Our A-Z Glossary of all the mental Health Terms pulled from the APA Dictionary of Psychology, the DSM-IV-TR, and the DSM-5.
A type of cognitive behavior therapy based on the idea that trying to suppress, manage, or control one’s thoughts and feelings can lead to unwanted behaviors. ACT teaches mindfulness to address these challenges and accept difficult thoughts.
ACT therapists teach clients to identify personal values and goals and make behavioral changes to align with those values and goals. ACT is often applied to many mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse.
Refers to symptoms or conditions that begin suddenly, only last for a short time, and are usually extremely intense.
A type of condition characterized by a mental or physical dependence on alcohol or other drugs. Individuals can also experience behavioral addictions, such as sexual, internet, and gambling addictions.
A disorder characterized by issues with daily functioning and a severe emotional or behavioral response to a specific stressful event, such as a divorce, job loss, or family issues, within three months of the event.
Symptoms of an adjustment disorder can include anxiety, depression, and issues with social functioning. These symptoms usually go away once the stressors are gone, or new coping skills are put into place.
A chronic adjustment disorder occurs when symptoms last longer than six months because of the stressor’s persistence or severity.
An irrational and extreme fear of being in unfamiliar places. Someone who experiences agoraphobia will avoid public situations they might be unable to escape. Agoraphobia can occur alongside a panic disorder which causes an individual to experience panic attacks in triggering situations. It can also occur without a panic disorder, in which case an individual may experience limited symptom attacks or have panic-like symptoms.
A progressive disease that involves cortical atrophy, neuronal death, synapse loss, and more. These issues create memory loss that worsens over time and eventually causes dementia.
Early symptoms include rapid forgetting of new information, impaired recall and recognition, depressive symptoms, and slight personality changes, including decreased energy, social withdrawal, indifference, and impulsivity.
When the disease progresses, symptoms begin to include cognitive issues including intellectual decline, aphasia, agnosia, and apraxia, and behavioral changes, such as apathy, emotional blunting, delusions based on mood, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, increased restlessness, and wandering.
The main risk factors include old age, family history, and genetic factors.
A type of eating disorder characterized by food refusal, fear of weight gain, weight loss, inability to maintain an appropriate body weight for height and age, and distorted body image.
Anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities, but it is most common among adolescent girls. The eating disorder can also cause amenorrhea in girls, which is the absence of at least three menstrual periods.
Drugs that are prescribed as a part of the treatment of depression. Many of them increase the availability of monoamine neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, or dopamine.
Antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) inhibit monoamine oxidase, one of the enzymes that metabolize the monoamine neurotransmitters. Antidepressants called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) block serotonin or norepinephrine reuptake into the presynaptic neuron.
The way antidepressants work allows more of the neurotransmitter to bind with postsynaptic receptors, creating the therapeutic effects of the antidepressant.
A type of personality disorder characterized by a pattern of disregarding and violating the rights of others. This disorder begins in childhood or adolescence and continues into adulthood.
This disorder can manifest in repeated violations of the law, exploitation of others, lying, impulsivity, aggressiveness, disregard for the safety of self and others, and irresponsibility. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder usually experience a lack of guilt, remorse, and empathy when engaging in these behaviors.
Antisocial Personality disorder is one of the most challenging disorders to treat and one of the most heavily researched disorders.
Feelings of apprehension relating to anticipated dangerous, catastrophic, or unfortunate events. Physical symptoms include muscle tension, faster breathing, and a more rapid heartbeat.
Anxiety is different from fear in that it is a future-oriented and long-lasting response to a broad threat, while fear is a present-oriented and short-lived response to a specific threat.
Any disorder that is characterized by an emotional state of fear, worry, or excessive apprehension. Examples of anxiety disorders include panic disorders, different phobias, and generalized anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are chronic and are one of the most common health problems in the United States. They can sometimes occur due to medical conditions such as endocrine disorders, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disorders, metabolic disorders, and neurological disorders.
A type of therapy that incorporates artistic activities like painting and clay modeling. Making art can be a healing experience and allows patients to express themselves creatively, authentically, and spontaneously.
Art that is made in art therapy can be symbolic and help resolve conflicts and create new perceptions that help create growth and rehabilitation. Making art can also lead to personal fulfillment and transformation.
A neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by different degrees of difficulties with social interaction and nonverbal communication, issues transitioning from one task to another, challenges dealing with situational or environmental changes, and preference for repetitive behaviors and interests.
