DSM-5: Changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

In the December 4, 2012 edition of the Psychiatric Times blog, psychiatrist Allen Frances, M.D., reports that the American Psychiatric Association has given its final approval to the new DSM-5.  Dr. Frances argues that, as it currently exists, the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual -- the book psychiatrists and psychologists use to pinpoint specific diagnoses -- is deeply flawed and scientificully unsound in some of its new descriptive symptoms.

Controversy most often exists for new diagnostic categories and in areas lacking definitive research.  Social anxiety disorder fits neither of these categories.  Research on the subject has been abundant and clear.  

How is this relevant to social anxiety disorder?

We have always felt that the current DSM-IV-TR definition of social anxiety disorder is the best description to appear in the official diagnostic book.  However, that does not mean we feel everything is worded precisely, or that a better definition cannot be written.

We want the DSM-5 to give an accurate portrayal, clearly definable symptoms, and a way for general practitioners to see the clear-cut differences between the existing anxiety disorders.  For example, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder are many times confused.  These two anxiety disorders are very different from each other, and there is a clear-cut distinction that should be observable not only to professionals, but to the general public as well.  This specific distinction (between panic and social anxiety) is covered in an article on the Social Anxiety Institute site.  

The diagnostic definition should not be too broad, either.  Just because a person is shy or quiet does not mean that they have a diagnosable case of social anxiety disorder.  A large body of empirical evidence attests to the underreporting of social anxiety disorder.  It is very important that the diagnostic description of this disorder is accurate.

Millions of people suffer with social anxiety disorder that have never been diagnosed, and they need immediate help.

In his article, Dr. Frances points out several other pitfalls of poor diagnoses.  One of these is the overmedication of prescription drugs.  

We have pointed out that the DSM-IV-TR definition of social anxiety disorder needs to be changed -- in future editions -- in some very specific ways.  That article is the next one on this website.  You can go directly to this page here.

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The Social Anxiety Association

The Social Anxiety Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to meet the growing needs of people with social anxiety.  The SAA became inactive for several years due to lack of resources.  We are in the process of re-doing our website, listing all active, structured CBT groups for social anxiety, and renewing all our licenses.  Major changes will be happening by the end of 2013.  We publish new web content -- concerning social anxiety -- almost daily on the site now.

The Social Anxiety Institute is the largest website on the internet about social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Therapy programs have run at the Institute full-time since 1994.  Major new help for overcoming social anxiety is under development and will be introduced in 2013. 

For treatment: Overcoming social anxiety: Step by Step   A structured guide to overcoming social anxiety (a "How to" guide to get over social anxiety).

The Anxiety Network explains and describes five major anxiety disorders.

Guidelines for listing social anxiety groups on this site.  We cannot officially endorse groups, so check them out thoroughly.  We ask that they be groups that are operating, have a definite leader, and are thoroughly structured.  Social anxiety therapy groups are very different than the groups that operate for other mental health conditions.