Does my toddler have ‘disruptive mood dysregulation disorder’?

According to the new DSM-5 – considered the psychiatry bible, and the universal standard by which doctors classify, diagnose and ultimately treat mental disorders – my toddler may well be suffering from an, as yet, undiagnosed mental health disorder. In fact, it would seem that most of my family are suffering from a mental health disorder of one form or another; my parents, whom I previously thought had the odd senior moment, actually have ‘mild neurocognitive disorders’, and I can now consider myself a ‘binge eater’ – characterised by ‘overeating that occurs at least once a week for at least three months’ (that will be my Sundays then!).

I make light of it but, with the changes to the DSM-5, many worry that people with slight variations of normal behaviour may now be labelled ‘mentally ill’. As a result, the recent launch of these new guidelines has attracted no shortage of critics. Many believe that through a combination of the classification of new disorders and the lowering of the thresholds of existing disorders, the DSM-5 expands the boundaries to encompass the ‘worried well’. Critics are worried these new patients may be prescribed drugs that have the potential to cause harm.

While many people previously considered borderline could now be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, changes to the classification of other disorders such as Asperger’s syndrome, which is set to lose its separate diagnosis and fall under the umbrella term, ‘autism spectrum disorders’, has caused some to worry that many may lose their diagnosis – and as a result, their services.

Protagonists view the new update as a long awaited change that will help ensure people get accurate diagnoses and treatments based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. Critics have vowed to boycott it entirely. I’m just hoping that those who need help are able to get it, with or without the label of suffering from a mental health disorder.

Happy or crazy?


– Victoria Harvey


One thought on “Does my toddler have ‘disruptive mood dysregulation disorder’?

  1. Just a heads up so you don’t have to be too worried… when it comes to Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder diagnosis “toddlers” can’t get it. The child has to be at least 6 so toddlers can’t be diagnosed with DMDD. In addition these temper outbursts have to be at a developmentally inappropriate level to normal tantrums don’t count. The child needs to have shown at least a year of severe irritability with at least 3 severe outbursts per week. DMDD is based on research by Ellen Leibenluft and others at the NIMH.

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