This review examines the question of whether there should be a cluster of disorders, including the adjustment disorders (ADs), acute stress disorder (ASD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the dissociative disorders (DDs), in a section devoted to abnormal responses to stress and trauma in the DSM-5. Environmental risk factors, including the individual's developmental experience, would thus become a major diagnostic consideration. The relationship of these disorders to one another is examined and also their relationship to other anxiety disorders to determine whether they are better grouped with anxiety disorders or a new specific grouping of trauma and stressor-related disorders. First how stress responses have been classified since DSM-III is reviewed. The major focus is on PTSD because it has received the most attention, regarding its proper placement among the psychiatric diagnoses. It is discussed whether PTSD should be considered an anxiety disorder, a stress-induced fear circuitry disorder, an internalizing disorder, or a trauma and stressor-related disorder. Then, ASD, AD, and DD are considered from a similar perspective. Evidence is examined pro and con, and a conclsion is offered recommending inclusion of this cluster of disorders in a section entitled "Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders." The recommendation to shift ASD and PTSD out of the anxiety disorders section reflects increased recognition of trauma as a precipitant, emphasizing common etiology over common phenomenology. Similar considerations are addressed with regard to AD and DD.
© 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.