By Benedict Carey
In a bitter skirmish over the definition of depression, a new report contends that a proposed change to the diagnosis would characterize grieving as a disorder and greatly increase the number of people treated for it.
The criteria for depression are being reviewed by the American Psychiatric Association, which is finishing work on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., the first since 1994. The manual is the standard reference for the field, shaping treatment and insurance decisions, and its revisions will affect the lives of millions of people for years to come.
In coming months, as the manual is finalized, outside experts will intensify scrutiny of its finer points, many of which are deeply contentious in the field. A controversy erupted last week over the proposed tightening of the definition of autism, possibly sharply reducing the number of people who receive the diagnosis. Psychiatrists say current efforts to revise the manual are shaping up as the most contentious ever.