Axis I Disorders & Diagnosis

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  • 0:00 The Five Axis System
  • 1:05 Clinical Disorders
  • 6:30 Diagnosis Axis I
  • 7:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alyssa Gilston
Every mental illness is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and coded within a five-Axis system. Axis I disorders consist of all clinical disorders and mental illnesses with the exception of mental retardation and personality disorders.

The Five-Axis System

The book that clinicians use to diagnose patients is called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the DSM. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and has been revised numerous times. As of Spring 2013, the DSM-V is the most current edition.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Axis I is a component of the DSM's five-part axial system, which encompasses all of the dimensions that need to be considered when diagnosing someone with a mental illness. It applies a biopsychosocial approach, in which 'bio' refers to the biological factors, 'psycho' refers to the psychological aspects and 'social' refers to the social features involved. For example, a person with an Axis I diagnosis of major depressive disorder will likely have issues apparent in his or her work, as well as physical problems like headaches or high blood pressure, in conjunction with the symptoms of depression, like sadness and despair.

Clinical Disorders

All clinical disorders are coded on Axis I. They include an enormous variety of disorders, including the following categories:

  • Disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood or adolescence. This can include learning disorders (like reading or mathematics disorder), conduct disorder, separation anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although most of these disorders are diagnosed during childhood or adolescence, sometimes they are not diagnosed until adulthood.
  • Delirium, dementia, amnestic and other cognitive disorders, including dementia of the Alzheimer's type and vascular dementia. The primary feature of these disorders includes significant disturbances in cognition that result in severe changes in functioning.
  • Mental disorders due to a general medical condition, which are characterized by the presence of mental symptoms that are directly linked to the physiological consequences of a medical condition. The symptoms cannot be better accounted for by another mental illness. The symptoms also cannot occur exclusively during the course of a delirium.
  • Substance-related disorders include the taking of a drug or substance as well as the side effects that may occur as a result of substance consumption. There are a variety of substance-related disorders categorized by the type of drug, including caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, opioids and inhalants.
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders include psychotic symptoms as the leading symptom. Psychotic disorders are mental illnesses that include the presence of delusions or hallucinations. Delusions are beliefs that are false but that the person holds to be true. They tend to be irrational and unsupported. For example, many schizophrenic people have delusions that the government is spying on them, so they display paranoid behaviors. Hallucinations can be auditory or visual experiences that the person encounters despite no presence of an actual stimulus. It is very common for schizophrenic people to hear voices and/or see things that are not really there.

Hallucinations can be visual experiences that a person sees, even if there is no visual stimulus
Schizophrenic Person Hallucinating

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