When the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released its new manual of psychiatric condition diagnoses in May, some employment lawyers sounded an alarm. The so-called DSM-5 added new categories of diagnoses and loosened the criteria for others, raising concerns it could trigger more requests for workplace accommodation.
“The DSM-5 is the ‘bible’ for diagnosing psychiatric or mental disorders, and it adds more than a dozen new diagnoses [to its predecessor, DSM-4],” says Terry Dawson, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. “In short, the DSM-5 may expand the types of behavior that might be considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).”
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a diagnosis for women with symptoms such as mood swings; increased interpersonal conflicts; anxiety or tension; overeating or food cravings; or weight gain, bloating or breast tenderness in the week prior to the start of the menstrual cycle.
“A condition that to date has been considered a fact of life is now characterized as a psychiatric disorder and potentially qualifies anyone diagnosed for accommodation,” McDonald says. That could lead to more requests for leaves of absence and altered work schedules, he adds.