Weather Forecast


Mental health glossary

Editor's note: This glossary is part of a RiverTown Multimedia spotlight on mental health. Find the series here.

Affective disorder (also known as mood disorder) — a category of mental health problems that include depressive disorders.

Anxiety — an intense feeling of fear or discomfort, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such and a pounding heart, sweating, nausea, rapid breathing, dizziness, or numbness.

Addiction — A condition in which the body requires a drug in order to function without physical and psychological reactions to its absence; often the outcome of tolerance and dependence.

Aggression behaviors — that cause psychological or physical harm to another individual.

Anxiety — An intense emotional response caused by the preconscious recognition that a repressed conflict is about to emerge into consciousness.

Anxiety disorders — Mental disorders marked by physiological arousal, feelings of tension, and intense apprehension without apparent reason.

Bipolar disorder — A mood disorder characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania.

Depression — a depressive disorder characterized by extreme feelings of sadness, lack of self-worth, and dejection.

Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT — a procedure causing a brief convulsion by passing an electric current through the brain; used to treat some mental disorders.

Euphoria — a feeling of elation or well-being that is not based on reality and is commonly exaggerated.

Major depression (also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression) — classified as a type of affective disorder or mood disorder that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs, becoming a serious medical condition and important health concern in this country.

Mania — a mood disorder which may be characterized by extreme elation, impulsivity, irritability, rapid speech, nervousness, distractibility, and/or poor judgment.

Manic depression (also known as bipolar disorder) — classified as a type of affective disorder or mood disorder that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs. Manic depression is characterized by periodic episodes of extreme elation, elevated mood, or irritability (also called mania) countered by periodic, classic depressive symptoms.

Mood disorder (also known as affective disorder) — a category of mental health problems which includes depressive disorders.

Psychiatrist — licensed physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Their medical and psychiatric training prepares them to treat adults and children either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications, if needed.

Psychologist — a specialist in the study of the structure and function of the brain and related behaviors or mental processes. A psychologist may provide psychological evaluation, assessment, testing, and treatment, but may not prescribe medications.

Psychosis — a loss of contact with reality

Substance abuse disorder — includes alcohol and drug misuse and abuse. Problems extend into the social, family and occupational functions of the affected person. Any drug, including alcohol, that is used in excess of legal limits or prescription directions is considered abusive. Intoxication and withdrawal are common problems in the abusing population.

Suicidal behavior — actions taken by one who is considering or preparing to cause their own death.

Suicidal ideation — thoughts of suicide or wanting to take one's life.

Suicide — the intentional taking of one's own life.

Suicide attempt — an act focused on taking one's life that is unsuccessful in causing death.

— all definitions from and American Psychological Association