understanding depression
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acupuncture — an ancient Oriental system of therapy involving puncture with long, fine needles.

agitation — a mental or physical restlessness.

alprazolam — a medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorder, trade name Xanax.

antidepressant — an agent used to treat depression.

anxiety — feelings of danger and dread accompanied by restlessness, tension, a racing heart, and a shortness of breath, under conditions where no actual danger is present.

astemizole — an antihistamine used to treat allergic rhinitis; trade name Hismanal.

behavioral scientist — one who studies the actions and reactions of people and animals.

bipolar disorder — a mood disorder characterized by alternating periods of depression and euphoria (mania).

bladder problems — related to urination deficits such as finding it hard to empty the bladder completely or having a weaker than usual urine stream.

caffeine — a stimulant found naturally in coffee and tea.

cancer — a malignant growth that invades surrounding tissue.

cellular biologist — a specialist in the study of cell biology, the study of the cell.

cisapride — a medication used to treat heartburn associated with gastric acid reflux; trade name Propulsid.

cognitive scientist — one who studies the mental activities associated with learning, memory, and thinking.

complementary — to complete, or in addition to.

constipation — a condition characterized by infrequent or incomplete bowel movements.

contraceptive — an agent used to prevent conception, or pregnancy.

coronary heart disease — an abnormality of the coronary arteries of the heart that results in improper heart functioning.

decongestant — an agent that reduces congestion.

depression — a psychiatric disorder characterized by depressed mood, feelings of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest in most all activities most of the day, decrease or increase in appetite, insomnia or need to sleep all the time, feelings of restlessness or being slowed down, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, lack of concentration and recurrent thoughts of death . There are many forms of depression including unipolar (major) depression, bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, and more.

diabetes — a metabolic disease caused by a deficiency of insulin.

dopamine — a neurotransmitter important in mood, reward, movement, and motivation. A precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine.

dosage — a prescribed amount of medication.

dysthymia — a chronic form of low grade depression.

electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) — a treatment for psychological disorders in which electric currents are painlessly passed through the brain.

electrode — a device that passes electric current.

empathetic — the ability to understand what another person is feeling.

epidemiologist — one who studies the occurrence of diseases and tries to control the spread of disease.

family therapist — professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems that work with individuals, couples, and/or families to change interaction patterns in hopes of resolving conflict.

fatigue — feeling tired or weary.

gene — a unit of inheritance found on chromosomes.

generalized anxiety disorder — an illness characterized by chronic (at least 6 months), repeated episodes of anxiety.

geneticist — a specialist in genetics, the study of biological inheritance.

guided imagery — a behavioral form of therapy in which individuals are encouraged to substitute pleasant fantasies for unpleasant feelings.

Halcion see triazolam.

heart disease — an abnormality of the heart, or the blood vessels supplying the heart, that limits healthy functioning.

high blood pressure — see hypertension.

Hismanal see astemizole.

homeopathy — a form of therapy based on the principle that a medicinal substance that can evoke certain symptoms in healthy individuals may be used to treat illnesses having symptoms resembling those produced by the substance.

hormonal — pertaining to hormones.

hypertension — increased blood pressure as measured by a blood pressure cuff.

hypertensive crisis — a potentially fatal rise in blood pressure.

insomnia — an inability to sleep during the period when sleep should occur.

mania — a state characterized by euphoria, rapid speech, excess of ideas, diminished need for sleep, distractibility, and/or poor judgement that is often associated with bipolar disorder.

manic depression — see bipolar disorder.

manic-depressive illness — see bipolar disorder.

menopause — termination of menses in women.

misdiagnose — to fail to determine the correct nature of a disease.

molecular biologist — a specialist in molecular biology, the study of chemical reactions with an emphasis on DNA.

monoamine oxidase inhibitor — an agent used to treat depression that blocks the actions of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase.

nausea — feeling the need to vomit.

nefazodone HCl — an agent used to treat depression; trade name Serzone.

nervous system — the portion of the body consisting of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that organizes thought and memory, controls emotions and sensations, and regulates many bodily functions.

neuroscience — the study of the nervous system.

neurotransmitter — a chemical agent released by the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that transmits signals and causes physiological effects.

norepinephrine — a neurotransmitter important in learning, memory, reinforcement, sleeping, anxiety, and pain perception.

Orap see pimozide.

over-the-counter medication — medication that may be obtained without a prescription from a doctor.

Parkinson’s disease — a disorder characterized by loss of movement, rigidity, and deficits in balance that is caused by deterioration of specific cells in the brain.

pessimism — the tendency to expect the worst possible outcome.

pimozide — an agent used to treat Tourette’s syndrome and psychosis; trade name Orap.

posttraumatic stress disorder — the development of symptoms, following a psychologically stressful event, such as avoidance of the environment intrusive recollections and hyper arousal.

premenstrual syndrome (PMS) — the monthly appearance in women of emotional and physical distress on the days preceding menses.

prescription medication — a medication that may only be obtained via a prescription from a doctor or other healthcare professional.

progressive muscle relaxation — a type of therapy whereby muscles are alternately tensed and relaxed in order to induce overall bodily relaxation.

Propulsid see cisapride.

psychiatrist — a physician (MD) specializing in psychiatry, or mental disorders.

psychologist — a therapist specializing in psychology, the study of animal and human behavior as well as related mental and physiological processes.

psychotherapy — treatment of emotional, behavioral, personality, and psychiatric illnesses using verbal and nonverbal communications rather than medication alone.

recurrences — when events happen again.

seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a form of depression linked to decreased light levels occurring in winter months.

sedating — calming, quieting.

Seldane see terfenadine.

selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor — a medication used to treat depression that increases levels of serotonin in the body.

self-defamation — attacking your own good reputation.

serotonin — a neurotransmitter involved in eating, sleeping, circadian rhythmicity, and neuroendocrine functions.

Serzone see nefazodone HCl.

sexual problems — related to a lack of functioning during sexual activity, such as inability to achieve erection.

side effect — a result of therapy in addition to or in extension of the desired effects of the therapy, often undesirable.

social phobia — a strong fear of being criticized by others in public.

social worker — one who assists with social problems, particularly in the underprivileged classes.

steroids — agents that resemble substances found in the body such as hormones.

stress hormones — hormones released into the body under stressful conditions, such as corticosterone.

stroke — the sudden development of neurological deficits (paralysis, vision or speech problems, etc.) due to a change in blood flow to the brain.

substance abuse — excessive use of addictive substances, such as alcohol, cocaine, pain-relievers, etc.

suicide — the act of intentionally killing oneself.

symptom — any sign of departure from the norm in a patient.

terfenadine — an antihistamine and decongestant; trade name Seldane.

therapist — a professional trained in a particular type of therapy, including psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, etc.

triazolam — an agent used to induce sleep in those suffering from short-term insomnia; trade name Halcion.

tricyclic antidepressant — a medication used to treat depression.

tyramine — a substance found in aged cheeses, beer, red wine, and mistletoe that produces actions similar to the neurotransmitter epinephrine.

unipolar major depression — a mental disorder characterized by irritability, sleep and appetite disturbances, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, guilt, and/or a loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable.

Xanax see alprazolam.

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Helen Keller (1880-1968) US author, lecturer

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