Change In Treatment Of Grief Sparks Debate

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Experts in the field of mental health are currently at-odds over a recent change that will, at one time or another, affect all of us. With the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, grief can be treated as major depressive disorder only two-weeks after the death of a loved one. That is a change from the DSM-4, which called for a 2-month delay for treatment and earlier editions called for a full year.

This is a vital change for a number or reasons, as reported by Tim Townsend for USA Today. First and foremost, patients with five of the nine symptoms that define depression can begin taking medication for depression and be labeled as “mentally ill” while still in a normal window for grieving. This, in essence, makes grief a mental illness despite it lacking many of the key characteristics of other mental illnesses.

On the other side of the issue are those that believe waiting through a long “bereavement exclusion” could cause those in need to go untreated. They say excluding diagnosis because of grief actually ignores the possibility that grief could cause the onset of depression, which could potentially lead to thoughts of suicide.

 

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