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Understanding Mental Disorders

Your Guide to DSM-5®

American Psychiatric Association

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-491-1
  • Item #62491
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Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5 is a consumer guide for anyone who has been touched by mental illness.

Most of us know someone who suffers from a mental illness. This book helps those who may be struggling with mental health problems, as well as those who want to help others achieve mental health and well-being.

Based on the latest, fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—known as DSM-5—Understanding Mental Disorders provides valuable insight on what to expect from an illness and its treatment—and will help readers recognize symptoms, know when to seek help, and get the right care. Featured disorders include depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, among others.

The common language for diagnosing mental illness used in DSM-5 for mental health professionals has been adapted into clear, concise descriptions of disorders for nonexperts. In addition to specific symptoms for each disorder, readers will find:

  • Risk factors and warning signs
  • Related disorders
  • Ways to cope
  • Tips to promote mental health
  • Personal stories
  • Key points about the disorders and treatment options
  • A special chapter dedicated to treatment essentials and ways to get help
  • Helpful resources that include a glossary, list of medications and support groups


  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • chapter 1. Introduction
  • chapter 2. Disorders That Start in Childhood
  • chapter 3. Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders
  • chapter 4. Bipolar Disorders
  • chapter 5. Depressive Disorders
  • chapter 6. Anxiety Disorders
  • chapter 7. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • chapter 8. Trauma and Stress Disorders
  • chapter 9. Dissociative Disorders
  • chapter 10. Somatic (Physical) Symptom Disorders
  • chapter 11. Eating Disorders
  • chapter 12. Elimination Disorders
  • chapter 13. Sleep-Wake Disorders
  • chapter 14. Sexual Dysfunctions
  • chapter 15. Gender Dysphoria
  • chapter 16. Disruptive and Conduct Disorders
  • chapter 17. Addictive Disorders
  • chapter 18. Dementia and Other Memory Problems
  • chapter 19. Personality Disorders
  • chapter 20. Paraphilic Disorders
  • chapter 21. Treatment Essentials
  • Glossary of Terms
  • Appendix: Disorders Grouped by DSM-5 Category
  • Appendix: Generic and Brand Names of Medications
  • Appendix: Helpful Resources
  • Index

This is a simple, user-friendly guide that is clear and informative. The format makes it easy to look up information about specific disorders and the vignettes make this a valuable resource for clinicians, patients and their families.—Alies Muskin, Executive Director, Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Understanding Mental Disorders is an important resource that highlights in a balanced, sensitive way the multifaceted nature of mental disorders.—Allen Doederlein, President, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The DSM-5 sounds mysterious or technical to many people. This guide dissolves the mystery and bridges gaps between other books on mental illness by explaining psychiatric diagnoses in readily understandable terms. It presents symptoms and discusses treatment options. It will be helpful not just to mental health professionals, but to individuals and families affected by mental illness and the general public.—Mary Giliberti, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Understanding Mental Disorders is a consumer-friendly guide to understanding the full array of mental health concerns and conditions that affect so many of us, and to understanding the range of treatments that can be effective in addressing them. It is laid out clearly and succinctly, with individual chapters devoted to each family of disorders. Each chapter describes the relevant disorders, speaks to causes and risk factors, and highlights relevant treatment options. Brief stories or vignettes that are incorporated into the chapters also serve to illustrate and clarify conditions and disorders for the reader. This volume will be useful for providers, advocates, family members, and consumers, because it will help to de-mystify both common and not-so-common mental health conditions. It will also help to encourage earlier identification and intervention for people with mental health concerns, long before they reach a crisis, or Stage 4, level.—Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America

Understanding Mental Disorders is a unique resource that serves as a tool for communication between mental health professionals, patients, and families. It translates information from DSM-5 into simple language that can empower those who need mental health care to understand disorders and seek help. It educates in a way that allows patients to take an active role in their care.—Renee Binder, M.D., Professor and Director Psychiatry and Law Program, Associate Dean Academic Affairs, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, President-Elect, American Psychiatric Association

Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5 is a valuable resource for helping patients and families understand and live successfully with the mental disorders that affect so many of us and our families. Based on the recently revised, authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders, DSM-5, Understanding Mental Disorders is written in clear and accessible language with patient resources and personal experiences that can help those who are struggling get scientifically credible care. Developed by an outstanding Editorial Advisory Board of mental health professionals, Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5 sets a new standard for reliable, wise guidance for patients and those who love them.—Paul Summergrad, M.D., Dr. Frances S. Arkin Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Tufts Medical Center, Chairman, Interim President and CEO, Tufts Medical Center Physicians Organization, President, American Psychiatric Association

The new Guide to DSM-5, Understanding Mental Disorders is a wonderful primer on mental health conditions. It includes clear descriptions of disorders, patient vignettes, and easy to understand descriptions of treatment options. The personal stories describe how the condition might appear in an affected individual. This outstanding resource can enhance patient and family participation in treatment and extend the conversation about best strategies for health and wellbeing.—Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Vice Chair for Education, Director of Residency Training, Columbia University Medical Center

This book will be indispensable, for family, friends, and clinicians, who live with and support those with mental health issues. . . thank you for publishing Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5. Readable and accurate medical information is so very important. We are deeply grateful!—Jonah G. Sinowitz, Secretary, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Freehold Boro, New Jersey

Understanding Mental Disorders is a companion volume to the DSM-5 designed specifically for the general public—and it is a wonderful companion volume that nonphysicians, especially patients and families of the mentally ill, will appreciate. The writing is exceptionally clear, and the absence of jargon that often adds mysterious complexities makes this volume valuable.—Steven S. Sharfstein, M.D., President and CEO, Sheppard Pratt, and Clinical Professor and Vice Chair Psychiatry, University of Maryland,Baltimore, MD., Journal of Psychiatric Practice Vol. 22, No. 2, 03/01/2016

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