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Glossary

Antidepressant Medication

Medication used to correct a chemical imbalance or chemical disruption in a person's brain. Antidepressants are available with a prescription from a medical doctor. Treatment with an anti-depressant should not be undertaken or discontinued without a doctor's supervision.

Atypical Depression

(Depressive illness.) This is a type of depression or mood disorder that does not necessarily fit exactly into any one of the other major mood disorder categories of diagnosis. With atypical depression a person can still have fun and experience pleasure if an opportunity presents itself, such as a party or good news, but the feeling is short-lived. Heaviness, fatigue, and lack of motivation recur until the next pleasurable occasion. Moodiness, and at least two of the following symptoms characterize atypical depression: oversleeping, overeating, extreme fatigue and rejection sensitivity.

Bipolar Illness or Manic Depression

Bipolar I is characterized by dramatic mood swings, from depression to mania. A person who is experiencing mania may have excessive energy, feel restless and unable to slow down. This state can cause grandiose thinking, impaired judgment and embarrassing social behavior.

Bipolar II is characterized by milder manias (hypomania) and any severity of lows. A person experiencing hypomania may be very talkative and social, with extraordinarily clear and sharp thinking and heightened creativity. Their mood is high but eventually sinks to a low.

Cyclothymia

A form of bipolar illness, this is a mood rollercoaster. A person may feel up one day and down the next, or up one week and down the next in seemingly unpredictable patterns. Periods of normal mood may be few and far between. Hypomanias occur along with mild depressions.

Depression

(see Major Depression.)

Dysthymia

(Depressive illness.) This is chronic mild level of depression. A person usually continues to function, but doesn't experience pleasure like a healthy person does.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

(Anxiety disorder.) Characterized by constant worry about anything and everything (money, health, safety of their children.) Possible symptoms include trembling, pain in arms & legs from muscle tension, chronic fatigue, stomach problems, dizziness, inability to concentrate, irritability and jittery and nervous appearance. They may also have problems with eating and sleeping.

Major Depression

(Depressive illness.) A person suffering from major depression no longer feels normal, but rather is overwhelmed with feeling depressed, slowed-down, or in a fog. Ability to function normally may be significantly impaired. A person may experience a single episode, or may continue to have episodes throughout their lifetime.

Mania

(see Bipolar Disorder.)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

(Anxiety disorder.) Characterized by continuous thoughts, doubts, or obsessions that interfere with everyday functioning by repeating in an annoying and bothersome way. Obsessions are repetitive, irrational thoughts such as an excessive fear of germs. A person suffering from OCD may have a need to do something repeatedly (compulsion), such as checking appliances, cleaning, washing hands, counting, repeating tasks or performing rituals in an effort to ease anxiety.

Panic Disorder

(Anxiety disorder.) Panic disorder causes panic attacks with symptoms like dizziness, rapid heart beat, feeling faint or detached from the body, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea, numbness or tingling in arms/legs, trembling, flushes or chills, fear of dying, and the immediate need to flee the situation which has triggered the attack.

Phobias

(Anxiety disorder.) Characterized by an intense fear of an object (animal, insect), activity (flying, heights, driving), or situation (public speaking, eating or writing in public) that causes an individual to avoid these things at all costs. Phobias may result in agoraphobia (the fear of experiencing a difficult or embarrassing situation from which the sufferer cannot escape) causing a person to never leave the security of their home.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

(Anxiety disorder.) This disorder can occur as a result of an emotional or physical trauma such as a car or plane crash, physical/sexual assault, war, or natural disaster. Symptoms such as flashbacks or nightmares may suddenly occur years after the event took place, resulting in social isolation, panic attacks, angry outbursts or substance abuse.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

A variety of physical and emotional symptoms presented prior to a woman's menstrual period. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, sadness, low energy, and physical symptoms like body aches and bloating. PMS seems to be related to depression in some people.

Psychotherapy

Talking therapy. There are several types of psychotherapy, but two have been proven to be very beneficial in the treatment of depressive illnesses.
Cognitive therapy focuses on trying to change a person's negative thinking and the inaccurate perceptions they have of themselves and their environment. People are taught to think logically. Example: "If I can't do this project perfectly, I can't do it at all." (illogical)
Interpersonal therapy teaches a person how to successfully interact with others. Depressive illnesses interfere with how a person treats his or her family, friends, and co-workers, which consequently affects how he or she is treated in return. Interpersonal therapy focuses on social skills.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This is a depressive illness that has to do with a person's reaction to the amount of light a person receives. Symptoms of depression such as low energy, fatigue, or overeating may appear when the days begin to get shorter and there is less sunlight. People who have SAD may produce an excess of the hormone melatonin, which is related to the body's sleep cycle and biological clock.

Social Phobia

(Anxiety disorder.) Anxiety about appearing foolish or acting in a way to embarrass oneself. Examples of social phobias include fear of public speaking or speaking with someone in authority, anxiety in social situations, writing in public, or eating in public.

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