Are Psychiatric Disorders Related to Each Other?

The current, criteria-based approach towards diagnosing psychiatric disorders evolved from research in the 1960s and early 1970s by faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. Those investigators analyzed data from clinical observations, longitudinal follow-up of patients, and family history information to define diagnostic criteria for a group of psychiatric illnesses that they believed were well validated based on several defined metrics.

Although this approach was not based on disease mechanisms, it did allow for reliable categorization of disorders—reliable meaning that different clinicians would likely agree on the same diagnosis for a given patient. Some of the illnesses included in the original 1972 publication from the Washington University group were schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressionobsessive compulsive disorder, certain anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa, and alcohol and drug dependence.

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