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Glossary of Terms & Definitions


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AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder) Up to 50% of those diagnosed with ADHD as young children continue to demonstrate notable ADD (attention deficit disorder) symptoms into adolescence and young adulthood. The conditions present in adulthood follow the same diagnostic criteria as ADHD in children. ‘Adult ADD or AADD’ are alternate terms commonly used to describe ADHD when it occurs in adults. The ramifications and consequences of ADD symptoms in adulthood pose significant social issues, occupationally, socially, physically etc. and can result in antisocial, criminal activities, aggression & violence, relationship difficulties etc. There is also a strong link and professional conjecture regarding the differentiation between antisocial personality disorder and AADD.  



ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) ADHD is a condition or behavioural inhibition disorder characterized by behavioural and learning anomalies. The sufferer may exhibit short attention span or inattentiveness, impulsiveness and hyperactivity or combinations of these. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the ‘normal’ range for the child’s age and development. Generally the child with ADHD has difficulty in exhibiting control over outward behaviours, typically displaying actions that appear louder, faster, and more powerful than the behaviours of their peers. 



Abnormal:- ‘exceptional; deviating from type’. In psychology it refers to that which is ‘not normal’, though the concept of ‘normal’ is questionable and open for some debate. From a broader perspective, ‘abnormal’ might be considered as that which is out of character, differing from, not consistent with, that which is accepted as believed to be exhibited, observed, known, expected by the majority of individuals. This may also apply to the physiological/biological & social arenas. It does not infer or imply anything pathological, detrimental, negative, or disease related, though it can be a sign that there is a potentiality for disease or disorder.   



Abuse:- 1. Harm or maltreatment inflicted on a person through physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual means. 2. Subjected to ‘cruel’ treatment. 3. refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is harmful. 4. to mistreat: treat badly 5. Improper treatment or usage; application to a wrong or bad purpose; misuse; perversion; physical maltreatment; injury; sexual assault; violation; rape; an unjust, corrupt or wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime; fault; coarse, insulting speech; abusive language; to put to wrong use. 



Acetylcholine:- The chemical compound acetylcholine (Ach) is a neurotransmitter in both the ‘peripheral nervous system’ and the ‘central nervous system’ in many organisms including human beings. In the central nervous system, Ach has a variety of effects as a ‘neuromodulator, eg., for plasticity and excitability. Other effects are arousal and reward. Damage to the cholinergic system in the brain has been suggested to play a role in the memory deficits associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Ach is involved with synaptic plasticity, specifically in learning and short-term memory.



Acting out:- Reaction in which a person lowers anxiety, hostility or other unpleasant emotions by allowing the expression in overt behaviour; The process of expressing unconscious emotional conflicts or feelings via actions rather than words. The person is not consciously aware of the meaning or etiology of such acts. Acting out may be harmful or, in controlled situations, therapeutic. 



Acute:- A term used to describe a disorder of sudden onset with relatively short duration, usually with intense symptoms. 



Acquired Brain Injury (ABI):- Acquired brain injury is not a mental illness. Mental illness is an observable abnormality in the functioning of the brain. Brain injury, although it does alter the functioning of the brain, is an observable abnormality in the ‘structure’ of the brain – a physical condition that causes a change in function. ABI is injury to the brain which results in deterioration of cognitive, physical, emotional or independent functioning. It can occur as a result of trauma, hypoxia, infection, tumour, substance abuse, degenerative neurological disease or stroke. These impairments to cognitive abilities or physical functioning may be either temporary or permanent and cause partial or total disability or psychosocial adjustment. Repeated bouts of concussion or concussion not recognized or noted may result in physical damage and changes to the brain’s structure. Similarly, excessive, prolonged consumption of alcohol and the use and abuse of illicit drugs can cause permanent physiological damage to the brain. As a result, one can ‘acquire’ a permanent brain injury that may affect their capacity to function in society – occupationally, socially, emotionally etc. 



Acquired Situational Narcissism (ACN):- Acquired Situational Narcissism (ACN) is a form of narcissism that develops in late adolescence or adulthood, brought on by wealth, fame and the other trappings of celebrity. ASN differs from conventional narcissism in that it develops after childhood and is triggered and supported by the celebrity-obsessed society; fans, assistants and tabloid/visual media all play into the idea that the person really is vastly more important than other people, triggering a narcissistic problem that might have only been a tendency, or latent, and helping it to become a ‘full-blown’ personality disorder. 



Addiction:- A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long lasting chemical changes in the brain. Addiction is the same irrespective of whether the drug is alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana or nicotine. Every addictive substance induces pleasant states or relieves distress. Continued use of the addictive substance induces adaptive changes in the brain that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving and, all too often, relapse. Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal. The risk of addiction is in part inherited. Genetic factors, for example, account for about 40 % of the risk of alcoholism. The genetic factors predisposing to addiction are not yet fully understood. 



Adjustment Disorder:- Development of emotional or behavioural symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor occurring within 3 months of the onset of the stressor; state of mixed emotions such as depression & anxiety which occurs as a reaction to major life events or when having to face major life changes such as illness or relationship breakdown. 



Adrenal Glands:- Glands that release hormones and are located in the kidney region. 



Adrenaline:- (see ‘Epinephrine’) 



Adverse Reaction:- In pharmacology, any unexpected or dangerous reaction to a drug. An unwanted effect caused by the administration of a drug. The onset of the adverse reaction may be sudden or develop over time. Also called an adverse drug event (ADE), meaning any unexpected or dangerous reaction to a drug or adverse drug reaction (ADR), meaning a harmful or abnormal result. An adverse effect may be caused by the administration of a medication or by exposure to a chemical and be indicated by an untoward result such as illness or death. 



Affect:- Affect refers to the experience of feeling or emotion. It is a key part of the process of an organism’s interaction with stimuli. The word also refers sometimes to affect display, which is a “facial, vocal, or gestural behaviour that serves as an indicator of affect”. The affective domain represents one of the three division described in modern psychology; the ‘cognitive’, the ‘conative’, and the ‘affective’. Classically, these divisions have also been referred to as the “ABC of psychology”; being affect, behaviour & cognition. Affect has been found across cultures to comprise both positive and negative dimensions. The most commonly used measure of these in research is the Positive & Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Mood, like emotion, is an affective state. However, an emotion tends to have a clear focus, while mood tends to be more unfocused and diffused. From a clinician’s perspective and in its basic ‘working’ form, affect is that which the clinician ‘sees’, as opposed to mood, which is that expressed by or subjectively interpreted by the clinician through observation. 



Affective Disorders:- Psychiatric disorders marked by a disturbance of mood or emotions. Examples would include Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia, Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder. 



Alcohol:-An organic chemical in which one or more hydroxyl (OH) groups are attached to carbon atoms in place of hydrogen (H) atoms. Common alcohols include ethyl alcohol or ethanol (found in alcoholic beverages), methyl alcohol or methanol (can cause blindness) and propyl alcohol or propanol (used as a solvent and antiseptic). Rubbing alcohol is a mixture of acetone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and ethyl alcohol. In everyday talk, alcohol usually refers to ethanol as, for example, in wine, beer and liquor. It can cause changes in behaviour and can be addictive. 



Alcoholic hallucinations:- Auditory hallucinations reported to occur after heavy drinking by alcohol-dependant clients. 



Alcoholism:- Dependence on alcohol to the extent that it seriously interferes with daily functioning. 



Allied Healthconsists of Psychologists, Social Workers, and Occupational Therapists. Less directly involved, though part of the Allied Health area are: Speech Therapists, Physiotherapists, Dieticians etc. 



Ambivalence:- (1) The co-existence of opposing attitudes or feelings (such as love & hate) towards a person, object or idea; A state of uncertainty or indecisiveness, mixed feelings or emotions. (2)  The holding, at the same time, of 2 opposing emotions, attitudes, ideas or wishes toward the same person, situation, or object. The coexistence of contradictory emotions, attitudes, ideas or desires with respect to a particular person, object, or situation. Ordinarily, the ambivalence is not fully conscious and suggests psychopathology only when present in an extreme form. 



Amnesia:- Loss of memory. Types include: Anterograde: loss of memory of events that occur after the onset of the etiological condition or agent. Retrograde: loss of memory of events that occurred before the onset of the etiological condition or agent. 



Anergia:- Lack of energy, passivity. 



Anhedonia:- Anhedonia is a symptom of dysthymia characterized by a decreased or absent ability to enjoy a sense of pleasure. This may also be a symptom of schizophrenia and/or clinical depression. In addition, this disorder can be caused by excessive use of amphetamines. 



Anorexia:- A medical term that signifies a loss of appetite. A person with anorexia nervosa, however, may not have any loss of appetite and often is preoccupied with food and eating in order to control his or her eating. 



Anti Depressants:- A term used to describe a group of drugs that treat depression. All antidepressant medication chemically targets the neurotransmitters within the brain, and more specifically the synapse between neurons. The primary function is to increase the quantity of neurotrasmitters within the synaptic cleft (the gap between the neurons), thus making more available for the transmission of signals from one neuron to the next. In depression, there is a significant decrease in quantity &/or activity of neurotransmitters. Examples of antidepressant medications (by type) include Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclic Antidepressants and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs).    



Anti Psychotics:- (also known as neuroleptics) A group of psychoactive drugs commonly, but not exclusively used to treat psychosis, such as that which is present in schizophrenia. Since the 1950’s there has been a wide range of antipsychotics developed; the first generation of these, referred to as ‘typical antipsychotics’. More recently there has been a second generation of antipsychotic medication referred to as ‘atypical antipsychotics’. Both classes of drugs tend to block receptors in the brain’s dopamine pathways, however they encompass a wide range of receptor targets which has the result of producing other effects or side effects not necessarily desired; for example, weight gain, hypotension, tachycardia, impotence, lethargy, intense dreams or nightmares, acute dystonias, akathesia, pseudo-parkinsonism, agranulocytosis, tardive dyskinesia, tardive psychoses and tardive dysphrenia.  ‘Typical Antipsychotics’ are classified according to their chemical structure while ‘atypical antipsychotics’ are classified according to their pharmacological properties. Commonly used antipsychotics are as follows: 


First Generation Antipsychotics 


  • Butyrophenones - Haloperidol (Haldol, Serenace); Droperidol (Droleptan) 
  • Phenothiazines– Chorpromazine (Largactil, Thorazine); Fluphenazine; Perphenazine; Prochlorperazine; Thioridazine (Melleril); Trifluoperazine (Stelazine); Periciazine; Promazine; Triflupromazine; Promethazine (Phenergan); Pimozide (Orap) 
  • Thioxanthenes– Chorprothixene; Flupenthixol (Fluanxol); Thiothixene (Havane); Zuclopenthixol (Clopixol, Acuphase) 


Second Generation Antipsychotics 


  • Clozapine (Clozaril) 
  • Olanzapine(Zyprexa) 
  • Risperidone (Risperdal) 
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) 
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon) 
  • Amisulpride (Solian) 


Aripiprazole (Abilify) is considered a “3rd Generation Antipsychotic” whose mechanism of action is thought to reduce susceptibility to metabolic symptoms seen in other atypical antipsychotics. 



Antisocial Behaviour:- A pervasive pattern of behaviour that displays disregard for the violation of rights of others, societal mores, or law (such as irritability, consistent irresponsibility, lack of remorse, failure to conform to social norms, etc.) It is that which is verbally or physically harmful to other people, animals, or property, including behaviour that severely violates social values and standards.  



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 millions of people worldwide. These disorders fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless and can grow progressively worse if not treated.  



Anxiolytics:-  Anxiolytics are medications that treat & reduce the severity of anxiety. They provide temporary relief of the symptoms and do not permanently ‘take away’ the anxiety or ‘solve’ the root cause. Though not anxiolytics, bet-receptor blockers such as propanalol and oxrenolol can be used to combat the somatic symptoms of anxiety. Anxiolytics are also known as “minor tranquilisers”, though this usage is less common in modern texts. Benzodiazepines are prescribed for short-term relief of severe and disabling anxiety. Benzodiazepines may also be indicated to cover the latent periods associated with the medications prescribed to treat an underlying anxiety disorder. They are used to treat a wide variety of conditions and symptoms and are usually a first choice when short-term CNS sedation is needed. Longer-term uses include treatment for severe anxiety. There is a risk of a benzodiazepine withdrawal and rebound syndrome after continuous usage for longer than two (2) weeks. There is also the added problem of the accumulation of drug metabolites and adverse effects. Benzodiazepines include: Alprazolam (Xanax); Chordiazepoxide (Librium); Clonazepam (Rivotril); Clorazepate (Tranxene); Diazepam (Valium); Lorazepam (Ativan). Benzodiazepines exert anxiolytic properties at moderate dosage. At higher dosage hypnotic properties occur. 



Apathy:- A state of indifference; lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern. 



Assertiveness:- Asking for what one wants or acting to get what one wants in a way that respects the rights and feelings of other people. 



Attention:- The ability to focus selectively on a selected stimulus, sustaining that focus and shifting it at will. The ability to concentrate. 



Atypical:-Not conforming to the normal type; unusual or irregular; not usual in a normal condition; opposite of typical. Sometimes referred to as ‘abnormal’, though this is somewhat technically incorrect in a clinical context. 



Atypical Depression:- A type of depression in which the person reacts to the environment, is sensitive to rejection, and may gain weight and sleep more than usual; this condition is the opposite of typical depression, which is characterized by weight loss and insomnia. 



Autonomic Nervous System:- That portion of the nervous system that controls internal organs and glands. Not under voluntary control. 



Autonomy:- Self-reliance; the sense of being and individual in one’s own right. 



Avolition:- Lack of motivation; An inability to initiate and persist in goal-directed activities. When severe enough to be considered pathological, avolition is pervasive and prevents the person from completing many different types of activities (eg. work, intellectual pursuits, and self-care). A “negative” symptom of schizophrenia. 



Axon:- Part of a nerve cell that conveys electrical impulse. 



