Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis: A Book Review

Today is an exciting day! My friend, Ashley Peterson has just published her second book, Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Understanding the DSM-5.

The DSM-5 is basically the mental health bible. Therapists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and clinicians use the DSM-5 to organize psychiatric symptoms, known as diagnoses.

Ashley’s book can be summarized as, “The DSM-5 for Dummies.” I wish I had this book when I was in graduate school because it would have made understanding mental illness much easier!

“Getting a diagnosis can be a good starting point for learning more about the condition(s) and its symptoms, and it can be a springboard in the journey towards wellness.”

Ashley is a mental health nurse who also lives with Major Depressive Disorder, so her insights are academic and based on personal experience.

Other than being user-friendly, Ashley’s book takes a unique approach to diagnosis by featuring the stories of people living with various mental illnesses. I had the privilege to be a contributing writer to this book and share my story about being diagnosed with Panic Disorder.

“To a casual reader, the DSM may seem kind of like a cookbook- if you have enough symptom ingredients, then you’ve got yourself a diagnosis. However, the DSM was never intended to be used that way.”

“The DSM is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Previous editions have included things that would be viewed as absurd now, such as listing homosexuality as a mental illness.”

I would recommend this book to everyone, as it removes a lot of the mental health jargon and concisely describes various mental illnesses.

As a therapist and mental health advocate, I love the first-person stories like Alice’s story about Tourette’s Disorder, Katie’s story about OCD, Noha’s story about Schizoaffective Disorder, and Meg’s story about Schizophrenia.

I have no doubt that Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis will be beneficial in spreading awareness and eliminating mental health stigma.

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