Patients and parents of patients often tell me that they do not like diagnostic labels, that they are seeing me to seek help and not to get a label. This is understandable given that psychiatric diagnoses are often misunderstood and/or are by many people considered to be stigmatizing. Also, as I have noted in other topics on this website, there is much imprecision and overlapping related to our psychiatric diag­nostic categories. There is relatively less of this with diagnoses in other medical specialties. If a doctor tells you that you or your child has asthma, diabetes or pneumonia, you would probably not tell the doctor that you donít like labels.
Despite all this, labels of psychiatric disorders do have value just as they do in other medical specialties, as they convey general infor­ma­tion about the cause, treatment, course and prognosis of a condition. It is just that the information conveyed about cause, treatment, etc. in psychiatry may lack the exactitude that one expects in the other specialties.