Barbiturates:- A class of drugs that slow down your central nervous system (brain & nerve impulses) causing relaxation. They reduce activity in the brain; are habit forming and are possibly fatal when taken with alcohol. Barbiturates have been used as sedatives & anaesthetics, and they have been used to treat the convulsions associated with epilepsy. They are the largest and most common group of synthetic sedative/hypnotics. In small doses, they are effective tranquilisers used in sedation and in relieving tension & anxiety. In larger doses, they are used as hypnotics (sleep inducers). They include ‘Seconal’, Nembutal’, ‘Luminal’, ‘Amytal’, ‘Brevital’, Pentothal’, ‘Butalbital’. Some of the street terms for these Barbiturates are, ‘downs’, ‘downers’, ‘barbs’, ‘goofballs’, ‘candy’, ‘peanuts’. 



Behaviour:- “The observable reaction, response or demonstrative outworking of that which originates in the psyche (mind), both conscious & unconscious; being a confluence of genetic and developmental factors & sources”. 



Behaviour Modification:- The use of techniques to enhance awareness or consciousness about a behaviour and then to alter the behaviour; by the manipulation of cues and environmental factors that trigger them. The process works to directly alter an individual’s behaviour patterns in order to minimize defeating trends and heighten productivity and self-satisfaction. It changes a person’s response either by removing or reducing undesirable responses or by producing desirable ones; responses to be studied are carefully defined, observed on a regular schedule, recorded according to a planned system, and analysed in terms of their environment. 



Benzodiazepines:- The benzodiazepines are a class of drugs with hypnotic (sleep inducing), anxiolytic (reducing anxiety), anticonvulsant (reducing seizure activity and muscle relaxant properties.)They can be short or long acting and are potentially addictive. They may increase depression at the same time they are reducing anxiety. Due to the physiological dependence that can arise from their prolonged usage, serious side effects can ensue from sudden withdrawal. The group includes such medications as ‘diazepam’ (valium), clonazepam (rivitrol), nitrazepem (mogadon), lorazepem (xanax), temazepam (temaze), Bromazepam etc… 



Beta-blocker:- An agent that inhibits the action of beta-adrenergic receptors, which modulate cardiac functions, respiratory functions, and the dilation of blood vessels. Beta-blockers are of value in the treatment of hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, and migraine. In psychiatry, they have been used in the treatment of aggression and violence, anxiety-related tremors and lithium-induced tremors, neuroleptic-induced akathisia, social phobias, panic states, and alcohol withdrawal. 



Binge Drinking:- Binge Drinking is the modern definition of drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. It is a kind of purposeful drinking style hat is popular in several countries worldwide, and overlaps somewhat with social drinking since it is often done in groups. It is, however, also done alone as a method of self medication. The exact degree of intoxication and varies between and within various cultures and sub-cultures that engage in this practice. There is currently no consensus on how many drinks constitute a “binge”, but the term is often taken as to mean consuming 5 or more standard drinks (male), or 4 or more (female), in about two (2) hours for a typical adult. A culture of binge drinking is prevalent among many communities. In a minority of social circles, binge drinking may begin at as young as 12-16, and may be very widely practiced and accepted by age 12 – 16, despite the fact the legal age is 18. Binge drinking is an ever increasing problem that appears to correlate with industrialized western society and the increase in concomitant psychological and social impairment. Self esteem, self harming, socio-economic pressures, marital and relationship difficulties, depression, anxiety et al all contribute to a ‘self medicating’ mentality that is more easily and seemingly more socially acceptably dealt with by the consumption and over-consumption of alcohol. Binge drinking has also been identified as an area of concern for high profile individuals; sportspeople, music identities, media/film icons, celebrities etc. whose image and role modeling has subjectively encouraged the replication of behaviour in those within the general populace. It is indeed a sad indictment that Australia, per capita, has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the world.  



Biochemical:- Biochemical refers to the field of ‘biochemistry’ – the study of the chemical processes in living organisms. It deals with the structure and function of cellular components such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and other biomolecules. Human/medical/medicinal biochemistry focuses on the biochemistry of humans and medical illnesses.  



Bio-Psycho-Social:- The biopsychosocial model is a general model or approach that states biological, psychological (which entails thoughts, emotions, and behaviours), and social factors, all play a significant role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness; and further, that health is best understood in terms of a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors rather than purely in biological terms. The biological component of the model seeks to understand how the cause of the illness stems from the functioning of the individual’s physiology (their body). The psychological component of the model looks for potential psychological causes for a health problem such as lack of self-control, emotional turmoil, and negative thinking. The Social aspect investigates how different social factors such as socioeconomic status, culture, poverty, technology, and religion can influence health. The basic premise under which the model postulates its relevance and accuracy is the interdependence between all three (3) domains and the assertion that each can affect the other resulting in illness or altered functioning.  



Bipolar Disorder:- Also referred to as ‘Bipolar Affective Disorder’ or ‘Manic Depression’ is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, clinically referred to as mania and a history of an episode of major depression. It is a serious illness that causes shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Dramatic mood swings can move from “high” feelings of extreme euphoria or irritability to depression, sometimes with periods of ‘normal’ moods in between. The mania stage can involve the presence of psychotic symptoms and the depression phase can result in life threatening suicidal ideation. Bipolar Disorder is considered a ‘life-long’ illness with various methods of treatment, primarily medication, required to maintain stability in an individual sufferer’s life. 



Bipolar I disorder:- A type of bipolar disorder characterized by one or manic or mixed episodes, often with a history of one or more major depressive episodes. 



Bipolar I disorder , mixed:- A type of bipolar disorder characterized by the simultaneous occurrence of mania & depression. 



Bipolar II disorder:- A type of bipolar disorder characterized by one or more major depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode but without any manic or mixed episodes.  



Brain:- That part of the Central Nervous System that is located within the cranium (skull). The brain functions as the primary receiver, organizer and distributor of information for the body. It has two (2) sides (halves) called ‘hemispheres’. 




Case Management:-  This can be seen in ‘inpatient’ settings or outpatient’/’community’ settings. With reference to the latter, case management is largely confined to the public sector of health, though other facilities or organizations have a similar service. It is generally contingent upon the level of funding and the organisation’s financial ability to provide such a service in the community. Case management involves the provision of consistent ‘case managers’ who oversee and monitor your mental health care (and overall health) and provide a ‘point of contact’. Duties involved in case management include assuming responsibility for a client ranging from assessments of need, formulating comprehensive plan of care, arranging for delivery of services to address individual client needs, and assessing and monitoring the services delivered.  



Case Workers/Case Managers:-  These people are not restricted to any one profession or discipline. They are generally found in larger health organizations, particularly government health services, and largely community based. They oversee the client’s health care, providing personal contact and liaising with others of the multidisciplinary team. They communicate information to & from the client and team. They are the person you would normally contact should the need arise. They should be adept at explaining treatment, providing all the necessary information for your care and offering support & personal contact. 



Catharsis:- (1) A discharge of emotional tension associated with repressed emotional material, usually of a traumatic nature. (2) The healthful (therapeutic) release of ideas through “talking out” conscious material accompanied by an appropriate emotional reaction. Also, the release into awareness of repressed (‘forgotten’) material from the unconscious. 



Central Nervous System (CNS) :- The Central Nervous System (CNS) is the part of the nervous system that functions to coordinate the activity of all parts of the bodies of multicellular organisms. In vertebrates, the CNS is enclosed in the meninges. It contains the majority of the nervous system and consists of the brain & spinal cord. Together with the peripheral nervous system it has a fundamental role in the control of behaviour. The CNS is contained with the dorsal cavity, with the brain in the cranial cavity and the spinal cord in the spinal cavity. The brain is protected by the skull, while the spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae. 



Cerebellum:- The part of the brain responsible for motor coordination and equilibrium. 



Cerebral Cortex:- The surface layers of the brain. 



Cerebrum:- This is the largest part of the brain, composed of the left and right hemisphere. It has frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. 



Chromosome:- “A rod-like or thread-like structure in the nucleus of cells, carrying genetic material”. Each chromosome is made up of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) tightly coiled many times around proteins called histones that support its structure. Chromosomes are not visible in the cell’s nucleus-not even under a microscope-when the cell is not dividing. However, the DNA that makes up the chromosomes becomes more tightly packed during cell division and is then microscopically visible. Each chromosome has a constriction point called the centromere, which divides the chromosome into two sections, or “arms”. The short arm is labeled the “p arm”. The long arm of the chromosome is labeled the “q arm”. The location of the centromere on each chromosome gives the chromosome its characteristic shape, and can be used to help describe the location of specific genes. It is well known that DNA is the ‘blueprint of life’. The number of chromosomes varies in different species. In humans there are 46 chromosomes, or 23 pairs of chromosomes (diploid), in every cell except the mature egg & sperm which have a set of 23 chromosomes (haploid). If the chromosomes in a single cell were stretched out and laid end to end, the DNA would be two metres long. 



Chronic:- Originates from the Greek word ‘chronos’ meaning time. In this instance it refers to ’lasting a long time’.  



Chronic Illness:- An illness that persists for a long period of time. 



Clinical:- Having to do with the examination and treatment of patients or something  applicable to patients. 



Clinicians:-  This term is used to generically to describe a wide range of medical professionals. Most people who work in the area of mental health and engage with clients would be considered ‘clinicians’. They are utilizing their skills and professional expertise in a ‘clinical’ setting, be it in patient or outpatient, community or hospital, private or public. 



Co-dependant:- Coping behaviours that prevent individuals from taking care of their own needs and have as their core preoccupation with the thoughts and feelings of another. It usually refers to the dependence of one person on another who is addicted in one form or another. 



Cognition:- The process of knowing; the consciously & sub-consciously comprehended senses; a comprehension of subjectivity. Cognition is the process or processes by which an organism gains knowledge or becomes aware of events or objects in its environment and uses that knowledge for comprehension and problem-solving. It includes high level functions carried out by the human brain, including the use of speech, visual perceptions and construction, calculation ability, attention (information processing), memory, and executive functions such as planning problem-solving and self monitoring. 



Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT):- In simple terms CBT entails two (2) basic elements:- Cognition or the way an individual thinks & Behavioural – the way someone reacts, responds or behaves. The two (2) are intrinsically linked and co-exist in everyday life, though become problematic in conditions such as Depression & Anxiety Disorders. The therapist attempts to alter both components in a manner that allows for a re-establishment of healthy, appropriate & rational thinking & corresponding behaviour. 



Concussion:- Simply put as a ‘bruise or contusion to the brain’. (comprehensive definition for concussion can be found in chapter ‘Concussion & Depression’)  


Conation:-Conationis a term of relatively recent origin that is synonymous with motivation/will/drive, the preferred terms in psychological discourse. The power or act that directs or impels to effort of any kind, whether muscular or psychical. 


Condition:- The term’ condition’ has a number of biomedical meanings including the following: 

  1. An unhealthy state, such as in “this progressive condition”. 
  2. A state of fitness, such as “getting into condition”. 
  3. Something that is essential to the occurrence of something else; essentially a ‘precondition’. 
  4. As a verb: to cause a change in something so that a response that was previously associated with a certain stimulus becomes associated with another stimulus; to condition a person, as in behavioural conditioning. 


Conduct Disorder:- Conduct Disorder is somewhat of a controversial psychiatric category to describe a pattern of repetitive behaviour in children under the age of 18 where the rights of others or the social norms are violated. Possible symptoms are over-aggressive behaviour, bullying, physical aggression, cruel behaviour toward people & animals (pets), destructive behaviour, lying, truancy, vandalism, and stealing. After age 18, a conduct disorder may develop into, or be classified as,” antisocial personality disorder”.   

The diagnostic criteria for ‘Conduct Disorder’ as listed in the DSM IV-TR is as follows: 


  • A repetitive & persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated as manifested by the presence of three (or more) of the following criteria in the past 12 months, with at least one criterion present in the past 6 months: 

1. Aggression to people and animals 


  • Often initiates physical fights 
  • Has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others (eg. a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun) 
  • Has been physically cruel to people 
  • Has been physically cruel to animals 
  • Has stolen while confronting a victim (eg. mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery) 
  • Has forced someone into sexual activity 


2. Destruction of property 


  • Has deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage. 
  • Has deliberately destroyed others’ property (other than by fire). 


3. Deceitfulness or theft 


  • Has broken into someone else’s house, building, or car 
  • Often lies to obtain goods or favours or to avoid obligations (ie. “cons” others) 
  • Has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (eg. shoplifting, but without breaking and entering; forgery) 


4. Serious violations of rules 


  • Often stays out at night despite parental prohibitions, beginning before age 13 years 
  • Has run away from home overnight at least twice while living in parental or parental surrogate home (or once without returning for a lengthy period) 
  • Is often truant from school, beginning before age 13 years 


The disturbance in behaviour causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning. 



Coping Mechanisms:- Way of adjusting to environmental stress without altering one’s goals or purposes (can be conscious or unconscious). 



Cortex:- The outer layer of the brain, densely packed with nerve cells. 



Cortisol:- A steroid secreted by the adrenal cortex, important for maintaining blood sugar levels, maintenance of body fluids and electrolytes, and protecting the body from stress. 



Counsellor:- A counsellor is a professional who counsels people, especially on personal problems or issues of concern. They can be a licensed and professionally trained counsellor; a school counsellor; often in a specialty such as career, education, or health. They provide guidance: something that gives direction or advice as to a decision or course of action. They help clients and families evaluate their patterns of problem solving and develop more effective ones. 



Counter-transference:- The tendency of a professional to displace onto the client feelings that are a response to people in the professional’s own past. 



Crisis:- Stress situation that approaches or exceeds adaptive capacities of individual or group. 



Culture:- The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group, and, an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning. 



Cyclothymia:- A chronic mood disturbance of at least 2 years’ duration involving both hypomanic and dysthymic mood swings. These fluctuations do not require hospitalization and do not impair a person’s functioning in a major way. 




