Glossary - Child and Adolescent Mental Health

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N
O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

adolescent medicine - a subspeciality of pediatric medicine with a focus on providing holistic healthcare to adolescent patients and treating medical problems that are common during adolescence.

affective disorder (Also known as mood disorder.) - a category of mental health problems that include depressive disorders.

agoraphobia - a Greek word that literally means "fear of the marketplace." This anxiety disorder involves the fear of experiencing a panic attack in a place or situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing.

amenorrhea - absence or cessation of menstrual periods.

anorexia nervosa (Also called anorexia.) - an eating disorder characterized by low body weight (less than 85 percent of normal weight for height and age), a distorted body image, and an intense fear of gaining weight.

Asperger's disorder - One type of pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.

attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - a behavior disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity.

autistic disorder (Also called autism.) - a neurological and developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life. A child with autism appears to live in his/her own world, showing little interest in others, and a lack of social awareness. The focus of an autistic child is a consistent routine and includes an interest in repeating odd and peculiar behaviors. Autistic children often have problems in communication, avoid eye contact, and show limited attachment to others.

B

binge eating disorder - a disorder that resembles bulimia nervosa and is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled eating (or bingeing). It differs from bulimia, however, because its sufferers do not purge their bodies of the excess food, via vomiting, laxative abuse, or diuretic abuse.

bingeing - a destructive pattern of excessively overeating.

body mass index (BMI) - a measure to determine the amount of body fat and amount of lean body mass.

C

child and adolescent psychiatrists - licensed physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Their medical and psychiatric training with children and adolescents prepares them to treat children and adolescents either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can prescribe medications, if needed.

child psychologist - licensed mental health professional (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Training prepares clinical psychologists to treat children either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Psychologists also conduct cognitive, academic, and personality testing.

clinical psychologist - licensed mental health professional (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Training prepares clinical psychologists to treat adults and children either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Psychologists also conduct cognitive, academic, and personality testing.

cognitive development - development of the ability to think and reason.

communication disorders - communication disorders are developmental disorders that include expressive language disorder, which focuses on developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to produce speech, and mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, which focuses on developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to understand spoken language and produce speech.

D

delusions - a perception that is thought to be true by the person experiencing it, although the perception is wrong.

depression - a mood disorder characterized by extreme feelings of sadness, lack of self-worth, and dejection.

disintegrative psychosis (Also called childhood disintegrative disorder.) - one type of pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized by a marked regression in multiple areas of functioning following a period of at least two years of apparently normal development.

disorder of written expression - a difficulty with writing skills such as understanding grammar or punctuation, spelling, paragraph organization, or composing written information.

dyslexia - a reading disorder characterized by reading ability below the expected level given a child's age, school grade, and intelligence.

dysthymia (Also known as dysthymic disorder.) - classified as a type of affective disorder (or mood disorder) that often resembles a less severe, yet more chronic form of major (clinical) depression. Persons with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at times.

E

eating disorders - abnormal eating behaviors.

endorphins - chemicals in the brain that are responsible for positive moods.

euphoria - a feeling of elation or well-being that is not based on reality and is commonly exaggerated.

expressive language disorder - a communication disorder identified by developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to produce speech.

F

G

generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - a mental disorder characterized by chronic, excessive worry and fear that seems to have no real cause. Children or adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder often worry a lot about things such as future events, past behaviors, social acceptance, family matters, their personal abilities, and/or school performance.

H

hallucinations - a strong perception of an event or object when no such situation is present; may occur in any of the senses (i.e., visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, or tactile).

I

identity - self knowledge about one's characteristics or personality; a sense of self.

J

K

L

learning disorder - learning disorders are characterized by difficulties in an academic area (either reading, mathematics, or written expression) such that the child's ability to achieve in the specific academic area is below what is expected for the child's age, schooling, and level of intelligence.

