The DSM-IV utilizes a particular style of diagnosis that attempts to capture a more complete view of the person being evaluated. This style of diagnosis will show up on formal psychiatric evaluations, insurance paperwork, and so on. The five axes (this is the plural of “axis” and not the tool used to chop wood) are as follows:
AXIS I: Major psychiatric disorders including substance abuse diagnoses. Axis I is where a mood disorder, such as bipolar, would be placed.
AXIS II: Personality disorders and mental retardation
AXIS III: Medical conditions
AXIS IV: Major active sources of stress in the person’s life. These range from problems with work, finances, and housing to marital conflict and difficulty obtaining medical care.
AXIS V: The global assessment of functioning. This is a number from zero to one hundred that attempts to incorporate overall social, occupational, and psychological functioning. The lower the number, the more impaired a person will be.