DSM IV –TR (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 4th edition) 

The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides criteria for mental disorders. It is used in the United States and in varying degrees around the world, including Australia, by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers. Many mental health professionals use this book to determine and help communicate a patient’s diagnosis after evaluation; hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies also generally require a ‘five axis’ DSM diagnosis of all patients treated. The DSM can be used to establish a diagnosis or categorize patients using diagnostic criteria. The DSM may also be used in mental health research. Studies done on specific diseases often recruit patients whose symptoms match the criteria listed in the DSM for that disease. An international survey of psychiatrists in 66 countries comparing use of the ICD-10 and the DSM-IV found the former was more often used for clinical diagnosis while the latter was more valued for research. The DSM, including DSM-IV, is a registered trademark belonging to the American Psychiatric Association. The ‘Multi-axial’ system utilized by the DSM relating to different aspects of disorder or disability is as follows: 


·         Axis 1: clinical disorders, including major mental disorders, as well as developmental and learning disorders 

·         Axis II: underlying pervasive or personality conditions, as well as mental retardation 

·         Axis III: acute medical conditions and physical disorders 

·         Axis IV: psychosocial and environmental factors contributing to the disorder 

·         Axis V: Global Assessment of Functioning or Children’s Global Assessment Scale for children and teens under the age of 18 


Common Axis I disorders include:-Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Autism, Phobias and Schizophrenia. 


Common Axis II disorders include:-Personality Disorders (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, borderline, antisocial, narcissistic, histrioinic, avoidant, dependant, obsessive-compulsive disorders) and mental retardation. 


Common Axis III disorders include:-brain injuries and other medical/physical disorders which may aggravate existing diseases or present symptoms similar to other disorders. 



Defence mechanisms:- Unconscious, automatic processes to ward off anxiety by preventing conscious awareness of threatening feelings. Defence mechanisms mediate the individual’s reaction to emotional conflicts and to external stressors. Some defence mechanisms (eg. projection, splitting, and acting out) are almost invariably maladaptive. Others, such as suppression and denial, may be either maladaptive or adaptive, depending on the severity, their inflexibility, and the context in which they occur. 



Delerium:- A sudden state of severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function, sometimes associated with hallucinations and hyperactivity, in which the individual is inaccessible to ‘normal’ contact. Symptoms may include inability to concentrate and disorganized thinking evidenced by rambling, irrelevant, or incoherent speech. There may be reduced level of consciousness, sensory misperceptions and illusions, disturbances of sleep, drowsiness, disorientation to time, place, or person, and problems with memory. 



Delerium Tremens (DT’s) :- Acute delirium associated with prolonged alcoholism; the term is now replace by alcohol withdrawal delirium. 



Delusions:- A Delusion is a fixed false belief that is firmly held even when direct evidence that the belief is false is presented to the individual. It is much more than just a strong or unreasonable belief; it is a false belief that is held so firmly that it reflects a person being out of touch with reality. Examples of common delusions include:- Grandiose – delusions about inflated worth, power, or status (eg. someone believing that they are actually a religious figure); Persecutory – delusions in which the central theme is that the person is being watched, attacked, or harassed (eg. someone believing that he is being followed by government agents). These are also referred to as Paranoid delusions at times. Thought Broadcasting – delusions that a person’s thoughts are somehow being broadcast so that other people can see or hear them. 



Dementia:- Significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. 



Depression:- Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed or low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850,000 lives every year. Depression occurs in persons of both gender, all ages and backgrounds. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Major depression causes a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat & enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime. Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression with long-term symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives. Bipolar Disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs and lows. Sometimes the mood changes are dramatic & rapid, but more often they are gradual. When in the depressed phase of the cycle, one can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is not nearly as common as other forms of depressive disorders. 



Depot Medication:- This is medication of a ‘slow release’ nature, administered via intramuscular injection. Older ‘depot’ medication was oil based, though advances in pharmacology have seen the advent of alternative presentations with less possible side effects, tissue damage and greater efficacy. It generally applies to ‘antipsychotic’ medication, and can also apply to hormonal treatments. This type of medication is designed to eliminate the need for regular oral medication and is used for many in the community setting whose capacity to reliably take prescribed medication is dubious or for those who have issues with compliance with treatment. The term decoanate is used in conjunction with the drug’s name indicating its intramuscular, slow release nature. For example: Flupenthixol decoanate (fluanxol) or Zuclopenthixol decoanate (Clopixol).  



Detoxification:- Treatment directed toward ridding the body of alcohol or other drugs. 



Diagnosis:- 1. The nature of a disease; the identification of an illness. 2. A conclusion or decision reached by diagnosis. “The diagnosis is diabetes. 3. The identification of any problem.  



Differential Diagnosis:- A ‘differential diagnosis’ means there is more than one possibility for what the ultimate diagnosis might be and they must ‘differentiate’ between them. An example of this might be bipolar disorder and schizo-affective disorder. 



Distractibility:- Inability to maintain attention; shifting from one area or topic to another with minimal provocation or attention being drawn too frequently to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli. 



Dopamine:- Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (or chemical in the brain) that either increases or reduces the activity of neurons (nerve cells). Dopamine has a variety of influences on brain function, including playing a role in regulating attention, cognition, movement, pleasure, behaviour and hormonal responses. Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia all involve abnormalities in the dopamine system. In nature, we learn to repeat behaviours that lead to maximize rewards. Dopamine is therefore believed to provide a teaching signal to parts of the brain responsible for acquiring new behaviour. Dopamine is commonly associated with the pleasure system of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate a person proactively to perform certain activities. It is released by naturally rewarding experiences such as food, sex, drugs, and neutral stimuli that become associated with them. Recent studies indicate that aggression may also stimulate the release of dopamine in this way. This theory is often discussed in terms of drugs such as cocaine, nicotine and amphetamines, which directly or indirectly lead to an increase of dopamine and in relation to neurobiological theories of chemical addiction, arguing that this dopamine pathway is pathologically altered in addicted persons. Dopamine’s role in experiencing pleasure is argued to be more associated with anticipatory desire and motivation (commonly referred to as “wanting”) as opposed to actual consummatory pleasure (commonly referred to as “liking”).  



Dreams:- Thoughts, visions and other sensations that occur or occupy the mind during sleep. 



Drug Abuse:- Use of a drug to the extent that it interferes with health and/or occupational or social adjustment. 



Drug dependence:- Impaired control of drug use despite adverse consequences, the development of a tolerance to the drug, and the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms when drug intake is reduced or stopped. 



Drug Induced Psychosis:- Also known as or referred to as ‘Substance induced psychosis’. Prominent psychotic symptoms determined to be caused by the effects of a psychoactive substance is the primary feature of a substance-induced psychotic disorder. A substance may induce psychotic symptoms during intoxication (while the individual is under the influence of the drug) or during withdrawal (after an individual stops using the drug). A substance induced psychotic disorder is subtyped or categorized on whether the prominent feature is delusions or hallucinations. In addition, the disorder is subtyped based on whether it began during intoxication on a substance or during withdrawal from a substance. One that begins during use can last as long as the drug is used. One that begins during withdrawal may first manifest up to four (4) weeks after the individual stops using. By definition, a substance induced psychotic disorder is directly caused by the effects of drugs including alcohol, medications, and toxins. Psychotic symptoms can result from intoxication on alcohol, amphetamines (and related substances), cannibis (marijuana), cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, phencyclidine (PCP) and related substances, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics and other known substances. Psychotic symptoms can also result from withdrawal from alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics and other known or unknown substances. The speed of onset of psychotic symptoms varies depending on the type of substance. For example, using a lot of cocaine can produce psychotic symptoms within minutes. On the other hand, psychotic symptoms may result from alcohol use only after days or weeks of intensive use. The type of psychotic symptoms also tends to vary according to the type of substance. For instance, auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations and tactile hallucinations are most common in an alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, whereas persecutory delusions and tactile hallucinations (especially fornication) are commonly seen in a cocaine of amphetamine-induced psychotic disorder. The following are criteria necessary for diagnosis of a substance-induced psychotic disorder as listed in the DSMIV-TR: 


  • Presence of prominent hallucinations or delusions. 
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions develop during, or within one month of, intoxication or withdrawal from a substance or medication known to cause psychotic symptoms. 
  • Psychotic symptoms are not actually part of another psychotic disorder (such as schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, schizo-affective disorder) that is not substance induced. For instance, if psychotic symptoms began prior to substance or medication use, then another psychotic disorder is likely. 
  • Psychotic symptoms do not only occur during delirium. 


Drug interaction:- The effects of two or more drugs taken simultaneously, producing a change in the usual effects of either drug taken alone. Serious side effects may result. 



Dysphoric Mood:- An unpleasant mood, such as sadness, anxiety , or irritability. 



Dysfunction:- Difficult or abnormal function. 



Dysthymia:- A type of depression involving long term, chronic symptoms that are not disabling, but keep a person from functioning at ‘full steam’ or to their full capacity or from ‘feeling good’. Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression than what is accorded the ‘diagnosis of major depression’. However, people with dysthymia may also sometimes experience major depressive episodes, suggesting that there is a continuum between dysthymia and major depression. To be diagnosed with dysthymia an adult must experience two (2) or more of the following symptoms for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two (2) years. *feelings of hopelessness; *insomnia or hypersomnia; *poor concentration or difficulty making decisions; *low energy or fatigue; *low self esteem; *poor appetite or overeating. In contrast to major depression, medication should only be the last resort. Instead, treatment should be primarily based on psychotherapy involving the individual learning to cope with dysthymia by understanding its nature. If medication is chosen, sometimes two (2) different anti-depressant medications are prescribed together, or a doctor may prescribe a mood stabilizer or anti-anxiety medication in combination with an anti-depressant 



Early morning awakening:- Awaken early in the morning and unable to go back to sleep again. 



Ecstasy:- Feelings of intense rapture. 



ECT:- Electroconvulsive Therapy (commonly referred to as ‘shock treatment’). More widely used than most would expect, it is extremely useful in the treatment of severe depression, illnesses producing ‘psychomotor retardation’ and sometimes persistent, medication resistant psychotic symptoms. Despite the poor image it generally has, it is now quite safe & very well monitored. It is not generally used unless absolutely necessary and after other treatments have failed. It also, in most circumstances, requires the consent of the individual concerned. It is conducted by trained professionals, under a general anaesthetic and in the appropriately safe setting, often a hospital theatre. 



EEG (electroencephalogram):- The measure of electrical activity produced by the brain, obtained with electrodes placed on the scalp. 



Ego:- (Freudian in origin) The ‘ego’, which is conscious and serves to integrate the drives of the id with the prohibitions of the super-ego. Freud believed this conflict to be at the heart of neurosis. According to Freud, the Ego acts in relation to the reality principle; ie. it seeks to please the id’s drive in realistic ways that will benefit in the long term rather than bringing grief. The Ego comprises the organized part of the personality structure which includes defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive funtions. Conscious awareness resides in the ego, although not all of the operations of the ego are conscious. The ego separates what is real. It helps us organize our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us. In Freud’s theory, the ego mediates between the id, the super-ego and the external world. Its task is to find a balance between primitive drives and reality while satisfying the id and super-ego. Its main concern is with the individual’s safety and allows some of the id’s desires to be expressed, but only when consequences of these actions are marginal. Ego defence mechanisms are often used by the ego when id behaviour conflicts with reality and either society’s morals, norms, and taboos or the individual’s expectations as a result of the internalization of these morals, norms and their taboos. 



Elevated Mood:- An exaggerated feeling of well-being, or euphoria or elation. A person with elevated mood may describe feeling ‘high’, ‘ecstatic’, ‘on top of the world’, or ‘up in the clouds’. 



Empathy:- Ability to understand and to some extent share the state of mind of another person; getting into the other person’s world and see things from that person’s perspective; communicating that understanding to the other person. 



Endogenous:- Inside. That which occurs, develops, is made or constructed within the body as differentiated from similar things produced or developed outside of the body. Endogenous depression is that which seemingly has no external causative factor such as ‘marital problems’. 



Endorphins:- Endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in individuals during strenuous exercise, excitement, pain, death, and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgaesia and a sense of well-being. Endorphins work as “natural pain relievers”, whose effects may be enhanced by other medications. The term endorphin rush has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress, supposedly due to the influence of endorphins. When a nerve impulse reaches the spinal cord, endorphins are released which prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals. Immediately after injury, endorphins allow humans to feel a sense of power & control over themselves that allows them to persist with activity for an extended period of time. Another widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called ‘runner’s high’, which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over the threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen. During a release of endorphin the person may be exposed to bodily harm from strenuous bodily functions after going past their body’s physical limit. Other activities that might relate to this occurrence are: boxing, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, soccer, basketball, tennis, hockey, AFL, rugby union,  and of course, rugby league. 



Enrolled Nurse:-  An enrolled nurse has not completed a University Degree, though has undertaken training at a TAFE College. They are generally not as commonly seen in mental health settings. Some have ‘medication endorsement’ meaning they can administer your medication.  



Environment:- The sum total of the elements, factors and conditions in the surroundings which may have an impact on the development, action or survival of an organism or group of organisms. 



Enzyme:-A protein (or protein based molecule) that speeds up a chemical reaction in a living organism. An enzyme acts as a catalyst for specific reactions, converting a specific set of reactants (called substrates) into specific products. Without enzymes, life as we know it would not exist. 



Epinephrine:- Epinephrine (also referred to as adrenaline) is a hormone and neurotransmitter that participates in the ‘fight or flight’ response of the sympathetic nervous system. Its powerful ‘fight or flight’ hormone and also plays a central role in the short-term stress reaction. It is released from the adrenal glands when danger threatens or in an emergency, hence an ‘adrenaline rush’. Such triggers may be threatening, exciting, or environmental stressor conditions such as high noise levels, or bright light and high ambient temperature. When in the bloodstream, it rapidly prepares the body for action in emergency situations. The hormone boosts the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles, while suppressing other non-emergency bodily processes. It increases heart rate and stroke volume, dilates pupils, and constricts aterioles in the skin and gastrointestinal tract while dilating aterioles in skeletal muscles. It elevates the blood sugar level by increasing catabolism of glycogen to glucose in the liver, and at the same time begins the breakdown of lipids in fat cells. Like some other stress hormones, epinephrine has a suppressive effect on the immune system. Although epinephrine does not have any psychoactive effects, stress or arousal also releases norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine has similar actions in the body, but is psychoactive. Adverse reactions to epinephrine include palpatations, tachycardia, arrhythmia, anxiety, headache, tremor, hypertension and acute pulmonary oedema. Adrenaline Junkies is a term used to describe somebody who appears to be addicted to epinephrine (endogenous,) and are sometimes described as getting “high on life”. They appear to favour stressful activities for the release of epinephrine as a stress response.   



