How Does Bereavement DSM-5 Affect Me?

Updated December 15, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Life's Obstacles Can Be Difficult To Overcome On Your Own

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the way that different types of psychological and mental disorders are categorized. The DSM-5 is the newest version of the process and helps those in the mental health community to understand how to diagnose and treat different patients, and it's all based on symptoms. Unfortunately, those who are experiencing bereavement DSM-5 can be difficult to work with.

That's because bereavement can cause different symptoms to appear that are similar to those that someone with major depressive disorder would experience. As a result, there have been some changes to the rules.

Understanding Bereavement DSM-5

When you're going through grief and the loss of someone that you care about, it is going to affect you as an individual greatly. It makes you feel many different emotions, some of which may present themselves as depression or something more. An individual may even experience physical symptoms alongside the mental ones.

Grief affects different people in different ways, and that means it's difficult to say what you will be going through when you lose someone that you care about. In mental health, however, the process of diagnosing major depressive disorder used to be tied very closely to a recent death in the family.

The Bereavement Exclusion

Not that long ago, psychologists had something called "the bereavement exclusion" built into the DSM. This exclusion said that someone who exhibited the symptoms of a major depressive disorder but had recently lost a loved one could not be diagnosed with the disorder because of that grief. It said that these individuals were simply grieving. However, psychologists have found that this is not necessarily the case. Someone can be suffering from depression and experiencing a great loss at the same time, which is what psychologists are now recognizing.

Changes In The Latest DSM

With the newest version of the DSM, psychologists have taken away this bereavement exclusion, which means that they have the freedom to start treatment for patients who show the symptoms of major depressive disorder without having to wait for symptoms of bereavement to pass.

There are some different aspects to be considered for diagnosis, including the symptoms themselves, the severity of them, and the duration of them. These are required to form a true diagnosis, and it is now up to the discretion of a psychologist or psychiatrist to determine whether those symptoms form a diagnosis for major depressive disorder or grief.

Diagnosing Major Depressive Disorder

The current timetable for diagnosing depression rather than grief is two weeks; however, this is something that is carefully considered by any professional that you interact with. In general, symptoms of a major depressive disorder that occur with a range of severity and exist for longer than two weeks can lead to a diagnosis, but this is not necessarily definitive.

When grief and bereavement are at play, this is even more important, and a mental health professional will have the final say on how they want to diagnose the patient and whether or not there are different factors to consider.

Once that two-week period has expired and the patient is still experiencing symptoms, it is possible that they will be diagnosed, but it is not a requirement. Keep in mind that there are some many factors involved and a patient may experience grief in different ways than others. What this means is that one patient may be feeling better and starting to experience fewer symptoms within the two weeks following a loss, while another patient may take much longer. That does not necessarily mean that either patient has a major depressive disorder.

What To Do

If you've experienced a loss, you may want to seek out professional help to guide you through it in a more positive way. This does not mean that you have a depression disorder, but it does mean that you may need a little bit of help feeling like yourself again. Keep in mind that experiencing grief and some of the symptoms that go along with that is perfectly normal, and it will take time to work through your loss and get back to your everyday life after you have experienced one.

The important thing is that you should be able to start feeling somewhat better, even if you don't feel fully yourself again. If you don't feel like you're getting better, that's when you may want to seek out additional help to try to work through your problems and find a solution with a professional. Of course, not everyone knows just where they should find that professional to work through their troubles with. So where should you be looking to get a little bit of help?

Life's Obstacles Can Be Difficult To Overcome On Your Own

BetterHelp For Therapy

If you're not sure about going to a professional’s office every week and not sure about how you'll keep regular appointments in one location but like the idea of professional help, there is an option. BetterHelp is a service that allows you to connect with professionals from around the country, but you don't have to worry about where you are or where they are at the time. All you have to do is log on to the service when it's your appointment time, and you'll be able to communicate directly through the internet connection. It's as simple as that.

If you are experiencing bereavement and grief or if you think that you are experiencing major depressive disorder, it's important to seek out help and advice from a trained medical professional. Online therapy has shown to be helpful for dealing with issues such as grief and loss. You want to make sure that you're getting treatment right away so that you can start feeling better as quickly as possible. It's going to be a process, but the sooner you start that process, the better you're going to feel. This is an important aspect of your overall health and wellbeing. With BetterHelp, or even with a traditional psychiatrist, you're going to be off to a great start in no time at all.

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