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Depression: Depression Glossary

Information and definitions of terms related to depression.

Agoraphobia: Irrational fear of being in public places where escape is difficult or impossible.

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Acupuncture: An ancient Chinese method of healing. It aims to prevent and cure specific diseases and conditions by sticking very fine, solid needles into specific points on the body.

Anorexia nervosa: An eating disorder in which people have an irrational fear of weight gain and therefore severely restrict their food intake in order to achieve or maintain an abnormally low body weight. The diagnosis of anorexia requires that a person weigh at least 15% less than his or her normal body weight.

Antidepressants: Drugs used to treat depression. Antidepressants are not addictive. They do not make you "high," have a tranquilizing effect or produce cravings for more.

Anticonvulsants: Medicines used to prevent seizures or convulsions, some of which are  also used to treat migraine, pain, or symptoms of mania or depression in bipolar disorder.

Anxiety disorder: An illness that produces an intense, often unrealistic and excessive state of apprehension and fear. This may or may not occur during, or in anticipation of, a specific situation and may be accompanied by a rise in blood pressure, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, nausea and other signs of agitation or discomfort.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A common developmental and behavioral disorder characterized by poor concentration, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness that are inappropriate for the child's age. Children and adults with ADHD are easily distracted by sights and sounds in their environment, cannot concentrate for long periods of time, are restless and impulsive, or have a tendency to daydream and be slow to complete tasks.

Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness): A mental illness that causes people to have severe high and low moods. People with this illness recurrently have episodes in which they feel uncharacteristically euphoric or irritable accompanied by high energy and at other times periods of depression in which they feel sad and hopeless. In between these episodes, a person's mood may be normal.

Body dysmorphic disorder: Excessive concern with imagined or exaggerated problems in one's appearance.

Bulimia nervosa: An eating disorder in which people eat large amounts of food at one time (bingeing) and then vomit (purging). The vomiting is triggered by a fear of weight gain, from stomach pain, or from the guilt of overeating. People with bulimia may also use laxatives, diuretics, and vigorous exercise to lose weight. In order to be diagnosed with bulimia, this behavior must occur at least twice a week for three months in a row.

Chemical dependency counselors: Health care professionals trained especially to help people with alcohol and drug addiction through the process of recovery.

Clinical social workers: Trained health care personnel who may provide psychotherapy, case management, and a variety of supportive assistance. One function is often to help patients transition from a hospital or medical institution to home.

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