Euphoria:- Euphoria is medically recognized as an emotional and mental state defined as a sense of great elation and well-being. Technically, euphoria is an affect, but the term is often colloquially used to define emotion as an intense, transcendent happiness combined with an overwhelming sense of well-being. Euphoria is generally considered to be an exaggerated state, resulting from psychological or pharmacological stressors and not typically achieved during the normal course of human existence, although some natural behaviours, such as activities resulting in orgasm or the triumph of an athlete, can induce brief states of euphoria. Euphoria has also been cited during religious or spiritual rituals and meditation. 



Euthymia:- A normal mood state. Euthymic:- Mood in the ‘normal’ range, which imples the absence of depressed  or elevated mood. 



Exogenous:-Originating from ‘outside’; derived externally. In pathology (of disease) – externally caused rather than resulting from conditions within the organism. In relation to depression, it is ‘an inappropriate state of depression that is precipitated by events in the person’s life (to be distinguished from normal grief). 



Extrapyramidal nervous system:- A neural network located in the brain that is part of the motor system involved in the coordination of movement.  



Extrapyramidal side effects (EPS):- A variety of signs & symptoms that are often side effects of the use of certain psychotropic drugs. For example: acute dystonia, akathesia that are reversible, and tardive dyskinesia that is not. 



Freudian:- An individual who follows or subscribes to the basic theories or practices of Sigmund Freud. Of or relating to Sigmund Freud or his psychoanalysis ideas “Freudian Theories”. Freud is considered the father of modern psychology and psychotherapy. 



Fight-or-flight response:- The body’s automatic response to fearful trigger. This response is useful in emergencies. However, ongoing response can result in health deterioration, including high blood pressure, ulcers etc. 



Flat affect:- Almost no emotional expression at all; the patient typically has an immobile face and monotonous voice. 



Flight of ideas:- A continuous flow of speech in which a person jumps rapidly from one topic to another. Speech consists of a stream of accelerated thoughts with abrupt changes from topic to topic and no central direction. The connections between the thoughts may be based on chance relationships, verbal associations, clang associations and distracting stimuli. Sometimes the listener can keep up with the changes; at other times, it is necessary to listen for themes in the incessant talking. Themes can include grandiose and fantasized estimation of personal ability, talents etc. Characteristic of manic disorder and drugs of a stimulant nature. 



Folie a deux (French):- A shared psychotic disorder between 2 people, usually people who are mutually dependant upon each other. One has a real psychosis and symptoms that are induced in the other. Separation usually results in symptomatic improvement in the one who is not psychotic. 



Frontal Lobe:- One of the four divisions of each cerebral hemisphere. The frontal lobe is important for controlling movement and associating the functions of other cortical areas. Portion of the brain is active in reasoning and other higher thought processes. As the name suggests, it is located at the front of the brain. 



GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) :- A neurotransmitter implicated in depressive and other psychiatric disorders. GABA receptors contain five different protein subunits, which come in a variety of shapes. GABA is the predominant amino acid transmitter used to mediate pre-synaptic inhibition in the spinal cord as well as an inhibitory transmitter in areas of the brain such as the cortex and the basal ganglia. It is considered to be involved in muscle relaxation, sleep, diminished emotional reation and sedation. 



GP (general practitioner):-  This is your ‘family or personal doctor’. The GP is most often the first person you seek out when experiencing difficulties. Most GPs are very aware of the issues relating to mental health as a result of the ever growing incidence of mental health issues and is therefore generally quite adept at prescribing treatment or making the necessary referral to more specialized services should that be necessary. They work in the private sector. 



Genes:- A gene is the basic unit of heredity in a living organism. All living things depend on genes. They hold the information to build and maintain their cells and pass traits to offspring. In general terms, a gene is a segment of nucleic acid that, taken as a whole, specifies a trait. The gene is considered a hereditary unit consisting of a sequence of DNA that occupies a specific location on a chromosome and determines a particular characteristic of an organism. Genes undergo mutation when their DNA sequence changes. The nature, structure, and regulation of genes has been a central topic of scientific research for more than 100 years.  



Genome:- Life is specified by genomes. Every organism, including humans, has a genome that contains all of the biological information needed to build and maintain a living example of that organism. The biological information contained in a genome is encoded in its DNA and is divided into discrete units called genes. Gene codes for proteins that attach to the genome at the appropriate positions and switch on a series of reactions called gene expression. Inside each of our cells lies a nucleus, a membrane-bounded region that provides the home for genetic information. The nucleus contains long strands of DNA that encode genetic information. An analogy to the human genome stored on DNA is that of instructions stored in a book. 

  • The book would be over one billion words long; 
  • The book would be bound in 5000 volumes, each one 300 pages long; 
  • The book fits into a cell nucleus the size of a pinpoint; 
  • A copy of the book (all 5000 volumes) is contained in almost every cell. 


Glutamate:- The most common excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. 



Grandiosity:- Exaggerated belief in or claims about one’s importance or identity. When extreme, grandiosity may be of delusional proportions. 



Grief:- The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as death), social (such as divorce) or occupational (such as a job). Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness and despair. Physical reactions to grief can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems, or illness. 



Group:- Two (2) or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives. 



Group Dynamics:- Group dynamics is the study of groups, and also a general term for group processes. Televant to the fields of psychology, sociology and communication studies, a group is two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships. Because they interact and influence each other, groups develop a number of dynamic processes that separate them from a random collection of individuals. These processes include norms, roles, relations, development, need to belong, social influence and effects on behaviour. The field of group dynamics is primarily concerned with small group behaviour. A true group exhibits a degree of social cohesion and is more than a simple collection or aggregate of individuals, such as people waiting at a bus stop. Characteristics shared by members of a group may include interests, values, ethnic or social background, occupational or sporting commonalities, and kinship ties. They accept expectations and obligations as members of the group and share a common identity. By this definition, society could be viewed as a large group, though most social groups are considerably smaller. The advantages in belonging to a group are as follows 


  • Security– By joining a group, individuals can reduce the insecurity of “standing alone”. People feel stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and are more resistant to threats when they are part of a group. 
  • Status– Inclusion in a group that is viewed as important by others provides recognition and status for its members. 
  • Self-Esteem– Groups can provide people with feelings of self-worth. That is, in addition to conveying status to those outside the group, membership can also give increased feelings of worth to the group members themselves. 
  • Power– What cannot be achieved individually often becomes possible through group action. There is power in numbers. 


The potential for development of positive individual personal growth can be achieved through group processes & dynamics which promote positivity, however the same can be applied to the negative & destructive nature of groups whose dynamics and functioning is contrary to societal norms and values. A group whose identity is falsely believed to be ‘above’ or ‘beyond’ expected & acceptable social conventions may result in its members also individually adapting their own self image as being above these social norms, values, morals etc. 



Half-life:- The time required for half the amount of a drug to be eliminated from the body. 



Hallucinations:- A hallucination, in the broadest sense, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid, substantial, and located in external objective space. The latter definition distinguishes hallucinations from the related phenomena of dreaming, which does not involve wakefulness; illusion, which involves distorted or misinterpreted real perception; imagery, which does not mimic real perception and is under voluntary control; and pseudohallucinations which does not mimic real perception, but is not under voluntary control. Hallucinations also differ from ‘delusional perceptions’, in which a correctly sensed and interpreted genuine perception is given some additional (and typically bizarre) significance. Hallucinations can occur in any sensory modality – visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile as well as proprioceptive, equilibrioceptive, nociceptive and thermoceptive.  



Hallucinogen:- Drug or chemical capable of producing hallucinations. 



Hallucinosis:- Hallucination (usually auditory) occurring in clear consciousness. For example in alcoholism. 



Heredity (Genetics):-Physical conditions that are passed on from generation to generation or illness that exists within a family (such as heart disease) can be referred to as a ‘hereditary predisposition’. Mental illness can similarly involve a component based on heredity. The likelihood of developing Schizophrenia, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders etc. is increased with a family history of such illnesses. There is no definitive test that will detect this, though statistics and research clearly indicate this to be the case.  



Histrionic:- A dramatic presentation of oneself with pervasive and excessive emotionality in order to seek attention, love and admiration. 



Hormone:- A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells and organs. 



Hyperactivity:- A higher than normal level of activity. An organ of the body can be described as hyperactive if it is more active than usual. Behaviour can also be hyperactive. 



Hypersomnia:- Hypersomnia is by recurring episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) or prolonged night time sleep. Different from feeling tired due to lack of, or interrupted sleep at night, individuals with hypersomnia are compelled to ‘nap’ repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as work, during a meal, or in conversation. These daytime ‘naps’ usually provide no relief from symptoms. Patients often have difficulty waking from long sleep, and may feel disoriented. Other symptoms may include anxiety, increased irritation, decreased energy, restlessness, slow thinking, slow speech, loss of appetite, hallucinations, and memory difficulty. Some individuals lose the ability to function in family, social, occupational or other settings. Typically, hypersomnia is first recognized in adolescence or young adulthood. 



Hypertension:- High blood pressure, defined as repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg – a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90. 



Hypertrophy:- Enlargement or overgrowth of an organ or part of the body due to increased size of the constituent cells. Hypertrophy occurs in the biceps and heart because of increased work. Cardiac hypertrophy is recognizable microscopically by the increased size of the cells.  



Hypnotics:- Also referred to as soporific drugs, are a class of psychoactives whose primary function is to induce sleep and to be used in the treatment of insomnia and in surgical anaesthesia. Because drugs in this class generally produced dose-dependent effects, ranging from anxiolysis to production of unconsciousness, they are often referred to collectively as sedative-hypnotic drugs. Since many hypnotic medications are habit-forming, a physician or GP will usually recommend other alternatives before prescribing medication for sleep. Hypnotic medication when prescribed should be used for the shortest period of time. The benzodiazepine and nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic medications also have a number of side effects such as daytime fatigue, cognitive impairment and can result in motor vehicle accidents, falls and fractures, particularly in the elderly. 



Hypochondria:- Excessive preoccupation with one’s physical health, without the presence of any pathology. Physical sensations are unrealistically interpreted as being abnormal.  



Hypomania:- A condition similar to mania but less severe. The symptoms are similar with elevated mood, increased activity, decreased sleep, grandiosity, racing thoughts, and the like. However, hypomanic episodes differ in that they do not cause significant distress or impair one’s work, family, or social life in an obvious way while manic episodes do. 



Hypotension:- Any blood pressure that is below the normal expected for an individual in a given environment. Hypotension is the opposite of hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure). 



Hypothalamus:- Small structure at the base of the brain that regulates many body functions, including appetite and body temperature. 



ICD 10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems – 10th revision):- is a coding of diseases and signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or diseases, as classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The code set allows for more than 155,000 different codes and permits tracking of many new diagnoses and procedures, a significant expansion on the 17,000 codes available in ICD-9. ICD-10-AM is the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, Australian Modification. ICD-10-AM has been developed by the NSSH with assistance from clinicians and clinical coders to ensure that the classification is current and appropriate for Australian clinical practice. The ICD-10-AM disease component is based on the WHO ICD-10. It uses an alphanumeric coding scheme for diseases. It is structured by body system and aetiology and comprises three, four and five character categories. The ICD includes a section classifying mental and behavioural disorders. This has developed alongside the DSM and the two manuals seek to use the same codes. There are significant differences, however, such as the ICD including personality disorders on the same axis as other mental disorders, unlike the DSM.    



Id:- (Freudian in origin) The ‘Id’ represents the instinctual drives of the individual and remains largely unconscious. The Id comprises the unorganized part of the personality structure and acts as a pleasure principle: if not compelled by reality it seeks immediate enjoyment. It is focused on selfishness and instant gratification. Personality, as Freud saw it, was produced by the conflict between biological impulses and social restraints that were internalized. The Id stands in direct opposition to the ‘super-ego’. Developmentally, the psychic apparatus of the Id begins at birth as undifferentiated; part of which later develops into a structured ego. The mind of a newborn child is regarded as completely “id-ridden”, in the sense that it is a mass of instinctive drives and impulses, and demands immediate gratification. The id is responsible for our basic drives such as food, water, sex, and basic impulses. It is amoral and egocentric, ruled by the pleasure-pain principle; it is without a sense of time, completely illogical, primarily sexual, infantile in its emotional development, and will not take “no” for an answer. It is regarded as the reservoir of the libido or “instinctive drive to create”. Mental Health manifestations of adult id driven; id obsessed; id focused behaviours are seen in certain personality disorders and behavioural types such as the ‘Antisocial Personality Disorder’, the ‘Narcissistic Personality’ and ‘Disorder’. 



Illusions:- An erroneous mental representation. Something many people believe that is false; “they have the illusion I am wealthy”. It is also considered as a distortion of the senses; revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. 



Impulsiveness:- An action that is abrupt, unplanned, and directed toward immediate gratification. 



Inappropriate Affect:- Reacting in an inappropriate manner, such as laughing when hearing bad news. 



Incidence:- The frequency with which something, such as disease, appears in a particular population, area or demographic. In disease epidemiology, the incidence is the number of newly diagnosed cases during a specific time period. The incidence is distinct from the prevalence which refers to the number of cases alive on a certain date. 



Inheritance:- A gene, chromosome or genome that is transmitted from parent to child, as opposed to something contained in a will. 



Inhibition:- Conscious restraint of impulse or desire. 



Inhibitory:- Shutting off or decreasing brain electrical activity; causing nerve cells to stop firing. 



