The Depression Center  
 
 

Depression Glossary

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Acetylcholine: neurotransmitter involved in a wide variety of functions including cognition, mood, sleep, and functioning of muscles, stomach, spleen, bladder, liver, sweat glands, blood vessels, and heart.

Acrophobia: fear of heights

Activation (arousal): process by which energy is mobilized by organism for meeting needs and attaining goals.

Acute: used to describe problems of relatively fast onset and short duration, usually with intense symptoms (vs. chronic).

Acute Mania: an emotional/psychological state characterized by unrealistic feelings of excitement, invincibility, power, energy, intelligence and/or euphoria.

Acute Combat Stress Reaction: the result of psychological trauma experienced in combat environments that can lead to post traumatic stress disorder.

Acute Stress Disorder: a stress disorder that occurs within four weeks following a traumatic event and that lasts for a minimum of two days and maximum of four weeks.

ADAA: Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Addiction: a preoccupation and compulsive use of an experience (food or gambling) or substance (alcohol or cocaine) despite the negative consequences. Often involves a loss of control and increasing tolerance for the substance. Not the same as dependence.

Addictive Behavior: behavior based on addiction.

Adjustment: the result of an individual’s efforts to deal with stress, meet needs, and attain goals.

Adrenal Cortex: the outer layer of the adrenal glands that secretes adrenal steroids and other hormones.

Adrenal Gland: endocrine glands located next to the kidneys that consist of the adrenal medulla and adrenal cortex and produce cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Affect: emotion or feeling.

Affective Disorder: all mood disorders, including depression and bipolar depression.

Agitation: noticeable and/or distressing restlessness and excitement.

Agoraphobia: a fear of being in a situation in which escape would be difficult or help would not be available in the case of a panic attack. Often results in increasing avoidance of certain things, places or situations.

Alarm Reaction (alarm and mobilization reaction): the first stage of the so-called "general adaptation syndrome" by which the organism mobilizes its resources and defences to cope with stress.

Alcohol: The consumption of alcoholic beverages may initially relieve anxiety for several hours. However, the post-intoxication effects of alcohol are generally thought to aggravate anxiety and panic. The use of alcohol may provoke anxiety and panic disorders.

Alexithymia: a pattern of behavior and personality in which people are unable to express emotion and distress except through somatic symptoms.

Alienation: the feeling of a lack of relationships or loss of relationships with others.

Alternative Medicine: treatment techniques that are not currently accepted by the medical establishment. Such techniques generally have unknown scientific value.

Alpha 2 Agonists: substances used in the treatment of anxiety that act on Alpha 2 auto receptors that results in decreased firing rate and decreased release of norepinephrine.

Alzheimer’s Disease: a progressive, irreversible disorder attributed to the accumulation of certain proteins in the brain (especially amyloid).

Amnesia: total or partial memory loss.

Amphetamine: substance that produces a stimulating and energizing effect.

Amygdala: a region of the brain thought to be very important in the fear response.

Anaesthesia: Loss of all forms of sensation including pain, touch, and temperature.

Androgen: hormone associated with the development and maintenance of male characteristics.

Anhedonia: a decreased ability or inability to experience pleasure or joy.

Anorexia Nervosa: disorder involving extreme loss of body weight, often occurs with an intense fear of gaining weight or being "fat". Sometimes described as an obsessive compulsive (OC) spectrum disorder.

Antagonist: a substance that blocks the action of a neurotransmitter at the receptor.

Anoxia: lack of sufficient oxygen supply

ANT: automatic negative thought

Anterograde Amnesia: loss of memory for the events that happen after a shock or trauma.

Anticipatory Anxiety: see anxiety

Anxiety: term used to describe a general chronic feeling about possible danger.

Anxiety Attack: an intense episode of extremely uncomfortable anxiety, also known as a panic attack.

Anxiety Disorder: a disorder characterized by unrealistic irrational and disabling fear or anxiety. Includes panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and specific phobia.

Anxiogenic: something that generates anxiety.

Anxiolytic: something that reduces, suppresses, cuts or takes away anxiety.

APA: American Psychiatric Association or American Psychological Association

Arachnophobia: fear of spiders.

Arousal: see activation.

Assertive Behavior: to effectively communicate suggestions or actions to others.

Assertiveness: see assertive behavior.

Assertiveness Therapy (AT): behavior therapy with a focus on helping people to become more assertive.

Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): childhood disorder characterized by behavior that interferes with task oriented behavior such as impulsivity, excessive motor activity, and difficulty in focusing attention.

Automatic Negative Thought (ANT): an unpleasant thought which is automatically triggered by a situation and results in increased anxiety and avoidance and decreased effective coping.

Attributions: the causes or reasons we use to describe and explain what happens.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): the part of the nervous system that regulates the internal organs. The ANS may be further subdivided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

Autonomic Reactivity: the degree to which a person shows emotional reactivity to stress. Different people show different amounts of autonomic reactivity.

Autonomy: independence, the sense of being an independent and self-reliant person.

Aversion Therapy: a form of behavior therapy in which punishment or aversive (negative/noxious) stimulation is used to eliminate undesired responses.

Aversive Conditioning: the use of aversive (negative/noxious) stimulation to decrease the frequency of unwanted behavior.

Aversive Stimulus: a negative or noxious stimulus that results in psychic or physical discomfort.

Avoidance Conditioning: a form of learning (conditioning) by which a person learns to avoid situations or places in order to avoid a negative consequence (anxiety).

Avoidant Personality Disorder: a personality style characterized by sensitivity to rejection, few social relationships, and low self-esteem.