19 May 2013

New reference manual issued by Psychiatric Assn

12:05 pm on 19 May 2013

Hoarding, gambling and marijuana withdrawal are among newly-expanded disorders contained in the fifth revision of the manual of the American Psychiatric Association.

Other changes include the absorption of Asperger's syndrome into autistic spectrum disorder and a new category for obsessive compulsive disorder.

Asperger's syndrome causes problems with communication and socialisation, but unlike more severe forms of autism, it does not involve intellectual disability.

A prohibition on diagnosing depression straight after bereavement has been lifted in the new manual.

The ABC reports the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is extensively re-worked.

Professor Richard Bryant of the University of New South Wales said the definition has been widened from the traditional focus on fear and anxiety.

Troops from Afghanistan and Iraq are now coming back with a lot of anger, guilt shame and it was felt that this needed to be encompassed, he said.

Former Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, a former Australian of the Year, acknowledged the manual's shortcomings as a reflection on psychiatric science in general.

"There are no definitive tests for mental disorders, psychiatrists still rely on signs and symptoms," he said.

However, he said it is the best manual psychiatrists are likely to have for some time.

The last version of the reference manual was published in 1990. This latest version, the fifth revision, has 947 pages.