The update of the Handbook of Differential Diagnosis, DSM-5A, will contain the description of a new psychiatric disease of interest to scuba enthusiasts: the scuba diving addiction (SDA), a compulsive urge to spend time underwater at all costs. Victims tend to neglect other aspects of their lifes for the sake of repeated, prolonged dives at increasingly brief intervals.
“This is a serious psychiatric condition” says clinical psychologist Prof. Peter O. Bent from the New University of South Wales (UK). “The patients suffering from scuba diving addiction will frequently miss work and family events just to get underwater. Once their residual nitrogen levels drop below a certain level, withdrawal symptoms include the shakes, itchy armpit rashes and recurrent dreams of being underwater.” According to Prof. Bent, the only known therapy is immediate submergence of the SDA sufferer in the ocean. This can be a real problem if the addict is in a land-locked country, and travel to such places is discouraged for SDA patients. “In Mongolia they are fucked” quipped Prof. Bent.
It is estimated that up to 5% of scuba divers will suffer from SDA at least once during their life-times.