There was a nice article in the Lancet last month. The article posed the question: “When should grief be classified as a mental illness?”
The author criticized the APA’s draft version of DSM-5 for blurring the distinction and for making it more likely that people in bereavement will be “diagnosed” as depressed and, of course, “treated” with prescription drugs.
There has been a good deal of criticism against the APA on this issue, and it is likely that the final version of DSM-5 will reflect some retreat in this matter.
The problem is not new, however. DSM-III included “uncomplicated bereavement” (V62-82) as a V code (i.e. “conditions not attributable to a mental disorder.”) V62-82 occurs also in DSM-IV, but without the word “uncomplicated.” What is noteworthy, however, is that in DSM-IV, a list is provided of “symptoms” that can be used to distinguish a normal bereavement from major depression. The APA’s agenda is clear and has always been clear: to pathologize for their own profit, and for the profit of pharmaceutical companies, as much of human existence as possible. There is clear and steady progression in this regard from DSM-III to DSM-IV and now to the draft DSM-5.
There are no mental disorders. There are people with problems, one of which is the loss of loved ones. These human problems are not helped by drug-taking. Bereavement in particular should not be addressed in this way. Attempts to smother the feelings of loss and despondency with chemicals are always counter-productive.