The multiaxial approach was used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in order to allow clinicians to use a multifaceted evaluation of the patient in order to arrive at a comprehensive and more accurate diagnosis.
The DSM used five different dimensions or axes in order to rate and evaluate patients.
Axis I includes clinical disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.
Axis II was comprised of personality disorders (like narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and schizoid personality disorder) and developmental disorders like being mentally handicapped.
Axis III includes medical conditions like brain injury and medical disorders.
Axis IV is concerned with psychosocial and environmental conditions.
Axis V is the 'Global assessment of functioning' which is a scale that rates the social, work, and mental functioning of individuals. It is used to determine how well they live and adapt in their world. The multiaxial approach was used in the DSM until the DSM-5 was introduced in 2013.