Mental Health Glossary

Abuse can be defined as mistreatment that results in harm onto another person. The main types of abuse which include physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and/or financial.

Verbal abuse is the use of words or body language to inappropriately harm another person. It can include name-calling, put downs, criticizing, belittling, and shaming to name a few. Verbal abuse is intended to make the victim feel unworthy or respect or love and can severely damage the victim’s self-esteem and self-worth.

Physical abuse is the use of physical force to cause someone physical pain, injury, or suffering. It may be limited to simple slapping or pushing. However, physical abuse may involve severe violence such as beating, hitting, kicking, or punching that in some cases requires hospitalization.

Emotional abuse causes emotional pain, distress, or anguish. It involves the use of threats, intimidation, or humiliation. Verbal actions include insults, yelling threats of harm or isolation, and non-verbal actions such as glaring to instill fear and or intimidation. It may also manipulation to gain compliance, counter resistance, or alter a person’s sense of reality.

Sexual abuse of children or adults includes any non-consensual, unwanted sexual contact. Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching, sexual assault, rape, molestation, and incest.


Patricelli, K. (2005). Types of abuse. Retrieved from

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia among older adults. It is a progressive brain disorder that affects cognitive functioning such as thinking, memory, and reasoning. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with distinct changes in the brain during the onset and progression of the disease.

The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is mild cognitive impairment. Often individuals experience memory loss and other cognitive impairments such as difficulties with word-finding or impaired reasoning/judgment, repeating questions, taking longer to complete normal tasks, or wandering and getting lost.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, memory loss and confusion worsen. Individuals may have problems recognizing family or friends. They may also may struggle with language control, reasoning, and sensory processing. Learning new things, multitasking, and coping with new situations all become difficult for individuals with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Some individuals may experience hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia as well.

Individuals with severe Alzheimer’s disease have extreme difficulty communicating. Moreover, they become completely dependent on others to care for them.

Although the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still unknown, it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Alzheimer’s disease is identified by changes in the brain including the presence of abnormal deposits of proteins called amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers called neurofibrillary tangles throughout the brain. This results in lose connections among neurons and the shrinkage of brain tissue. The changes in the brain due to Alzheimer’s disease appear to start in the hippocampus but as the disease progresses the damage becomes widespread.


Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. (2011, August 17). Retrieved July 2, 2017, from

Experiencing anxiety before an exam or when making an important life decision is a normal, healthy part of life. Anxiety disorders go beyond temporary worry and fear. The anxiety often gets worse over time and can persist from long periods of time. More importantly, the anxiety can interfere with daily activities and tasks and have negative consequences. There are many different types of anxiety disorders that will be discussed below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is excessive anxiety or worry that persists for months. Symptoms include restlessness, feeling on edge, easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension difficulty controlling the worry, and sleep problems (e.g., difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, restless, unsatisfying sleep).

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is recurrent unexpected panic attacks which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include physiological manifestations such as palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling, or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, choking, and feeling of impending doom.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others. Symptoms of social anxiety include feeling anxious about being around others and talking to them, feeling very self-conscious in front of others, worry about humiliation or rejection, fearing judgment, worry for days or weeks in advance, avoiding social situations, difficulty making friends, blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people, and feeling nauseous or sick to stomach around other people.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that interferes with functioning and development. ADHD is characterized by three key behaviors which are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Inattention involves by being disorganized, easily distracted, and difficulty sustaining attention or completing task. Hyperactivity is characterized by constantly moving, talking, fidgeting, and restless. Impulsivity is acting without thinking about the potential consequences. Symptoms of Inattention Inattention in individuals who have ADHD can be identified by many symptoms and indicators. This includes overlooking or missing details, having trouble maintaining attention during conversations, lectures, reading, tasks, or play, trouble maintain attention when being spoke to, unable to follow through with instructions, school work, or chores, loose focused and easily distracted, forgetful, loses things easily, poor organization, and poor time management. Symptoms of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity Hyperactivity and impulsivity in individuals who have ADHD can be identified constant moving and restlessness. This includes fidgeting or squirming, running or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate (e.g., during class), talkative, blurt out answers before the question is completely asked, finish other people’s sentences, speak without waiting their turn, or speak without waiting their turn, and often interrupt or intrude on others in conversations, games, or activities. Often children with ADHD who are hyperactive and impulsive are described as constantly in motion, “on the go”, or act as if “driven by a motor”. References The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encompasses a wide range of developmental disorders. ASD includes “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability. Individuals with ASD often have ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others. They also often engage in repetitive behaviors and have limited interests or activities. He symptoms of ASD can interfere with an individual’s ability to function socially in many areas of life. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. There are two main types of behaviors associated with ASD. The first is restrictive and repetitive behaviors. This includes repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors, having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects, and having a lasting, intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts. The second type of behavior social communication and interactive behaviors. This includes getting upset by a slight change in a routine or being placed in a new or overly stimulating setting, Individuals with ASD have little to no response to someone calling their name or other verbal attempts to gain attention, have difficulties with the back and forth of conversations, have little or inconsistent eye contact, and less looking and listening to other people. Individuals with ASD rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others, focus on their favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond, and use words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person’s way of communicating. Often they repeat words or phrases that they hear which is a behavior called echolalia. Additionally, their facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said and they have an unusual tone of voice that may sound flat and robot-like. They also have trouble understanding another person’s point of view or being unable to predict or understand other people’s actions. References The National Institute of Mental Health (2016) Autism. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Drop-down content goes here.


Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and ability to carry out daily tasks. Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings which range from emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Depression is characterized by feeling sad and hopeless, and losing interest or pleasure in most activities. Mania is characterized by feeling euphoric, full of energy, or unusually irritable.

Symptoms of manic episode include feeling high or euphoric, having lots of energy, having increased energy levels, feeling jumpy, having difficulty sleeping, becoming more active than usual, talking excessively fast, being agitated, irritable, or touchy, feeling like their thoughts are going fast, thinking they can do many things at once, and lastly doing risky things such as spending a lot of money or reckless sex.

Symptoms of a depressive episode include feeling sad, down, empty, or hopelessness, having little energy, having decreased activity levels, sleeping too little or sleeping too much, little to no pleasure in activities, feeling worried, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, eating too little or too much, feeling tired, and thought of death or suicide.

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I disorder is characterize by at least one manic episode that is preceded or followed by a major depressive episode or hypomania (less extreme than mania).

Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by at least one depressive episode and at least one hypomania episode, but not mania.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is characterized by at least two years of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms. However, these symptoms are less severe than a major depressive episode or mania episode.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders

Other types of bipolar disorder are defined by bipolar symptoms that do not fit into the other three categories. Additionally, these symptoms are often induced by other medical conditions, or drugs or alcohol.


The National Institute of Mental Health (201. Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. People with BPD may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

More symptoms of BPD include a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation), distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, impulsive and often dangerous behaviors (e.g., spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating), recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting, intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger, having stress-related paranoid thoughts, having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Borderline Personality Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from


Child abuse is the maltreatment, through action or inaction, of parents or caregivers that results in harm or injury to a child. It includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

Physical abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver causes intentional physical harm or injury to the child. This includes striking, hitting, kicking, throwing, or any other action that results in harm or injury to the child.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Visible or severe injuries
  • Multiple injuries at different stages of healing
  • Injuries on different surfaces of body
  • Unexplained or poor explanation of injury
  • Frequency, timing, and history of injuries is important (e.g., frequent injuries after weekends, vacations, or school absences)
  • Aggression towards peers or animals
  • Fear of parents or adults
  • Withdrawn, depression, or anxiety
  • Violent themes in play, art, or expression
  • Nightmares, insomnia
  • Immaturity, acting out
  • Self-destructive behavior or attitudes

Emotional abuse is severe emotional harm that occurs when a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental, emotional, or social development. It includes rejecting or ignoring (e.g., telling child they are unwanted or unloved, showing little interest in child, showing little affection or child, etc), shaming or humiliating (e.g., name-calling, criticizing, belittling, demoing, mocking, etc), terrorizing (e.g., blaming, insulting, threatening, manipulating, etc), isolating, or corrupting the child.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • Wetting bed or pants
  • Speech disorders
  • Weight fluctuation or obesity
  • Overly compliant or defensive
  • Extreme emotions, aggression, withdrawal
  • Anxieties, phobias
  • Sleep disorders
  • Destructive or anti-social behaviors (e.g., cheating, lying, stealing, cruelty) Sexual abuse is non-consensual touching, fondling, intercourse, or other sexual activities through physical force, threats, or coercion. It occurs when an adult uses a child for sexual purposes. It includes making a child view a sexual act, making child view or show sexual organs, inappropriate sexual talk, fondling, oral sex, penetration, exploitation, child prostitution, or child pornography.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Bowel problems
  • Torn, stained, or bloody undergarments
  • Pain, swelling, bruises, bleeding, or itching of genital area
  • Urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Sexually transmitted disease or related symptoms
  • Aggression or poor peer relationships
  • Withdrawn, depression, or anxiety
  • Poor self-image, poor self-care
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep disturbance, fear of bedtime, nightmares, bed wetting
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Unusual or repetitive soothing behaviors
  • Advanced or unusual sexual behavior or sexual knowledge
  • Reports sexual abuse
Child Neglect

Child neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or caregiver to provide the basic needs for a child. Physical neglect is the failure to provide safe shelter, failure to provide healthy food, failure to ensure adequate personal hygiene, inadequate supervision, or exposure to unsafe or unsanitary environments or situations.