M

major depression (Also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression.) - classified as a type of affective disorder (or mood disorder) that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs, and has become a serious medical condition and important health concern in this country.

mania - a mood disorder which may be characterized by extreme elation, impulsivity, irritability, rapid speech, nervousness, distractibility, and/or poor judgment.

manic depression (Also known as bipolar disorder.) - classified as a type of affective disorder (or mood disorder) that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs. Manic depression is characterized by periodic episodes of extreme elation, elevated mood, or irritability (also called mania) countered by periodic, classic depressive symptoms.

mathematics disorder - a learning disorder in which a child has problems with skills related to numbers such as counting, copying numbers correctly, adding and carrying numbers, learning multiplication tables, recognizing mathematical signs, and understanding mathematical operations.

mixed receptive-expressive language disorder - a communication disorder that identifies developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to understand spoken language and produce speech.

mood disorder (Also known as affective disorder.) - a category of mental health problems which includes depressive disorders.

N

neurotransmitters - chemicals in the brain that regulate other chemicals in the brain.

O

obesity - a generalized accumulation of body fat.

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - an anxiety disorder in which a person has an unreasonable thought, fear, or worry that he/she tries to manage through a ritualized activity to reduce the anxiety. Frequently occurring disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals performed to try to prevent or dispel them are called compulsions.

P

pain disorder - pain which causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning in which psychological factors are judged to play a significant role in the onset severity, exacerbation, or maintenance of pain.

panic disorder - characterized by chronic, repeated, and unexpected panic attack bouts of overwhelming fear of being in danger when there is no specific cause for the fear. In-between panic attacks, persons with panic disorder worry excessively about when and where the next attack may occur.

pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) - usually found in the early years of a child's life. Children with PDD have difficulty in areas of development or use of functional skills such as language, communication, social skills, and motor behaviors.

phobia - an uncontrollable, irrational, and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity.

pica - the persistent eating of non-nutritive substances (such as paint, string, hair, animal droppings, insects, soil) for over a month. The behavior must be developmentally inappropriate and not part of a culturally sanctioned practice.

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - an anxiety disorder characterized by a terrifying physical or emotional event (trauma) causing the person who survived the event to have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories, or flashbacks, of the ordeal. Persons with PTSD often feel chronically, emotionally numb.

psychiatric nurse - a Masters-level clinical specialist in psychiatric mental health nursing. A psychiatric nurse is educationally and clinically trained in psychopathology, individual, group, family therapy, and crisis intervention.

psychiatrist - a licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Their medical and psychiatric training prepares them to treat adults and children either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications, if needed.

psychologist - a licensed mental health professional (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Training prepares clinical psychologists to treat adults and children either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Psychologists also conduct cognitive, academic, and personality testing.

purging - persons with bulimia nervosa engage in a destructive pattern of ridding their bodies of the excess calories (to control their weight) by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, and/or exercising obsessively - a process called purging.

Q

R

reading disorder - a learning disorder characterized by reading abilities below the expected level for her/his age, school grade, and intelligence.

Rett's disorder - One type of pervasive developmental disorder which occurs most often in girls and is characterized by the development of multiple specific deficits following a period of normal functioning after birth.

S

schizophrenia - one of the most complex of all mental health disorders; characterized by distorted thinking, strange feelings, and unusual behavior and use of language; involves a severe, chronic, and disabling disturbance of the brain.

selective mutism - the inability to speak in specific social situations in a child or adolescent who can and does speak in other situations.

self-esteem - feelings about one's self.

social phobia - an anxiety disorder in which a person has significant anxiety and discomfort related to a fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or scorned by others in social or performance situations.

specific phobia - a type of phobia characterized by extreme fear of an object or situation that is not harmful under general conditions.

suicidal behavior - actions taken by one who is considering or preparing to cause his/her own death.

suicidal ideation - thoughts of suicide or wanting to take one's life.

suicide - the intentional taking of one's own life.

suicide attempt - an act focused on taking one's life that is unsuccessful in causing death.

T

Tourette's syndrome (Also called TS or Tourette's disorder.) - A tic disorder characterized by repeated involuntary movements and uncontrollable vocal sounds. This disorder usually begins during childhood or early adolescence.

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