“Schizophrenia” always carries a stigma. Will changing the name help you?

For example, he said, suppose a teenage patient goes to the doctor with telltale symptoms, such as hearing voices. If the doctor uses a new name for the diagnosis, Dr Carpenter said, “You can almost hear the parents say, ‘Wasn’t that called schizophrenia? “”

It might also be a bad time to tinker with the name, Dr Carpenter added. Scientists are reworking the clinical definition of schizophrenia, including focusing more on brain mechanisms, not just psychological symptoms, and viewing it more as a syndrome than a single disease. These changes could be reflected in future revisions of the DSM, and it may not make sense to rename the disorder before that happens.

Even some mental health professionals who struggle with its stigma are skeptical of the name change effort.

“We totally agree that language is extremely important,” said Lisa Dailey, director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, which supports people with severe mental illness, but added that pushing for a change in name is not an efficient use of limited resources.

The best way to destigmatize schizophrenia, Ms. Dailey said, “is to develop better drugs that work for more people.”

While other countries, including Japan and South Korea, recently adopted new names for schizophrenia, Dr Meshalom-Gately and Dr Keshavan recognized that they needed greater consensus among scientists and clinicians in the United States.

There is precedent for rethinking mental health terminology, they note. The disease formerly known as manic depression was successfully renamed bipolar disorder in 1980. “Mental retardation” became “developmental disability” in 2013. And the categories for autism have been changed to the most recent version. recent psychiatric diagnostic manual, after years of advocacy.

Even if the Consumer Advisory Council succeeds in convincing the authors of the next diagnostic manual to change the name, that “will not be enough to reduce stigma and discrimination,” said Dr Mesholam-Gately. “There must also be public education campaigns to go with it, to really explain what the disease is and the treatments that are available for it.”

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