Which Mental Health Conditions Were Axis I Disorders?

Sad and depressed young woman.

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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, you likely want to know more about the condition, including why it was classified as an Axis I disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)

Changes From DSM-IV to DSM-5

Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM is the mental health bible of sorts. The DSM-IV organized all psychiatric disorders and other problems into five different categories or axes.

The five classifications helped mental health professionals give patients a comprehensive diagnosis that includes symptoms and a wide range of factors that amount to a patient's mental health. Making a diagnosis in any of the axes also helped health care professionals communicate a patient's needs to an insurance company.

The DSM-5 debuted in 2013 and adopted a nonaxial method of categorizing mental health disorders. The first three axes in DSM-IV were combined in the same category in the fifth and latest edition. Also, the last two axes are grouped together in DSM-V.

With this review of the disorders, the DSM-IV classified as Axis I, learn more about what PTSD is, and some of the other mental health conditions that belonged to the same category.

Examples of Axis Disorders

Axis I disorders tend to be the most commonly found in the public. They include anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Other examples of Axis I disorders are as follows:

  • Dissociative disorders
  • Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, etc.)
  • Mood disorders (major depression, bipolar disorder, etc.)
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Substance use disorders

Axis II disorders include developmental disorders and personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, the symptoms of which can usually be spotted in childhood and create lifelong challenges.

Axis III disorders refer to medical or neurological issues with the potential to give rise to psychiatric problems. Axis IV disorders refer to psychiatric problems caused by recent environmental and psychosocial stressors.

This includes the death of a loved one or a major life change, such as getting laid off or having a spouse leave. These stressors can compromise diagnosis and treatment of a mental health condition. Lastly, Axis V refers to an individual's ability to function in life.

PTSD and Anxiety Disorders

In the DSM-5, PTSD was removed from the category of anxiety disorders and put into a classification called "Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders."

People with this diagnosis typically have witnessed or experienced an event in which someone's life or their own life or well-being was seriously put in danger. Members of the armed forces, rape victims, or armed robbery victims are examples of people who commonly experience PTSD.

People with PTSD tend to suffer from other anxiety disorders, such as substance use disorder.

Seeking Help for PTSD

If you suspect that you or a loved one has PTSD or another mental health disorder, don't hesitate to seek treatment. A mental health professional can give you strategies for coping with the disease or managing the symptoms so that they don't derail your life. These professionals may also prescribe drugs that make day-to-day life with a mental health disorder easier to bear.

Simply speaking to a neutral party about your experiences can be uplifting as well. What you discuss with a mental health provider is confidential. Reaching out to get help is the first step in the recovery process.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Staff AP. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR®). American Psychiatric Pub; 2010.

  2. Sareen J. Posttraumatic stress disorder in adults: impact, comorbidity, risk factors, and treatment. Can J Psychiatry. 2014;59(9):460–467. doi:10.1177/070674371405900902

  3. Bisson JI, Cosgrove S, Lewis C, Robert NP. Post-traumatic stress disorder. BMJ. 2015;351:h6161. doi:10.1136/bmj.h6161

By Matthew Tull, PhD
Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder.