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What are Minor Depressive Disorder and Depressive Disorder NEC?

Posted Sep 25 2012 11:00am

The new sort-of depressive disorders

Minor Depressive Disorder is another one of those disorders that was proposed as somehow different from other depressive disorders. It was proposed in the DSM-4-TR as a condition needing further study.  

The reason some researchers suggested this one is that the diagnosis in the DSM are yes or no things. You either meet criteria or you don’t, give or take some judgment calls we could describe as “clinical judgment.”

People do not come with discrete specific mental illnesses very often. They have problems and suffering and want help. To get that help we need to give them a “diagnosis.” The labels do not always fit well.

Minor Depressive disorder was hard to tell from the other Depressive Disorders and does not seem to have made the cut for the DSM-5. (I am reading the on-line version; the paper version will not be out till next year.)

What we will have is a new group of Depressive Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified (NEC.) Here is my quickie version of the new categories. For the full version check the APA website for the DSM-5 or wait for the Book or the Movie version.

Recurrent Brief Depression

Every month for a year they have 2-13 days of depressive symptoms. This comes with a list of reasons to not give this one or other diagnosis that it might be.

Mixed Subsyndromal Anxiety and Depression

Lots of people who are anxious get depressed and people who get depressed can become anxious. This happens so often that a new Mixed Anxiety and Depression diagnosis was proposed. That one did not make the cut. So for full-on Depression and full Anxiety looks like we will continue to use both diagnoses. It will be interesting to read the full text on this one when the DSM-5 comes out. Somehow this Subsyndromal mix got its own label.  

Short duration (4-13 days) Depressive Episode

So if your brief depression does not reoccur every month you can still get a depressive diagnosis. This one concerns me and I will need to learn more. It seems to open the door for anyone who has ever had a “blue week” to now get a diagnosis of a mental illness. Wonder if this will get used a lot or very little?  

Subthreshold Depressive Episode with insufficient symptoms

With only a few exclusions everyone now gets to be depressed.

Uncertain Depressive Disorder  

This works for anyone else that would like a depression diagnosis but has not yet gotten one.

The conclusion

In my estimation there will be a lot more people who can qualify for a depressive disorder diagnosis under the new system. I will need to study this one some more before we implement the new DSM-5. This may mean the a lot of people who need help but used to get turned away because they did not meet criteria for a diagnosis will get help. Or it could mean that everyone will get one of the depressive diagnoses and that a Depressive Disorder Diagnosis will stop meaning anything. Only time will tell.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at . Thanks to all who read this blog.

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