Emotional neglect is failure to provide attention and affection that a child requires to feel loved and supported. It also includes isolating child, exposing child to frequent violence, or permitting child to use drugs, alcohol, or engage in crimes.

Medical neglect is the failure to provide appropriate treatment for injuries and illness or failing to provide basic preventative care to ensure safety and health of child.

Educational neglect is the failure to educate a child. This includes denying access to education, not enrolling child in school, allowing child to miss school, and keeping child from receiving special education services.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). What is child abuse and neglect? Recognizing the signs and symptoms. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
What is Child Abuse (n.d). Retrieved June 28th, 2017, from

Conduct disorder (CD) is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior that disregards the basic rights of others or violates major age-appropriate societal norms and rules. CD is found in children or teenagers under the age of 18. There are four main types of behavior found in individuals with CD.

The first is aggression towards people or animals. Symptoms include bullying, threatening, or intimidating others, initiating physical fights, use of weapons to cause serious physical harm to others, being physically cruel to people, being physically cruel to animals, stealing (e.g., mugging, extortion, armed robbery), and forced sexual activity.

The second is destruction of property. Symptoms include deliberately engaging in fire setting with intention of causing serious damage and deliberately destroying another person’s property (i.e., other than by fire setting).

The third is deceitfulness or theft. Symptoms include breaking into another person’s home, building, or car, lying to obtain goods, favors, or to avoid obligations, and stealing items such as shoplifting or forgery.

The last is serious violation of rules. Symptoms include staying out at night despite curfews, running away from home and not returning from lengthy periods while under parental home, and not attending school.

There are two subtypes of CD based on the age of onset. The first is the childhood-onset type is defined by the onset of at least one criterion characteristic of CD prior to age 10. The second is adolescent-onset type which is defined by the absence of any criterion characteristic prior to age 10. The childhood-onset type displays more physical aggression towards others and have more disturbed peer relationships. Moreover, these individuals likely had Oppositional Defiant Disorder in early childhood, are more likely to have persistent Conduct Disorder, and more likely to develop Anti-Social Personality Disorder in adulthood.


Bressert, S. (2016). Conduct Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from


Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a mood disorder. Symptoms of major depressive disorder include persistently sad, anxious, or empty mood, feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism, irritability, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, decreased energy or fatigue, moving or talking more slowly, feeling restless or having trouble sitting still, difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions, difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping, appetite and/or weight changes, thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts, and aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, some of the symptoms need to be present most of the day, nearly every day for at least two weeks.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Disruptive mood Dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is a childhood mood condition that is characterized by extreme irritability, anger, and frequent, intense temper tantrums. Children with DMDD experience severe impairment that goes beyond being a “moody” child. Symptoms typically begin before the age of 10 and include irritable or angry mood most of the day, nearly every day, severe temper outbursts with an average of three or more per week, temper outbursts are outside the situation and developmental level, and trouble functioning due to irritability in more than one place (e.g., home, school). Symptoms need to be present steadily for 12 or more months.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Depression. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Dyslexia is a reading and language-based learning disabilities where children have difficulty understanding letters, groups of letters, sentences, or paragraphs. Dyslexia affects an individuals reading in regards to accuracy, speed, or comprehension. Children with dyslexia may reverse or rotate letters (e.g., b may look like a d). They may also perceive letters, words, or sentences as moving or disappearing off the page. Other signs and symptoms include excessive effort to read, slow or inaccurate reading, and difficulty or inability to understand the meaning of words. Children who fail below the expected level of the individuals chronological age, intelligence, and education in regards to their reading achievement may have dyslexia. Dyslexia causes interferes significantly with academic achievement or with daily living.


Dysgraphia, or disorder of written expression, is a writing and language-based learning disability. Children with dysgraphia have difficulty with writing often in the form of writing letters correctly or writing within a certain space. It takes these children time and effort to make handwriting neat, however, often it is still hard to read. Other indicators of dysgraphia include grammatical or punctuation errors, poor paragraph structure, and lack of clarity in ideas in written expression. If a child falls below what is expected for one’s chronological age, intelligence, and education in writing, they may have dysgraphia. Dysgraphia causes significant interferes with academic achievement or daily living.


