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Depression Health Center

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Depression: Depression Glossary


Phototherapy: Also called light therapy, phototherapy is sometimes used to treat seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It involves exposure to light from a box of white fluorescent light tubes covered with a plastic screen to block ultraviolet rays. Light therapy is safe and generally well tolerated. The reported side effects are minor and may include eyestrain, headaches and insomnia.

Postpartum depression: Postpartum depression is a complex mix of physical, emotional and behavioral changes that occur in a mother after giving birth. It is a serious condition, affecting about 10% of new mothers. Symptoms range from mild to severe depression and may appear within days of delivery or gradually, perhaps up to a year later. Symptoms may last from a few weeks to a year.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): The physical and psychological symptoms that occur in the week before a woman's menstrual period. Symptoms may include bloating, headache, irritability, anxiety or depression, low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, fatigue and breast swelling and tenderness.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects about 3%-5% of menstruating women. Emotional symptoms of PMDD include shifting moods, severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety or low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and tension. Physical symptoms include fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain, breast tenderness, changes in appetite, food cravings or bingeing, sleep problems and bloating.

Psychiatrists: Medical doctors who specialize in treating mental, emotional or behavioral disorders. They have completed four years of study in an accredited medical school in combination with four years of postgraduate training in a certain area of psychiatry. They are doctors who can prescribe medications as well as conduct psychotherapy.

Psychologists: Specialists who concentrate in the science of the mind and behavior. They usually have a doctoral degree and receive additional training to work with patients. Psychologists are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication in most states in the U.S., but do perform evaluations and use psychotherapy.

Psychosis: An illness that prevents people from being able to distinguish between the real world and the imaginary world. Symptoms include hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't really there), delusions (false beliefs), irrational thoughts and fears.

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