The Depression Center  

Depression Glossary

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PA: panic attack

PD: panic disorder

Paranoid Personality: a personality style characterized by suspiciousness and distrust of others.

Parasympathetic Nervous System: the part of the autonomic nervous system that controls most basic metabolic processes.

Partial Agonist: a substance that stimulates receptors on neurons but not as much as an agonist (full agonist).

Perception: the interpretation of sensory input.

Perceptual Filtering: a variety of processes by which we selectively attend to certain aspects of our environment and ignore others in order to avoid being overwhelmed by perceptual input. Influenced greatly by fear and anxiety.

Performance Anxiety: fear of performing in front of others, typically public speaking but can also be using the telephone, working, writing, eating, or drinking in front of others.

Peripheral Nervous System: the nerve fibres and tracts that link the central nervous system (brain and spinal chord) to the sense organs, glands and muscles.

Perseveration: repetition of a response beyond what is appropriate.

Personality: the unique pattern of traits that characterizes any given individual.

Personality Disorders: long standing patterns of inflexible and maladaptive behavior that interferes significantly with emotional, social, an occupational functioning.

Pessimistic Attributional Style: the tendency to make internal, global, and stable attributions about negative life events.

Pharmacodynamics: the study of how drugs act in the body and especially in the brain.

Pharmacology: the branch of science concerned with understanding the clinical application and effects of medications.

Pharmacotherapy: medication therapy.

Pharmacokinetics: the study of how the body acts on drugs, for example, metabolism and excretion.

Phenochromocytoma: a tumour of the adrenal gland that results in the over: production of epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Phenylethylamine: a pleasure-producing chemical that is a natural ingredient in chocolate and is usually associated with the functioning of the limbic system.

Phobia: an exaggerated fear of a particular object or situation.

Pineal Gland: small gland at the base of the brain involved in the regulation of biological rhythms and perhaps sexual development.

PMS: premenstrual syndrome

Porphyria: a disorder due to problems with porphyrin metabolism that results in symptoms including confusion, nausea, acute abdominal pain, and sensitivity to sun exposure.

Positive reinforcer: anything that increases the probability of a behavior happening again.

Postpartum Depression (PPD): a mood disorder found in mothers that begins after childbirth and usually lasts beyond six weeks.

Postural Hypotension: a decrease in blood pressure that occurs following a change in posture (usually when moving from sitting to standing) that can result in various symptoms including dizziness, light-headedness, and fainting.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): a variety of physical and psychological symptoms that can be associated with the onset of menstruation.

Prevalence: the number of active cases of a given problem that can be identified at any given time.

Primary Reaction Tendencies: characteristics that we are born with and that are apparent in infancy such as sensitivity changes in the environment and activity level.

Problem Drinker: a person who has serious problems which are associated with drinking.

Prognosis: a prediction about what will likely happen to a person with a disorder and/or problem.

Psychiatry: a field of medicine concerned with how physical and chemical interactions in the brain and body result in mental and emotional problems as well as treating those disorders.

Psychoactive Drugs: drugs that affect mental functioning.

Psychogenic: a term used to describe something of psychological origin, caused by psychological factors.

Psychologist: a person who completes a Ph.D. in psychology and receives specialized training in psychological assessment and treatment.

Psychology: the scientific discipline concerned with the study of behavioral, mental and emotional processes.

Psychomotor: refers to psychological and physical activity level.

Psychomotor Retardation: slowing down of psychological and motor activity.

Psychopharmacology: the study of drugs used to treat psychiatric or psychological conditions or problems.

Psychosomatic: a term used to describe symptoms that that appear to be the result of a physical problem but are actually the result of psychological factors.

Psychotherapist: a general (generic) term used to describe any person with any credentials who practices any kind of psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy: a term that can be used to describe any psychological therapy in which problems are treated with psychological methods.

Psychotic State: a term used to describe a state in which a person has lost touch with reality.

Panic: the basic emotion of fear that involves activation of the “fight or flight” response. Usually a natural and healthy response to a real danger. Exaggerated or chronic panic (“false alarms”) in the absence of real danger is a key feature of panic disorder.

Panic Attack (PA): an episode of panic that resembles an extreme form of the fear response.

Panic Disorder (PD): an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring unexpected panic attacks in the absence of real danger. Often associated with agoraphobic avoidance and agoraphobia.

Paranoia: a term used to describe behavior that usually results from delusions and an impaired contact with reality but not necessarily with the severe disorganization observed in schizophrenia.

Passive Behavior: term used to describe behavior by which people typically yield or differ to the opinion, suggestions or decisions of others.

Pathological Gambling: a pattern of addiction to gambling

Pernicious Anaemia: a blood disorder which can result in symptoms similar to those of anxiety disorders.

Placebo (sugar pill): a technique or medication that contains no active ingredient and presumably therefore has no physical benefit. Placebos are generally administered in such a way that the person is reasonably sure that they are in fact receiving the active treatment. Placebos are often used in the study of the effectiveness of new medications to distinguish between the medical and/or physical and the purely psychological affects of taking a medication.

Placebo Effect: the psychological effect of taking a placebo.

Polygenic: caused by the interactive effects of many genes.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): an anxiety disorder that results from exposure to a traumatic event.

Post-Vietnam Syndrome: an old name for post traumatic stress disorder.

PPD: post partum depression

Predisposition: anything that increases the probability that a person will develop a problem under stress.

Prolactin: a hormone. Excess prolactin production that results from hypothyroidism, some medications, and stress can result in a number of symptoms including reduce sex drive and desire (libido). Prolactin release is controlled by dopamine levels.

Protective Factors: factors that lessen a person’s chances of developing problems in response to stress.

Psychiatrist: a medical doctor who specializes in psychiatry and receives specialized training in the provision of psychiatric assessment and treatment.

Psychoanalysis: a type of psychotherapy with a focus on issues of itrapsychic dynamics of emotional conflict and repression usually attributed to a variety of important experiences in childhood.

Psychoanalyst: any psychiatrist, psychologist, or other person who practices psychoanalysis.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: see psychoanalysis

Psychoneurosis: an old name for any anxiety, depressive or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Psychosis: a mental disorder and/or condition characterized by loss of contact with reality, often with hallucinations or delusions.

PTSD: see Post Traumatic Stress Disorder