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Psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians use a multi-axial system of diagnosis.  The multi-axial system, meaning making diagnoses on several different axes, is designed to address for biological illnesses, personality characteristics, medical illnesses, life stressors and to provide a score of overall functioning (known as the Global Assessment of Functioning, or GAF).   The multi-axial diagnostic system has five axes:

Axis I:  Clinical Disorders are diagnosed on Axis I.  This can include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, substance use disorders, disorders caused by general medical conditions and others

Axis II:  Personality Disorders and Developmental Disorders (i.e. Mental Retardation) are diagnosed on Axis II.

Axis III:  Physical medical conditions are diagnosed on Axis III.

Axis IV:  Stressors that could be affecting Axis I diagnosis are noted on Axis IV.

Axis V:  The Global Assessment of Functioning score is between 0-100 and measures a persons overall functioning.

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