NIMH Launches RDoC for New Classifications

Transforming Diagnosis for Mental Health Disorders

Loss of support for the new DSM-5 creates a break away from traditionally accepted diagnoses of mental health illnesses by NIH federally funded researchers. To develop a better system, NIMH is re-orienting its research away from DSM categories by supporting research projects that incorporate genetics, imaging, cognitive science, and other levels of information to lay the foundation for a new classification system of mental illness.  The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) responded strongly to the DSM-5 by launching the 10-year Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project.  Their assumptions are:

  • A diagnostic approach based on the biology as well as the symptoms must not be constrained by the current DSM categories,
  • Mental disorders are biological disorders involving brain circuits that implicate specific domains of cognition, emotion, or behavior,
  • Each level of analysis needs to be understood across a dimension of function,
  • Mapping the cognitive, circuit, and genetic aspects of mental disorders will yield new and better targets for treatment. 

In a recent announcement, NIMH was critical of the current symptom-based categories utilized by the American Psychiatric Association in their DSM manuals.  'As two eminent psychiatric geneticists recently concluded, "At the end of the 19th century, it was logical to use a simple diagnostic approach that offered reasonable prognostic validity. At the beginning of the 21st century, we must set our sights higher."'  To read the full announcement by Dr. Thomas Insel, click here.


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