Insight:- The individual’s understanding of his or her illness or of the motivations underlying a behaviour pattern. 



Insomnia:- Insomnia is a symptom of a sleeping disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite the opportunity. Insomnia is a symptom, not a stand-alone diagnosis or a disease. By definition, insomnia is ‘difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both’ and it may be due to inadequate quality or quantity of sleep. It is typically followed by functional impairment while awake. There are several differing degrees of insomnia though there are three (3) clearly identifiable types: (1) Transient insomnia which last from days to weeks. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. Its consequences – sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance – are similar to those of sleep deprivation. (2)Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period between three weeks to six months. (3) Chronic insomnia lasts for years at a time. It can be caused by another disorder or it can be a primary disorder. Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include sleepiness, muscular fatigue, hallucinations, and/or mental fatigue; but those with chronic insomnia often show increased alertness. Some of those who live with this disorder see things as though they were happening in slow motion, whereas moving objects seem to blend together.  



Integrity:- Quality of being unified and honest with self and others. 



Intimacy:- Emotional closeness. 



Intoxication:- Excessive use of a drug or alcohol that leads to maladaptive behaviour. 



Involuntary:- Refers to ‘involuntary’ (against your will) admission & treatment in a mental health facility &/or with a mental health service. The ‘involuntary’ status of an individual means they can be hospitalized and treated, given medication (both oral & intramuscular) against their wishes. It is usually a ‘last resort’ means of treating mental illness and/or heightened risk to the client and/or others. Terms that might relate to an ‘involuntary’ status could be ‘scheduled’ ‘regulated’ ‘ITO’d’ ‘compulsory’; depending on the State’s particular mental health act. 







Labile:- Having rapidly shifting emotions; unstable. 



Labile Affect:- Affect repeatedly and rapidly shifts from extreme to another, for example, from despair to elation. Lability:- Instability, particularly with regard to affect. 



Libido:- 1. Sexual drive.  2. In psychoanalysis, the psychic energy from all instinctive biological drives. 



Limbic System:- Group of brain structures composed of the hippocampus and amygdala. Associated with memory storage, the coordinatioin of autonomic functioins, and the control of mood and emotion. 



Lithium Carbonate:- Lithium is an antipsychotic, anti-manic medication used for those with Affective Disorder, Bipolar; Bipolar Disorder; Depression; Mania. Lithium Carbonate is indicated in the treatment of manic episodes of manic-depressive illness. Maintenance therapy prevents or diminishes the intensity of subsequent episodes in those manic-depressive individuals with a history of mania. Typical symptoms of mania include pressure of speech, motor hyperactivity, reduced need for sleep, flight of ideas, grandiosity, elation, poor judgment, aggressiveness and hostility. When given to an individual experiencing a manic episode, lithium carbonate may produce a normalization of symptomatology within 1 to 3 weeks. Extreme caution is required in the prescribing and administration of lithium to those people with severe cardiovascular or renal disease and those with evidence of severe debilitation or dehydration, sodium depletion, brain damage or with conditions requiring low sodium intake. The individual and their families should be warned that they must discontinue lithium therapy and contact their physician or GP if such clinical signs of lithium toxicity as diarrhoea, vomiting, tremor, mild ataxia, drowsiness, or muscular weakness occur. The ability to tolerate lithium is greater during the acute manic phase and decreases when manic symptoms subside. Caution should be used when lithium and diuretics are used together because diuretic-induced sodium loss may reduce the renal clearance of lithium and increase serum lithium levels with the risk of toxicity. Patients receiving such combined therapy should have serum lithium levels monitored closely and the lithium dosage adjusted if necessary. The toxic levels for lithium are close to the therapeutic levels. Regular blood tests for serum levels and adequate dietary and fluid intake are essential to maintain the general health & wellbeing of someone taking lithium.    




Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):- A non-invasive procedure for 2 & 3 dimensional imaging of the brain. 



Manipulation:- Purposeful behaviour directed at getting needs met. This is maladaptive when it is the feelings or needs of others that are disregarded and others are treated as objects in order to fulfill the needs of the person. 



MAOI’s (antidepressant medication):- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of powerful antidepressant drugs prescribed for the treatment of depression. They are particularly effective in treating atypical depression, and have shown effectiveness in smoking cessation. Due to the potentially lethal dietary and drug interactions, MAOIs had been reserved as a last line of defence, used only when other classes of antidepressant drugs (for example SSRIs and Tricyclics) have failed. However, newer MAOIs such as selegiline and moclobemide provide a safer alternative and are now sometimes used as first line therapy, although not necessarily as effective as their predecessors. They are also used for treating agoraphobia or social anxiety. MAOIs act by inhibiting the activity of monoamine oxidase, thus preventing the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters and thereby increasing their availability. The early MAOIs inhibited monoamine oxidase irreversibly. When they react with monoamine oxidase, they permanently deactivate it, and the enzyme cannot function until it has been replaced by the body, which can take about two weeks. A few newer MAOIs, notably moclobemide, are reversible, meaning they are able to detach from the enzyme to facilitate usual catabolism of the substrate. The MAOIs are infamous for their numerous drug interactions. Any drug that falls within the following classifications should be avoided without prior professional advice and strict supervision: (1) Substances that are metabolized by monoamine oxidase as they can be boosted by up to several fold. (2) Substances that increase serotonin, norepinephrine, and/or dopamine activity, as too much of any of these can result in severe acute consequences, including serotonin syndrome, hypertensive crisis, and psychosis, respectively. 



Mania:- Mania is a severe medical condition characterized by extremely elevated mood, energy, unusual thought patterns and sometimes psychosis. There are several possible causes for mania including drug abuse and brain tumours, but it is most often associated with bipolar disorder, where episodes of mania alternate with episodes of major depression. Mania varies in intensity from mild mania (hypomania) to full-blown mania psychotic features (hallucinations and delusions). Hospitalisation may be required to protect the individual and others from the consequences of mania. Mild (hypomania) is often associated with creativity and artistic talent. Symptoms include rapid pressured speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, euphoria, impulsiveness, grandiosity etc. Other symptoms may include irritability, anger or rage, delusions, hypersensitivity, hyper-religiosity, hyperactivity. Afflicted individuals may engage in out of character behaviour such as questionable business transactions, wasteful expenditures of money, risky sexual activity, abnormal social interaction, or highly vocal arguments uncharacteristic of previous behaviours. These behaviours increase stress in personal relationships, problems at work and increases the risk of altercations with law enforcement as well as being at high risk of impulsively taking part in activities potentially harmful to self and others.  



Medicalrefers to Psychiatrists, Medical Officers, Registrars, General Practitioners – basically anyone who has completed their medical degree. 



Medical Officer/Registrar:-A medical officer or registrar is a qualified doctor, though without specialized mental health qualifications. They may be in the process of undertaking their training in psychiatry or simply working in the field. They may be experienced or relatively new to the field and are under the guidance of the consultant/psychiatrist. They can prescribe medication and fulfill most of the necessary assessment requirements for the client. These individuals work in both public & private health care settings. 



Melancholia:- An older term for depression, derived from the Greek word for ‘black bile’, an excess of which was believed to be the cause of low spirits. Melancholia is used today to refer to certain symptoms that occur in severe depression; extreme depression characterized by tearful sadness and irrational fears. 



Megalomania:- Megalomania is a state of mental illness often characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence. It includes an obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions. 



Memory:- 1. The ability to recover information about past events or knowledge. 2. The process of recovering information about past events or knowledge 3. Cognitive reconstruction. The brain engages in a remarkable reshuffling process in an attempt to extract what is general and what is particular about each passing moment.  



Mental Health Act:- This is the legislation governing the area of Mental Health. Each State has its own Mental Health Act. It sets out the laws under which ‘Mental Health’ care is provided; the rights of the patient, the responsibilities of the provider of health care, the mechanisms for treatment and the means by which this can be lawfully carried out. 



Mental status exam:- A formal assessment of cognitive functions such as intelligence, thought processes, and capacity of insight.  



Mentor:- The modern use of the word ‘mentor’ refers to: a trusted friend, counsellor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Some professionals have ‘mentoring programs’ in which newcomers are paired with more experienced people, who advise them and serve as examples as they advance. Schools sometimes offer mentoring programs to new students, or students having difficulties. Today mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks. In many different arenas people have benefited from being part of a mentoring relationship, including: 


  • Business people – Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson 
  • Politicians– Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great 
  • Film Directors– Martin Scorsese mentored Oliver Stone 
  • Actors– Laurence Olivier mentored Anthony Hopkins & Mel Gibson mentored Health Ledger 
  • Musicians– Johann Christian Bach mentored Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Dr. Dre mentors Eminem 
  • Athletes– Eddy Merckx (5 times Tour de France winner) mentored Lance Armstrong; Bobby Charlton mentored David Beckham. 


The student of a mentor is referred to as a protégé or mentee. Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship in which a more experienced person helps a less experienced person, referred to as a protégé, apprentice or mentoree develop in a specific capacity. There exists several definitions of mentoring in the literature. Foremost, mentoring involves communication and is relationship based. In the organizational setting, mentoring can take many forms. One definition of the many that have been proposed, is “mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professioanl development: mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”. 

Peer Mentoringis a form of mentoring that takes place in learning environments such as schools, usually between an older more experienced student and a new student(s). The same situation exists or can exist in sporting clubs such as rugby league teams. Peer mentoring is a good way of practicing social skills for the mentor and help on adapting and settling in for the mentoree. Most peer mentors are chosen for their sensibility, confidence, social skills and reliability. The amount of time that peer mentors and mentorees meet varies according to the particular mentoring program. Some pairs may make contact once a month, while others may meet 3 to 4 times per month or more. It is usually advised that mentors and mentorees meet more often in the beginning of the relationship, in order to establish a good foundation & effective rapport. Mentors and mentorees may maintain contact through email, telephone or in person meetings. Peer mentoring organizations may also set up social events for those participating in the program. These events provide good opportunities for increased interaction between mentors and mentorees. The compatability of mentor and mentoree is a factor that should be taken into consideration when choosing pairs. Mentors and mentorees may benefit from having similar backgrounds, interests and life experiences. 



Mind:- That which thinks, reasons, perceives, wills and feels. The mind is intrinsically linked to the brain and cannot be separated. In neuroscience, there is no duality between mind and body. They are one. 



Mood:- A mood is a relatively long lasting emotional state. Moods differ from simple emotions in that they are less specific, less intense, and less likely to be triggered by a particular stimulus of event. Moods generally have either a positive or negative nature. People generally speak of being in a good mood or a bad mood. Unlike acute emotional feelings such as fear and surprise, moods often last for hours or days. Mood also differs from temperament or personality traits which are even longer lasting and more entrenched. Nevertheless, personality traits such as optimism and neuroticism predispose certain types of moods. Long term disturbances of mood such as depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder are considered mood disorders. Mood in an internal, subjective state, but it often can be inferred from posture and other behaviours. In general terms, mood is how the individual describes their feelings as opposed to affect which can be observable to others.   



Mood Stabiliser:- Mood stabilizers are the main drugs or medicines used to manage bipolar disorder. They are used to maintain a person’s mood at a reasonable level and help prevent future episodes of low or high mood. Some are also used to help control episodes of high mood (mania). There are two (2) types of mood stabilizer. (1) The oldest and most widely used is Lithium. (2 Anticonvulsant medication for epilepsy have also proved to be effective mood stabilizer. They can be used as an alternative to lithium or in combination with it. Lithium is thought to modify the production and turnover of certain neurotransmitters in the brain; Seretonin and Dopamine in particular. Anticonvulsant medication is thought to work on the brain by (1) increasing the amount of a natural nerve-calming chemical called GABA and/or (2) reducing the amount of a natural nerve-exciting chemical called glutamate. This stabilizes the electrical activity in the brain and is thought to explain how anticonvulsants calm episodes of mania. Mood stabilizers may not begin to work immediately, so it is vitally important to continuing taking them even if there seems to be no effect at first. Lithium may take a week or more to begin working. Anticonvulsants such as valproate (epilim) may work more rapidly to control a manic episode. Until the mood stabilizer takes effect, other medicines such as antipsychotics or sedatives are initially used to help control an episode of high mood. In general, individuals with bipolar disorder continue treatment with mood stabilizers for extended periods of time (sometimes years) to help prevent episodes of ill health. Specific precautions need to be taken when prescribed and being treated with mood stabilizers. Overdosage can be fatal and prolonged use and high levels of lithium can result in permanent renal damage. To determine the efficacy of these medications, observation and blood levels are required. Blood tests to establish the therapeutic range is vital in ensuring the optimization of treatment and prevention of possible side effects and complications from non-therapeutic levels. 



Morbid:- Suggesting an unhealthy mental state; “morbid interest in death’; “morbid curiosity”; “goulish”; suggesting the horror of death & decay; “morbid details”; diseased; caused by or altered by or manifesting disease or pathology. 



Morbidity:- Commonly refers to the frequency of disease, illness, injuries, and disabilities in a population, though can also refer to a disease or medical condition that is an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs bodily functions, associated with specific signs and symptoms. It may be caused by external factors, such as invading organisms, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune diseases. It might also be considered as the following: 


  • The relative incidence of a particular disease 
  • An abnormally gloomy or unhealthy state of mind; “his fear of being alone verges on morbidity” 
  • Unwholesomeness: the quality of being unhealthful and generally bad for you. 


Mores:- 1.The conventions that embody the fundamental values of a group. 2. Mores are norms or customs. Mores derive from established practices of a society rather than its written laws. 3. A set of generally accepted moral governances that are not necessarily formalized. 4. Standards of behaviour or customs that are appropriate within a society, and accepted by the majority.  



Mortality:- A fatal outcome or, in one word, death. The word ‘mortality’ is derived from ‘mortal’ which came from the Latin ‘mors’ (death). The opposite of mortality is, of course, immortality. Mortality is also quite distinct from morbidity (illness).  



