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FundaMENTALs
Glossary of Common Psychology and Mental Health Terminology

Reasons for Therapy
Addiction
Addiction is a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. More about addiction.
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA)
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACoA) is a 12-step recovery program for adults who grew in in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family and share any number of unhealthy feelings and behaviors. More about Adult Children of Alcoholics.
Agoraphobia
Derived from the Greek word for marketplace, agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder marked by fear and avoidance of being in open or inescapable places such as crowds, wide-open areas, bridges, and shopping centers. More about agoraphobia.
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol that usually involves periods of frequent and heavy drinking and drinking despite problems resulting from alcohol use. More about alcoholism.
Amnesia
Amnesia is a condition caused by the loss of memory, either wholly or partially. Memory is housed in several parts of the brain's limbic system, and any condition that interferes with the operation of the limbic system can cause amnesia. More about amnesia.
Anger
Anger is a very powerful basic human emotion that can stem from feelings of frustration, hurt, annoyance or disappointment. More about anger.
Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa, like bulimia, is an eating disorder that makes people lose weight rapidly due to extreme diets and exercise regimens. Anorexics may weigh an amount that is not healthy for their height and age, or they may be attempting to reach an unhealthy body weight. More about anorexia nervosa.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is a mental illness marked by long-term patterns of disregarding and violating the rights of others. More about antisocial personality disorder.
ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child's age and development. More about ADHD.
Anxiety
Anxiety is a type of fear--a powerful emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes that has a strong effect on the mind and body because it is one of our natural survival responses. More about anxiety.
Anxiety Disorders / Generalized Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when excessive worry about everyday problems occurs for 6 months or more. More about anxiety disorders.
Autism
Autism is an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions that exist along a spectrum. All people with autism have difficulties with social and communication skills. More about autism.
Behavior Disorders
There are two major types of behavior disorders, Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). (Some children whose diagnosis does not perfectly match up with either may also be classified under "Disruptive behavior, Not Otherwise Specified (NOS).") Children with behavior disorders repeatedly behave in ways that violate rules, social norms or the rights of others. More about behavior disorders.
Binge Drinking
Binge drinking occurs when a person follows a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 gram percent or above. For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks (male), or four or more drinks (female), in about two hours. More about binge drinking.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures, such as exercise or purging as someone with bulimia or anorexia might do, to counter the binge eating. More about binge eating disorder.
Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder that causes people to shift between extremes in mood and energy. More about bipolar disorder.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as dysmorphophobia, is a mental illness involving an obsessive concern over an imagined or minor defect in one's appearance. More about body dysmorphic disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent thoughts, feelings and behaviors. More about borderline personality disorder.
Bulimia
Bulimia is a potentially life threatening eating disorder in which the sufferer attempts to control his or her weight by purging food. More about Bulimia.
Childhood Depression
Childhood depression is the early onset of clinical depression, which causes sufferers to feel discouraged, hopeless, sad, and unsettled. More about childhood depression.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFIDS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as chronic fatigue immune dysfunction and Myalgic encephalomyelitis, refers to severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other medical conditions. More about chronic fatigue.
Compulsions
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or make their obsessions-thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of the person's control-go away. More about compulsions.
Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome
Compulsive hoarding syndrome, also called compulsive hoarding and hoarding, is characterized by the excessive collection of items and difficulty discarding things that appear to most people to have little or no value to the point where clutter makes it difficult to navigate through one's home. More about compulsive hoarding syndrome.
Compulsive Shopping Disorder
Compulsive shopping, also called compulsive buying disorder, is described as a pattern of chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes difficult to stop and results in harmful consequences. More about compulsive shopping disorder.
Conduct Disorder
Conduct disorder is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in children and adolescents in which the rights of others or basic social rules are violated in a variety of settings including home, school, and in social situations. More about conduct disorder.
Delusions
Delusions are a persistent, false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary. More about delusions.
Dementia
Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. More about dementia.
Depression
Depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. More about depression.
Developmental Disabilities
Developmental disability (DD) is an umbrella term for impairments in cognition, communication, hearing, vision, learning, mobility, self-care and/or behavior that are manifested prior to adulthood (by twenty-two years of age) and persist throughout one's life. More about developmental disabilities.
Developmental Disorders
Developmental disorders fall under the "umbrella term" developmental disability, which includes impairments in cognition, communication, hearing, vision, learning, mobility, self-care and/or behavior that are manifested prior to adulthood and persist throughout one's life. More about developmental disorders.
Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing physician in order to alleviate pain or get high. Illegal drug abuse is the use of a drug that is forbidden by law or statute. More about drug abuse.
Dissociative Disorders
Dissociative disorders involve a dissociation or interruption of an individuals sense of self. More about dissociative disorders.
Eating Disorders
Eating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. They are present when a person experiences severe disturbances in their eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape. More about eating disorders.
Grief & Grieving
Grief is your emotional reaction to a significant loss, such as the death of a beloved person or animal or the loss of a way of life such as a job, marriage, or good health. More about grief and grieving.
Guilt & Shame
Guilt is both a cognitive and an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes that he or she has violated a moral standard and is responsible for that violation. Shame can be explained as the discomfort people feel when they don't live up to the expectations of others or the remorse and/or embarrassment they feel when they think they have let others down. More about guilt and shame.
