In lectures and training in mental health I stress how current psychiatric diagnosis is really a short-hand for the presenting signs and symptoms of a patient. Currently, diagnosis clusters reported symptoms into groupings really defined as syndromes. A syndrome is a disorder which is characterized by a set number of symptoms but not all symptoms need to be present. A clinician is assessing the patient to see what category their particular range of symptoms is a best fit for. As such, psychiatric diagnosis does not provide any causal explanations of why the patient is experiencing this. Nor does it separate between completely different disorders that may have similar presenting symptoms. There is no blood test for bipolar or for depression. In fact many of the current diagnosis do not line up well with advances in genetics or neuroscience.
Therefore the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative has been established in the US to review the current diagnostic frameworks in light of modern research. This is providing new inght into the range of disorders and will hopefully help in the development of more effective treatments. To watch a film about the work of the the RDoC please visit my Videos page.