The Depression Center  
 
 

Depression Glossary

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Defense Oriented Response: behavior with the primary purpose of defending the organism against harm.

Delusion: a firm belief in something that is not true despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Delusional Disorder: a type of psychotic disorder characterized by a delusional system.

Delusional System: a more or less coherent and comprehensive system of delusions.

Dementia: an organic brain disorder characterized by loss of memory, impairment of judgment and abstract thinking, and changes in personality.

Demoralization: the perception and feeling of being ineffective, and unable to solving problems, or control the current situation or the future.

Depersonalization: an altered and unreal perception of ourselves, our feelings and/or our situation.

Dependence: a scientific/medical term used to describe the adaptation of the central nervous system to the ongoing presence of a drug. Not the same as addiction.

Dependency: tendency to rely on others.

Dependent Personality Disorder: a personality style characterized by clinging and submissive behavior and feelings of panic or anxiety when apart from others.

Depersonalization: a term used to describe the feeling or experience that one has lost one’s personal identity, often a feeling that one is someone or something else.

Depersonalization Disorder: a disorder characterized by the pervasive feeling of loss of sense of self.

Depression: an emotional state characterized by sadness, unhappiness, anhedonia, helplessness, hopelessness, dejection, futility, and worthlessness.

Depressive Personality Disorder: a personality style that may involve a pervasive pattern of depressive cognitions that begins in early childhood or adolescence.

De-realisation: a term used to describe the experience or feeling of an altered, distorted, unstable or unreal perception of reality.

Desensitisation: a therapy technique in which reactions to anxiety producing situations are reduced in intensity by repeatedly exposing the person to them in a mild form, either in reality (in vivo) or through the use of techniques that encourage the person to imagine the situation while remaining in a state of relaxation.

DHEA: dehydroepiandrosterone

Diagnosis: a label used to describe the specific nature and extent of a problem.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Diathesis: a predisposing factor or pre-existing vulnerability that makes a person more likely to develop a disorder.

Diathesis-Stress Model: a general model of stress response that views psychiatric / psychological problems to be the result of stress affecting an individual who has a pre-existing vulnerability or risk factor for developing a specific kind of problem.

Disorientation: mental confusion with respect to time, place or person.

Dissociation: a term used to describe a psychological process in which attention is diverted from painful or traumatic thoughts or memories. Refers to the mental process by which thinking can be split off and continue independently of conscious awareness.

DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, the main component of genes.

Dominant Gene: a gene that dictates the characteristics of the offspring.

Dopamine: a neurotransmitter (catecholamine) involved in a wide variety of functions.

Double Blind Study: a scientific term used to describe a procedure for conducting research so that neither the researcher nor the participant know if the active medication or placebo is being used for that participant.

Drug: another term for medication.

Drug Abuse: the abuse of a substance to the extent that it interferes substantially in emotional, social and occupational functioning.

Drug Addiction: psychological and physiological substance dependence.

DSM: see diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM).

Dysfunctional Beliefs: rigid, extreme and unhelpful negative beliefs about the self and the world.

Dysthymia: mood disorder characterized by relatively long episodes of chronic depressed mood alternating with more brief periods of normal mood and functioning.

Downward Spirals: Events and thoughts that are followed by certain actions, which then cause negative feelings, which in turn lead to the negative events and thoughts which lead to the negative actions, and so on, leading to a ‘downward spiral’.