Individuals with Asperger’s disorder may engage in obsessive routines and experience difficulties reading body language and maintaining an appropriate social distance. Some people with Asperger’s disorder are overly sensitive to certain sounds, tastes, smells, and sights.
Those who have Asperger’s disorder have an IQ that ranges from standard to superior, and some individuals may have exceptional specific skills or talents.
Asperger’s disorder is different from autism as those with Asberger’s disorder develop language skills and do not display any clinically significant delay in cognitive or adaptive functioning other than in social situations. However, it is now considered a part of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
A behavioral syndrome that is characterized by inattention and impulsivity or hyperactivity. People with ADHD experience at least six ADHD symptoms persistently.
Symptoms relating to inattention include failure to complete tasks and listen carefully, difficulty concentrating, and distractibility. Symptoms relating to impulsivity or hyperactivity include:
ADHD symptoms begin before age seven and can impair social, academic, and occupational functioning. ADHD is also sometimes referred to as attention-deficit disorder (ADD).
Any disorder that is characterized by difficulties with communication and social interaction, and onsets during preschool years.
ASD used to include separate disorders such as autism, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett syndrome but is now used as the term for all symptoms associated with these disorders, and they are no longer considered distinct diagnoses.
A personality disorder that is characterized by sensitivity to negative criticism and rejection, a strong desire for acceptance, social withdrawal and inhibition, low self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy.
People with avoidant personality disorder can experience distress and may have difficulties working and maintaining relationships.
A type of therapy that identifies self-destructive and unhealthy behaviors and uses operant conditioning and classical conditioning to help change these behaviors. Behavioral therapy focuses on the behavior itself rather than the underlying causes of the behavior.
Techniques used in behavioral therapy include behavioral research, biofeedback, modeling, and systematic desensitization.
Drugs that work to calm or sedate by depressing activity in the central nervous system. They are used to treat generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and insomnia.
Types of benzodiazepines include chlordiazepoxide, alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, estazolam, flurazepam, quazepam, temazepam, and triazolam.
Prolonged use of benzodiazepines can lead to tolerance and dependence upon the drug.
A type of eating disorder characterized by recurring episodes of eating abnormally large quantities of food and feelings of shame, distress, and guilt associated with the behavior.
Binge eating disorder occurs without vomiting, laxative misuse, excessive exercise, or fasting.
A form of treatment that aims to change the biological functioning of a person. This type of therapy includes drug therapies, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychosurgery.
A type of mood disorder in which someone alternates between symptoms of mania and depression. This disorder includes the following subtypes:
A type of disorder characterized by excessive preoccupation with a perceived defect in physical appearance or a minor appearance flaw. The individual will consistently check on the deficiency.
BDD is considered a somatoform disorder because it is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder. An individual with BDD experiences obsessions with their appearance and compulsions related to those obsessions.
A personality disorder characterized by a long-term pattern of mood instability, trouble with interpersonal relationships, and issues with self-image. This disorder can create problems in an individual’s social life and work life.
BPD can cause an individual to exhibit:
Limits that are set to protect an individual in a relationship or during an activity. For example, a therapist may set a boundary that discussions of their personal life are off-limits, that there is no touching, etc. Respecting boundaries is an essential aspect of a therapeutic relationship.
A type of eating disorder characterized by recurring binge-eating episodes, including uncontrollably ingesting abnormally large quantities of food. This binge-eating is followed by self-induced vomiting, misusing laxatives, or excessive exercise.
A professional health care worker who is responsible for assessing, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating a patient’s medical services. They work with patients, providers, and health insurance plans. A case manager is usually a nurse or social worker.
Refers to symptoms or conditions that are persistent and get worse over time. Chronic symptoms do not have a cure.
A healthcare facility that is used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in emergency situations.
A clinic is also a brief or instructional program or session. Clinics cover diagnostic, therapeutic, and remedial topics.
Refers to anything relating to the observation and treatment of patients. At one time, clinical methods only involved direct observations of patients. Clinical methods now also utilize biological and statistical factors to treat patients and diagnose disorders.
A doctorate-level mental health professional trained in the diagnosis and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders.
Clinical psychologists work in various settings, including health and mental health clinics, research, academic settings, group practices, and independent practices. They are also consultants to medical, legal, social work, and community-relations professionals.
The action of knowing and understanding through perceiving, conceiving, remembering, reasoning, judging, imagining, and problem solving.
