DSM IV is an acronym which stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and it designates the 1994 version of this very useful manual. Prior to 1994, several other manuals of the type were released, but DSM IV is definitely the most comprehensive one, as it lists 297 disorders in its 886 pages. DSM IV was published by the American Psychiatric Association, with the help of numerous advisers and specialists. Currently, DSM IV is used worldwide, by a wide array of people, including students, researchers, clinicians, policy makers, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and psychiatric drug regulation agencies.
DSM IV is characterized by a multi-axial system, each of its five axes or dimensions being linked to different aspects of disorder and disability. The first axis covers clinical disorders, which are the major mental disorders, learning disorders, and Substance Use Disorders, such as depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, autism, bulimia, anorexia, and schizophrenia. The second DSM IV axis refers to personality disorders and intellectual disabilities, including paranoid personality disorder, narcissism, schizoid or schizotypal personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and many others. In the third axis, DSM IV describes acute medical conditions, as well as physical disorders, which can be brain injuries or other disorders that have the power of aggravating other existing diseases. Axis IV of DSM IV covers the psychosocial and environmental factors which contribute to the disorders.
Last, but not least, the fifth DSM IV axis is Global Assessment of Functioning or Children’s Global Assessment Scale for children and adolescents under the age of 18. While there has been some criticism to DSM IV, no one can really deny that it is very helpful. Apart from listing all mental and health disorders for children and adults alike, DSM IV also specifies their causes, statistics, treatment options and prognosis. In 2000, DSM IV TR has been released. This latest version is basically a revision of the previously existing one, DSM IV. No matter what version you wish to purchase, this manual is one of the two main classifying systems of mental disorders, so it is filled with useful, specific and accurate information.