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Psychiatry's main method to prevent mistaken diagnoses of depression doesn't work: NYU study
Date:2/24/2010

A study in the March edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry senior-authored by Jerome C. Wakefield, a professor at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University with Mark Schmitz of Temple University and Judith Baer of Rutgers University, empirically challenges the effectiveness of psychiatrists' official diagnostic manual in preventing mistaken, false-positive diagnoses of depression.

The findings concerning the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM) criteria for diagnosing depression rebuts recent criticism of earlier research by Wakefield. That earlier research suggested that misdiagnoses of depression are widespread, and touched off considerable controversy.

According to the DSM, the diagnosis of major depression requires the presence for two weeks of at least five possible symptoms out of a list of nine, which include, for example, sadness, loss of interest in usual activities, lowered appetite, fatigue, and insomnia. However, these symptoms can also occur in normal responses to loss and stress. False positive diagnoses occur when someone reacting with intense normal sadness to life's stresses is misdiagnosed as having major depressive disorder. Recent studies suggest that a very large percentage of people have such symptoms for two weeks or longer at some point in their lives; therefore, how many of these individuals really are afflicted by a mental disorder or are responding within normal limits to loss or stress has been a matter of debate.

The journal article, entitled "Does the DSM-IV Clinical Significance Criterion for Major Depression Reduce False Positives? Evidence From the National Comorbidity Survey Replication," examines the primary method by which the official diagnostic criteria for depression the Clinical Significance Criterion (CSC) are supposed to distinguish normal from disordered cases and thereby prevent false positive diagnoses. The
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Contact: robert polner
robert.polner@nyu.edu
212-998-2337
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

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