A type of therapy that uses treatment techniques from cognitive therapy and behavior therapy. CBT is used to identify and change negative thought patterns and destructive behaviors through cognitive restructuring and behavioral methods.
Refers to more than one illness, disease, or disorder occurring simultaneously in one individual.
A behavior or mental activity that someone engages in to reduce distress or anxiety. The behavior or mental activity is often performed to minimize the distress or anxiety associated with an obsession or to prevent a future event that is perceived as stressful.
For example, someone who experiences an obsession with cleanliness or contamination may repetitively wash their hands to the point where their skin is cracked and bleeding.
Engaging in compulsions can provide temporary relief but does not provide any real gratification for the individual.
A behavioral and emotional issue characterized by violation of others’ basic rights and an inability to adhere to age-appropriate social standards.
Conduct disorder can manifest in the following behaviors:
Those with conduct disorder are often callous and lack any feelings of guilt.
A psychological strategy or adaptation used to decrease tension or anxiety in stressful situations.
Psychological interventions often focus on getting rid of harmful coping mechanisms.
A type of disorder characterized by alternating periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms and lasts at least two years. The hypomanic and depressive symptoms in cyclothymic disorder are not severe enough to be considered major depressive or hypomanic episodes. This disorder is typically considered a milder form of bipolar disorder.
A personal idea or belief that is firmly maintained with conviction despite contradicting what is generally accepted as reality. Delusions can be short-term and disconnected (delirium) or highly organized and detailed (delusional disorders) but are usually somewhere in between.
Common types of delusions include:
A disorder of mental processes characterized by a deterioration of memory and at least one other cognitive function. Dementia is often severe enough to interfere with daily social life and work life.
Dementia is not the same as age-associated memory impairment or mild cognitive impairment, as it has a much more significant effect on daily functioning than those.
Refers to a type of drug that diminishes or slows the function or activity of a system or organ in the body.
Depressants reduce arousal and stimulation and slow down messages between the brain and body of an individual.
A negative state of being that ranges from feelings of sadness or discontentment to feelings of extreme sadness and pessimism.
Depression interferes with daily functioning and can cause various physical, cognitive, and social changes such as changes in eating habits, altered sleep patterns, lack of energy or motivation, difficulty with concentration or decision making, withdrawal from social activities.
Depression is a symptom of a variety of mental health disorders.
The process of identifying the nature of an illness or disorder by examination of the symptoms with assessment techniques like tests and examinations.
Diagnosis can also refer to the classification of an individual’s condition based on the disease, abnormality, or characteristic they have.
A type of therapy that uses techniques from behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and mindfulness. DBT helps individuals accept their reality and behaviors and change destructive thoughts and behavioral patterns by tolerating and regulating emotions.
DBT was specifically developed for difficult patients, such as those who experience borderline personality disorder.
A type of stress that occurs as a reaction to feeling overwhelmed by any demands, unfortunate events, losses, or perceived threats. It can cause individuals to have difficulties adjusting physically and psychologically, which can create significant health risks.
Distress can also refer to a negative emotion that has an unidentified or unspecified specific quality.
Occurs when someone with dysthymic disorder experiences a major depressive episode concurrently.
Double depression is most easily distinguished from dysthymic disorder alone, minor depressive disorder, and single-episode depression by the presence of severe hopelessness. Hardly any other distinguishing symptoms are widely agreed upon among researchers and practitioners. Some say that there are very few clinical differences between double depression and other depressive conditions. Others claim that those who have double depression experience more severe symptoms, more significant comorbidity, and poorer prognosis and are not as responsive to treatment.
The diagnosis of two separate disorders that occur at the same time in one individual. An example of this is depression and substance use disorder coexisting simultaneously in the same person.
A learning disability characterized by significant challenges concerning reading, spelling, writing words, and sometimes arithmetic. Someone with dyslexia may experience an impaired ability to process sounds, make connections between written letters and what they sound like, and read or write things backward.
Dyslexia can be developmental or acquired and does not occur due to a lack of motivation, sensory impairment, a lack of opportunities, or emotional disturbances. It is also not indicative of intellectual ability and is not considered a speech or vision disorder, although one or both may be present.
A mood disorder characterized by symptoms similar to those of major depressive disorder, but that is less severe and longer-lasting.
A disorder that is characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits and attitudes related to food. Examples of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
A feeling of intense happiness or excitement and an increased sense of well-being. Exaggerated euphoria is a common symptom of a manic or hypomanic episode.
A type of therapy that helps a client change through experiencing what a client is going through and the feelings that occur on the surface and deeper.