Hallucinations
Hallucinations are when a person senses (sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes) things while awake that do not exist, but have been created by the mind. More about hallucinations.
Hypochondria
Hypochondria takes health anxiety a step further. Instead of just worrying about having a disease or physical ailment, the person is convinced he has problems and seeks medical attention to confirm his suspicions. More about hypochondria.
Mental Illness
Mental illness, also called mental disorder, is a medical condition that affects the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. A person with a mental illness is often unable to relate to others and cope with the demands of daily life. More about mental illness.
Obsessions
Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of a person's control. More about obsessions.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental illness characterized by anxiety related to unreasonable thoughts or fears. In response to these obsessions, sufferers are driven to perform ritualistic, compulsive acts. More about OCD.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), also called obsessive-compulsive, is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness and control. More about OCPD.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Oppositional defiant disorder is a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures. More about oppositional defiant disorder.
Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder
A panic attack is the most severe form of acute anxiety, and what happens in your body is in response to, not the cause of, a sudden, excessive amount of adrenaline and other hormones in your bloodstream. More about panic attacks and panic disorder.
Paranoia
Paranoia is an irrational feeling that people are trying to harm you, which causes unnecessary suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others. More about paranoia.
Personality
Personality refers to characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that make each person different from another. More about personality.
Personality Disorders
Personality disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions in which a person's long-term behaviors, emotions, and thoughts are very different from his or her culture's expectations, and cause serious problems with relationships and work. More about personality disorders.
Phobias
Phobias are intense fears of objects or situations that pose little or no harm in reality. Certain phobias may have their own names, such as acrophobia (fear of heights) and agoraphobia (fear of open or public spaces). More about phobias.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness triggered by a frightening, painful, or disturbing life event. Instead of easing over time, the traumatic reactions and anxious symptoms get worse over time. More about PTSD.
Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a prolonged period of moderate to severe depression that occurs after birth. It generally emerges within three months following birth, and treatment is often required to cure it. More about postpartum depression.
Psychosis & Psychotic Disorders
Psychosis is a symptom of some of the more severe forms of mental health problems – grouped as psychotic disorders - such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. More about psychosis and psychotic disorders.
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that interferes with a person's ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. More about schizophrenia.
Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is how we value ourselves – how we perceive our value to the world and how valuable we think we are to others. In other words, it is your overall opinion of yourself — how you honestly feel about your abilities and limitations. More about self-esteem.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
Social anxiety is a discomfort or a fear of being judged, rejected or embarrassed when a person is in social interactions. More about social anxiety disorder.
Stress
Stress is mental tension brought on by issues in life that can cause worry, anxiety and distress. More about stress.
Substance Abuse & Chemical Dependence
Substance abuse, also called substance dependence or chemical dependence, is the harmful or hazardous intake of any substance for the intention of altering one's mood. More about substance abuse and chemical dependence.
Suicidal Thoughts, Suicidal Behavior & Suicide
Suicide is the intentional completion of ending one's own life or, in other words, successfully killing oneself. Suicidal behavior is engaging in any deliberate action with potentially life-threatening consequences. More about suicide.
Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is a feeling of distress or agitation and refers to the emotional reactions that some people have to exams. More about test anxiety.
Types of Therapy
Anger Management
Anger management classes and counseling can be done individually, with a partner or other family members, or in a group. More about anger management.
Cognitive Therapy
Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on replacing maladaptive or faulty patterns of thinking with desirable ones. More about cognitive therapy.
Counseling
Counseling is an umbrella term that incorporates a variety of talking therapies delivered by trained practitioners, with the goal of improving the well-being of an individual person or group. More about counseling.
Family Therapy
Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy designed to assist members of a family improve communication techniques and resolve group and individual conflicts. More about family therapy.
Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy
Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a therapeutic technique in which clinicians make suggestions to individuals who have undergone a procedure designed to relax them and focus their minds. More about hypnosis.
Intervention
An intervention is a carefully planned process whereby significant people who care about a person struggling with addiction get together and confront the person about the consequences of addiction, and ask him or her to accept treatment. More about interventions.
Marriage Counseling
Marriage counseling is a form of psychotherapy for established partners or a married couple which addresses marital relationship issues in order to improve the relationship. More about marriage counseling.
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a process between a therapist and patient that enables psychological problems to be dealt with through communication and education. More about psychotherapy.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
SFBT, also called Solution-Focused Therapy, is a type of psychotherapy in which the therapist focuses on being brief and finding solutions to problems rather than spending too much time on thinking, talking, and analyzing them. More about solution-focused brief therapy.
Types of Mental Health Professionals
Counselors
Counselors are professionals who assist individuals and groups with their personal problems in order to help them become more self-sufficient. More about counselors.
Psychiatrists
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health and emotional problems. More about psychiatrists.
Psychologists
A psychologist is a mental health professional who can conduct research, perform testing, and evaluate and treat emotional and psychological issues for people. More about psychologists.
Social Workers
Social workers are health professionals who use counseling to help individuals, couples, families, and groups solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives; function in their environment; improve relationships with others; and create societal conditions that support communities in need. More about social workers.
Substance Abuse Counselors
Substance abuse counselors, also called addictions counselors, are professionals who advise individuals and groups that suffer from alcohol, tobacco and drug addiction in order to help them recover from these addictive behaviors. More about substance abuse counselors.