Sunday, March 28, 2010

PTSD and DSM: Science and Politics -- Again

With the ongoing war in Iraq, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder -- PTSD is much in the news nowadays.  We can expect that to continue.

Nancy Andreasen, author of The Broken Brain, traces the social history of this mental illness in a 2004 American Journal of Psychiatry article.  The features of what we call PTSD have long been noted in the annuls of warfare.  More recently, in World War I it was called shell shock, and those who had it were shot for cowardice in the face of the enemy.  In World War II it was recognized as a mental illness and called battle fatigue.  Afflicted soldiers were removed from the front and given counseling designed to return them to battle within the week -- though there is one infamous story about General Troglodyte Patton who, while touring a hospital, cursed and slapped one such soldier for his "cowardice."

The DSM I, from the post-WWII era, recognized battle fatigue as Gross Stress Disorder.  It was removed from the DSM II in the early 1960s , when U.S. society was not regularly confronted with this cost of war.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Agoraphobia Day

It's taking a while to get the next post written -- PTSD and DSM: Science and Politics -- Again.  It has turned into a two-parter, i.e., I got long-winded.  Meanwhile, as long as we're on the topic of anxiety disorcers...  This one comes from one of the blogs I like -- a link is on the sidebar and also in the credit.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

OMGThat'sWhatTheySaid! -- They


"We are more alike than we are different."  That was the first thing they wrote on the whiteboard at my Peer to Peer class.  And that was the first thing I wrote in my new notebook.  I had a sense that a revolution was coming.  But I didn't know yet what it was.

The next week we introduced ourselves by how we are different, our differential diagnoses.  We were Mary Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Frank Bipolar, Sarah Borderline Personality Disorder, Peter Bipolar Antisocial Schizoaffective Disorder ("But I'm not so sure the schizoaffective part is right"), James Schizophrenia, Anna Major Depressive Disorder, Henry Bipolar Alcoholic, Willa Major Depressive Disorder ("But I wonder about Bipolar II").  Of course, I have changed the names.

The power of naming -- the third week we sorted out our seating arrangements.  That wasn't part of the class.  It just happened, when we entered the room and chose our seats.  The OCDs sat with the OCDs.  The Mood Disorders sat with the Mood Disorders. Interestingly enough, those with Schizophrenia did not sit together.  They dispersed themselves among us Mood Disorders.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

DSM V and Mood Disorders, Part III -- The Way Forward

 
Lost Creek Wilderness 

I have been writing about the newly released draft of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual -- DSM V for the last few weeks.  Let's recap:

The DSM V -- What's at Stake: The pharmaceutical and health insurance industries have a huge financial stake in who gets diagnosed with what in the mood disorder section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.  This stake has skewed the new draft version of the DSM to support the status quo/current market conditions.

The DSM V made almost no changes in the Mood Disorders section.  (Well, a few, not so minor for children and the bereaved.)  This despite the evidence that the current criteria for bipolar II exclude people who are instead diagnosed with recurrent unipolar depression, but who get much worse when treated as though they had recurrent unipolar depression, and who eventually are diagnosed with bipolar II anyway, if they are still alive.  Women spend eleven years on average before being diagnosed correctly.  That's eleven years of a lot of suffering on a lot of antidepressants.  One helpful modification in the bipolar II area will become important below.