In experiential therapy, clients access and express their current feelings and feelings from previous significant experiences. Experiential therapists offer the clients ways to integrate their experiences into realistic and healthy perspectives of themselves.
A form of behavior therapy used for individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This kind of therapy involves exposing a client to situations that trigger obsessions and provoke compulsive behaviors. The client is encouraged to abstain from compulsions after the exposure for as long as they can.
The intensity of the exposures usually increases over time. For example, suppose a client experiences obsessions and compulsions related to cleanliness and germs. In that case, they may first be asked to touch a doorknob, then touch a floor, then sit on a public toilet seat, and so on, all without engaging in their preferred compulsions.
Another ERP method is called flooding, which takes the opposite approach and begins with the most feared exposure. In either method, the exposures occur until the client’s emotional responses are greatly reduced or no longer occur.
In ERP, clients are not actually prevented from engaging in compulsions. Instead, they are encouraged to continue experiencing the exposure until their urge to engage in their preferred compulsion noticeably diminishes.
A personality trait characterized by a predominant concern for and engagement of energy in what is happening outside of oneself instead of what is happening inside oneself.
Extroverted people are generally outgoing, gregarious, friendly, and openly expressive.
A type of treatment characterized by visualization of a traumatic event while concentrating on rapid movements of a therapist’s finger. EMDR is used to decrease the impact of symptoms that occur as a result of trauma. These symptoms include anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts.
A type of therapy focused on improving relationships and behavioral patterns within a family and individuals in the family. Various forms of treatment and models of therapy are used in family therapy.
The feeling of discomfort or distress regarding the physical or social aspects of one’s sex assigned at birth.
Gender dysphoria replaces gender identity disorder which shifts the focus from gender identification itself to the distress that someone experiences because of the feelings that arise from the incongruence of their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.
Children with gender dysphoria may believe that they are a different gender than assigned at birth, a preference for toys, games, roles, and activities typically associated with the opposite gender, and discontentment with their sexual anatomy.
Adults with gender dysphoria may experience a strong desire to undergo sex reassignment and replace their sex characteristics with those of the opposite gender, a belief that they exhibit the emotions of the opposite gender, and a preference to be treated and recognized as the alternative gender identity.
A disorder characterized by persistent and excessive worry about various concerns, including current events, finances, appearance, health, activities of friends and family, work, and school.
Symptoms of GAD include:
People diagnosed with GAD have difficulty controlling their worry and experience symptoms more often than not for six months or longer.
An increased likelihood of developing a physical or mental condition or disorder based on genetic makeup. Certain traits are inherited genetically. For example, schizophrenia has a genetic predisposition that affects less than 1% of the population, but larger percentages of relatives, siblings, and twins of the affected individuals.
Refers to an unrealistic and exaggerated sense of superiority. Someone who experiences grandiosity may believe they have more extraordinary abilities than they do or are more important than they are. These may be considered delusions of grandeur in extreme cases.
The deep sorrow that someone experiences after a significant loss, usually the death of a loved one. Grief is different from bereavement and mourning as these do not always result in grief, and grief is not always shown publicly.
Grief often causes distress, anxiety, confusion, obsession with the past, and apprehension of the future. Intense grief can cause disruption of the immune system, self-neglect, and thoughts of suicide.
A type of therapy characterized by mental and emotional interaction between two or more participants. This type of therapy focuses on participant interaction, and one or more therapists facilitate and guide it.
The goal of group therapy is to create a supportive and encouraging environment and ultimately help patients develop self-respect and self-understanding and improve interpersonal relationship skills.
False sensory experiences that appear to be real but are created in the mind. The most common hallucinations are auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t there) and visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there).
Hallucinations usually occur as a symptom of a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia, but can also occur due to the use of substances, neurological abnormalities, and other conditions.
A hallucination is different from an illusion, which is a misinterpretation of something that is actually occurring.
A type of psychology that focuses on looking at things as a whole. Holistic psychology seeks to understand individuals biologically, psychologically, and culturally and claims that individual characteristics can not explain the whole of these components.
A regulatory substance produced in an organism and secreted into the bloodstream. Hormones include secretions from the pituitary gland, corticosteroids and epinephrine from the adrenal glands, and sex hormones from the reproductive glands. The hypothalamus and stomach also secrete hormones.
An episode characterized by an elevated or irritable mood, inflated self-esteem, a decreased need for sleep, increased speech, racing thought, increased activity, engagement in risky behaviors, and a tendency to be more easily distracted.
