Youth Anxiety Center Glossary

Youth Anxiety Center - Glossary


Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. Your doctor can prescribe them for you. They work to balance some of the natural chemicals in our brains. It may take several weeks for them to help. There are several types of antidepressants. You and your doctor may have to try a few different drugs or combinations of drugs before finding what works best for you.

Adapted from the National Institutes of Mental Health


Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worry, and physical changes like increased blood pressure, sweating, trembling, dizziness or rapid heartbeat.

People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations as a result.

Bipolar Depression

Bipolar Depression is a serious mental illness in which common emotions become intensely and often unpredictably magnified. Individuals with bipolar disorder can quickly swing from extremes of happiness, energy and clarity to sadness, fatigue, and confusion. These shifts can be so devastating that individuals may attempt or commit suicide.

All people with bipolar disorder have manic episodes—abnormally elevated or irritable moods that last at least a week and impair functioning. But not all become depressed.


Depression is an illness that causes a person to feel sad and hopeless for much of the time. It is different from normal feelings of sadness, grief or low energy.

Depression affects men and women of all ages and has often been shown to run in families. A person can have one or many episodes of depression in a lifetime. Each episode of depression makes a person more likely to have another episode of depression.

Most people who are depressed get better with medicine, counseling or a combination of the two. Some people with depression may need to be hospitalized.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates thought, movement, and behavior.


Dysthymia, sometimes referred to as mild, chronic depression, is less severe and has fewer symptoms than major depression. With dysthymia, the depression symptoms can linger for a long period of time, often two years or longer.

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy or ERPT is one form of cognitive behavioral therapy in which an individual is gradually exposed to situations that bring on anxiety and progressively learns to decrease the compulsions they have used in the past to ease anxiety associated with those situations.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms.

People experience exaggerated worry and tension, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. It is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least six months.


Launching Emerging Adult Program (LEAP) is an enhanced form of cognitive behavioral therapy, with specific progressive modules added as appropriate to engage parents and young adults to work together and meet the developmental goals of young adulthood. While the young adult will learn to manage anxiety through individual and group therapy, the parents and young adult are assisted in setting goals, communicating, and helping the families to let go, so that their son or daughter can take on and manage challenges independently. These treatments are informed by the knowledge that there will be inevitable setbacks and stumbling along the way.


Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and networks of sensory nerve cells called neurons. It is an interdisciplinary field, meaning that it integrates several disciplines, including psychology, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Adapted from the Society for Neuroscience

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.


Phobias are persistent and irrational fears of specific objects, activities, or situations that lead to a compelling desire to avoid.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster.

People with PTSD may relive the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares; avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma; and have anxious or angry feelings they didn’t have before that are so intense their lives are disrupted.


Psychiatry is the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. These include various abnormalities that are affective, behavioral, cognitive, and perceptual.


Psychopharmacology is the study of the effect of drugs on the mind and behavior, particularly in the context of developing treatments for mental disorders.


Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterized by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices. Schizophrenia typically begins in early adulthood.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Any of a class of drugs that inhibit the reuptake of serotonin by neurons of the central nervous system and are primarily used in the treatment of depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Separation Anxiety

These are children and young adults who are afraid and anxious when they are not with a loved or trusted person. In children, this can lead to refusing to go to school.

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety is the strong fear of being judged by others and the resulting feeling of embarrassment. This fear can become so strong that it gets in the way of going to work or school or engaging in day-to-day activities.

Adapted from NIMH Health Topics