Mental health is the foundation of an individual’s well-being. That’s why it’s so important to understand the terminology associated with it. This understanding can foster awareness, promote dialogue, and seek appropriate support in creating a mentally balanced life. In this mental health glossary, we’ll explore:

  • Common mental health terms
  • Commonly abbreviated mental health conditions
  • The basics of mental health
  • Various therapeutic approaches
  • Practical strategies for dealing with mental health problems

At Plus by APN, we want to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to feel your best.

Common Mental Health Terms

There are several books to choose from that contain mental health terms, with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness being the go-to resource for most mental health professionals.

While we can’t possibly go over every single mental health term in a single article, we outlined some of the most common terms below.

Mental Health

First, it can be helpful to define mental health itself. Mental health refers to a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences how we think, feel, and act in various situations, shaping our ability to handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions.


Addiction is a commonly intertwined issue with mental health and refers to a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.


One of the most common mental health disorders, depression, is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in daily activities. It can affect how a person thinks, feels, and handles the challenges of life.


The world’s most common mental health disorder, anxiety, refers to excessive worry or fear that significantly impacts daily life. It is a natural response to stress but can become a disorder when feelings of fear or worry are constant and overwhelming.


Self-harm, also known as self-injury or self-mutilation, is a deliberate and intentional act in which an individual inflicts harm upon themselves as a way to cope with emotional pain, stress, or overwhelming feelings. This behavior is not typically intended as a suicide attempt but rather as a mechanism for managing intense emotions or as a means of regaining a sense of control.


Stigma involves negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes directed at individuals or groups based on certain characteristics, such as people experiencing mental health conditions. Stigma can be a common challenge for people with mental illness.


Even though struggling with mental illness can bring stigma and/or other challenging factors, resilience is an important mental health concept. It’s the ability to bounce back from trauma or stress, and involves adapting positively in the face of adversity.

Commonly Abbreviated Mental Health Conditions

Understanding common abbreviated mental health conditions is crucial for effective communication within the mental health field. Below we outline some of the most commonly abbreviated terms and their definitions.


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.


Substance Use Disorder refers to problematic use of substances, including alcohol and drugs, leading to impaired functioning and distress.


Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by unstable moods, self-image, and relationships, often leading to impulsive behavior.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, leading to distressing symptoms such as flashbacks and nightmares.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions).

Basics of Mental Health

Now that we’ve gone over some commonly used mental health terms and abbreviations, let’s dive into the basics of mental health. This is crucial to understand for recognizing, addressing, and supporting individuals facing mental health challenges.

When someone is experiencing a mental health issue, they are likely going to be referred to one or more of the following traditional approaches.

Mental Health Medications

Often prescribed in addition to therapy, medication can treat a variety of mental health conditions. Mental health medications range from antidepressants, to anti anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and more.

Crisis Intervention

If someone is experiencing an immediate and severe mental health challenge, crisis intervention may be required. Crisis intervention is available to help stabilize and ensure safety in intensive situations.

Support Groups

Support groups are available for individuals facing similar challenges to share experiences, coping strategies, and emotional encouragement.


Psychotherapy, also known as counseling or talk therapy, involves talking to a trained mental health professional to address emotional and psychological challenges. Keep reading to learn more about the many different types of therapy approaches.

Dissecting the Different Psychotherapy Approaches

Understanding the differences between various psychotherapy approaches can be immensely helpful for individuals seeking mental health treatment. Below outlines some common psychotherapy approaches utilized in standard care practice.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a goal-oriented therapeutic approach that addresses patterns of thinking and behavior to change negative thoughts into positive ones and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies to help individuals regulate emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and develop distress tolerance skills.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a specialized form of psychotherapy designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories through guided eye movements.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on exploring unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts to gain insight into emotional and relational patterns.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Mindfulness-based therapies, including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), incorporate mindfulness meditation and awareness techniques to reduce stress and enhance well-being.

Alternative Therapy Approaches

Alternative therapeutic approaches were developed over time as more people experienced a lack of results from traditional therapies. Understanding what alternative therapies are available can be immensely beneficial for people experiencing mental health challenges.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

Ketamine-assisted therapy is an approach to therapy that involves the controlled administration of a low dose of ketamine under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional. This method has shown effectiveness in rapidly alleviating symptoms associated with depression and various other mental health disorders.

Once introduced into the brain, ketamine triggers a series of neurobiological effects, resulting in positive changes in neurochemistry, increased neuroplasticity, and enhanced mood regulation. Notably, the effects of this treatment often become apparent within a relatively short time frame, ranging from hours to days, in contrast to the extended duration required by conventional antidepressants.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS)

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) is a non-invasive technique that utilizes magnetic fields to activate nerve cells within the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is frequently implicated in depression, and dTMS is designed to modulate its activity, providing a potential solution for individuals who have not experienced success with conventional treatment approaches. Research suggests that dTMS influences mood regulation and is generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects.


Neurofeedback involves continuous monitoring of brain activity using electrodes on the scalp. Individuals undergo training to self-regulate their brainwaves, aiming to enhance patterns associated with improved mood and emotional regulation.

This modality provides a non-pharmacological avenue for individuals to regulate their emotional well-being, contributing to an improvement in their overall quality of life without the side effects typically associated with medication.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber, traditionally used in treaments for various medical conditions. Recent studies have indicated that HBOT is as effective in addressing depression as traditional psychotherapy. Additionally, research suggests that increased oxygen levels may have neuroprotective effects on brain function, potentially contributing to an improved mood or mental state.

Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Stellate ganglion blocks (SGB) involve the administration of a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves located at the back of the neck. Initially designed for pain management, SGB has demonstrated potential in addressing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition often linked with depression.

Research indicates that stellate ganglion blocks may influence the sympathetic nervous system, providing a potential avenue for alleviating trauma-related symptoms and influencing depressive symptoms.

Dealing with Mental Health Problems

If experiencing mental illness or distress, the following steps should be considered.

Seek Professional Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges, seeking professional help from a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist is crucial. Plus by APN offers a variety of in-person and virtual therapy options to serve a variety of individuals in various locations. Learn more by calling 424.644.6486 or filling out the online contact form.

Build a Support System

Establishing a strong support system of friends, family, and peers provides emotional support and understanding.

Practice Self-Care

Prioritizing self-care activities such as regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and engaging in hobbies helps to promote overall mental wellness.

Educate Yourself

Learn about your mental health condition to better understand symptoms, triggers, and coping mechanisms.

Set Realistic Goals

Break down larger goals into smaller, more achievable steps to build a sense of accomplishment.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Incorporate mindfulness practices, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety.

Medication Management

If prescribed medication, adhere to the prescribed dosage and attend regular check-ups with healthcare professionals. If you think you may require medication management, consider booking a free consultation with Plus by APN, where we can help you get much-needed relief from symptoms and provide targeted, professional support.

Consider Alternative Treatments

If traditional approaches aren’t working for you, or you feel they aren’t right for you for whatever reason, explore alternative therapies. The important thing is that you get the help you need. It doesn’t matter how.

Be Patient with Yourself

Dealing with mental illness is difficult. Recovery is a gradual process, and being patient with yourself makes all the difference. Celebrate small victories and progress, and remember that each day we are presented with new opportunities to try new approaches and to try again.

The Language of Mental Health

Understanding the language of mental health is a powerful tool when navigating the complexities of mental well-being. Whether you’re seeking information for personal understanding or to support someone else, the knowledge gained from this glossary can contribute to a more compassionate and informed approach to mental health.

Remember, seeking professional help is a proactive step toward overall well-being, and there is strength in acknowledging and addressing mental health challenges. To learn more about Plus by APN’s traditional and alternative approaches to mental health, call 424.644.6486 or fill out the online contact form today.


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