Someone diagnosed with bipolar II disorder experiences one or more hypomanic episodes. Hypomanic symptoms are also characteristic of cyclothymic disorder.
A type of therapy that occurs on a one-on-one basis between an individual and a therapist. Therapists seek to treat one client’s psychological problems at a time and focus on his or her unique needs.
In general, any action taken to interfere with a process. A drug and alcohol intervention is a technique in which loved ones express concerns regarding an individual’s addiction and behaviors associated with their addiction. Interventions usually take place with the guidance of and in the presence of a mental health professional.
The end goal of an intervention is for the client to seek treatment immediately. If the client refuses to seek treatment, participants share their interpersonal consequences for this decision. For example, the client’s mother may tell them they need to move out.
A personality trait characterized by a predominant concern for oneself and one’s inner thoughts and feelings rather than what is occurring outside of oneself.
Introverted people are generally more withdrawn, shy, fond of being alone, reserved, quiet, and deliberate. They tend to be more skeptical and prefer to work on their own.
A legal procedure used to confine someone with a serious mental illness to a mental hospital. Involuntarily hospitalized individuals are considered a danger to themselves or others and may not recognize their need for treatment or understand the severity of their illness. They also may not be able to survive without this medical attention.
A mood disorder characterized by the symptoms of a major depressive episode. These symptoms include:
Symptoms of major depressive disorder occur without accompanying episodes of mania or hypomania. A major depressive episode may accompany episodes of mania or hypomania in someone with bipolar disorder.
An episode characterized by an elevated or irritable mood, restlessness, talkativeness, racing thoughts, inflated self-esteem, a decreased need for sleep, engagement in risky behaviors, and a tendency to be more easily distracted.
Manic episodes are different from hypomanic episodes. Manic episodes last at least a week, while hypomanic episodes last at least four consecutive days. Someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder will experience one or more manic episodes.
A drug prescribed by a doctor or available over the counter that helps treat an illness, disease, disorder, or condition. They are specifically used to treat mental illnesses.
A disorder characterized by significant distress, impairment of personal functioning, abnormal behaviors, or some combination of these. Mental disorders can result from physiological, genetic, chemical, social, and some environmental factors.
A state of mind characterized by emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health is measured by good behavioral adjustment, freedom from anxiety and disabling symptoms, the establishment of healthy relationships, and the ability to cope with life’s demands and stresses.
A mental health professional who provides independent services or works as a part of a treatment team. Mental health counselors primarily work with those who experience emotional or behavioral issues.
The state of awareness of one’s internal state and surroundings. Mindfulness can be applied to various therapies, including mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness meditation.
These therapies can help individuals connect to their thoughts and emotions in the present moment without judgment or reaction, which can ultimately create healthier patterns and avoidance of destructive habits.
Any disorder characterized by prolonged and pervasive emotional disturbances. Mood disorders include bipolar disorders and their subtypes, including bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder; and depressive disorders including major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Any kind of medication used to treat cyclic mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder, as they reduce the symptoms of manic episodes. Mood stabilizers are sometimes used to manage symptoms of personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder.
Examples of mood stabilizers include lithium and anticonvulsants like valproic acid, carbamazepine, and oxcarbazepine.
A disorder characterized by a long-term pattern of an inflated sense of self-importance, talent, and achievements; a need for excessive attention and admiration; a lack of empathy for other people and a tendency to take advantage of others and feel entitled to special favors; fantasies of sex, power, or beauty; and either indifference or feelings of rage and humiliation in response to criticism.
A persistent disturbing preoccupation in the form of an idea, image, or impulse that is intrusive or inappropriate. Obsessions are inconsistent with self, cannot be controlled, and lead to anxiety, distress, or discomfort.
Obsessions are different from excessive worries associated with everyday occurrences because they do not pertain to real-life issues. Obsessions include thoughts about contamination, a desire to maintain things in a particular order, unrelenting doubts, aggressive impulses, and sexual imagery. Individuals often attempt to neutralize obsessions with compulsive behavior.
A disorder characterized by persistent preoccupations or obsessions which prompt the performance of a neutralizing behavior or compulsion.
Obsessions often involve preoccupations with contamination, dirt, illness, or doubts about performing specific actions. Compulsions often manifest in the form of repetitive cleaning, checking, ordering, repeating, and hoarding.
Obsessions and compulsions are considered excessive, unreasonable, time-consuming, distressing, and interfere with daily life.