Dyscalculia, or mathematics disorder, is a learning disabilities that refers to problems with mathematics (e.g., fractions, percentages, etc). Children with dyscalculia have poor mathematical reasoning and difficulty solving basic mathematical problems that others the same age complete with no difficulty. They may also lack understanding in the magnitude or relationship of numbers. Common mathematical problems include trouble counting, recognizing or reading numerical symbols or arithmetic signs, copying numbers of figures correctly, observing operational signs, and following sequence of mathematical steps. If a child falls below what is expected for one’s chronological age, intelligence, and education in mathematics, they may have dyscalculia. Dyscalculia causes significant interferes with academic achievement or daily living.


Learning Disability. (2017, January 16). Retrieved July 3, 2017, from


Dyslexia is a reading / Eating disorders include a range of abnormal or disturbed eating habits. Eating disorders are psychological disorders that cause severe disturbances in a person’s eating habits and obsessions with food, body weight, and shape. It may include inadequate or excessive food intake and severe distress about one’s body weight. Although individuals with eating disorders can recover, they are extremely detrimental, dangerous, and deadly if not treated. There are three common types of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where individuals have a distorted body image. Individuals with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight and therefore repeatedly and severely restrict the amount of food they eat or only eat small quantities of food. Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa Individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa often severely restrict eating, have an intense fear of gaining weight, relentlessly pursue thinness, unwilling to maintain a heathy weight, have a distorted body image and perception of body weight, are extremely thin, and are in denial of the seriousness of their low body weight. Overtime other symptoms may develop such as osteopenia or osteoporosis, anemia, muscle weakness, brittle hair and nails, dry and yellowish skin, lanugo (i.e., growth of fine hair on body), severe constipation, low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse, damage to structure and function of heart, brain damage, multi-organ failure, drop in internal temperature, lethargy, and infertility. Anorexia nervosa is a serious, dangerous disorder that has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental disorder. Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over this binge-eating. It is followed by purging behavior to compensate for the binge eating. This could include self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike anorexia nervosa, individuals with bulimia nervosa tend to maintain a relatively normal or what appears a healthy weight. Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa: Individuals who suffer from bulimia nervosa tend to have a chronically inflamed throat, swollen salivary glands in neck/jaw area, worn tooth enamel, and have sensitive or decaying teeth due to exposure to stomach acid. They also have higher risk of gastrointestinal problems, intestinal distress or irritation due to laxative abuse, severe dehydration from purging of fluids, and electrolytes imbalance (e.g., too low or high levels of calcium, sodium, potassium, etc). Binge-eating disorder is an eating disorder where people lose control over his or her eating. Binge-eating is not followed by purging behaviors or excessive exercise. Therefore, individuals with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese. Symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder: Bing-eating disorder involves eating unusual large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, eating when full or not hungry, eating fast during binge episodes, eating until uncomfortable full, or eating alone to avoid embarrassment. Often individuals with binge-eating disorder feel distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating habits and will frequently dieting often without success. References The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Eating Disorders. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from


Dysgraphia, or disorder of written expression, is a writing and language-based learning disability. Children with dysgraphia have difficulty with writing often in the form of writing letters correctly or writing within a certain space. It takes these children time and effort to make handwriting neat, however, often it is still hard to read. Other indicators of dysgraphia include grammatical or punctuation errors, poor paragraph structure, and lack of clarity in ideas in written expression. If a child falls below what is expected for one’s chronological age, intelligence, and education in writing, they may have dysgraphia. Dysgraphia causes significant interferes with academic achievement or daily living.


Dyscalculia, or mathematics disorder, is a learning disabilities that refers to problems with mathematics (e.g., fractions, percentages, etc). Children with dyscalculia have poor mathematical reasoning and difficulty solving basic mathematical problems that others the same age complete with no difficulty. They may also lack understanding in the magnitude or relationship of numbers. Common mathematical problems include trouble counting, recognizing or reading numerical symbols or arithmetic signs, copying numbers of figures correctly, observing operational signs, and following sequence of mathematical steps. If a child falls below what is expected for one’s chronological age, intelligence, and education in mathematics, they may have dyscalculia. Dyscalculia causes significant interferes with academic achievement or daily living.


Learning Disability. (2017, January 16). Retrieved July 3, 2017, from

Elder abuse is a type of family violence and abuse. Elder abuse is maltreatment of people over the age of sixty. It includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Often elder abuse occurs in the home or in health care facilities and perpetrators could be family members, caregivers, friends, or even strangers.

Physical abuse is any physical force or violence that results in bodily harm, injury, or impairment. Indicators of physical abuse includes injuries, bruises, abrasions, fractures, or broken bones.