Multidisciplinary Team:-  The ‘Multidisciplinary team’ is a term to describe the many professional facets of health care. It involves combinations and representations of the many professions listed above. In the mental health arena, this may involve the Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Nursing & Allied Health. In a football club, a similar structure may involve the Board, the CEO, Major Sponsors, Head Coach, Club Captain etc… They make decisions regarding the direction of the club, player recruitment & investments in player personnel, they handle issues of concern that may require intervention & discipline at times. It is no different in health. The team makes decisions relating to the overall plan for the client, directions in treatment etc. In this way, it is hoped that the very best care can be implemented. 




Narcissism:- Narcissism describes the trait of excessive self-love based on self-image or ego, as well as lack of empathy for others. The term derived from the Greek mythology of Narcissus. He was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus. Sigmund Freud was the first to utilize the term Narcissism as a means to describe this type of behavioural phenomena. In psychology & psychiatry, excessive narcissism is recognized as a severe personality disorder. The terms ‘narcissism’, ‘narcissistic’, and ‘narcissist’ are often used as pejoratives, denoting vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. While everyone can be claimed to possess some degree of narcissistic traits, certain forms of narcissism can be highly dysfunctional and are classified as pathologies such as the narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism. There are differing types of narcissism with varying degrees of pervasiveness and effect upon the individual and those around; examples such as acquired situational narcissism, gender narcissism, sexual narcissism, medical narcissism, reactive/transient narcissism. Similarly there is evidence to suggest that a degree of ‘healthy narcissism’ is essential to the maintenance of a sound mind, though the latter is oft times open to a degree of conjecture in its relationship to self-esteem. 



Narcissism (reactive/transient):- This type of narcissism can be viewed as more of a ‘defence mechanism’ or unconscious coping strategy in times of stress or anxiety. As a means of protecting one’s self image and self esteem, the individual goes beyond that which could be assumed to be ‘normal’ or healthy self-image and self-evaluation and evokes a superiority and haughty, arrogant and often aggressive manner. Inner frustration and ‘bottled-up’ emotions, thoughts and feelings combined with the notion of being personally attacked is dealt with by overcompensation of narcissistic rhetoric and behaviour rather than logical, rational reasoning. Depending on the level of stress, the type of situation one finds themselves in and the time frame over which this stress and anxiety is experienced, will depend on the degree and length of time the transient or reactive narcissism might prevail. More often than not, the generally healthy individual will realize their inappropriate reaction and adjust accordingly; often being replaced by guilt, remorse and regret. On the ‘flip side’, the repeated use of narcissism as a coping or defence mechanism and the failure of the person to recognize its use might lead to a more permanent degree of narcissism that might become ingrained in the individual’s persona. 



Narcissistic Personality Disorder:- Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, narcissism can also manifest in an extreme ‘all-pervasive’ pathological form as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD, wherein the individual overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation and displays a lack of empathy. The narcissist is described as turning inward for gratification rather than depending on others, and as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige. NPD is also colloquially referred to as “the God complex”. According to the DSM IV-TR criteria, NPD is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following: 


  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance 
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love (megalomania) 
  • Believes that he or she is ‘special’ and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also ‘special’ or of high status. 
  • Requires excessive admiration 
  • Has a sense of entitlement 
  • Is interpersonally exploitative 
  • Lacks empathy 
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her 
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes 


The causes or origins of this disorder is unknown, however the list of the following factors have been identified by various researchers. 


  • An oversensitive temperament at birth 
  • Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents 
  • Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own self-esteem 
  • Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback 
  • Unpredictable or unreliable care-giving from parents 
  • Severe emotional abuse in childhood 
  • Being praised for perceived exceptional looks or talents by adults 
  • Perceived ‘conditional’ love, approval & acceptance  
  • Excessive praise for good behaviours or excessive criticism for poor behaviours in childhood. 


Narcissistic personality disorder is isolating, disenfranchising, painful, and formidable for those diagnosed with it and often those who are in a relationship with them. Distinctions need to be made among those who have NPD because not each and every person with NPD is the same. Even with similar core issues, the way in which one’s individual narcissism manifests itself in his or her relationship varies. 



Negative Symptoms:- Most commonly refers to a group of symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia that include loss of fluency and spontaneity of verbal expression, impaired ability to focus or sustain attention on a particular task, difficulty in initiating or following through on tasks, impaired ability to experience pleasure to form emotional attachment to others, and blunted affect. 



Nerve:- A bundle of fibres that uses chemical and electrical signals to transmit sensory and motor information from one part of the body to another. 



Nerve Pathway:- A bundle of myelinated nerve fibres following a path through the brain. A nerve pathway may run upward (ascending pathway) from the spinal cord toward the brain carrying sensory information from the body to the brain. Similarly, a nerve pathway my run downward from the brain to an organ or muscle carrying response or command information in relation to that received by the initial sensory stimuli. An example of this process would be the response to putting one’s foot on a hot surface. 


Neuroleptics:- Another term to describe medications that treat psychotic symptoms and particularly the effects of these drugs on the individual; their cognition and behaviour. They may produce a state of apathy, lack of initiative and limited range of emotion. In psychotic patients, neuroleptic drugs cause a reduction in confusion and agitation and tend to ‘normalise’ psychomotor activity. 

Neuron:- A nerve cell that sends and receives electrical signals over long distances within the body. A neuron may send electrical output signals to muscles (called motor neurons) and to other neurons. A neuron may receive electrical input signals from sensory cells (called sensory neurons) and from other neurons. A neuron that simply signals another neuron is called an interneuron. 


Neurotransmitter:- A chemical that is released from a nerve cell which thereby transmits an impulse from a nerve cell to another nerve, muscle, organ, or other tissue. A neurotransmitter is a messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another. Seretonin, Dopamine, Noradrenaline and Acetylcholine are examples of some of these neurotransmitters. Each  has specific roles within the brain and in connection with specific areas of activity in neurobiological processes. Alterations in their functioning, activity, levels etc. can be manifested in a variety of mental health disorders and/or observable behaviours. 



Neurosis:- refers to a class of functional mental disorder involving distress but not delusions of hallucinations, where behaviour is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder. Once a common psychiatric diagnosis, the term is now regarded as lacking in objectivity and is no longer part of mainstream psychiatric terminology. It continues to be employed in psychoanalytic theory and practice. There are many different specific forms of neurosis: pyromania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety neurosis, hysteria (in which anxiety may be discharged through a physical symptom) and an endless variety of phobias. It can involve anxiety, sadness or depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, etc. Behavioural symptoms such as phobic avoidance, vigilance, impulsive and compulsive acts, lethargy, etc., cognitive problems such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repition of thoughts and obsession, habitual fantasizing, negativity and cynicism, etc. Interpersonally, neurosis involves dependency, aggressiveness, perfectionism, schizoid isolation, sociao-culturally inappropriate behaviours etc. 



Noradrenaline:- Noradrenaline or norepinephrine has dual roles as a hormone and neurotransmitter. As a stress hormone, norepinephrine affects parts of the brain where attention and responding actions are controlled. Along with epinephrine, norepinephrine also underlies the fight-or-flight response, directly increasing heart rate, triggering the release of glucose from energy stores, and increasing blood flow to skeletal muscle. However, when norepinephrine acts as a drug it will increase blood pressure by its prominent increasing effects on vascular tone. The resulting increase in vascular resistance triggers a compensatory reflex that overcomes its direct stimulatory effects on the heart, which results in a drop in heart rate, known as reflex bradycardia. Norepinephrine is released when a host of physiological changes are activated by a stressful event. Norepinephrine may be used for the indications of ADHD, depression & hypotension. Norepinephrine itself cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, so drugs such as amphetamines are necessary to increase brain levels. Norepinephrine, along with dopamine, has come to be recognized as playing a large role in attention and focus. For people with ADD/ADHD, psychostimulant medications such as Ritalin are prescribed to help increase levels of norepinephrine and dopamine. Differences in the norepinephrine system are implicated in depression. Seretonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are antidepressants that treat depression by increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine available to postsynaptic cells in the brain. Tricyclic antidepressants increase norepinephrine activity as well. Most of them also increase serotonin activity, but tend to have side effects due to the nonspecific activation of histamine and acetylcholine receptors. Side effects such as tiredness & lethargy, increased hunger, dry mouth, and blurred vision. For this reason, they have largely been replace by newer selective reuptake drugs such as prozac.  



Norms:- A standard or model or pattern regarded as typical; “the current middle-class norm of two children per family”. Social norms have been defined as “the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. These rules may be explicit or implicit. Norms are seen as central to the functioning of a society and to its social life. 



Nursingis rather self explanatory, though you need to be aware that there are different types & levels of nurses. Some are Registered, though have no Mental Health endorsement (training/qualifications). Some are enrolled nurses. The field is ever-expanding with the advent of Nurse Practitioners and Counselling provided by Registered Nurses.  





Occipital lobe:- An area of the brain located at the back of the head. It receives and processes visual information. 



ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder):- A childhood mental disorder characterized by a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behaviour toward authority figures. To fit the diagnosis, the behaviour must persist for at least six months and occur more often than might be expected for the child’s age and developmental stage, as some oppositional behaviour is to be expected as a child grows. A child with ODD loses his temper easily and frequently, argues, is deliberately annoying, blames others for his mistakes etc. One study found that 20% of children with ODD were also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, while 45% of children with both ODD and Conduct Disorder also had bipolar disorder. 



Occupational Therapist:- An ‘Occupational Therapist’ assesses and provides therapy for those matters pertaining to lifestyle functioning. This may entail someone’s capacity to carry out basic daily living activities and work requirements despite having an illness or disability. They provide those with physical and mental impediments with the necessary skills and alternative techniques to enable then to more successfully function. 



Opioids:- An opioid is a chemical substance that has a morphine-like action in the body. The main use is for pain relief. They include natural opioids (such as morphine), semisynthetics (such as heroin) and synthetics with morphine-like action (such as codeine, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, meperidine, fentanyl). Whilst primarily for pain control, they are especially addictive. 



Organic Psychosis:- Psychosis arising from ‘organic’ (non-psychological) conditions is sometimes known as secondary psychosis. It can be associated with the following pathologies: 


  • Neurological disorders, such as: Brain tumour, dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, Lyme Disease, syphilis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease. 
  • Electrolyte disorders, such as: Hypocalcemia, hypernatremia, hyponatremia, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, hypermagnesenia, hypercalcemia, hypophosphatemia. 


Other organic conditions may include: hypoglycemia, lupus, AIDS, leprosy, malaria, adult-onset vanishing white matter leukoencephalopathy, late-onset metachromatic leukodystrophy, cerebral involvement of scleroderma, Hashimoto’s encephalopathy. Psychosis can even be caused by apparently innocuous ailments such as influenza or mumps. Psychosis as a result of trauma to the brain (acquired brain injury- ABI) is also possible. 




Panic attack:- An acute, intense rise in anxiety that is experienced as overwhelming and accompanied by feelings of ompending doom. During a panic attack, one may experience heart racing or pounding, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling, nausea, several other physiological symptoms, and fear of dying or losing control of one’s mind. 



Paranoia:- A psychological disorder (or symptom of a psychotic illness) characterized by delusions of persecution and grandeur; a developing pattern of unfounded thoughts & fears, often based on misinterpretation of actual events. Individuals with paranoia may consider themselves endowed with unique and superior abilities or may have the delusion that others are conspiring to do them harm. 



Paraprofessional:- Individual who has been trained in mental health services, but not at the professional level. 



Parasuicide:- An apparent attempt at suicide, commonly called a suicidal gesture, in which the aim is not death. It is sometimes called ‘deliberate self-harm’, when someone mimics the act of suicide but does not end up killing themselves; for example, a sub-lethal drug overdose or wrist-slash. Parasuicide is not the same as the people who injure themselves, and not to a degree that is life-threatening. These people, who can also be classed under the heading of deliberate self-harm, usually express other reasons for their actions. For example, some people deliberately cut themselves as they feel this brings them some relief from strong feelings of anxiety or tension that they are feeling at the time. Parasuicide is more common among women; particularly younger women under the age of 45, and more specifically the ages of 15 and 25; the highest rates are found in divorced, single, or teenage wives, and is often linked to being poor. Most cases of parasuicide are associated with mental health problems; particularly common ones are: Depression, Alcoholism and Personality Disorder. Other related factors are likely to include: Relationship Problems, Unemployment, Physical illness (particularly epilepsy), Mentally handicapped, Neglected or Abused by Parents or family members, having a parent die when the individual is at a young age, Coping with a loved one’s illness, being in trouble with the law. The most common method of suicide/parasuicide is taking an overdose of drugs. These may be those prescribed by Doctors or common ‘across the counter’ pain-killers such as paracetamol. Severe liver damage can result from panadol overdose. Parasuicide may be a genuine attempt by the person to kill themselves, or it has been suggested that it can be ‘a cry for help’, the person feeling this is the only way that their level of distress is recognized.  



Parasympathetic nervous system:- Division of the nervous system that controls most of the basic metabolic functions essential for life. 



Paresthesia:- Exceptional sensations, such as ‘tingling’. 



Parietal lobe:- An area located in the uppermost section of the brain. Important in processing information about temperature, taste, touch and movement. 



Passive-aggressive behaviour:- Indirect expression of anger. 



Pathological:- There are three (3) distinct meanings of this word that are applicable in relation to mental health. These are: (1) of or relating to pathology (2) Relating to or caused by disease & (3) Of, relating to, or manifesting behaviour that is habitual, maladaptive, and compulsive; eg. “a pathological liar”.  



Perception:- Mental processes by which intellectual, sensory, and emotional data are organized logically and meaningfully. 



Peripheral nervous system:- Nerve fibres passing between the central nervous system and the sense organs, muscles, and glands. 



