Psychiatrists List New Mental Disorders in Seniors Print E-mail

RedwoodAge.com is proud to nominate Senior Editor Pamela A. MacLean for an SPJ Award for Explanatory Journalism for her four-part series, "Psychiatrists List New Mental Disorders in Seniors."

MacLean researched and wrote this important series, which explained the importance of the fifth revision in an obscure psychiatric manual and, in particular, the very deep impact that could have on millions of vulnerable senior citizens in the United States.

As MacLean reported, the draft version of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)" would reclassify common problems among elders as new mental illnesses, resulting in treatments with psychotropic drugs and labeling millions of elders as mentally ill.  The proposed additions included such conditions as grief after the loss of a loved one, and "mild neurocognitive disorder" to describe elders who fall short of the technical definition for dementia.

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(Anderson Photo)

MacLean wrote the series for RedwoodAge with the support of a fellowship from the MetLife Foundation's Journalists in Aging program, a project of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America. RedwoodAge is a 6-year-old national news organization that emphasizes coverage of news related to aging.

The story was distributed by New America Media and carried by news organizations across the country. It also drew praise from Dr. Allen Frances, the author of the third revision of the DSM and the psychiatrist largely credited for helping to eliminate the definition of homosexuality as a psychiatric illness.

"Congratulations for [the] terrific DSM 5 article," he wrote to MacLean. "The Minor Neurocognitive [disorder] will result in a huge false positive rates causing needless worries and heartache, expensive testing, and useless treatments. The silliness of the grief proposal speaks for itself, but you have put it very well. Thanks!"

Here are the four major parts of the series, along with a sidebar about an unusual court that hears elder cases in Martinez.

PART 1: Psychiatrists List New Mental Disorders in Seniors
PART 2: One Woman's Caregiving Journey
PART 3: Overuse of Psych Drugs on Elders
PART 4: New Options in Dementia Care
Sidebar: A Unique Elder Court 

 

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