Sexual abuse is any non-consensual physical contact or sexual conduct. Indicators of sexual abuse can include physical indicators such as injuries and bruises in genital area or inner thighs, difficulty walking or sitting, torn or stained undergarments, genital or anal pain, irritation, or bleeding, or sexually transmitted diseases.
Psychological abuse is infliction of mental or emotional anguish through threat, intimidation, humiliation, manipulation, isolation, and other forms of verbal or non-verbal conduct. Often indicators of psychological abuse include difficulty sleeping, depression, confusion, emotionally withdrawn or upset, and unusual behavior such as rocking or biting.

Financial abuse includes mismanaging funds, stealing money, fraudulent or deceptive acts, forgery, coercion, taking or using their property or possession without permission, and telemarketing scams. Risk factors of risk of becoming a victim of financial abuse include isolation, loneliness, loss of spouse, physical or mental disabilities, unfamiliar with financial matters, and having family members who are employed and/or have substance abuse problems. Indicators of financial abuse include unpaid bills/eviction notices, unusual withdrawals or transfers between back accounts, absence of bank statements or canceled checks, signed legal documents that the older person does not understand, suspicious signatures on checks or legal documents, missing property or possessions, missing financial documentation, or new “best friends”.

Neglect is the failure for responsible family members or caregivers to provide necessary care. It can be intentional which is often motivated by interpersonal conflict or financial gain. Neglect may also be unintentional due to illness, disability, stress, ignorance, lack of resources, or lack of maturity. Neglect can be indicated by absence of necessities (e.g., water, food), inadequate living environment (e.g., lack of utilities, space, or ventilation), unsafe housing (e.g., inadequate sanitation, substandard cleanliness, animal or insect infestations) and medication mismanagement. Other indicators include poor personal hygiene (e.g., dirty clothing, skin, nails, hair), bedsores, skin rashes, dehydration, and untreated medical or mental conditions. Victims may also experience emotional distress, difficulty sleeping, poor eating habits, and confusion and disorientation.

References Mahoney, J. (2011). Types of Abuse. Nursing Clinics of North America, 46(4), 385-390.


Fibromyalgia is disorder that affects muscles and soft tissues. Individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia often experience chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, painful and tender body parts. Painful areas are called tender points which tend to be in specific places on the legs, arms, hips, back, shoulders, or neck. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include difficulty sleeping, morning stiffness, headaches, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, temperature sensitivity, sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights, and painful menstrual periods. “Fibro fog” which is problems with thinking and memory is also common.

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Middle-aged women are most susceptible to the disorder, although men and children may also be affected. Although there is no cure to fibromyalgia, symptoms can be treated.

Fibromyalgia | FMS | MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2017, from Questions and Answers About Fibromyalgia. (2014). Retrieved July 02, 2017, from


Gender dysphoria is a general descriptive term that refers to an individuals discontent with the assigned gender. In other words, it involves conflict between a person’s assigned gender and how they identify. Often individuals with gender dysphoria feel uncomfortable with their body or the gender roles of their assigned gender. This often results in significant distress and/or problems functioning with the conflict between how they identify and their assigned gender. Individuals may express their gender conflict through behaviors, dress, pronouns, hormone treatments, and sex-change surgery.

Feelings and behaviors associated with gender dysphoria may begin in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Children often have a strong desire to be of the other gender or insist they are the other gender, have a strong preference to wear clothing typical of the other gender, have a strong preference for toys, games, or activities stereotypically used by the other gender, and have a strong preference for playmates of the other gender. They may also dislike their own physical anatomy and have a strong desire for the physical sex characteristics of the other gender.

In adolescence or adulthood, individuals have a marked incongruence between one’s assigned gender and how they identify, dislike and desire to get rid of their primary and/or secondary sex characteristics, like and desire to have the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender, have a strong desire to be the other gender, have a strong desire to be treated as the other gender, and a strong conviction that their feelings and reactions are typical of other gender.


Parekh, R. (2016). What is gender dysphoria? Retrieved July 2, 2017 from


Hypersomnia, also known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), is a sleep disorder that refers to individuals who easily fall asleep at any time in any condition. The most common symptoms of hypersomnia are prolonged nighttime sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness in which individuals desire to take several long naps during the day.

Hypersomnia can be primary which means it originates in the brain, or it can be secondary which means it originates as a result of another disease. Primary hypersomnia is rare. It encompasses diagnoses of narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and Klein-Levin syndrome (i.e., recurrent hypersomnia). Secondary hypersomnia is much more prevalent. It is often a result of other conditions including depression, obesity, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, or substance abuse.


