With DSM-5 on the Way, Is It Time to Update Definition of "Mental Disability"?


What is the DSM-5 all about? DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. These criteria for diagnosis provide a common language among clinicians – professionals who treat patients with mental disorders.

And if Connecticut isn’t careful, its publication could mean that proposed mental disorders under the DSM-5, such as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, could become protected.

How can that be? Well, Connecticut — unlike the federal ADA which lumps mental and physical disabilities together — specifically protects employees with a “mental disability”.   How is a “mental disability” defined?  It “refers to an individual who has a record of, or is regarded as having one or more mental disorders, as defined in the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”

And that’s the issue. The DSM-5 (and its current version of DSM-IV) will be very broad.  (It will also be dropping the Roman Numerals, but that’s a post for another day.)

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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