Janet Greider

Technology in the DSM-5
Since the DSM-IV-TR was published in 1994, the medical world has seen the introduction of many new scientific technologies, varying from new methods for mathematically analyzing research (such as SPSS) to improved MRIs which enable mental health providers identify physiological differences related to specific illnesses (APA, 2011). Now, if a practitioner expectation that the symptoms a patient is exhibiting stem from schizophrenia, they can request an MRI to assess the validity of this assumption, which in turn influences the recommended medications and assistance the patient receives.  Improved and accessible technology has allowed a return to the physiological assessment of psychological symptoms.

MRI image of normal brain (left) and schizophrenic brain (right). Schizophrenia is characterized by larger ventricles

Return to physiology, onward to gene therapy
Due to the advances of technology and the discovered made with technology, there is an increased importance placed on the physiology of the brain and its functions in diagnosing mental illnesses (Kupfer and Regier, 2010). There is also a heightened interest in the influence of genes and environment on the symptoms of a mental disorder (Kupfer and Regier, 2010). In many cases, the DSM-IV is inadequately equipped to address the influence of these factors, or how new discoveries will affect the diagnostic criteria. The 2013 publication of the DSM-5 will integrate the use of these new tools into the diagnostic criteria, which will increase the clinical utility of the DSM-5 (Kupfer and Regier, 2010).

Beyond mental health professionals
In addition to updating the utility of the DSM-5 for mental health professionals, the alterations will make it more accessible to fields of medical practice beyond psychiatry. While the updated DSM-5 will literally re-define the work of psychiatrists and mental health care professionals, the newer and altered diagnostic criteria are also expected to influence primary care physicians and surgical specialists. Primary Care Physicians see between 30-50% of patients with identifiable mental disorders, and surgical specialists see a significant quantity of mental health issues that develop during pre-and post surgery (Kupfer and Regier, 2010). The more accessible and physiologically applicable DSM-5 will enable other medical health providers to identify, provide or refer treatment for clients who might otherwise go untreated.

Kupfer, D.J., Regier, D.A. (2010). Why All of Medicine Should Care About DSM-5Journal of the American Medical Associatio, 303(19), 1974-1975

American Psychiatric Association. (2010). DSM-5 development. Retrieved fromwww.dsm5.org


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