Mental health terminology

Sometimes, I think that the stigma around mental health is down, not only to the fact that people are uncomfortable talking about others they see as ‘abnormal,’ but also because they don’t have the knowledge of specific conditions or terminology. No-one wants to come across as uneducated or a bit simple, especially when talking to peers, so maybe more awareness would be encouraging to the people who are curious but don’t ask.

Below are some conditions and phrases and a small overview of their meanings:

  • Affective Disorders – mood disorders such as Bi-Polar, Depression or Anxiety.
  • Adjustment Disorder or Stress Response Syndrome – normally occurs after a significant event in your life, giving you stronger than usual feelings of hopelessness and sadness etc that would be considered greater than what is typical for said event.
  • Anxiety – covers a wide range of disorders such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Panic Disorder and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder).
  • Bi-Polar – an illness that causes the sufferer to experience periods of intense highs (mania) or intense lows intermingled with short periods of ‘normal’ behaviour. Sometimes genetic, but occurs typically for a person in their 20’s.
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder – the belief that you have a problem with the appearance of a specific part of their body that interferes with their self consciousness.
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) – a series of 5-20 sessions helping people adapt their mood and behaviour during problem solving. It teaches them to break down the problem into bite size chunks to make them more manageable.
  • Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) – a mental health professional giving long term support to people suffering with mental health living in the community.
  • Crisis Team – a service available 24/7 to visit people in the community who require immediate intervention with things such as suicidal thoughts or actions, psychosis or the potential for a patient to be a danger to themselves or others. They will visit you at home regularly, sometimes multiple times in a day or week, help arrange for medication to be prescribed or make a referral for you to be admitted to an inpatient unit.
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder – a severe hostility towards people in authority
  • Post Natal Depression (PND) – affects 1 in 10 women after giving birth. Symptoms include low mood, negative thoughts (sometimes about harming yourself or baby), lack of concentration, trouble sleeping but always being tired and difficulty bonding with or recognising your baby.
  • Post Partum Psychosis – a condition that effects around 1 in every 1000 mothers in the UK. This can cause hallucinations, paranoia, confusion and depression.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – the way of responding to a distressing or frightening event. This may include flashbacks, nightmares and feelings of guilt or isolation.
  • Schizophrenia – an illness characterised by ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ symptoms. Positive symptoms can include hallucinations, disordered thinking and delusions. Negative symptoms include a lack of motivation and social withdrawal.
  • Somatoform Disorder – a series of psychological symptoms that cannot be explained medically but that show emotional distress through physical characteristics.
  • Ward Round – a weekly appointment for each patient in a mental health unit with mental health professionals such as your CPN, Psychiatrist, named nurse and occupational therapist. It is designed to give you an opportunity to discuss your care plan and how to move forward.


I appreciate there is a lot more to mental health than just the points made above, but I thought it would be good to just start to give definitive explanations for some phrases or illnesses that people may be unsure about.


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