Glossary

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12-step program
A free treatment and recovery program for people suffering from alcohol or substance abuse and addiction. 12-step programs are also available for family members of addicts.
Acamprosate
A prescription medication used to treat alcohol addiction.
Acute stress disorder
A trauma-related disorder in which symptoms persist between three days and one month following the traumatic event.
Addiction
The compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (e.g., drugs, alcohol) or activity (e.g., gambling, pornography).
Adjustment disorders
A group of stressor-related disorders characterized by the development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor occurring within three months of the onset of the stressor.
Anti-anxiety medication
A prescription medication used to treat anxiety disorders.
Antidepressant
A prescription medication used to treat depressive disorders.
Antihistamine
A type of over-the-counter medication typically used to treat allergies, but sometimes used as a sleep aid.
Antisocial personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster B) characterized by a pattern of disregarding or violating the rights of others.
Anxiety disorders
A group of mental disorders in which a person feels fear or anxiety that is disproportionate to the situation and hinders their ability to function normally.
Arousal symptoms
A group of symptoms of a trauma-related disorder that includes hyper-vigilance, exaggerated startle response, irritable or angry outbursts, sleep disturbance, and problems concentrating.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
A type of neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Avoidance symptoms
A group of symptoms of a trauma-related disorder that includes efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, memories, and reminders of the traumatic event.
Avoidant personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster C) characterized by a pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and extreme sensitivity to criticism.
Behavioral parent management training (parenting skills training)
A type of training that teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children.
Behavioral therapy
A type of psychotherapy that aims to help a person change their behavior.
Benzodiazepine
A type of anti-anxiety medication that promotes relaxation by opening nerve cells to a neurotransmitter that reduces nerve cell activity.
Beta-blockers
A type of anti-anxiety medication that works to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety by preventing norepinephrine and epinephrine from binding to certain receptors in the vascular system.
Biological factors
In the biopsychosocial model, factors relating to genetics, biochemical processes in the body, and viruses and bacteria acting on the body.
Biopsychosocial model
An approach to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that examines the interaction of biological factors, psychological factors, and social factors.
Bipolar disorders
A group of brain disorders that cause changes in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function.
Borderline personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster B) characterized by a pattern of instability in personal relationships, emotional response, self-image, and impulsivity.
Breathing-related sleep disorders
A group of sleep disorders involving breathing interruptions or decreased respiration.
Bullying
Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
Buprenorphine
A type of opiate prescribed to treat an opioid addiction.
Bupropion
A type of antidepressant medication that works by increasing certain types of activity in the brain.
Circadian rhythm
The natural 24-hour cycle that helps the body know when to sleep.
Cluster A personality disorders
A group of three personality disorders characterized by odd or eccentric behavior.
Cluster B personality disorders
A group of four personality disorders characterized by dramatic, emotional, or erratic behavior.
Cluster C personality disorders
A group of three personality disorders characterized by anxious or fearful behavior.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
A type of psychotherapy that helps people identify and change thinking and behavior patterns that are harmful or ineffective, replacing them with more accurate thoughts and functional behaviors.
Cognitive restructuring
An element of cognitive behavior therapy that helps people make sense of bad memories and understand a traumatic event in a realistic way.
Cortisol
A natural hormone that the body releases in response to stress.

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Dependent personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster C) characterized by a pattern of needing to be taken care of and submissive and clingy behavior.
Depression (major depressive disorder)
A common mental disorder that is characterized by persistent low mood and a loss of pleasure or interest in activities previously enjoyed.
Depressive disorders
A group of mental health disorders in which the presence of sad, empty, or irritable mood, accompanied by physical and cognitive changes, significantly affect the individual's capacity to function.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
A specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps regulate emotions.
Dissociative symptoms
A group of symptoms of a trauma-related disorder that includes an altered sense of reality and an inability to recall important aspects of the traumatic event.
Disulfiram
A prescription medication used to treat nicotine addiction.
Dopamine
A neurotransmitter that plays a role in thinking and attention.
