An international outcry has been sparked by proposals to categorize any condition a normal person is facing as a 'disorder.' Psychiatrists fear that such a move may mislabel millions of healthy people as mentally ill and lead to increased stigma and medication.
The repercussions may include categorizing what was once considered an unruly child's temper tantrum as 'disruptive mood dysregulation disorder'.
If a widow's grief lasts longer than a fortnight then she might be diagnosed with 'major depressive disorder'. When the mother in a bitter custody battle tries to turn a child against the father, it might create 'parental alienation disorder', the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
These are some of the new conditions proposed for the fifth edition of the psychiatrist's bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is due to be finalised next year.
Reacting to the proposal, The Association for Psychological Science, the American Counselling Association, the British Psychological Society and leading psychiatrists are calling for the draft of the new edition to be subject to independent scientific review.
They apprehend it is so inclusive it risks mislabelling millions of healthy people as mentally ill, potentially leading to increased stigma and medication.
"It's such a narrow and limited view of human experience to want to reduce every bit of suffering to medical diagnosis," said University of Adelaide psychiatry professor Jon Jureidini.
"Whenever you promote a new mental illness or a new medical way of understanding people's suffering, the impact of that is almost always going to be increased prescribing."
The controversy over the new manual reflects division within the mental health community over a global rise in the use of drugs such as antidepressants, stimulants and antipsychotics.
The changes in the new manual would indicate children only have to display six of 13 possible symptoms for a diagnosis of ADHD, compared with six out of nine in the previous manual.
New ADHD symptoms that have been added to the manual include acting without thinking, being often impatient, being uncomfortable doing things slowly and systematically, and finding it difficult to resist temptation.
However, the authors have defended the move, claiming the previous criteria potentially thwart people who need treatment from receiving help.
"A broad range of evidence ... shows that there are little to no systematic differences between individuals who develop a major depression in response to bereavement and in response to other severe stressors, such as being physically assaulted and raped," Kenneth Kendler, a member of the DSM-5 mood disorders group, said.