Understanding the ICD-10: What it Means for Teens With Depression

There’s no question that defining, understanding and diagnosing illnesses can be challenging—especially for mental health conditions. To establish a worldwide standard for health practitioners, the World Health Organization (WHO) compiled the ICD-10, or the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases. Here’s what you need to know about the ICD-10 and how it affects teens with depression.

ICD-10 Classification

First of all, it can be helpful to understand how the ICD-10 classifies depression. Basically, the ICD-10 breaks the category of depression down into multiple episodes: mild, moderate, severe without psychotic symptoms, severe with psychotic symptoms and other.

The ICD-10 describes a depressive episode as the following:

“In typical mild, moderate, or severe depressive episodes, the patient suffers from lowering of mood, reduction of energy, and decrease in activity. Capacity for enjoyment, interest, and concentration is reduced, and marked tiredness after even minimum effort is common. Sleep is usually disturbed and appetite diminished. Self-esteem and self-confidence are almost always reduced and, even in the mild form, some ideas of guilt or worthlessness are often present.”

In the next section, the ICD-10 explains recurrent depressive disorder, which it describes as “repeated episodes of depression … without any history of independent episodes of mood elevation and increased energy (mania).”

If an individual experiences both depressive episodes and manic episodes, then their diagnosis falls under the bipolar classification.

However, it’s important to note that the ICD-10 does not specifically define types of depression such as major depression, postpartum depression or dysthymia, each of which differ in symptoms and causes.

Effects of ICD-10

The last modern country to make the switch, the U.S. implemented the ICD-10 in October 2015. This switch from the previous version, ICD-9, was necessary and mandatory because the older version contained outdated language and provided limited options for diagnosis. The ICD-10 includes 142,000 new codes to help improve medical professionals’ understanding of healthcare.

That said, switching to a new system is never straightforward. Medical practitioners and insurance firms require time to adjust to the new system due to the complicated amount of new information. In recognition of this issue, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that during the first year of this policy, they will accept all insurance claims that feature the correct general category; for instance, if you selected “depression” but didn’t specify that it was a “moderate episode”, your claim will still be reimbursed when your teen visits the doctor.

Medical Diagnosis

Overall, it’s necessary to be thorough in your conversations with all healthcare providers as they will be reviewing overarching diagnostic codes. Share as much relevant detail as you can. The better understanding they have, the more accurate diagnosis they can apply to your teen’s condition, which will help your teen receive the right treatment they need.

Of course, with any health condition, be sure to ask questions when you have any doubts or concerns about symptoms or a diagnosis.

If you require more information, visit the CMS ICD-10 blog.

Feature Photo: Eric Haidara