A class of drugs that produce analgesia, drowsiness, euphoria, respiratory depression, and reduces gastrointestinal motility.
Clinically, opioids are used as pain relievers, anesthetics, cough suppressants, and antidiarrheal drugs. Many forms of opioids can be used recreationally, which can cause abuse and physical dependence.
Examples of opioids include naturally occurring opiates such as morphine, synthetic derivatives of opiates such as heroin, synthetic opioid agonists such as methadone, opioid antagonists, mixed agonist-antagonists, and endogenous opioids.
An eating disorder characterized by an obsessive concern with eating healthy. Orthorexia Nervosa is primarily focused on wellness rather than weight loss but is typically very restrictive.
People with Orthorexia Nervosa may only eat certain foods and avoid other food groups altogether. This restriction can lead to extremely low caloric intake, malnutrition, and even death in extreme cases.
A sudden and intense feeling of apprehension and fearfulness without the presence of any actual danger. Panic attack symptoms include heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, sweating, and dizziness.
Panic attacks can involve fears of going crazy, losing control, or dying. They may occur in the context of anxiety disorders, other mental disorders, or general medical conditions.
A type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent panic attacks that are unexpected. These panic attacks are associated with concern of having another attack, worry related to the consequences of an attack, and behavioral changes related to the attacks.
The ability to become aware of objects, relationships, and events through the senses. Perceptive activities include recognizing, observing, and discriminating. These activities help organisms to respond to stimuli appropriately.
Any type of disorder characterized by a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behaving that interferes with daily life. Symptoms of personality disorders can be persistent and can also occur in isolated episodes.
Specific types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters. These clusters and their associated personality disorders include:
An extreme or irrational fear of a specific situation, object, or activity. Phobias are either avoided or endured with severe distress. They can include things like heights, dogs, water, blood, driving, flying, etc.
A disorder characterized by feelings of fear, terror, or hopelessness triggered by experiencing or witnessing an event the individual believes to be a threat to life, physical integrity, and safety.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
A mood disorder that only affects women and begins about a week prior to menstruation and ends within the first few days of menstruation. PMDD is characterized by mood swings, depressed mood, anxiety, hopelessness, and decreased interest in activities.
PMDD is more severe than premenstrual syndrome, as its symptoms can impair social, work, and relational functioning and only affects a small percentage of women.
The forecast of the severity, duration, and outcome of a condition, disease, or disorder in medicine and mental health science. A medical professional can give a prognosis before treatment so patients can make a knowledgeable selection of different treatment options.
A type of cognitive-behavioral therapy used for adults who experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Prolonged exposure therapy occurs throughout 9 to 12 sessions that last 60 to 90 minutes each and occur once or twice a week. The first two sessions involve explaining the treatment, information gathering, forming a treatment plan, and teaching breathing retention.
The remaining sessions are dedicated to the client reliving traumatic experiences through imaginal exposure. They imagine these traumatic events and describe them out loud as vividly as possible as if they were occurring in the present moment. Clients describe their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
Clients are recorded in their sessions and later listen to the recordings on their own as they confront the situations that cause distress. They discuss this homework in later sessions, and the therapist validates the clients’ experiences.
The desired outcome is for clients to learn that trauma memories are not harmful and can cope with these memories and change their false beliefs. Eventually, the client should no longer experience excessive anxiety, fear, and other distressing emotions, at least not to the same extent as before, in response to memories of the traumatic event.
Individual or environmental behaviors or characteristics that reduce the probability of developing a particular disease or disorder, decrease the severity of an existing condition or mitigate stress’s general effects.
An example of a protective factor is regular exercise, which can reduce coronary heart disease, hypertension, and depression. Examples of protective factors that enhance mental health and reduce stress include supportive social networks and positive coping skills.
A medical practitioner who specializes in the study, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of personality, mental, and behavioral disorders.
In the US, psychiatrists are educated through four years of premedical school, four years of medical school in which they spend the last two years studying with physicians, and four years of residency in a hospital or agency approved by the American Medical Association.
Someone who is professionally trained in an area of psychology at a university or school of professional psychology. Psychologists obtain a doctoral degree in philosophy (Ph.D.), psychology (PsyD), or education (EdD).
Psychologists may work in various areas, including laboratories, schools, social agencies, hospitals, clinics, the military, prisons, the government, and private practice. They may also engage in various professional activities, including psychological counseling, other mental health care services, educational testing and assessment, teaching, research, and business consulting.
