Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis

Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis by Ashley L. Peterson

Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Understanding the DSM-5 by Ashley L. Peterson includes first-hand narratives from some amazing guest contributors.

The book is available from:

The paperback version is also available from Book Depository and Powell Books.

Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Understanding the DSM-5

About Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis

Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Understanding the DSM-5 aims to cut through the misinformation, stigma, and assumptions that surround mental illness and give a clear picture of what mental illness really is.

The book pairs diagnostic criteria and descriptions for a cross-section of mental illnesses in the DSM-5 with nineteen first-hand narrative accounts of what it’s like to live with those conditions. The book is also infused with the author’s own experience as a mental health nurse and person living with depression.

With the fusion of diagnostic information, clinical experience, and lived experience, this book offers a unique, well-rounded perspective on the reality of mental illness.

If you’re looking for the DSM-5 itself, you can find that on Amazon here (affiliate link).

Chapter List

  1. Diagnostic systems
  2. Anxiety disorders
  3. Bipolar and related disorders
  4. Depressive disorders
  5. Dissociative disorders
  6. Feeding and Eating Disorders
  7. Gender dysphoria
  8. Neurodevelopmental disorders
  9. OCD and related disorders
  1. Personality disorders
  2. Psychotic disorders
  3. Somatic symptom & related disorders
  4. Substance use disorders
  5. Trauma and stressor-related disorders
  6. The diagnosis experience
  7. Correcting misinformation
  8. What diagnosis means for recovery
  9. The evolving nature of diagnosis

Guest Contributors


Reader Responses

Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis Amazon reviews

Reviews on Amazon.com as of Sept. 4/21

Over 1500 copies sold!

A good mental health consultation should always involve the professional sharing their thinking with the patient to reach a shared understanding; but too often it does not; or it can be hard to retain all the information. This book helps address that and empowers patients to be more equal partners in their mental health experiences. Every mental health service should have this in their waiting room!

– Dr. Louise Atkin, Consultant Psychiatrist, Amazon UK

I love this book!! I could not put it down! It was actually a page turner…something very unusual for a clinical book in this therapist’s experience….user friendly for clinicians or non.

– Sandi, Amazon.com
More Reader Responses

Ashley’s book can be summarized as, “The DSM-5 for Dummies.” I wish I had this book when I was in graduate school because it would have made understanding mental illness much easier.

– Johnzelle Anderson, LPC, Panoramic Counseling

It’s not often writers can make psychiatry easy to understand, engaging and useful all in one go. But Ashley has managed to do just this, covering and exploring the issues around mental illness diagnosis and the criteria with which individuals are assessed against. She covers the topics thoroughly and makes highly relevant, extremely thought-provoking points throughout.

Caz, Invisibly Me

About Ashley L. Peterson

Ashley L. Peterson, author and creator of Mental Health @ Home

I began my career in health care as a pharmacist in 2002, but I quickly returned to school to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During my 15-year nursing career, I specialized in the field of mental health, working primarily with people with serious and persistent mental illness in both hospital and community settings.

Two years into my nursing career, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Since then, I’ve been passionate about sharing my own experiences to challenge stigma and generate open conversations about mental health and illness.

For my Master of Psychiatric Nursing thesis work, I used a research method called autoethnography to situate my own experiences with mental illness within the context of nursing culture, addressing issues like stigma. I published several papers in peer-reviewed nursing journals based on this work.

Since illness-related disability has brought my nursing career to a close, I’ve shifted my focus to writing and advocacy efforts online.


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Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis is also on:

Mental Health @ Home Books by Ashley L. Peterson - book covers
Mental Health @ Home Books by Ashley L. Peterson –
You can find them on my Amazon author page.