Enzyme
A substance in the body that speeds biochemical reactions, either to build up or break down other molecules.
Epinephrine
Commonly known as adrenaline, a hormone produced by the body in response to physical and mental stress.
Eszopiclone
A type of hypnotic prescribed to treat some sleep disorders.
Exposure therapy
A type of psychotherapy that focuses on confronting the fears underlying an anxiety or trauma-related disorder in order to help people engage in activities they have been avoiding.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
A neurotransmitter that reduces or inhibits nerve cell activity.
Generalized anxiety disorder
A type of anxiety disorder that involves persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities.
Genetics
The study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity.
Group therapy
A setting of psychotherapy that uses group dynamics and peer interactions to increase understanding of mental disorders and/or improve social skills.
Heroin
An illicit opioid drug.
Histrionic personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster B) characterized by a pattern of excessive emotion and attention seeking.
Hormone
A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs.
Hypnotics
A class of prescription medications used to treat some sleep disorders.

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Impaired self-control
A category of symptoms of substance use disorder that includes the craving or strong urge to use the substance and the desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use.
Insomnia
A type of sleep disorder involving problems getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Interpersonal problems
Problems with interpersonal relationships, including family, work, social, and intimate relationships.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
A short-term form of psychotherapy treatment that helps patients understand underlying interpersonal issues that are troublesome, like unresolved grief, changes in social or work roles, conflicts with significant others, and problems relating to others.
Intrusion symptoms
A group of symptoms of a trauma-related disorder that includes intrusive and unwanted thoughts, memories, and dreams.
Major depressive disorder (depression)
A common mental disorder that is characterized by persistent low mood and a loss of pleasure or interest in activities previously enjoyed.
Maladaptive behavior
A type of behavior often used as a coping strategy, but the result is harmful, dysfunctional, or non-productive.
Melatonin
A hormone produced by the body that is involved in regulating sleeping and waking cycles. Melatonin supplements may be used to treat some sleep disorders.
Mental disorder
A health condition that involves significant changes in thinking, emotions, and/or behavior and causes distress and/or problems functioning in social, work, or family environments.
Mental health
Mental and behavioral functioning in daily activities. Good mental health results in productive activities, healthy relationships, and an ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.
Mental illness
Refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders, which are health conditions that involve significant changes in thinking, emotions, and/or behavior and cause distress and/or problems functioning in social, work, or family environments.
Methadone
A type of opiate prescribed to treat an opioid addiction.
Military sexual trauma (MST)
Sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurs during military service.
Mirtazapine
A type of antidepressant medication that works by increasing certain types of activity in the brain to maintain mental balance.

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Naltrexone
An opiate prescribed to treat opioid and alcohol addictions.
Narcissistic personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster B) characterized by a pattern of need for admiration and lack of empathy for others.
Neurodevelopmental disorders
A group of mental disorders characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning.
Neurotransmitters
Chemical messengers in the brain that relay signals between nerve cells.
Nicotine
The addictive substance in tobacco products.
Nightmare disorder
A type of sleep disorder in which a person has repeated nightmares that cause sleep disturbances and significant distress or problems functioning during the day.
Non-stimulant
A type of prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that improves focus, attention, and impulsivity.
Norepinephrine
A naturally occurring chemical in the body that acts as both a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. As a stress hormone, it increases heart rate, triggers the release of glucose into the blood, and increases blood flow to muscles. As a neurotransmitter, it increases alertness, arousal, and readiness for action.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder
An anxiety disorder in which a person has a recurring, unwanted thought, idea, or sensation (obsession) that makes them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsion).
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster C) characterized by a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control.
Operational stress
Stress resulting from work-related factors.
Opiates (opioids)
A class of drugs derived from opium, which bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Opiates generally refer to prescribed medications, typically used to treat severe pain. Opioids include both prescription opiates and illicit opioid substances, such as heroin.
Opioid receptors
Nerve cells in the brain that control feelings of pain and pleasure.