Personality:- Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, motivations, and behaviour in various situations. The study of personality has a rich and varied history in psychology, with an abundance of theoretical traditions. The major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviourist and social learning perspective. There is no concensus on the definition of “personality” in psychology. Trait theories assert that personality traits are “enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal experiences. Type theories refer to the psychological classification of different types of people. Personality types are distinguished from personality traits, which come in different levels of degrees. According to type theories, for example, there are two types of people, introverts & extroverts. Psychoanalytic theories explain human behaviour in terms of the interaction of various components of personality. Sigmund Freud was the founder of this school of thought. He divides personality into three (3) components: the ego, superego & the id. Behaviourist theories explain personality in terms of the effects external stimuli have on behaviour. For example: a child cries because the child’s crying in the past has led to attention. These are the ‘response’ and ‘consequences’. Behaviour is therefore reinforced by the response and as a result continues in order to receive the response again. Social cognitive theories explain behaviour as being guided by cognitions (eg. expectations) about the world, especially those about other people. Cognitive theories are theories of personality that emphasize cognitive processes such as thinking and judging. 



Physiological dependence:- Type of drug dependence involving withdrawal symptoms when drug is discontinued. 



Plasticity:- The change of brain structure or function as the result of experience or practice. 



Pleasure principle:- A tendency to seek immediate gratification of impulses and tension reduction. 



Polydrug abuse:- The pathological use of more than one drug. 



Polypharmacy:- Taking of more than one drug at any given time. 



Positive symptoms:- Reflect an excess or distortion of normal functions. Includes delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behaviour. 



Positron emission tomography (PET):- A noninvasive procedure that maps brain structure and function by looking at the distribution of radioactively labeled substances. PET scanning is used as a research tool in schizophrenia, cerebral palsy, and similar types of brain damage. 



Practitioners:-  Similar to ‘Clinician’, though generally requiring of more specialized training & education. A psychiatrist would be considered the number one (1) practitioner in the field of Mental Health, though psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists & specialized mental health nurses would also be considered ‘Practitioners’. In essence, they are those professionals who ‘practice’ or utilise their unique, qualified skills in their field of expertise. 



Precipitating cause:- The particular stress that triggers a disorder. 



Predispose:- To make more likely or render susceptible. Smoking predisposes to a number of diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema.  



Premorbid:- Existing prior to the onset of a mental disorder. 



Prescription Medication:- A prescription drug is a licensed medicine that is regulated by legislation to require a prescription before it can be obtained. The term is used to distinguish it from ‘over-the-counter’ drugs which can be obtained without a prescription. Different jurisdictions, states, countries etc. have different definitions of what constitutes a prescription drug. 



Pressured Speech:- Forceful energy heard in a manic individual’s frantic, jumbled speech as he or she struggles to keep pace with racing thoughts. Speech is increased in amount, accelerated, and difficult or impossible to interrupt. Usually it is also loud and emphatic. Frequently the person talks without any social stimulation and may continue to talk even though no one is listening. 



Primary:- First or foremost in time or development. The primary teeth (baby teeth) are those that come first. Primary may also refer to symptoms or a disease to which others are secondary or that follow. 



Primary Care:- Primary care is a term used for the activity of a health care provider who acts as a ‘first point of consultation’ for all patients. Continuity of care is also a key characteristic of primary care. It is an important form of health access for patients and involves the widest scope of health care including all ages of patients, patients of all socioeconomic and geographic origins, patients seeking to maintain optimum health and patients with multiple chronic diseases. 



Primary prevention:- Establishing conditions designed to prevent occurrence of mental disorders. 



Prodrome:- An early or premonitory sign or symptom of a disorder.  



Prognosis:- ‘forecast (especially of course of disease), pre-indication or prediction. 



Provisional Diagnosis:- A ‘provisional diagnosis’ refers to an initial probable diagnosis contingent upon additional information. It means the professional person attempting to ‘diagnose’ is not 100% sure at the time and has postulated the ‘likely’ diagnosis. Sometimes referred to as a ‘working diagnosis’ or preliminary diagnosis. This is prior to further investigations, history & assessments and the subsequent confirmed diagnosis. 



Psyche:- ‘Soul’, ‘Spirit’, ‘Mind’. In psychoanalysis and other forms of ‘depth’ psychotherapy, the psyche refers to the forces in an individual that influence thought, behaviour and personality. The word is borrowed from ancient Greek, and refers to the concept of the self, encompassing the modern ideas of soul, self & mind. The ancient Greeks believed the soul or “psyche” was responsible for behaviour. Sigmund Freud, the creator of psychoanalysis, believed the psyche was composed of three (3) components:- the Id, Ego & Super-ego. 



Psychiatrist:-  Simply put, the Psychiatrist is the ‘top’ of the ‘pecking order’. They are the highly skilled & trained individuals who largely guide and direct treatment undertaken. They are often referred to as the ‘Consultant’, much the same as in the medical arena. A Psychiatrist is someone who has completed their medical degree and then specialized in the field of psychiatry. As such, they have a complete understanding of both medicine & mental health. They can prescribe medication and order treatments and generally tend to oversee the overall treatment of the client.  



Psychiatry:- The medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. 



Psychogenic:- Of psychological origin; originating in the psychological functioning of the individual; physical conditions affected by psychological factors. 



Psychologist:-  A Psychologist is a person who has completed a university degree in psychology. This may seem obvious, though many people confuse a ‘psychologist’ with a ‘psychiatrist’. A psychiatrist is also a ‘doctor’, a psychologist is not. Psychologists are employed in many areas of society such as; human resource organizations, big business, sport, health care facilities, schools & in private practice. They provide counselling at  different levels, motivation for business & sport, understand the workings of the mind and the processes involved in decision making, problem solving etc. 



Psychomotor:- Involving both psychological and physical activity. 



Psychomotor agitation:- The constant movement such as pacing, nail biting, smoking, foot or finger tapping to relieve tension. 



Psychomotor retardation:- Slowing down of psychological and physical activity; extremely slow and difficult movements that in the extreme can lead to complete inactivity and incontinence. 



Psychosis:- In the general sense, a mental illness that markedly interferes with a person’s capacity to meet life’s everyday demands. In a specific sense, it refers to a thought disorder in which reality testing is grossly impaired. Psychosis can be, and often is, symptomatic of other mental health disorders such as Schizophrenia & Bipolar Disorder. Individuals experiencing psychosis may report hallucinations or delusional beliefs, and may exhibit personality changes and disorganized thinking. This may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behaviour, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out the activities of daily living. A wide variety of central nervous system diseases, from both external poisons, and from internal physiologic illness, can produce symptoms of psychosis. The most recent DSM lists 9 formal psychotic disorders, but many other disorders may have psychotic symptoms. The formal psychotic disorders are: Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, Schizophreniform disorder, Brief psychotic disorder, Delusional disorder, Shared psychotic disorder (Folie a deux), Substance induced psychosis, Psychosis due to medical condition and Psychosis – not otherwise specified. 



Psychosocial:- Pertaining to interpersonal interactions and relations that influence the individual’s development and/or behaviour. 



Psychosomatic disorders:- Physical conditions, which may involve actual tissue damage, resulting from continued emotional mobilization under stress. 



Psychotherapy:- The treatment of a behaviour disorder, mental illness, or any other condition by a psychological means. Psychotherapy may utilize insight, persuasion, suggestion, reassurance and instruction so that individuals may see themselves and their problems more realistically and have the desire to cope effectively with them. 



Psychotropic:- Affecting the mind. 



Psychotropic drugs:- Drugs that have an effect on psychic function, behaviour or experience. 



Pyramidal nervous system:- Term applied to descending motor pathways from the brain that provide the nerve supply to different muscle groups. 






Rapid Cycling:- A serious condition in the cycles of Bipolar Disorder in which the individual quickly alters between symptoms of depression and mania sometimes within minutes but at a minimum of four or more mood episodes per twelve month period. 



Rapport:- Interpersonal relationship characteristic by a spirit of cooperation, confidence, and harmony. 



Reactive Psychosis:- Brief reactive psychosis (also known as Brief Psychotic Disorder) is the psychiatric term for psychosis which can be triggered by an extremely stressful event in the life of an individual. The disorder usually strikes people between ages 20 & 30.  This ‘stressful life event’ can take many forms, including (but not restricted to) the death of a loved one, professional loss such as unexpected redundancy or otherwise becoming unemployed, or serious adverse changes in the person’s personal life, such as the breakdown of their family through divorce, rape or sexual assault, violence directed at the individual, motor vehicle trauma etc. It must be stressed that this is by no means an exhaustive list of stressful life events, because the events that trigger brief reactive psychosis tend, due to the individualistic nature of human psychology, to be extremely personalized. The disorder is NOT brought on by physical illness, and is not a reaction to drugs. The condition usually spontaneously, or with treatment, resolves itself within two (2) weeks to one (1) month, and the main goal of treatment is to prevent the individual from harming either themselves or others. The illness usually begins abruptly with warning signs such as changes in eating & sleeping habits, energy level or weight; confusion; inability to make decisions; hallucinations; delusions; ideas that do not connect or make sense; repetitive  actions; hours of immobility; strange statements and behaviour. Victims’ reactions may not match the situation; for example, they may laugh at bad news, or they may show no emotion at all. Often they stop socializing, going to work or school and caring for personal hygiene. 



Reframing:- A technique of changing the viewpoint of a situation by replacing if with another viewpoint that puts the facts equally well but changes the entire meaning.  



Registered Nurse:-  These are those people with whom the mentally unwell individual will probably have most contact, particularly as an inpatient of any psychiatric unit & most community based programs. They undertake three (3) years university training & one (1) year post graduate training in a hospital. It may vary slightly from state to state, though this is certainly the case in Queensland. *nb. And yes, nurses can also be males; in fact the numbers are increasing. 



Registered Nurse (mental health endorsed):- The Registered ‘Mental Health Nurse’ is simply a Registered Nurse who has completed their University based ‘Masters in Mental Health’. This equips them to more fully work at higher skilled levels within a mental health setting. 



Rejection:- Lack of acceptance of another person, usually referring to such treatment of a child by the parents or parental identities. 



Relapse:- The process of becoming dysfunctional after periods of stability. 



REM Sleep:- A stage of sleep involving rapid eye movements (REM), associated with dreaming.  



Remission:- Marked improvement or recovery appearing in the course of a mental illness; may or may not be permanent. 



Reuptake:- The reabsorption of a secreted substance by the cell that originally produced and secreted it. The process of reuptake for example, affects serotonin (one of the major neurotransmitters).  




Schizophrenia:- A functional disorder of psychotic depth characterized by Hallucinations & Delusions, with deterioration in personal & social functioning. 



Seclusion:- A process to maximize safety to a client/patient and others by which a client is placed alone in a specially designed room for protection and close observation. 



Secondary cause:- Factor which contributes to a mental illness but which in and of itself would not have produced it, as distinct from the Primary Cause. 



Secondary Gain:- Those advantages a person realizes from whatever symptoms he or she employs; Indirect benefit from symptoms. The external gain derived from any illness, such as personal attention and service, monetary gains, disability benefits, and release from unpleasant responsibilities. 



Secondary prevention:- Prevention techniques focusing on early detection and correction of maladaptive patterns within the context of the  individual’s present life situation. 



Sedatives/Anxiolytics/Hypnotics:- Applies to a group of drugs that treat anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness/insomnia etc. by inducing sedation, a calmative effect, and with some types, sleep.. The primary group of drugs for these purposes is ‘benzodiazepines’, though barbiturates and certain antidepressant medications might also be used for these effects as well as their primary aim of treating depression.  



Seizure:- Uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce a physical convulsion, minor physical signs, thought disturbances, or a combination of symptoms. 



Seizure Disorders:- One of the great many medical conditions that are characterized by episodes of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain (seizures). Some seizure disorders are hereditary, but others are caused by birth defects or environmental hazards, such as lead poisoning. Seizure disorders are more likely to develop in individuals who have other neurological disorders, psychiatric conditions, or immune-system problems. In some cases, uncontrolled seizures can cause brain damage, lowered intelligence, and permanent mental and physical impairment. Diagnosis is by observation, neurological examination, electroencephalogram (EEG), and in some cases more advanced brain imaging techniques. Treatment is usually by medication, although in difficult cases a special diet or brain surgery may be tried. 



Self Actualisation:- Fulfillment of one’s potentials as a human being. 



Self-concept:- The individual’s sense of his or her own identity, worth, capabilities and limitations. 



Self Esteem:- :-In psychology, self esteem reflects a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions and behaviour may also reflect self esteem. Psychologists usually regard self-esteem as an enduring personality characteristic (trait self-esteem), though normal, short term variations (state self-esteem) occur. Other words and phrases used synonymously with self-esteem include: self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, self-love, self-integrity. It is distinct from self-confidence and self-efficacy, which involve beliefs about ability and future performance. Implicit self-esteem refers to a person’s disposition to evaluate themselves positively or negatively in a spontaneous, automatic, or unconscious manner. It contrasts with explicit self-esteem, which entails more conscious and reflective self-evaluation. Both explicit self-esteem and implicit self-esteem are subtypes of total self-esteem. Some of the most interesting results of recent studies centre on the relationships between bullying, violence and self-esteem. Where once it was assumed bullies acted violently toward others because they suffered from low self-esteem, recent research now indicates that bullies act this way because they suffer from ‘unearned’ high self-esteem. High self esteem is controversial in its application in that it correlates or may be interpreted as Narcissism or Antisocial Personality traits or disorder. 



Self Harm:-Sometimes referred to as ‘self-injury’ or ‘parasuicide’, though the latter is more complex in nature and presentation and with additional precautions & issues to be taken into consideration . Self-harm is deliberate infliction of tissue damage or alteration to oneself without suicidal intent. Although the terms of self-harm refer to infliction of harm to the body’s surface, the term self-harm may be used to include the harm inflicted on the body by those with eating disorders. Self-injury is not typically suicidal behaviour, although there is the possibility that a self-inflicted injury may result in life-threatening damage. Although the person may not recognize the connection, self-injury often becomes a response to profound and overwhelming emotional pain that cannot be resolved in a more functional way. The motivations for self-injury vary as it may be used to fulfill a number of different functions. These functions include being utilized as a coping mechanism which provides temporary relief of intense feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress, emotional numbness and a sense of failure or self-loathing. There is a positive statistical correlation between self-injury and emotional abuse. Intense pain can lead to the release of endorphins and so deliberate self-harm may become a means of seeking pleasure, although in many cases self-injury becomes a means to manage pain, in contrast to the pain they may have experienced through earlier abuse over which they had no control. Several fallacies exist with respect to self-harm or self-injury and most people in society have either misguided ideas or find extreme difficulty accepting this type of behaviour. The following is a brief list of general truisms with respect to self-injury or self-harm. 


