NYC Therapy News: The problem with psychiatric diagnoses

New York Therapy News presents news related to therapy in New York and around the web

The Army said Wednesday that it had ordered a service-wide review of how its doctors diagnose psychiatric disorders, indicating that complaints about unfair diagnoses at a sprawling base in Washington State have been echoed on installations around the country.

The review, announced jointly by the Army secretary, John M. McHugh, and chief of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, will focus on whether consistent and accurate diagnoses are being issued by the disability evaluation system, which determines whether injured soldiers are fit to remain on duty.

Concerns about the system emerged last fall after soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma told Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat of Washington, that their diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder had been changed by doctors at Madigan Army Medical Center to lesser conditions. The soldiers asserted that the changes were done to save the Army money. (Read Article)


NYC Therapist book review photo

NYC Therapist is reading (and will review) the book "Anatomy of an Epidemic" by Robert Whitaker, on "Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, and we can already tell you this story resonates.  What an odd field of "science" that can label someone with the mental illness of post traumatic stress disorder one day, then label the same person with a different diagnosis is the next! An what an odd reality that non-psychiatrist mental health clinicians are urged to use the book of psychiatric diagnoses (the DSM, soon to be in it's 5th form). There is definite need for psychiatric diagnoses as well as properly prescribed medication (by a specialist, not by your regular doctor), but in the rush to find magic bullets, we need to slow down and use some common sense.  All the lithium, ritalin, zyprexa, wellbutrin, klonopin, lamictal, xanax, tegretol (the list goes on and on) in the world is not going to fix your interpersonal relationships.  Talking to a psychiatrist once every three months for 15 minutes to get your meds refilled is not going to help you get a job, fix your marriage, help you grieve the loss of a loved one, etc.  There is room for psychiatry, but therapy has been shown to be as effective as many of these drugs, and with no side effects!

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