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Diagnostic Criteria


Updated December 18, 2009

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Diagnostic criteria describe the duration, severity and context of symptoms that a person must report or display in order to be diagnosed with a particular illness such as OCD. Diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV. To be diagnosed with a mental illness, you usually have to have most -- but not all -- of the criteria described. These criteria are revised regularly by panels of leading mental health experts based on new clinical and basic research findings.

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