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General Terms

Acute: Refers to a disease or condition that has a rapid onset, marked intensity, and short duration.

Chronic: Refers to a disease or condition that persists over a long period of time.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): A treatment for severe depression that is usually used only when people do not respond to medications and psychotherapy. ECT involves passing a low-voltage electric current through the brain. The person is under anesthesia at the time of treatment. ECT is not commonly used in children and adolescents.

Hallucination: Is the perception of something, such as a sound, visual image, or a physical sensation that is not present except to the individual experiencing it.

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor (M.D.) who specializes in treating mental diseases. A psychiatrist evaluates a person’s mental health along with his or her physical health and can prescribe medications.

Psychologist: A mental health professional who has received specialized training in the study of the mind and emotions. A psychologist usually has an advanced degree such as a Ph.D.

Psychotherapy: A treatment method for mental illness in which a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor) and an individual discuss problems and feelings to find solutions. Psychotherapy can help individuals change their thought or behavior patterns or understand how past experiences affect current behaviors.

Relapse: The reoccurrence of symptoms of a disease.


Anxiety disorder: Any of a group of illnesses that fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxieties and fears that are chronic and unremitting. Individuals with anxiety disorders experience anxiety that is intense, long lasting and interferes with their ability to work, pursue activities or maintain personal relationships. Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Bipolar disorder: A depressive disorder in which a person experiences extreme mood swings between episodes of major depression and mania (periods of abnormally and persistently elevated mood). There is often a long period of normal mood in between. Also referred to as manic-depression

Co-occurring disorder: Is when an individual has both a psychiatric and substance abuse diagnosis. Treatment that addresses both the psychiatric and substance use conditions at the same time is associated with lower costs and better outcomes. Also known as Dually Diagnosed

Depression (major depression): Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, major depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual's thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, ability to have satisfying personal relationships and their physical health. Among all medical illnesses, major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Mental illness: A health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning.

Developmental disability: A condition in which a person has an IQ that is below average and that affects an individual’s learning, behavior, and development. The condition is present from birth. This is NOT the same as mental illness .Developmental disabilities include autism, down ’s syndrome, and has also been referred to as intellectual disability.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): An anxiety disorder in which a person experiences recurrent unwanted thoughts or rituals that the individual cannot control. A person who has OCD may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals, such as hand washing or checking.

Panic attack and panic disorder: During a panic attack people have uncontrollable feelings of terror, rapid heartbeat, and rapid breathing that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. A panic disorder may be diagnosed if an individual has reoccurring attacks.

Psychosis: A serious condition in which a person loses contact with reality and experiences hallucinations or delusions.

psychiatric rehabilitation: The process of assisting individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis in their recovery to live, learn, work and play in the community environments of their choice with success and satisfaction with as little professional support as possible.

Schizophrenia: A chronic, severe, and disabling brain disease. People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying symptoms such as hearing internal voices or believing that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These symptoms may leave an individual fearful and withdrawn. Speech and behavior can be so disorganized that it may be incomprehensible or frightening to others.

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