Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Psychological Disorders.

Description: When clinical psychologists and psychiatrists diagnose depression they do so with reference to a list of diagnostic criteria (essentially a list of symptoms) contained within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition. This article describes a research study that examined the pattern of symptoms presented by nearly 3500 depressed patients to see if in fact it makes sense to treat all depressive symptoms more or less equally. Based on what you know about depression what do you think they concluded?

Source: Depression too often reduced to a checklist of symptoms, Ku Leuven News.

Date: October 23, 2015

Depression Symptoms

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Links: Article Link —

This article discusses a research paper in which the authors raise the question of whether or not the DSM-V list of symptoms of depression typically consulted by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists when diagnosing depression can or should be treated in a checklist fashion. This approach would involve perhaps suggesting that if a certain minimum number of symptoms are present regardless of which symptoms comprise that list then a diagnosis of depression is made. The authors of this research paper take issue with such a checklist approach and argue instead that all symptoms of depression are not equal. They point out for example that insomnia, a very common symptom of depression, may lead to fatigue which over time may also lead to problems with concentration and general cognitive functioning. In such a case insomnia is the primary symptom of the others are consequences of that symptom. They conclude that while the use of a checklist of some sort is helpful in diagnosis it may be time to come up with the more comprehensive list, that more accurately reflects the diversity of symptom patterns presented by individuals struggling with depression.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have a look at the link below to the list of depression symptoms currently contained within the DSM – V. How would you suggest clinicians ought to use that list in considering a diagnosis of depression?
  2. Why might it be important to consider the interaction amongst specific symptoms on a patient by patient basis when diagnosing depression?
  3. What are some of the risks of providing a specific list of symptoms for depression or for any mental disorder?

References (Read Further):

Fried, E. I., Epskamp, S., Nesse, R. M., Tuerlinckx, F., & Borsboom, D. (2015). What are’good’depression symptoms? Comparing the centrality of DSM and non-DSM symptoms of depression in a network analysis. Journal of affective disorders.

DSM-V Depression – Diagnostic Criteria