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Depression Glossary

Antidepressant - Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression.

Anxiety - A feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

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For millions of people, chronic illnesses and depression are facts of life. A chronic illness is a condition that lasts for a very long time and usually cannot be cured completely, although some forms of depression  and other illnesses can be managed through diet, exercise, and certain medications. Examples of chronic illnesses include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. Many people with chronic illness experience depression. In fact, depression...

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Bipolar disorder - A form of depressive disease that characteristically involves cycles of depression and elation or mania.

Depression - An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts, that affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things.

Dysthymia - A form of low-grade, longstanding depression that involves fewer accompanying symptoms than seen in major depression that lasts at least two years in adults or one year in children or adolescents.                                         

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) - A procedure used to treat severe depressionin which a controlled amount of energy is applied via electrodes to the scalp while the patient is asleep under anesthesia. The purpose is to cause a brief seizure, which seems to have a powerful antidepressant effect when performed over a series of several treatments. 

Hypothyroidism - A condition when the thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. This can lead to symptoms of depression, fatigue, weight gain, and other health problems. 

Light Therapy (also called Phototherapy) - Therapy consisting of exposure to light that is brighter than indoor light and mimics sunlight. It may help treat some forms of depression.

Major Depression - A common and serious type of depression that lasts at least two weeks and is marked by sadness, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns and appetite and includes feelings of hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts.  

Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) - A condition that's characterized by episodes of profound ups with unusually high energy (mania) and downs (depression).                                                            

Neurotransmitters - Chemicals produced by the nerve cells in the brain. An imbalance or an inefficiency in communication between networks of nerve cells may lead to headache, depression, and other mental health problems. 

Postpartum Depression - Physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that may occur after giving birth. Postpartum depression is not a diagnosis separate from major depression; it is classified as major depression with a "peripartum onset specifier," meaning that it arises either during pregnancy or within 4 weeks after delivery.

Psychotherapy - A form of talk therapy done between a licensed and trained mental health care professional and a depressed individual, group, family, or couple. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - A depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually late fall and winter.

Stress - Forces from the outside world impinging on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life that can help us learn and grow. Conversely, stress can cause us significant problems.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 08, 2014

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