Diagnosing Mental Illnesses – DSM-5 or ICD-10?

Which one to prefer DSM or ICD for making diagnosis
Mental Illnesses

Diagnosing Mental Illnesses – DSM-5 or ICD-10?

Mental illnesses have become one of the rapidly growing concerns among the masses across the globe. Affecting a large number of individuals, it has become essential to diagnose these illnesses at the right time and offer an appropriate treatment before the condition gets worsened. 

       Psychologists and mental health experts use their own diagnostic codes to determine the presence of these illnesses in an individual. However, in some cases, doing so draws confusion and delays the entire process of determining the illness.

The ICD-10 and the DSM-5 code are the two codes that are used by medical practitioners to evaluate an individual for the presence of any mental illness. However, the two codes are different in their own ways. Let us take a closer look at both:


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is a collection of common codes used by psychologists, social workers, behavioral therapists, and other mental health professionals for accurately diagnosing and classifying mental health disorders. However, this manual does not include any treatment guidelines or specifications related to the treatment of any specific disorder.

First published in 1952 with a set of 60 mental issues and an aim to create a standardized classification for psychopathology, the DSM was the first standardized code of its time and helped to eliminate errors caused by the separate diagnostic systems used during those times. Today, it’s updated version that was published in 2013, is used for the diagnosis of over 300 mental health disorders.


The “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” is a medical classification list recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). It contains various codes for diseases, their signs and symptoms, as well as abnormal findings, noted patient complaints, social circumstances, and even details like the external causes of an injury or a disease. This is the 10th revision of the coding system that is used for tracking and reporting on diseases and conditions on a global level.

Originally published in 1983, the code is now adopted by around 120 nations who are not a part of WHO but use ICD-10 to report on diagnostic and medical statistics. The National Center for Health Statistics in the U.S. maintains the domestic version of ICD-10 and approves this iteration by noting it as ICD-10 CM for “Clinical Modification.” This iteration includes nearly 70,000 codes that are used by healthcare professionals for purposes like claims submission, reporting, and reimbursement. The update went into effect in November 2015 and has not been updated or altered since then.

Treating Mental Illnesses

The treatment of mental health issues is possible if the correct diagnosis is done at the right time. Therefore, it is necessary to keep a close note on the signs and symptoms shown by an individual. The mental health professionals use DSM-5 for diagnostic and treatment purposes and then use ICD-10 codes for filing a claim for the expenses to an insurance company.

To gain a better understanding of the mental health issues, their diagnosis and treatment, it is important to read about them in detail and attend a course under an expert’s guidance. If you would like to know more about any such course or would like to pursue one, contact Athena Foundation today to know the complete details about the course offered by us, our faculties, and more. Contact us today at +91 9599093700 or drop us an email at to know the complete details about the psychology courses offered by different universities across the country and abroad.

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