The Range of Mental Disorders

Mental Illness Defined:

ADA and DSM-5

the SSA

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) advises employers to review the new diagnostic categories within DSM-5 in order to determine which employees qualify as “disabled,” and as such, are entitled to reasonable accommodations according to the EEOC’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Unlike the government’s Social Security Administration’s (SSA) list, which presents only nine categories of impairment in its evaluation of mental disorders (with regard to disability claims); the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), developed by the American Psychiatric Association, is much more comprehensive. The SSA’s list is intended to guide the evaluation of the severity of an individual’s symptoms; whereas DSM-5 “labels” are used by physicians and service providers as guides in the evaluation and treatment of individuals…many of whom may struggle with overlapping disorders.  Employees with “diagnosed” disabilities are entitled to request accommodations, and are protected by law, as outlined by the ADA; regardless or whether or not they disclose a “specific” diagnosis.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 – released May 2013) represents the latest scientific thinking in both the criteria content, and the organizational structure, of mental disorders.  The diagnostic criteria for many individual disorders have been refined based on scientific advances, so the manual itself has been  reorganized to reflect the updates. The chapters in DSM-5 are positioned by broad categories that (in some cases) indicate the common features within larger disorder groups. While the actual number of disorders remains approximately the same as previous editions, three additional chapters were added.  Click through to access the complete DSM-5 Table of Contents or review the 20 broad chapter headings below.

DSM – Chapter “Labels” 

Neurodevelopmental DisordersOverlap well boxes
Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
Bipolar and Related Disorders
Depressive Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders
Dissociative Disorders
Somatic Symptom Disorders
Feeding and Eating Disorders
Elimination Disorders
Sleep-Wake Disorders
Sexual Dysfunctions
Gender Dysphoria
Disruptive, Impulse Control and Conduct Disorders
Substance Use and Addictive Disorders
Neurocognitive Disorders
Personality Disorders
Paraphilic Disorders
Other Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.  It is intended to be applicable in a wide array of contexts, and used by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations (e.g., biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, family/systems). The DSM has been designed for use across clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care) with community populations. It can be used by psychiatrists and other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and counselors.  It is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics. The DSM consists of three major components: the diagnostic classification, the diagnostic criteria sets, and the descriptive text.

In comparison, the SSA

uses the following categories to evaluate the severity of disabling symptoms.

Social Security Categories

Organic Mental Disorders
Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
Affective disorders
Intellectual disability
Anxiety-related disorders
Somatoform disorders
Personality disorders
Substance addiction disorders
Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders

The list you choose to refer to will depend on the intention of your research, and the context within which the information will be used.

Be Counted!  Illuminate Mental Diversity at Work.
There is safety (AND strength) in numbers. “All for one, and one for all.”

Suggestions, feedback, comments, and questions welcomed at

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© October 2015


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