Unit 7 Assignment: Implications Of A Diagnosis

Clinicians such as psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists utilize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th ed. (DSM V, 2013) when making a diagnosis for specific psychological disorders. In doing so, however, they are also assigning a label to the person. Discuss the pros and cons of diagnosing, or “labeling,” a patient. Cite your sources.

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Diagnosing patients with psychological disorders often involves assigning a label to them, which can have both positive and negative consequences. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the primary resource used by clinicians to diagnose mental health disorders. While labeling can be useful in terms of understanding and treating a patient’s condition, it can also lead to stigma, self-fulfilling prophecies, and reduced access to resources. This paper will discuss the pros and cons of labeling patients with mental health disorders.

Pros of Labeling

One of the benefits of labeling a patient with a psychological disorder is that it can help clinicians understand and communicate the patient’s symptoms more effectively. Diagnosis provides a common language between clinicians and can guide treatment choices (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). For example, if a clinician diagnoses a patient with depression, they can choose an evidence-based treatment like cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been shown to be effective for that specific diagnosis.

In addition to guiding treatment, labeling can also help patients feel validated and understood. A diagnosis can provide a sense of relief, especially if a patient has been struggling with symptoms for an extended period. Labeling can also help patients find support and resources, including support groups or educational materials, which can help them better understand and cope with their condition (Lakhan & Vieira, 2008).

Cons of Labeling

Labeling a patient with a mental health disorder also has several drawbacks, including the potential for stigma and self-fulfilling prophecies. Stigma refers to negative attitudes or beliefs about individuals with mental health disorders that can lead to discrimination or mistreatment. A diagnosis can increase the likelihood of experiencing stigma and can lead to negative attitudes from friends, family, and society as a whole (Corrigan, Druss, & Perlick, 2014).

Another potential disadvantage of labeling is the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. This effect refers to a situation where an individual’s behavior confirms a label or diagnosis that has been assigned to them. For example, if a clinician diagnoses a patient with schizophrenia, and the patient believes that their behavior is a result of their diagnosis, they may begin to act in ways that reinforce the diagnosis. This phenomenon can lead to a reduction in self-esteem and an increase in symptoms (Kutchins & Kirk, 1997).

Finally, labeling can reduce access to resources. Insurance companies and healthcare systems often rely on diagnosis codes to determine coverage and reimbursement rates. If a patient does not meet the criteria for a specific diagnosis, they may not receive appropriate treatment or may be denied coverage for treatment (Chen, Lin, & Yen, 2014).


In conclusion, labeling patients with mental health disorders has both positive and negative consequences. While diagnosis can provide a common language between clinicians, guide treatment choices, and provide validation to patients, it can also lead to stigma, self-fulfilling prophecies, and reduced access to resources. Clinicians must weigh the benefits and drawbacks of labeling and consider the potential consequences for their patients. It is essential to remember that a diagnosis is not a person, and individuals are more than their mental health conditions.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (DSM-5). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Chen, Y.-Y., Lin, H.-C., & Yen, Y.-C. (2014). The impact of mental illness stigma on seeking and participating in mental health care. Psychological Medicine, 44(16), 3435-3448. doi:10.1017/S0033291714001034

Corrigan, P. W., Druss,

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