Landmark Changes to U.S. Psychiatry 'Bible'

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Asperger's syndrome is set to join other disorders with the label "autism spectrum disorder" under revisions to the American Psychiatric Association psychiatrists' diagnostic guide. The changes are to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—considered the "bible" of psychiatry, because it contains the criteria mental health professionals use to diagnose their patients.

Under the changes, the term "Asperger's"—used to define certain disorders in children—will fall under the autism spectrum.

The term "gender identity disorder," meantime, is to be eliminated under the changes, replaced with "gender dysphoria," which means emotional distress over one's gender. Activists believe the condition isn't a disorder and say calling it one is stigmatizing, equating the change with the removal decades ago of homosexuality as a mental illness.

The approval of the changes came during a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees in Arlington, Va. The revisions have been a long time coming, according to Health.com, including input from more than 1,500 medical experts in 39 countries gathered over a decade. While the fourth edition of the manual—or DSM-4—has been in use since 1994, the new DSM-5 will be available in 2013, according to the publisher, American Psychiatric Association.

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