Oxycodone
An opiate prescribed to relieve severe pain.
Panic attack
A sudden period of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom.
Panic disorder
A type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks.
Paranoid personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster A) characterized by a pattern of distrust and suspiciousness.
Parenting skills training (behavioral parent management training)
A type of training that teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children.
Perpetuating factors
Risk factors following a traumatic event that increase the likelihood a person will develop a trauma-related disorder.
Personality disorders
A group of mental disorders in which a person's way of thinking, feeling, or behaving deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A trauma-related disorder in which symptoms persist for more than one month following the traumatic event.
Precipitating factors
Risk factors that surround a traumatic event that increase the likelihood a person will develop a trauma-related disorder.
Predisposing factors
Risk factors that exist before a traumatic event that make a person more vulnerable to developing a trauma-related disorder.
Problem-solving therapy
A type of psychotherapy that aims to improve the individual's ability to cope with stressful life experiences through the development or enhancement of problem-solving skills.
Psychiatrist
A medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.
Psychiatry
The branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy
A type of psychotherapy based on the idea that behavior and mental well-being are influenced by childhood experiences and inappropriate repetitive thoughts or feelings that are unconscious.
Psychological factors
In the biopsychosocial model, factors relating to mood, behavior, and personality.
Psychologist
A mental health professional with an advanced degree and extensive training in research or clinical practice. Psychologists treat mental disorders with psychotherapy.
Psychology
The scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.
Psychotherapy
Also called talk therapy, a term for a variety of treatment techniques that aim to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Ramelteon
A type of hypnotic prescribed to treat some sleep disorders.
Resilience
The ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.
Risky use
A category of symptoms of substance use disorder that includes use of the substance in risky settings and continued use despite known problems.
Schizoid personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster A) characterized by a pattern of detachment from relationships and a limited range of emotional expression.
Schizotypal personality disorder
A type of personality disorder (Cluster A) characterized by a pattern of acute discomfort in close relationships, distortions in thinking or perception, and eccentric behavior.
Sedative
A class of prescription medications used to treat some sleep disorders.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
A type of antidepressant medication that works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin between nerve cells in the brain.
Serotonin
A neurotransmitter that is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
A type of antidepressant medication that works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine between nerve cells in the brain.
Sexual assault
Intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, physical threat, or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent.
Sleep apnea
A sleep disorder involving repeated episodes of breathing problems during sleep, which may cause snoring, snorting/gasping, or breathing pauses.
Sleep disorders
A group of mental disorders involving problems with the quality, timing, and amount of sleep, which cause problems with functioning and distress during the daytime.
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
A type of anxiety disorder in which a person has significant anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, or looked down on in social interactions.
Social factors
In the biopsychosocial model, factors relating to culture, family, and socioeconomic status.
Social worker
Mental health professional who provides individual, family, or group clinical social work services such as psychotherapy, counseling, and other forms of therapy.
Specific learning disorder
A type of neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a deficit or impairment in learning key academic skills, such as reading, writing, or mathematics.
Stimulant
A type of prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Substance use disorders
A group of mental disorders involving use of and addiction to a substance that produces changes in areas of the brain relating to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control.
Tolerance
A symptom of substance use disorder describing the need for larger amounts of the substance to get the same effect.
Topiramate
A prescription anti-seizure medication sometimes used in the treatment of alcohol addiction.
Trauma-related disorders
A group of mental disorders in which exposure to a traumatic event causes significant psychological distress.
Traumatic event
A shocking, scary, or dangerous experience that affects someone emotionally.
Varenicline
A prescription medication used to treat nicotine addiction.
Vascular system
Also called the circulatory system, the system in the body made up of the vessels (arteries and veins) that carry blood throughout the body.
Withdrawal symptoms
A set of symptoms of substance use disorder that adversely affect a person when they discontinue use of the substance.
Zaleplon
A type of hypnotic prescribed to treat some sleep disorders.
Zolpidem
A type of hypnotic prescribed to treat some sleep disorders.