Common mental health terms

Understanding Common Mental Health Terms

Everyday we hear people talking about different mental health disorders, but how many of us know what they truly mean? To help clarify, the following are definitions of some of the most common mental health conditions.


Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by a compulsive desire to do or to have something despite harmful consequences.


Anxiety is an intense feeling of fear, worry, nervousness, or unease caused by the anticipation of an imminent event or situation with an uncertain outcome.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition, typically diagnosed in childhood, characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression is a mental illness that causes changes in mood from extreme elation or happiness to severe depression.


Depression is a mood disorder caused by intense feelings of sadness, poor self-worth, dejection, and a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder are a range of psychological illnesses characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits and a distorted body image.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a psychological disorder in which a person feels excessive and exaggerated anxiety, worry, and tension about everyday life events with no substantial cause.

Impulse Control Disorder (ICD)

People who have Impulse Control Disorders can’t control the urge to do harmful things to themselves or others.  Common examples of ICD are Kleptomania, Pyromania, Trichotillomania and Compulsive Gambling.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person has recurring, unreasonable thoughts, ideas, impulses, or images that they try to manage through repetitive behaviours and rituals.


Paranoia is a psychotic disorder characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur, unwarranted jealousy, and an irrational distrust of others.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a debilitating mental illness that can affect people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as war, natural disasters, a terrorist act, rape, or a violent personal assault. Victims of PTSD have persistent, frightening memories or flashbacks of the event, and intense feelings of fear and helplessness.


Schizophrenia is chronic mental health disorder that causes a breakdown in the relationship between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to poor judgment, inappropriate feelings and actions, delusions, hallucinations, and other cognitive difficulties.


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