Mood Disorder Handbooks Perpetuate Psychiatric Myths, Present Barriers to Systemic Thinking

A new study analyzing APA mood disorder handbooks reveals outdated narratives of depression continue to dominate.


A new study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry critiques the dominant constructions of mood disorders in two mainstream, APA-recommended handbooks of psychopathology. 

Despite progress from critical psychiatry that has revealed the flawed diagnostic criteria in the DSM and debunked old myths such as the chemical imbalance theory, the authors found that these harmful, dominant narratives remain embedded in the handbooks.  

They write: 

“The prevalence of intrapersonal biomedical explanations (mostly referring to the chemical imbalance theory and genetic factors) implies that these ‘urban legends’ are resistant to change, and indeed professional textbooks tend to provide an unbalanced perspective of etiopathogenic processes with very little consideration of psychosocial factors and life events.” 

As a result, the authors call for a careful reexamination of how mood disorders are constructed in these influential texts. 

The study was conducted by Lisa C. Fellin from the Department of Human and Social Sciences at the University of Bergamo, and Ekaterina Zizevskaia and Laura Galbusera from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Brandenburg Medical School.

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