Hypersomnia. (2015). Retrieved July 3, 2017, from Dauvilliers, Y. (2006). Chronic Hypersomnia. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 1(1), 79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2005.11.007Drugs & sleep. (n.d.). Drugs & Sleep. Retrieved July 3, 2017 from Hypersomnia Information Page. (n.d.). Retrieved July 03, 2017, from


Intimate partner violence is abusive, violent behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. Intimate partner violence occurs between two people who are in a close relationship such as dating partners or spouses. Women are often the victim of intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence can take many forms including physical violence, sexual violence, psychological abuse, and emotional abuse. Psychological abuse includes harassment, neglect or isolation from family and friends. Emotional abuse involves the use of threats, intimidation, humiliation, hurtful remarks, manipulation, invalidation, and isolation. Physical abuse can range from hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, grabbing, slapping, hair pulling, or any type of physical force that may result in bodily harm. Often signs and symptoms of intimate partner violence include bruises, black eyes, broken bones, or various injuries in different stages of healing.

There are many warning signs of intimate partner violence which can include the victim of abuse being fearful of their abuser, walk on eggshells to avoid fights, attempts to cover up or dismiss injuries/bruises, or they may be isolated from family and friends. Warning signs may look different in psychological or emotional abuse. Victims may have low self-esteem and low confidence. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is the most difficult type of intimate partner violence to detect.


Mahoney, J. (2011). Types of Abuse. Nursing Clinics of North America, 46(4), 385-390.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep. Common symptoms of insomnia include daytime sleepiness, irritability, problems concentrating, fatigue, and forgetfulness. Insomnia may be short-term lasting only for a certain period of time, or it can be chronic and ongoing. It also varies in severity. Some individuals may experience more severe symptoms (e.g., sleep deprivation) while others may experience the symptoms mildly (e.g., feeling a little tired the next day.

There are two types of insomnia. Primary insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep that is not associated or caused by a medical condition, psychiatric problem, or medication. Secondary insomnia is the result of a medical condition (e.g., heart or lung disease, chronic pain), psychological or emotional problems (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression, etc), or medication (e.g., SSRI antidepressants) which interferes with sleep. Difficulty sleeping can also be attributed to disruptions to the circadian rhythm (i.e., sleep-wake cycle) such as working overnight shifts or travelling across time zones.


National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. How is Insomnia Treated? Retrieved July 3, 2017 from University of Maryland Medical Center. Insomnia. Retrieved July 3, 2017 from

Previously referred to mental retardation, intellectual disabilities are developmental disabilities that refers to the impairment of cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior. Intellectual disabilities range from mild to severe. Intellectual disabilities affect conceptual, social and practical skills, as well as, self-care skills that are essential to daily living. This includes things like understanding time, money, or number concepts, understanding and obeying rules and laws, travelling safety to and from places, and being able to care for oneself (e.g., eating, bathing, etc).

A key indicator that a child has an intellectual disability is the delay or failure to reach developmental milestones. Other indicators of an intellectual disability include delays in oral language development, deficits in memory, delays in adaptive behaviors, difficulty with learning social norms and/or rules, difficulty with problem solving, and a lack of social inhibitors.

Although many children with intellectual disabilities are slower to develop and learn, they are often still able to attend school, learn, and obtain an education. Individuals with learning disabilities are usually able to learn life skills in order to live independently (e.g., employment, self-care).

There are many known causes that are responsible for intellectual disabilities including chromosomal abnormalities (e.g., down syndrome, fragile X syndrome), exposure to toxins (e.g., fetal alcohol syndrome), diseases (e.g., measles), lack of oxygen at birth, and so on.

References Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association. Intellectual disability. (2013, May 10). Retrieved July 3, 2017 from


Learning disabilities are disorders that affect a person’s ability to focus and interpret information from different parts of the brain. Specially, learning disabilities make it difficult to focus attention, self-control, understand or use language, do mathematical calculations, or coordinate movements. Often learning disabilities begin young children and are diagnosed in school age children. It is important to note that learning disabilities do not reflect an individual’s IQ (intelligence quotient) or how smart they are.

