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Key Terms

Various terms and vocabulary can be confusing if you’re not familiar with mental health services. So, we have put together a brief glossary of key terms for some of the common conditions we see to help you understand and feel confident about getting the treatment you and your family may need.

Please note that this information is not intended for self-diagnosis nor to be a substitute for seeking the help you may need from a mental health professional. If you have or suspect that you have a mental health problem, please contact us or your own medical provider promptly.

Major Depressive Disorder

Symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change of previous functioning

Symptoms include:

  • loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities
  • significant weigh loss when not dieting, or weight gain
    • children consider failure to make expected weight gain
  • Insomnia nearly everyday
  • Fatigue, or loss of energy nearly everyday
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Diminished ability to think, or concentrate, or indecisiveness nearly everyday
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying)
    • Children and adolescents can be irritable mood
Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Excessive anxiety and worry, along with difficulty controlling worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months

Symptoms include:
*** only one item is required in children***

  • Restlessness, or feeling on edge
  • Easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance

Adults with (GAD) tend to often worry about every day, routine life circumstances such as job responsibilities, health and finances, health of family members, misfortune to their children

Children with (GAD) tend to often worry excessively about their competence or the quality of their performance

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development

  • Fails to give close attention to details, or make careless mistakes in school work, work, or during other activities
  • Often difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish tasks
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks
  • Is often easily distracted by outside stimuli
  • Often forgetful
  • Often fidgets
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed
Bipolar I Disorder

It is necessary to meet the criteria of at least one manic episode:

  • Manic Episode: increased energy or activity and abnormally and persistently elevated irritable mood, decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual, excessive involvement in activities that have a high painful consequence lasting at least 1 week and present most of the day
  • Hypomanic Episode: Manic Episode lasting for 4 consecutive days and present most of the day
  • Major Depressive Episode: Depressive mood most of the day, diminished ability to concentrate, fatigue, or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, recurrent thoughts of death
Specific Learning Disorder

Difficulties in learning and using academic skills, despite the provision of interventions for targeted areas

  • Inaccurate, or slow word reading
  • Difficulty understanding the meaning of what is read
  • Difficulties with spelling
  • Difficulties with written expression (ex. Makes grammatical errors, poor paragraph organization, lacks clarity in writing)
  • Difficulties mastering number sense, number facts, or calculation
  • Difficulties with mathematical reasoning
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Applies to adults, adolescents, and children older than 6 years

  • Exposure (direct, witness, or learning about) to a traumatic event
  • Recurrent, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks
  • Persistent avoidance of things associated with the traumatic event
  • Changes in cognitions (ex. Inability to experience positive emotions)
  • Marked alterations in arousal (ex. Exaggerated startled response)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Persistent deficits in social communication and social interactions across multiple contexts, in addition to displaying restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors currently, or by history

  • Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity (failure in back and forth conversation)
  • Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction. Ex. Abnormalities in eye contact; lack of facial expression
  • Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships
  • Fixated interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • Stereotyped, or repetitive motor movements, or speech