Monday, July 16, 2012


           Good Day Humboldt County!

Are we an over-medicated society? It seems like there’s new disorders being diagnosed every day. Doctors are quick to pass out mood elevators at any sign of anxiety. Now, some experts want the rule book for pychiatrists updated and re-examined.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, is being called into question by some parties. Is it possible that what the manual says is anxiety, is more about enforcing social norms than medicine?

“In 1994, a study asking a random sample of thousands of Americans about their mental health reported that 15 percent had ever suffered from anxiety disorders. A 2009 study of people interviewed about their anxiety repeatedly for years raised that estimate to 49.5 percent - which would be 117 million U.S. adults.

Some psychiatrists say the increase in the prevalence of anxiety from about 4 percent to 50 percent is the result of psychiatrists and others "getting better at diagnosing anxiety," as Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz, a past president of the APA who is in private practice in Washington, D.C., put it. "People who criticize that are showing their bias," she said. "When we get better at diagnosing hypertension, we don't say that's terrible."

Critics, including other leading psychiatrists, disagree. They say the apparent explosion in anxiety shows there is something seriously and dangerously wrong with the DSM. Its next edition, due in May, would lower the threshold for identifying anxiety.

The criticism rests on three arguments. First, the DSM fails to recognize that anxiety is normal and even beneficial in many situations, so it conflates a properly functioning brain system with a pathology. Second, the DSM's description of anxiety is more about enforcing social norms than medicine.

Finally, they say, anxiety is adaptive. Its brain circuitry was honed by evolution for a purpose. Only when that mechanism misfires should a person be diagnosed as mentally ill.” (Source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

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