ORCID

Abstract

This article argues that, rather than aiming for a psychiatric diagnosis, generalist professionals such as those working in primary care, as well as in other hospital and community settings, should use a non-diagnostic framework when encountering distress. The conceptual and empirical limitations of the psychiatric diagnostic system and evidence that psychological phenomena are dimensional suggest the need for an alternative approach; one that might also address problems of overdiagnosis and overmedication.1 There are three key problems with the current Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) systems of psychiatric classification. The process can be stigmatising; diagnoses are not adequate representations of reality; and they are inadequate for informing an individualised management plan. The current categorical diagnostic system encourages the patient to understand their distress as a disease, rather than as an understandable response to current problems, genetic inheritance, and past experience of trauma, loss, and problematic attachments. Although some patients are comforted by labels, we propose that a more scientifically valid and individualised assessment can provide a deeper understanding, a sense of being understood, and access to specialised services and benefits if required.

DOI

10.3399/bjgp19x701777

Publication Date

2019-01-01

Publication Title

British Journal of General Practice

Volume

69

Issue

680

First Page

110

Last Page

111

ISSN

0960-1643

Embargo Period

2023-10-06

Organisational Unit

Peninsula Medical School

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