DSM practiceHere's a section of the DSM that shows up in social work settings all the time and is just as likely to show up in diagnostic questions on the social work licensing exam: depressive disorders. Here's the complete list from DSM-5:

  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder
  • Depressive Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
  • Other Specified Depressive Disorder
  • Unspecified Depressive Disorder

Do you have a general sense of what each of these involves? A quick browse through your DSM can get you up to speed. Better still, try out a practice question:

A social worker sees a 37-year-old client who reports several depressive symptoms: lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, low energy, low self-esteem. The client says he's had the symptoms pretty much all the time since his marriage broke up, almost three years ago. Dating and work have both been negatively impacted. What is the MOST likely diagnosis for this client?

A) Major Depressive Disorder

B) Persistent Depressive Disorder

C) Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

D) Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Got the answer?

Here's how to narrow it down: disruptive mood dysregulation disorder involves outbursts of temper. Not what's described here. MDD is diagnosed for an episode of depression lasting at least two weeks. The client's symptoms have been continuing for almost three years. Adjustment disorder fits when symptoms arise within three months of the onset of a stressor (e.g., a divorce). So this timeline doesn't fit. That leaves B) Persistent depressive disorder (aka dysthymia). Persistent depressive disorder requires symptoms lasting at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents. Symptoms cause clinically significant distress and are present "most of the day, for more days than not." Check, check, and check. You have your answer!

For more about depressive disorders, try:

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March 4, 2016
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