Psychological Health at Work

by Dr Christopher C Ridgeway

Terms used in psychiatry and psychology

Abreaction A release of repressed feelings
Acute A serious condition, which arises suddenly
Affect Mood
Akathisia Restlessness, a common side effect of some antipsychotic drug
Amnesia Loss of memory; this can be caused by head injury or can occur briefly, for no apparent reason, in middle to late life
Anankastic Obsessive-compulsive personality
Aphasia Loss of the power of speech
Autism A form of learning disability in which a person appears to live in a world apart and has difficulty in communicating and developing normal relationships
Avoidance A coping strategy in which the person avoids thinking or talking about something which is causing anxiety
Chronic A condition which is of long duration
Cognitive Related to thinking, as in cognitive therapy
Confabulation Where a person who is confused or forgetful makes things up to fill in the gaps in a conversation
Cranial Relating to the brain
Cyclothymia Mood swings
Cyclothymic personality A personality type where mood swings predominate
Delusion A false belief which is firmly held
Dementia An irreversible deterioration of brain function, affecting memory and thinking and reason
Dependence (Of drugs) being physically dependent on a drug so that unwanted symptoms occur when it is stopped or reduced
Depersonalisation A feeling of being unreal or detached from oneself
Derealisation A feeling of being detached from reality and one’s surroundings
Desensitisation A technique of behavioural therapy involving gradual exposure to the thing or situation which is causing anxiety
Displacement A defence mechanism where the feelings are transferred unconsciously
Dissociative disorder Characterised by repeated and persistent episodes of dissociation from one’s body, time, place, identity and so on
Endogenous Originating within the person, not from the external cause; for example, endogenous depression
Factitious disorder Deliberate feigning of symptoms, physical or psychiatric, in order to be diagnosed ill
Flooding A technique of behavioural therapy which involves rapid exposure to the thing or situation which is causing anxiety
Fugue state A temporary state of disorientation and memory loss; it can occur with epilepsy, severe depression, and alcoholism
Hallucination An abnormal perception with no basis on reality; most commonly auditory (hearing voices), but it can be visual, or involve taste, smell or touch.
Histrionic A personality type – lively, sociable, dramatic, sometimes attention-seeking and selfish
Hyperventilation Very rapid, shallow breathing, which causes dizziness and other physical symptoms, and can increase anxiety
Hypochondria Having excess anxiety about one’s health
Hypomanic Literally meaning ‘less than manic’ and often used to describe symptoms of mania
Hysteria A state in which mental or physical symptoms are caused by psychological factors of which the person is unaware
Illusion A misperception of the senses based on an actual occurrence which is wrongly interpreted
Insomnia Inability to sleep
Learning disability This is not a mental illness and refers to a permanent condition in which the development of the brain is affected; it used to be known as mental handicap.
Mutism Not speaking
Narcissistic A personality type – self admiring and self important; preoccupied with own powers and abilities; seeking attention from others
Neurosis A mental disorder related to an emotional state, anxiety, depression, distress or obsession where the person has some insight into their problems
Nihilistic disorder A delusion that a person or thing does not exist; alternatively, a general or specific feeling of gloom
Organic (of mental disorder)   Caused by physical illness, injury or damage
Paranoia A state in which the person suffers from delusions which may include unwarranted suspicion and feelings of being persecuted
Parasomnia A sleep disturbance; for example, nightmares and sleep walking
Passive-aggressive Describes behaviour or personality which is obstructive and uncooperative but without overt aggression
Pathological Related to illness and disorder
Perseveration Where a person repeats the same words and actions or has a recurring idea
Post-traumatic stress disorder Describes the problems experienced by people who have been involved in a traumatic event
Prognosis The likely outcome of illness
Psychogenic Of psychological rather than physical cause
Psychosis A mental disorder which involves a serious distortion of the person’s thought processes and capacity to recognise reality