DSM-V diagnostic criteria for bereavement-related disorders in children and adolescents: developmental considerations

Authors: Kaplow JB, Layne CM, Pynoos RS, Cohen JA, Lieberman A.

Date: 2012

Abstract: Two bereavement-related disorders are proposed for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V): Adjustment Disorder Related to Bereavement, to be located in the main body of the text as an official diagnostic entity; and Bereavement-Related Disorder, including a Traumatic Death Specifier, to be located in the Appendix as an invitation for further research. These diagnoses currently do not include developmentally informed criteria, despite the importance of developmental processes in the ways children and adolescents grieve. In this article, we draw upon a selective review of the empirical literature and expert clinical knowledge to recommend developmentally informed modifications and specifiers of the proposed criteria for both bereavement disorders and strategies to improve future research. This article is derived from an invited report submitted to the DSM-V Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Trauma, and Dissociative Disorders Sub-Work Group, and suggested modifications have received preliminary approval to be incorporated into the DSM-V at the time of this writing. Adoption of these proposals will have far-reaching consequences, given that DSM-V criteria will influence both critical treatment choices for bereaved youth and the next generation of research studies.

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