Understanding the ICD-10: What it Means for Teens with Anxiety

Mental health problems are complex and nuanced issues that are also heavily stigmatized. Being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder can strongly affect a person, changing how one might view him or herself and inspiring fears of how other people will view that person. To define and understand various health conditions, such as anxiety, the World Health Organization (WHO) created the ICD-10, or the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases. Here’s what you need to know about how the ICD-10 affects teens with anxiety.

The ICD-10 Classification of Anxiety

In the ICD-10, anxiety disorders are listed under the codes F40–41 in two categories: phobic anxiety disorders and other anxiety disorders. There are many different types of anxiety disorders within that range—from the commonly known agoraphobia to less obvious conditions like mixed anxiety and depressive disorder.

The first category, “phobic anxiety disorders,” includes social phobias and specific (isolated) phobias. According to the ICD-10, it means:

“A group of disorders in which anxiety is evoked only, or predominantly, in certain well-defined situations that are not currently dangerous. As a result these situations are characteristically avoided or endured with dread.”

The second category, “other anxiety disorders,” covers panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and mixed conditions. The ICD-10 defines this grouping as:

“Disorders in which manifestation of anxiety is the major symptom and is not restricted to any particular environmental situation.”

The ICD-10 also mentions that anxiety and depression can co-exist, and that a medical consultation is necessary to determine whether two separate diagnoses are required or if one is enough. It’s important to note that the ICD-10 does not make a distinction between symptoms present in adults and adolescents.

The Effects of an ICD-10 Designation

These codes are used across the board for administrative purposes. Being given an ICD-10 designation will determine a few things, such as eligibility for insurance coverage or financial aid. As the U.S. implemented the ICD-10 in October 2015, there are some struggles with switching to a new system. That’s why it’s necessary for parents to consult with their family physician, who will have a better understanding of the classification system, to identify their teen’s condition and determine the most effective treatment option that will address their teen’s needs.

Anxiety disorders are a common mental health issue in America, affecting 25% of teens. While the ICD-10 system helps in understanding and treating anxiety-related health issues, there are always individual factors at play. Your teen is unique, and so is their mental health. It’s important for those dealing with anxiety to know that they are not alone—and that it’s okay to ask for help.

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

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