Proposed Changes to DSM-V & Miscarriage

Proposed Changes to DSM-V & Miscarriage
The DSM -V is due for publication in May of 2013. DSM stands for diagnostic and statistical manual . The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual is currently in its fifth revision (thus the V). The DSM-V will replace the fourth edition which was revised in 2000. The DSM is one of the primary sources which psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness.

One of the changes being considered for the new manual is the inclusion of something called complicated grief disorder which could have ramifications for women who've experienced pregnancy or infant loss.

According to Wikipedia, complicated grief disorder is “a proposed disorder for those who are significantly and functionally impaired for at least one month after six months of bereavement.” Complicated grief disorder is also known as prolonged grief disorder. It would be classified as something different from both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Both of the latter have been experienced by some women after pregnancy and infant loss including miscarriage.

Supporters of including complicated grief disorder in the DSM-V argue that it will help people get help faster when they are not recovering emotionally after a bereavement. Miscarriage, other forms or pregnancy and infant loss are often shrugged off by medical professionals and society in general. Having grief tied to a specific disorder may increase awareness and get people help sooner

However, critics take issue with applying a hard and fast time line to grief. Everyone does grieve in their own way and in their own time. Traditionally, there has been a wide range of what is considered “normal”. Additionally, critics feel there may by ethical considerations in labeling grief as a mental illness. Because everyone does experience grief differently, bereavement may now carry a stigma if it is associated with a clinical disorder.

Complicated grief disorder applies to any bereavement, not just pregnancy and infant loss. However, psychiatrists believe women are more likely to develop it than men. Proposed revisions to the DSM are currently available online and the APA is accepting final public comment on the proposed revisions through June 15, 2012. Their website is

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