Literature Review on the Recent Elimination of the Bereavement Exclusion of Major Depressive Disorder in DSM-5

  • Jisoo Lee Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Keywords: DSM-5, bereavement exclusion, major depressive disorder


Bereavement is a universal phenomenon which a depressive episode is expected to follow. Due to this expectancy and the normality of depressive episodes, bereavement has been excluded from the list of stressful life events that act as a precursor for major depressive disorder since the DSM-3. However, this tradition was removed in the recent edition of the DSM which generated fiery arguments between the mental health professionals. Reasons for eliminating the bereavement exclusion criteria were the lack of supporting evidence to differentiate bereavement from other life stressors and the risk of overlooking major depressive disorders in bereft individuals (Pies, 2014). However, it is argued against that the elimination of bereavement exclusion criteria prompts pathologizing normal grief, overdiagnosis, and use of inadequate treatments (Jones & Fox, 2013). Despite the arguments, one conviction is agreed upon; DSM-5 does not provide a valid measure to distinguish normal grief from pathological grief which puts ethical burden on the mental health professionals (Jones & Fox, 2013). This paper establishes that while both sides of the dispute are grounded on empirical evidence, argument that supports the elimination of the bereavement exclusion criteria is more conclusive which justifies the decision made in the DSM-5.

Analytical Papers