  • It is not a series of failed suicide attempts – those who self injure do so more  to ‘cope’ than as a ‘way out’ – a means of dying. In that way this myth is the worst as it gives the totally opposite meaning. It is true that many self-injurers contemplate suicide as an extreme option. Many do suffer with the same kind of illnesses that htose who commit suicide do. However self injury is not done with the intention to kill oneself. 
  • Self-injury is not pure attention seeking – while it may be right that those who do self harm may ‘need’ attention, self injury must not be interpreted as a means of calling attention to oneself. Those who self injure often do so in such secretive ways that those very close to them have no idea of their problem. Interpreting self injury as attention seeking can only perpetuate the behaviour and make things worse for the self harmer. 
  • Some self injury is minor – this does not mean that it is not serious – the severity of the person’s feelings and reasons behind self harming cannot be determined by the severity of the physical harm. 
  • Self injurers are not ‘crazy’ – while many people with psychological problems may self injure, and self injury is sometimes accompanied by depression, the psychological problem of self harm does not always accompany any other disorder. Self injury is a problem in its own right, and may be regarded by those who have had no experience of it to be a sign of mental illness.  



Sensation:- In medicine and physiology, sensation refers to the registration of an incoming (afferent) nerve impulse in that part of the brain called the sensorium, which is capable of such perception. Therefore, the awareness of a stimulus as a result of its perception by sensory receptors. (Sensory here is synonymous with sensation). 



Sense:- In biology and medicine, the faculty of sensory reception. The ability to convey specific types of external or internal stimuli to the brain and perceive them. Sensory reception occurs through a process known as transduction in which stimuli are converted into nerve impulses which are relayed to the brain. 


Sensory deprivation:- Restriction of sensory stimulation below the level required for normal functioning for the central nervous system. 



Separation Anxiety:- Intense fear sensory stimulation below the level required for normal functioning of the central nervous system. 



Serotonin:- Serotonin is a hormone and monoamine neurotransmitter found extensively in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, and about 80 to 90 % of the human body’s total serotonin is located in the gut, where it is used to regulate intestinal movements. The remainder is synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system where it has various functions, including control of appetite, mood and anger. Serotinin is not only found in animals, but also in fungi and plants including fruits and vegetables. In humans it acts as both chemical messenger that transmits nerve signals between nerve cells and causes blood vessels to narrow. Changes in the serotonin levels in the brain can alter mood. For example, medications that affect the action of serotonin are used to treat depression. Serotinin plays a major role in the sleep-wakefulness cycle as well as the biology of mood, emotion and other functions mediated by the limbic system. It is involved in depression, euphoria and anxiety. Alcohol can affect the levels of serotonin by increasing its release causing one to become sleepy. After excessive consumption of alcohol one may ‘pass out’ because of the high concentration of serotonin. 



Short-term Memory:- (sometimes referred to as “primary memory” or “active memory”) refers to the capacity for holding a small amount of information in mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. The duration of short-term memory (when rehearsal or active maintenance is prevented) is believed to be in the order of seconds. Estimates of short-term memory capacity limits vary from about 4 to about 9 items, depending upon the experimental design used to estimate capacity. In contrast, long-term memory indefinitely stores a seemingly unlimited amount of information. The relationship between short-term memory and ‘working memory’ is described differently by various theories, but it is generally acknowledged that the two concepts are distinct. 



Side effects:- Problems that occur when treatment goes beyond the desired effect; or, problems that occur in addition to the desired therapeutic effect. 



Sign (as in signs &symptoms):- Signs & symptoms are diagnostic tools which help the assessor determine the condition of a patient or individual. The phrase can be defined as “objective evidence of disease perceptible to the examining physician (sign) and subjective evidence of disease perceived by the patient (symptom)”. In layman’s terms, “signs” are those things we can see, and “symptoms” are those things the patient states. For example: Pain would be a symptom (you can’t see it, but the patient can tell you that he/she has pain). Flinching or ‘guarding’ when touching a painful area would be a sign that the patient is experiencing pain. 



Social adaptation:- The ability to live and express oneself according to society’s restrictions and cultural demands. 



Social introversion:- A trait characterized by shy, withdrawn, and inhibited behaviour. 



Social Phobias:- These include phobias related to social situations; fear of eating in front of others, fear of public speaking. 



Social self:- The façade the individual displays to others as contrasted with the private self. 



Socialisation:- The process by which a person acquires the values and impulse controls deemed appropriate by his or her culture. 



Social Worker:- Having a sound knowledge of family dynamics, social, cultural and religious specifics is the domain of the Social Worker. They make assessments of individuals & families with respect to their interactions with each other and the environments in which they live and to which they are exposed. Their understanding and expertise contributes significantly to the Multidisciplinary team in its efforts to complete the ‘puzzle’ of someone’s life. They also provide invaluable assistance in the understanding and help with social needs such as employment, benefits, family issues, legal matters etc. 



Society:- A society is a population of humans characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals that share a distinctive culture and institutions. More broadly, a society is an economic, social and industrial infrastructure in which a varied multitude of people or peoples are a part. It can also be defined as a group of people who occupy a particular territory and speak a common language and share a common culture. Society is not stagnant, stationery or fixed; it is, in effect, a living breathing organism in itself; forever developing, evolving and changing. The multicultural diversity in societies has contributed to this evolution and has the capacity to enable those within its boundaries to similarly evolve. 



Socio-cultural:- Pertaining to broad social conditions that influence the development and/or behaviour of individuals and groups. 



Socioeconomic status:- Position on broad social and economic scale in community; determined largely by income and occupational level. 



Somatic:- “Of the body, physical, bodily”. Somatic preoccupation might be described as someone overly concerned with physical issues, be they illness related, appearance related etc. 



Somatic nervous system:-  The nervous system that controls the skin and the muscles. 



Splitting:- A defence mechanism in which persons see themselves or others as all good or all bad, without integrating the positive and negative qualities of self and others into a whole. Often the person alternatively idealises and devalues the same person. 



Spontaneous recovery:- Recovery from mental illness without treatment or with minimal treatment. 



SSRI’s (antidepressant medication):- Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) are a group of antidepressant medications that block the reuptake of serotonin so that there is more serotonin in the synaptic cleft, thus increasing neuronal activity and transmission between neurons. SSRI’s are the most frequently prescribed antidepressants. They can be dangerous if mixed with other drugs such as other antidepressants, illicit drugs, sometimes antihistamines, antibiotics and alcohol etc. Withdrawal symptoms are experienced by about 25% of people who abruptly stop taking SSRIs. They include dizziness, nausea, lethargy, headache. Prozac is one of the more popular and well known types of SSRIs; other examples are sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), Effexor, mirtazapine (Remeron), citalopram (Cipramil) and duloxetine (Cymbalta)  



Stimulants:- Drugs that tend to increase feelings of alertness, reduce feelings of fatigue, and enable individuals to stay awake over sustained periods of time. 



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



Substance Abuse:- There is no universally accepted definition of substance abuse. One could assume it to be, however, the excessive use of a substance.  



Suicide:- The act of causing one’s own death. Suicide may be positive or negative and may be direct or indirect. Suicide is a positive act when one takes ones own life. It is a negative act when one does not do what is necessary to escape death such as leaving a burning building. Suicide is direct when one has the intention of causing ones own death, whether as the end to be attained, or as a means to another end, as when a man kills himself to escape condemnation, disgrace, ruin etc. Suicide is indirect (and not usually called suicide) when one does not desire it as a primary means, but when one nevertheless commits an act which courts death, as in tending someone with a highly contagious and deadly disease knowing that they may well succumb to the same illness. 



Suicidal ideation:- Thoughts a person has regarding killing him or herself. 



Suicidality:- A term that encompasses thoughts, ideation, plans, suicide attempts, and completed suicide. 



Superego:- (Freudian in origin) The ‘super-ego’, which represents a person’s conscience and their internalization of societal norms and morality. The super-ego aims for perfection. It comprises that organized part of the personality structure, mainly but not entirely unconscious, that includes the individual’s ego ideals, spiritual goals, and the psychic agency (commonly referred to as the “conscience”) that criticizes and prohibits his or her drives, fantasies, feelings and actions. The super-ego works in contradiction to the id. It strives to act in a socially appropriate manner, whereas the id just wants instant gratification. The super-ego controls our sense of right & wrong and guilt. It helps us fit into society by getting us to act in socially acceptable ways. Freud’s theory implies that the super-ego is a symbolic internalization of the father figure and cultural regulations. The super-ego tends to stand in opposition to the desires of the id because of their conflicting objectives, and its aggressiveness towards the ego. The super-ego acts as the conscience, maintaining our sense of morality and proscription from taboos. 



Sympathetic nervous system:- Division of the nervous system that is active in emergency conditions of extreme cold, violent effort, and motions. 



Symptom:- Any subjective evidence of disease. Anxiety, lower back pain and fatigue are all symptoms. They are sensations only the individual can perceive. In contrast, a sign is objective evidence of disease. A bloody nose is a sign. It is evident to the individual, the doctor, the nurse and other observers. 



Synapse:- The point of connection usually between two (2) nerve cells. Specifically, a synapse is a specialized junction at which a nerve cell (a neuron) communicates with a target cell. The neuron releases a chemical transmitter (a neurotransmitter)  that diffuses across a small gap and activates specific specialized cells called receptors situated on the target cell. The target cell may be another neuron, or a specialized region of a muscle cell or secretory cell (a cell that can make and secrete a substance). Neurons can also communicate through direct electrical connections (electrical synapses). 



Syndrome:- A set of signs & symptoms that tend to occur together and which reflect the presence of a particular disease or and increased chance of developing a particular disease. 





Tachycardia:- Rapid heartbeat. 



Target Specific Mental Health Care:- (also known as ‘Target group specific mental health care’). Mental health care has been traditionally managed and treated in its entirety, particularly in ‘in-patient’ settings such as hospitals (including their community based outpatient services).           Whilst there are distinct advantages to this approach such as access to skilled professional personnel and economic, budgetary efficiency in the short term, the reality is that there is an ever burgeoning prevalence of mental health illnesses, disorders and symptom manifestation. As such, existing resources are stretched and becoming less efficacious as society’s demands increase. Primary preventative mental health care is an ardent and sincere method of averting the dilemma of having to treat the ‘end result’ of mental health issues, though this too has its shortcomings. Target specific mental health care aims to focus on specifics within the arena of mental health; be they age related, illness related, geographically related, occupationally related etc. It accepts that while every individual is unique, they also have commonalities in the various socioeconomic groups to which they belong. It is these particular demographics and cultural/sub-cultural aspects that provide many of the issues that precipitate or contribute to the many and varied bio-psycho-social problems encountered. Illness specific treatment is also ‘target’ related. The delivery of optimum mental health care is best achieved through the sustained and ‘focused ’therapeutic  isolation of the specific illness and its sufferers and providing treatment directly and clinically specific to that illness. The variables in the decision as to which target is chosen is dependant upon the determination of the primary issues pertaining to the individual presentation. Rugby league is a perfect example of how this might be addressed.  



Temperament:- Constitutional predisposition to react in a particular way to stimuli. 



Temporal lobe:- The middle part of the brain, located behind the ear. This area controls auditory receptive and our ability to process and understand the meaning of the verbal message and our memory function. 



Tertiary prevention:- Preventative techniques focusing on short-term hospitalization and intensive aftercare when emotional breakdown has occurred, with the aim of returning the individual to community settings as soon as possible. 



Testosterone:- Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the ‘androgen’ group. In mammals, testosterone is primarily secreted in the testes of males and the ovaries of females, although small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands. It is the principal male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In men, testosterone plays a key role in health and well-being as well as in osteoporosis. On average, an adult male body produces about 40 to 60 times more than a female, but females are, from a behavioural perspective, more sensitive to the hormone. Factors affecting testosterone levels are:- *Loss of status or dominance in men; *Mating and Marriage (via female Pheromones); * Implicit power motivation predicts an increased testosterone release in men; * Aging reduces testosterone release; *Sleep (REM dream) increases nocturnal testosterone levels; *Resistance training increase testosterone levels, however, in older men, that increase can be avoided by protein ingestion.; *Zinc deficiency lowers testosterone levels but over supplementation has no effect on serum testosterone. The most recent & reliable studies have shown that testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but that it can increase the rate of spread of any existing prostate cancer. Recent studies have also shown its importance in maintaining cardiovascular health. Testosterone administered to an athlete to improve performance is considered ‘doping’. 



Thalamus:- An area of the brain that helps process information from the senses and transmits it to other parts of the brain.  



Therapeutic:- Relating to therapeutics, that part of medicine concerned specifically with the treatment of disease. The therapeutic dose of a drug is the amount needed to treat a disease. 



Tolerance:- A need for higher and higher doses of a drug in order to achieve intoxication or the desired effect. A characteristic of substance dependence that may be shown by the need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication of the desired effect, by markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance, or by adequate functioning despite doses or blood levels of the substance that would be expected to produce significant impairment in a casual user. 



Tricyclic Antidepressants:- A group of antidepressant drugs, such as amitriptyline, that contains three (3) fused benzene rings and that block the reuptake of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in the central nervous system, thus making more of those substances available to act on receptors in the brain. Examples of Tricyclic Antidepressants are: amitriptyline, clomipramine, adapin, doxepin, sinequan, tofranil, trimiprimine (surmontil), imavate, and desipramine.   




Unconscious:- That part of the mind or mental functioning of which the content is only rarely subject to awareness. It is a repository for date that have never been conscious (primary repression) or that may have been conscious and are later repressed (secondary repression). 



Unipolar depression:- A major depressive episode that occurs without the manic phase that occurs in the classic form of bipolar disorder. 


















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