Learning disabilities can be identified when the child has difficulties with academic skills that cause significant academic or occupational performance problems. Moreover, the difficulties are not typical of their developmental age.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2009). Learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision. Pediatrics, 124(2), 837-844. doi: 101542/peds.2009-1445 Learning Disability. (2017, January 16). Retrieved July 3, 2017, from


Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that results in unwillingly falling asleep anytime during any activity such as eating, working, or driving. Individuals with narcolepsy enter REM sleep without gradually going through the normal stages of sleep (e.g., NREM stages). Symptoms of narcolepsy include excessive daytime sleepiness, suddenly falling asleep without any warning and regardless of circumstance, and sleep paralysis (e.g., muscle paralysis) which is a characteristic of REM sleep. Other possible symptoms include cataplexy (i.e., temporary loss of muscle control) and vivid dreaming. Narcolepsy can cause significant impairment in daily activities and relationships.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes. Narcolepsy Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 3, 2017 from University of Maryland. Narcolepsy. Retrieved July 3, 2017 from


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic disorder in which a person experiences uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts called obsessions and repetitive behaviors they feel compelled to do called compulsions.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common obsessions include fear of germs or contamination or having things symmetrical or in perfect order.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. This could include excessive cleaning and/or hand washing, ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way, repeatedly checking on things, or compulsive counting.

To distinguish normal habits and rituals from compulsions is on the basis that an individual with OCD cannot control their thoughts or behaviors, even when they recognize they are excessive. They spend at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts and behaviors. They do not receive pleasure when performing there behaviors, but rather a brief relief from the anxiety the obsessions caused. Often their obsessions and compulsions result in significant problems in their daily life.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a childhood disorder which is characterized by negative, defiant, and disobedient and even hostile behavior towards adults and authority figures. ODD involves the occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors: losing temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with request or rules of adults, deliberately doing things to annoy people, blaming other for their own mistakes or misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry and resentful, or being spiteful or vindictive. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behaviors must last a minimum of six months. Moreover, the disturbance in behavior must cause clinically significant impairment in social, academic, and occupational functioning.


Bressert, S. (2016). Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from


Although childbirth is expected to be welcomed with joy and happiness, for some mothers’ childbirth can bring depression and baby blues. The depression can begin before or after the birth of a child. If the baby blues last for more than two weeks, it is possible the mother is suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is more intense than just the baby blues and can affect an individual’s ability to carry out daily tasks, and even prevent a new mother for caring for her new baby. It is a serious mental illness that requires attention and treatment. It is also important to understand that postpartum depression can also affect fathers as well.

The symptoms of postpartum depression usually begin within the first few weeks after giving birth but can begin months later. Symptoms include depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with baby, fear of being a bad parent, overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy, withdrawal from family and friends, increase or decrease in appetite, reduced interest and pleasure in activities that are enjoyable, intense angry and irritability, feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy, poor concentration and decision making, severe anxiety or panic attacks, thoughts of harming self or baby, and thoughts of suicide or death.


Grohol, J. (2017). Postpartum Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from

Although it is natural to feel afraid during and after a dangerous or scary event, most people recover in a reasonable amount of time. The symptoms of our fight-or-flight response in our body typically disappear. Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) however, continue to experience reactions such as feeling stressed or frightened even though the danger is no longer present.

PTSD develops in individuals after being exposed to or experiencing a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD will usually appear within three months of the traumatic event, however, in some cases they may develop later. To be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last a minimum of one month and must be severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and relationships. More specifically all of the symptoms below must be present for at least one month to be diagnosed.

Individuals must experience at least one re-experiencing symptom. This could be in the form of a flashback (e.g., reliving the trauma, physical symptoms of racing heart and sweating), bad dream, or frightening thoughts, or objects that are reminders of traumatic event.

Individuals must also experience at least one avoidance symptom. Often this involves avoiding certain places or events. It could also be avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.

Moreover, individuals must have at least two arousal and reactivity symptoms. Being easily startled, feeling tensed and on edge, having difficulty sleeping, or experiencing anger outbursts are common arousal or reactivity symptoms.

Lastly, individuals must have at least two cognition and mood symptoms. This includes difficulty remembering key features of traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, or loss of interest in enjoyable activities.

PTSD can be chronic, which means the symptoms are ongoing, or it may also can be acute, which means the symptoms only last for short period of time. Acute stress disorder (ASD) is characterized by severe symptoms that disappear within a few weeks. However, if symptoms last more than one month and seriously affect the person’s ability to function, it is likely chronic PTSD.

Symptoms may also appear differently in children than adults. Children (less than 6 years of age) who experience a traumatic event, may experience bedwetting, inability to talk, unusually clingy to parents or adults, and acting out the traumatic event during play.

Older children and teens who experience a traumatic event who develop PTSD will show symptoms similar to adults. Additionally, they may develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. They may also develop guilt for not preventing event or experience thoughts of revenge.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from


Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder. Schizophrenia affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Often is appears as if the individual has lost touch with reality. Typically, the symptoms of schizophrenia start between the ages of 16 and 30. Symptoms are divided into three categories.

Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors in which a person appears to lose touch with reality. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder (i.e., unusual or dysfunctional way of thinking), and movement disorders (i.e., agitated body movements).

