An Introduction to Terms & Ideas

At times, change can be daunting.  There may be unfamiliar terms and ideas you’re introduced to during your journey to improvement. We want to take the mystery out of the mental health lingo. This guide aims to help you understand the root of popular ideas and mental health vocabulary.

Introduction terms :

These are terms that apply to physical and mental health. You may be familiar with these in your doctor’s office, but what do they mean when referring to your emotional state?

Symptom: A symptom is a change in thought or behavior which deviates from a healthy state. For example: a symptom of diabetes could be excessive thirst. A symptom of depression could be lack of interest in things that used to bring you joy. Mental health symptoms can be “positive” or “negative” – but these words aren’t used in the traditional sense. We’ll go more in depth on this topic in a later post.

Diagnosis: A diagnosis is the determined cause of a disease or condition. You may visit your doctor after a week of sneezing, congestion, and fever. During that visit your physician may listen to your list of symptoms, look for other signs, and use their medical knowledge to determine that your diagnosis is influenza. This isn’t very different in the mental health world except your symptoms and signs may be less overt. Your mental health professional may use different screening tools, ask questions, and background information to help determine what is ailing you. Common mental health diagnoses are depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder to name a few. Receiving an accurate diagnosis can be the first step towards creating a game plan to control symptoms and begin healing.

Treatment: Your treatment is what helps you feel better! Once you have your diagnosis, there are different treatments that work for different disorders or conditions. In the world of physical medicine – treatment can range from cough syrup to surgery depending on the disease and its severity. The same is true for mental health disorders. Different treatments can be combined to fully work through whatever is ailing you. For example – if you are overcoming severe anxiety – part of your treatment may be cognitive behavioral therapy to uncover the roots of your fears. This may be coupled with exposure therapy to desensitize you slowly to different uncomfortable situations. In addition you may also be prescribed medication to reduce symptoms too. These are all treatments that work very well together for anxiety.

Identifying problems:

Giving your beast a name can remove the power and isolation surrounding what’s ailing you. Let’s go through the basics of:

Depression: It’s important to note that feelings of sadness are a normal part of life. It’s healthy to feel a range of emotions from joy, grief, sadness, excitement, anticipation and so on. However, depression is an amplified sadness that can overshadow all the enjoyable parts of life. Depression can be caused by genetic, environmental, and chemical elements.

Grief: Grief is the natural process of letting go of a loved one or cherished situation. Kübler-Ross outlines the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, this isn’t a linear path –  many people go through the steps multiple times and in different orders during their grieving process. When grieving warps into addiction, major depression, or other mental health disorders – you should reach out and talk to a friend, family member, or mental health professional.

Anxiety: Nervousness. Jitters. Butterflies. Again, a normal part of life when facing the unexpected. However, for some, anxiety can be crippling and prevent them from enjoying everyday life. When anxiety spirals into panic attacks or keeps you housebound it may be time to talk to someone to help you manage symptoms.