It should be clear that a DSM diagnostic category cannot be the “cause” of anything. A DSM diagnosis is a consensually agreed upon term—a form of shorthand—that we use to refer to a group of symptoms. If a colleague says a patient has generalized anxiety disorder, we know the patient has been excessively worried or anxious for six months or longer and it is severe enough to cause problems. That is basically all we know. Saying that anxiety is “caused” by generalized anxiety disorder makes no more sense than saying “anxiety is caused by anxiety.” A label is not a cause.
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