As therapists, we’re well aware that our clients in psychological distress rarely—if ever—fit neatly into the strict confines of DSM disorders. Even Darrel Regier, vice chair of the DSM-5 Task Force and director of the APA’s research division, knows perfectly well that psychiatric diagnosis is often inherently ambiguous and that the science behind the classification system isn’t all it might be. Still, he argues that the DSM-5 is actually more equipped than previous versions to reflect the many dimensions of clients’ presenting problems. After all, its new severity scales make intuitive sense: most mental states, ordered or disordered, exist along a continuum and vary according to how long they last, how powerful or debilitating or animating or life-altering they are, and how much they bleed into other such states.
In this video clip, Regier talks about how the new definition of a major depressive disorder in DSM-5 better enables clinicians to diagnose clients who exhibit symptoms for both depression and anxiety.
Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.