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Medicine

NIMH Distances Itself From DSM Categories, Shifts Funding To New Approaches 185

New submitter Big Nemo '60 writes with news that the National Institute of Mental Health is seeking to modernize the diagnosis of mental illness through the use of neuroscience, genetics, etc. From the article: "The world's biggest mental health research institute is abandoning the new version of psychiatry's 'bible' — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — questioning its validity and stating that 'patients with mental disorders deserve better.' This bombshell comes just weeks before the publication of the fifth revision of the manual, called DSM-5." More importantly, they are going to be shifting funding to research projects that seek to define new categories of mental illness using modern medical science, ignoring the current DSM categorizations: "The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been 'reliability' .. The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. ... NIMH has launched the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project to transform diagnosis by incorporating genetics, imaging, cognitive science, and other levels of information to lay the foundation for a new classification system. ... It became immediately clear that we cannot design a system based on biomarkers or cognitive performance because we lack the data. In this sense, RDoC is a framework for collecting the data needed for a new nosology. But it is critical to realize that we cannot succeed if we use DSM categories as the 'gold standard.' ... Imagine deciding that EKGs were not useful because many patients with chest pain did not have EKG changes. That is what we have been doing for decades when we reject a biomarker because it does not detect a DSM category. We need to begin collecting the genetic, imaging, physiologic, and cognitive data to see how all the data — not just the symptoms — cluster and how these clusters relate to treatment response."

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