published in 1917, has new categories. With the third edition, published in 1980, the DSM began recommending assessment of mental disorders according to five axes, or dimensions. Considered together, they were initially believed to establish an overall picture of mental, emotional, and physical health, providing as complete a context as possible in which to make a proper diagnosis. The DSM-5 eliminates the multi-axial classification, asserting that it “removes the artificial distinctions” between mental and medical/physical disorders.

The DSM-5 contains just three major sections: (1) Introduction and succinct instructions and guidance on how to best use the DSM-5; (2) Information and diagnostic categories; and (3) Self-assessment tools and descriptions of areas needing further research for the future.

Emphasis was placed on the lifespan, describing the various diagnoses according to age, gender, and developmental aspects. Disorders were grouped to demonstrate their interrelationship. There are significant changes in the presentation of several disorders, most notably autism, now autism spectrum disorder; childhood bipolar disorder is now called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder; the bereavement exclusion has been eliminated; PTSD is now looked at more in terms of the behavioral symptoms that accompany it; major and mild neurocognitive disorder encompass the dementias and amnestic disorders; and a number of new disorders have been incorporated, including binge eating disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder; and hoarding disorder.

See also American Psychiatric Association ; Psychiatry/psychiatrist; Psychological disorder ; Psychology/psychologist.



American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5, 5th ed. Washington, DC: Author, 2013.

Regier, Darrel A. The Conceptual Evolution of DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric, 2011.


Pickersgill, Martyn D. “Debating DSM-5: Diagnosis And The Sociology of Critique.” Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (2014): 521–25.


American Psychiatric Association. “DSM-5 Development.” (accessed September 17, 2015).

American Psychiatric Association. “Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5.” http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/changes%20from%20dsm-ivtr%20to%20dsm-5.pdf (accessed September 17, 2015).

BMC Medicine. “DSM-5: a Collection of Psychiatrist Views on the Changes, Controversies, and Future Directions.” http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/202 (accessed September 17, 2015).

Seattle Children's. “Overview of DSM-5 Changes.” http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/resources/providers/dsm5-overview.pdf (accessed September 17, 2015).