About DSM - IV
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth edition. It is the American Psychiatric Associations official manual of mental disorders and provides detailed descriptions of categories of disorders as well as diagnostic criteria.
Mental Health Professionals use this manual when working with patients in order to better understand their illness and potential treatment and to help 3rd party payers (e.g., insurance) understand the needs of the patient.
The DSM uses a multiaxial or multidimensional approach to diagnosing because rarely do other factors in a persons life not impact their mental health.