Organization And Contents Of The Dsmiv

The DSM-IV details a multiaxial system of diagnosis, meaning that individuals are assessed in multiple areas, or along multiple dimensions or axes. Axis I contains 15 major classes of mental disorders. Axis II contains personality and developmental disorders. Axis III contains medical conditions. Axis IV provides for the notation of psychological, social, and environmental stressors that may affect diagnosis. Axis V provides for a measure of the individual's function in areas such as work, social activities, and self-care. The multiaxial system is designed to encourage a comprehensive evaluation of biological, social, and psychological factors relevant to each person's presenting symptoms. The multiaxial system also provides a means for detailing differences between those with identical diagnoses. With respect to the example provided at the beginning of the chapter—two depressed individuals who developed symptoms after different life events —Axis IV would provide a way of summarizing that one individual developed depression only after a series of troubling setbacks while another developed depression in the absence of such events.

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