Negative symptoms are disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. Symptoms include “flat affect” which is reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone, reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life, difficulty beginning and sustaining activities, and reduced speaking.

Cognitive symptoms are changes in memory or other aspects of thinking. Symptoms include poor executive functioning which is the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions, trouble focusing or paying attention, and problems with working memory which is the ability to use information immediately after learning it.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Schizophrenia. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a reoccurring seasonal pattern. Typically, SAD will begin in the late fall or early winter and continue until spring or summer. However, episodes of depression can begin in summer, but it is less common. To be diagnosed with SAD, individuals must meet the full criteria for major depression which coincides with specific seasons.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Individuals with SAD will feel depressed most of the day, nearly every day, feel hopeless or worthless, have low energy, feel sluggish and agitated, lose of interest in activities that are enjoyable, have difficulty sleeping, experience changes in appetite or weight, have difficulty concentrating, and have frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

The symptoms differ slightly depending on the season of onset for SAD. In the winter, the symptoms of SAD include low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, craving for carbohydrates, and social withdrawal. In the summer, symptoms of SAD include poor appetite, weight loss, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, anxiety, and episodes of violent behavior.


The National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved June 28, 2017 from

Separation anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder which involves excessive anxiety and worry concerning the separation of a child from their home or their attachment figures. The anxiety experienced is developmentally inappropriate and excessive. The child experiences persistent fear, anxiety, and avoidance when separated from their home or major attachment figures. They will experience social withdrawal, apathy, sadness, or difficulty concentrating on work or play. Children often perceive danger is upon the family or themselves. Often they are concerned about death and dying. They may fear monsters, animals, the dark, muggers, burglars, kidnappers, car accidents, or any situation that elicits danger. Children may also feel that no one loves or cares about them and wish they were dead. They may also become angry and aggressive. School refusal is common which can result in further social isolation and academic difficulties. When alone children may report unusual perceptual experiences such a seeing scary creatures or feel eyes staring at them. Children may also complain of somatic symptoms. Children suffering from separation anxiety disorder often are described as in need of constant attention, demanding, and intrusive. Some children may be described as overly conscientious, compliant, and eager to please.

Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder include recurrent excessive distress when separated from home or attachment figure occurs or is anticipated, persistent and excessive worry about losing or harm to attachment figure, persistent and excessive worry about an event that may separate them from attachment figure (e.g., kidnapping), persistent and excessively reluctant or fearful to be alone, persistent refusal or reluctance to sleep without being near attachment figure or at home, repeated nightmares involving themes of separation, and repeated complaints of somatic symptoms (e.g., headaches, stomachaches, nausea, etc) when separation from attachment figure occurs or is anticipated.


Bressert, S. (2016). Separation Anxiety Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from

Somatic symptom disorder is defined by experiencing psychosomatic symptoms without any obvious or apparent physical or medical cause for the physical symptoms. Somatic symptom disorder causes an individual to become distressed and disrupts daily living. An individual with somatic symptom disorder often excessively worries over health sensation and symptoms as they fear they physical sensations may indicate a serious illness. However, medical and healthcare professionals fail to find objective evidence to substantiate the concern. Often individuals will go to multiple doctors and specialists in an effort to have their physical symptoms diagnosed and treated.

To be diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder, an individual must exhibit symptoms for at least 6 months. The physical symptoms and concern must be cause significant interfere with multiple aspects of their life. Additionally, individuals must have attempted multiple forms of treatment. A full physical examination is typically conducted to rule out any medical or physical causes before diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder.


Medina, J. (2016). Somatic Symptom Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from

Specific phobias is a type of anxiety disorder which elicit intense, irrational ears of certain things or situations such as closed-in places, heights, tunnels, flying, injuries involving blood, and so on. The key characteristic of specific phobias is that they are an irrational fear. Individuals with specific phobias have extreme difficulty thinking about the object or situation that brings on severe anxiety or a panic attack.

Often children with specific phobias are able to recover over time and the fear disappears. Sometimes they may continue into adulthood. Phobias that start in adolescence and adulthood tend to be more persistent.

Symptoms of specific phobias include persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable and cued by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation. The fear is persistent lasing a minimum of six months. Exposure to the object or situation elicits immediate anxiety. Moreover, the fear of object or situation is not proportionate to the actual danger it poses and their response is usually not typical. Many adults suffering with specific phobias recognize they are irrational but have trouble addressing the issue. They will avoid the phobic object or situation to avoid the intense anxiety and distress it will bring. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the situation or presence of object interferes significantly with their daily life, tasks, and relationships.


Bressert, S. (2017). Specific Phobia Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from