When Is Gambling A Mental Illness?

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Americans are one step closer to knowing what really ails them.

Last week, the American Psychiatric Association revealed a draft of its manual for diagnosing mental health disorders, the first proposed changes in 15 years. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as it’s called, may just sound like something you study in psych college classes (it is), but the manual also plays a big role in getting pharmaceutical companies to invest in treatments for new diseases, and in getting insurance companies to cover those treatments.

To put it bluntly: this is the VIP list for mental illness. If you are sick and want to be recognized as such, your disease needs to be on that list, otherwise your life is that much more difficult. So what are some of the “new” ailments that have plagued us over the past 15 years?

The APA is proposing to add binge eating, pathological gambling and perhaps even Internet addiction. That certainly paints an interesting picture of the modern American lifestyle.

PsychologyToday reports that the APA is widening its view of addictions to include behavioral addictions. “In other words, according to the [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual] of the future you can become addicted to what you do, having a substance be part of addiction will no longer be required,” they note. (Although, PsychologyToday also notes that it may be a while longer before sex addiction makes the list. Sorry Tiger!)

As for binge eating, NPR reports that the manual previously just left this disorder in the appendix and focused on anorexia and bulimia. But apparently there’s been enough research for the association to start taking this disorder more seriously. (I, for one, think there should also be a subsection for cupcake addictions. Those treats have gotten dangerously delicious in the past decade.)

Unfortunately, the official revision to the manual won’t come out until 2013. But for all those affected by the above mental disorders, there is at least hope that change will come soon.

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