As a psychologist with over a decade of experience, people would often say that there was perhaps no mental disorder that I could not diagnose. For instance, there was a time when a young girl at my kids’ school kept bullying her teachers and classmates, to the extent that they all cry because of her. Others thought she was simply a brat, but I found out that she had a rare condition called alexithymia, which meant that the girl could not feel emotions.


Another time, our town dealt with a young man who kept digging graves throughout the cemetery. Everyone assumed that he was a burglar at first, but he did not take anything from the corpses. When the police asked me to come over and talk to the man, I learned that he had Cotard’s delusion. Meaning he was digging a grave for him as he thought he was already dead.

Despite my success in the psychology world, there was still one subcategory that I could not master – Not Otherwise Specified (NOS). NOS appeared in all kinds of mental disorders, but it always eluded me because of the different symptoms that it came with. Just recently, I diagnosed a patient with depression because she felt hopeless and was almost suicidal. A month after that, I had to take it back and say that she had anxiety as I observed that she only felt hopeless around high-achieving people. But then, she also had delusional symptoms, which made me realize that she had depression NOS.  

What is NOS in mental health? 

NOS stands for Not Otherwise Specified in mental health. This abbreviation is used by psychologists or psychiatrists when they come across a patient who shows some symptoms of a mental disorder but not all. In that case, mental health professionals need to conduct more assessments before they can make a diagnosis. 

The NOS subcategory is typically heard when a person has depression or eating, personality, or psychotic disorder.

What is NOS illness? 

The Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) illness is the technical term that appeared on the DSM-IV and is connected to various categories of mental disorders. This is essential, given that many people tend to exhibit signs of a mental condition. Still, they are not enough for mental health professionals to conclude what kind of disorder they have.


Let’s take bipolar disorder NOS as an example. When a psychiatrist or psychologist says that you have this illness, it can mean that you show manic symptoms and a few depressive symptoms or vice versa. Thus, you may be bipolar, but you do not tick off all the signs, so you may have some type of bipolar disorder that the experts may not have a name for yet.

What does unspecified disorder mean? 

The term “unspecified disorder” can be seen in APA’s DSM-V. Getting diagnosed with this condition means that your behavior, thoughts, and emotions may be akin to individuals with known mental disorders. However, given that you exhibit other mental disorders symptoms, the psychiatrist or psychologist needs to say that you have an unspecified disorder.

What is the F code for depression? 

According to the tenth version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), F32.0 is the code for a mild form of depression that has only occurred once. The decimal point goes up when you mix this major depressive disorder with or without psychotic behavior or unspecified symptoms. Then, it graduates to F33 if depression becomes recurrent.

What is NOS anxiety disorder? 

Anxiety disorder NOS means that individuals show recurring fear, stress, and agitation, so they technically have anxiety. The problem is that some of the other symptoms they exhibit may not fall under a single category. Thus, it entails that the patients have an unspecified anxiety disorder.

Can you be mildly autistic? 

Yes, you can be mildly autistic. The autism spectrum is so vast that the people around you may not recognize the impairments immediately or at all, especially if you do not exhibit the known symptoms like living in your own world or experiencing sensory overload. In truth, that typically happens to high-functioning individuals with Asperger’s syndrome. 


What does Level 1 autism look like? 

When you have level 1 autism, you can almost pass as an average person. The primary giveaway is perhaps your need for communication support. Having this condition entails that you may not be able to catch the sarcasm, warning, or even jokes. Nonetheless, you can understand school lessons and get a regular education.

What is the mildest form of autism? 

Level 1 autism refers to a mild form of autism, which practically means that their symptoms can be too subtle that you may not even realize that they exist. This is one of the many reasons why people with Asperger’s syndrome and other high-functioning disorders get a late diagnosis. 

What does anxiety F41.9 mean? 

F41.9 refers to an unspecified form of anxiety disorder. This is a billable code that patients may use when they wish to ask the insurance company to reimburse their mental health expenses.

Despite the ICD-10 code though, the lack of specificity may make the reimbursement process challenging. 

What is the difference between specified and unspecified disorders? 

Unspecified disorders refer to psychiatric conditions that seem to fall under a specific category but do not cover all subcategory symptoms. For instance, you have bipolar disorder, but you show more depressive than manic symptoms. Meanwhile, specified disorders denote known illnesses that meet all the symptoms mentioned in the DSM-V.

Another term you may see in the guide is “other specified disorder.” It means that the psychiatrist is aware that the patient does not have to warrant a complete diagnosis.


Final Thoughts

The reality is that depression NOS is more common than we all realize. However, since the term is unknown to many, people tend to categorize a set of symptoms under a single condition, even though other symptoms do not fit the bill.

My suggestion is that if you feel deep down that your mental disorder is more than depression, anxiety, or another illness, try to get a second or fourth opinion to ensure that you are not getting treated for the wrong condition.