A mental state in which reality is experienced in a different way than other people. Psychosis is characterized by disruptions in perception, cognition, cognitive processing, and emotions. As a result of these disruptions, an individual in psychosis may experience delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech.
A type of psychological therapy in which a professionally trained and licensed mental health professional uses different communication and interaction forms to assess, diagnose, and treat adverse emotional reactions, thought processes, and behaviors.
Psychotherapy can be used for individuals, couples, and families, and on a group level. Types of psychotherapy include psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive or behavior therapy, humanistic therapy, and integrative psychotherapy.
A psychotherapist may be a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, social worker, or psychiatric nurse.
A type of eating disorder characterized by recurrent vomiting or other method of expelling meals after feeling a loss of control when eating even small amounts of food. Purging disorder is different from bulimia nervosa, as it does not involve binging.
Purging disorders usually onset in late adolescence around 18-20 years old and affect 1.1% to 5.3% of women at some point in their life.
A type of therapy that uses recreational activities as a part of rehabilitation or therapeutic processes for someone with a physical or psychological illness. Recreational activities used in this kind of therapy include arts and crafts, sports, games, and group outings.
A behavior or characteristic that increases an individual’s chances of developing a disease or disorder. These characteristics can be constitutional (e.g., genetic), psychological, or environmental.
Coping behaviors that are used in an attempt to reduce feelings of anxiety and fear or prevent a feared catastrophic event. Someone with a social phobia may engage in safety behaviors like wearing sunglasses to avoid making eye contact with anyone or memorizing what they will say at a social event.
Individuals with anxiety disorders believe that safety behaviors prevent them from experiencing a feared catastrophe, even when there is a genuine lack of danger.
A disorder characterized by a combination of either a major depressive episode or manic episode and symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, or catatonic behavior.
Someone diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder will also experience delusions or hallucinations for at least two weeks in the absence of mood symptoms and experience mood episodes most of the time.
A psychotic disorder characterized by an abnormal interpretation of reality due to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disturbances. Schizophrenia usually onsets between the late teens and mid-thirties.
Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia must experience disturbances associated with the disorder for at least six months, including one month of at least two active-phase symptoms, including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behavior, lack of emotional responsiveness, or apathy. They must experience delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech as one of their symptoms.
A disorder characterized by major depressive episodes, manic episodes, or both during specific and predictable times of the year. Major depressive episodes characteristic of SAD usually occur during the fall or winter months.
A type of antidepressant medication that works by blocking serotonin’s reuptake into presynaptic neurons in the central nervous system. SSRIs are used in the treatment of depression, manic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Some common side effects of SSRIs include nausea, headache, anxiety, tremor, and sometimes sexual dysfunction.
A type of anxiety disorder characterized by inappropriate, persistent, and excessive anxiety regarding being away from home or loved ones. Someone with a separation anxiety disorder may also experience anxiety regarding anticipated separation or harm to loved ones.
Other manifestations of a separation anxiety disorder include fear of being alone, fear of going to sleep without the presence of attachment figures, separation-related nightmares, and some physical symptoms associated with anticipated separation, including vomiting, nausea, headaches, stomachaches.
Children must experience symptoms for at least four weeks, and adults must experience symptoms for at least six months to be diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder.
A type of anxiety disorder characterized by an intense and persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. Someone with social phobia experiences extreme social anxiety and performance anxiety which causes distress.
The individual will usually avoid social situations due to this distress. If they cannot avoid the social situation, they will experience discomfort or dread while enduring the situation.
Work that is done by a trained professional to help individuals, families, and other groups manage the challenges they face within the context of their community. Social workers address issues that arise from mental or physical disorders, poverty, housing, child care, stress at work, and unemployment.
Refers to something occurring in, relating to, or describing the mind rather than the body.
A negative social stigma regarding mental, physical, or social deficiencies in an individual. The social disapproval associated with this stigma can cause discrimination and exclusion of individuals with mental illnesses.
Any type of substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity. Each stimulant is often classified according to the system or function in the body that it excites.
Stimulants can induce alertness, elevated mood, wakefulness, increased speech and motor activity, and decreased appetite. Large doses of stimulants can cause anxiety, panic, seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, aggression, and paranoia.
Examples of stimulants include amphetamines (Adderall and Dexedrine), methylphenidates (Concerta and Ritalin), diet pills (Didrex, Bontril, Preludin, Fastin, Adipex P, Ionamin, and Meridia) and illicit drugs (methamphetamine and cocaine).
