Bereavement and depression: Possible changes to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: A report from the scientific advisory committee of the association for death education and counseling

David E. Balk, Illee Noppe, Irwin Sandler, James Werth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) is being revised. A proposed revision hotly debated is to remove what is known as the exclusionary criterion and allow clinicians to diagnose a person with a major depressive episode within the early days and weeks following a death. The Executive Committee of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) commissioned its Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) to examine the debate over removing the exclusionary criterion and provide a written report. The DSM-IV-TR classifies bereavement as a clinical condition that is not a mental disorder. The exclusionary criterion states that within the first 2 months of the onset of bereavement a person should not be diagnosed as having major depression unless certain symptoms not characteristic of a normal grief reaction are present. We note these symptoms when discussing the exclusionary criterion. In the report we identify the features that comprise the exclusionary criterion, examine reasons (including research conclusions and clinical concerns) given for retaining and for eliminating the exclusionary criterion, offer extensive comments from experienced licensed clinicians about the issues involved, discuss diagnostic and treatment implications, and offer specific recommendations for ADEC to implement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-220
Number of pages22
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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