It’s a Mad, Mad World – 15 New Mental Illnesses

If the latest manual in psychiatry is anything to shout about, ladies and gentlemen, we have quite a number of new mental illnesses to worry about. And maybe throw out a couple of outdated ones out of the window..

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short, lists these changes. The American Psychiatric Association released its revised fifth edition of the manual recently, which serves as the official authority on mental health diagnoses (and related insurance claims).

Among the new entries are:

Compulsive Hoarding- a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home. Read more here.

Compulsive hoarding – a form of obsessive-compulsive behaviour?


Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder- Under the group of obsessive-compulsive disorders, this condition is characterized by chronic picking and scratching of the skin that can cause wounds and scabs. The condition can be associated with other disorders involving compulsive eating, buying and stealing. The problem is often treated with antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or other medications.

Skin-picking disorder – a manifestation of anxiety and depression, say the psychiatrists.

Caffeine Withdrawal- People who are grumpy before they’ve had their morning coffee may welcome caffeine withdrawal to the manual as a legitimate mental affliction. A controversial addition, the new diagnosis directly reflects our increasing dependence on caffeine, from the proliferation of Starbucks outlets to the growing array of non-coffee energy drinks and caffeine-injected alcoholic beverages.

FourLoko – The drink packs the same punch as two cups of coffee and a six pack of beer.

social disorder

Communication disorders start in childhood and may persist to adult life.

Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder- With this addition to the manual, psychiatrists can now more precisely diagnose speech and written language problems that are unrelated to autism.  Indeed, while symptoms of this disorder, which must date back to childhood, include “inappropriate responses in conversation” and difficulty communicating, the diagnosis can only be made after autism spectrum disorders have been ruled out. These problems often hamper people’s social lives, academic careers and job performance.

A few entries in previous editions have been taken out. “Sexual aversion disorder,” for example, has been retracted from legitimate diagnoses because of “rare use and lack of supporting research,” according to the APA. By the way, as an illustration of changing times and how time changes society’s values,  until the 1970s, the manual listed homosexuality as a disorder.

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