A mental state characterized by emotional strain in response to internal or external stressors, including adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress affects almost every system of the body and influences feelings and behaviors.
Some stress symptoms include palpitations, sweating, dry mouth, shortness of breath, fidgeting, accelerated speech, intensification of negative emotions, more significant stress fatigue. Stress affects mental and physical health and can cause associated disorders and diseases and reduce the quality of life.
A disorder characterized by excessive use of a substance. Individuals with a substance use disorder may experience significant social, occupational, legal, or interpersonal consequences that are recurrent. Some examples of these consequences include absence from work or school, arrests, and relational difficulties.
Individuals may also experience various cognitive, behavioral, and physical symptoms associated with excessive drug use and develop a tolerance or experience withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing use. Those with a substance use disorder are also often unable to stop using substances despite consequences.
Drugs associated with abuse and dependency include caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, and sedatives.
A syndrome that develops after abruptly stopping prolonged and heavy drug and alcohol use and is characterized by a variety of physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea and vomiting, insomnia, mood swings, and anxiety.
Drugs associated with withdrawal include alcohol, amphetamines, caffeine, cannabis, cocaine, opioids, sedatives, and tobacco.
The risk of suicide, which is indicated in suicidal ideation, suicidal intent, or a well-thought-out and elaborated suicide plan.
Death caused by injuring oneself with the intent to kill oneself. Suicide often occurs during a major depressive episode. It can also occur as a result of a substance use disorder or another psychiatric disorder.
Suicide can sometimes occur without a psychiatric disorder when someone is experiencing extreme bereavement or severe health issues.
An attempt to kill oneself resulting in survival. Risk factors for a suicide attempt include hopelessness, heightened impulsivity, problem-solving deficits, perfectionism, family history of suicide, childhood trauma, and certain mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, and psychotic disorders.
One of the most commonly identified protective factors of a suicide attempt is a supportive family and social network.
A preoccupation with thinking about, considering, or planning suicide. Most individuals who experience suicidal ideations do not attempt suicide. Suicidal ideation is typically a symptom of a major depressive episode.
A group of signs and symptoms that occur together as a result of a specific physical or mental disease or disorder.
A type of therapy that is used to reduce anxiety associated with phobias. In systematic desensitization, the client is first trained in deep-muscle relaxation and then lists phobias from the weakest to the strongest. Finally, each situation is presented to them through imagination or in reality, from weakest to strongest, while the client utilizes deep-muscle relaxation. Eventually, the client responds less and less to phobias.
A trained professional who practices and is skilled in a particular kind of therapy to treat mental or physical diseases or disorders. A therapist may sometimes also be referred to as a psychotherapist in mental health.
A condition characterized by a diminished effect of a specific dose of a drug or alcohol. Tolerance is often a result of persistent drug or alcohol use. Someone who experiences tolerance may need to increase their intake of a specific drug or alcohol to achieve the original effect. Tolerance is indicative of physical dependence on drugs or alcohol.
A neurological disorder characterized by sudden, repetitive, rapid, and unwanted movements or vocal tics, including grunts, yelps, barks, sniffs, and sometimes obscene or profane words or expressions.
Tics associated with Tourette’s disorder can occur multiple times a day for over a year. Any period in which tics do not occur does not last longer than three months. Tourette’s disorder typically onsets before age 18 and often starts during childhood or early adolescence.
An emotional response to any disturbing experience. The emotional response includes feelings of significant fear, helplessness, dissociation, confusion, and other intense emotions. These feelings can create a long-lasting effect on an individual’s attitudes, behaviors, and regular functioning.
Some examples of a traumatic event include rape, war, industrial accidents, and extreme natural disasters. These events can make the world feel less safe to people who have experienced them,
Medical care given to a patient to relieve a pathological condition. Types of treatment can include drugs (medication), psychotherapy, or surgery.
A disorder characterized by a compulsive desire and the persistent action of pulling hair from any part of one’s body. Someone with trichotillomania will typically feel increased tension before pulling out their hair and will feel a release once they complete the action. This disorder is identified as an obsessive-compulsive condition.
A stimulus that affects one’s emotional state by causing extreme distress or a feeling of being overwhelmed. An example of a trigger is a memory that brings up uncomfortable or upsetting feelings in the present moment.
Entry of a patient to a psychiatric hospital or other inpatient unit without coercion, and at their own request. This hospitalization can end whenever the patient believes they are ready to leave.