Axis III


Axis III is part of the DSM "multiaxial" system for assessment. The five axis model is designed to provide a comprehensive diagnosis that includes a complete picture of not just acute symptoms but of the entire scope of factors that account for a patient's mental health. This page explains DSM Axis III.

Axis III - General Medical Conditions

Axis III describes physical problems that may be relevant to diagnosing and treating mental disorders.

For example, a patient with an Axis I diagnosis of mood disorder who also had glaucoma, would have the glaucoma recorded on Axis IV; the pain and increasing blindness of glaucoma could be a relevant factor influencing depression.

General medical conditions can be regarded in basically three ways. First, as being directly related to mental disorders; second, as being important to the overall diagnostic picture; third, as not having a sufficient relationship.

Axis I in DSM-5

The next edition of the DSM is scheduled for publication in May, 2013. Working groups are reviewing the multiaxial system to try to bring it more into line with international reporting standards (as opposed to U.S. standards) with the goal of having a global approach to mental health diagnosis. Regarding Axis III, the American Psychiatric Association states,

The subgroup has recommended that DSM-5 collapse Axes I, II, and III into one axis that contains all psychiatric and general medical diagnoses. This change would bring DSM-5 into greater harmony with the single-axis approach used by the international community in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

An example of a multiaxial diagnosis

From Edward Pierce, LCSW

  • Axis I: Mood Disorder Due to Hypothyroidism, With Depressive Features
  • Axis II: No diagnosis, histrionic features
  • Axis III: Hypothyroidism, Chronic angle-closure glaucoma
  • Axis IV: None
  • Axis V: GAF = 45 (on admission) GAF=65 (current)

Related Reading

Click below to read articles related to Axis III and the DSM


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