NOS is an abbreviation that stands for “not otherwise specified.” It was formerly used as a clinical diagnostic descriptor when an individual was experiencing mental health symptoms but did not meet the formal criteria for a particular mental illness. In the latest edition of the manual used by clinicians to diagnose mental illnesses, the DSM-5, NOS has been replaced with the terms “other” or “unspecified.”
The NOS may have been used, in your case, because your symptoms weren’t specific enough to warrant a particular diagnosis. Your treatment team may also be using the NOS in place of a diagnosis because of your age. Many clinicians are reluctant to “label” young people with a diagnosis. They fear that by giving a diagnosis a labeling effect will occur. Some therapists believe that when someone is given a label, especially a young person, they might read about it and adopt the behavior and outlook of someone with that label. Also future clinicians may read the label and treat the label and not the individual. That’s possible, but in your case perhaps you don’t simply fit a category. When you return home you can discuss this more fully with your therapist.
It’s a positive sign that you are participating in treatment. People who are open to treatment have a much better prognosis than individuals who deny their symptoms or refuse to seek help. Keep up the great work. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle