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Depression- Glossary

ANXIETY DISORDER: a disorder in which an individual is chronically and extremely anxious to such an extent that it limits his or her ability to function.

ATYPICAL ANTIDEPRESSANTS: a variety of antidepressants that includes buproprion (Wellbutrin), mirtazapine (Remeron), nefazodone (Serzone), trazodone (Desyrel), and venlafaxine (Effexor). They tend to have fewer and milder side effects than traditional antidepressants.

BABY BLUES : a transient sadness experienced by about 50 percent of women during the first week or two after giving birth.

BEHAVIORAL THERAPY: a form of psychotherapy often used to help people with depression that focuses on unproductive behaviors.

BIPOLAR DISORDER: previously called manic depression. A type of mood disorder that involves wild swings between episodes of feeling very low (depressed) and very high (manic). Episodes generally last at least several weeks and typically occur one to three times per year. Some individuals have "rapid cycling" (shorter episodes occurring very frequently) or "mixed episodes".

COGNITIVE THERAPY: a form of psychotherapy that often helps people with depression that focuses on negative thoughts and how to change our thinking patterns so they're not so negative.

CYCLOTHYMIA: a mild form of bipolar disorder. Depressions aren't so low, manias (called hypomania in this case) aren't so high.

DEPRESSION: also called major depressive disorder. A severe, long-term feeling that goes beyond sad or blue that can lead to serious consequences, such as impaired performance at home or work, and suicidal feelings.

DOUBLE DEPRESSION: a form of depression that starts as dysthymia and progresses to major depressive disorder.

DYSTHYMIA: a milder form of chronic depression that lasts for at least two years in adults and one year in children and adolescents.

ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY (ECT): applying an electric current to the brain, under tightly controlled conditions and under medical supervision. ECT is very effective for treating depression.

HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS: a form of severe, potentially fatal, high blood pressure that occurs when a person taking antidepressants of the MAOI class also takes certain other medications or eats particular foods.

HYPOMANIA: a less extreme version of mania, with elevated mood, increased energy, decreased sleep and appetite, pressured speech, multiple activities.

LIGHT THERAPY: also called phototherapy. The use of light to treat winter depression. It is very effective.

MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER: also called depression. A severe, long-term feeling that goes beyond sad or blue that can lead to serious consequences, such as suicide.

MANIA: an intense feeling of elation and euphoria (and sometimes irritability) typically accompanied by an exaggerated sense of power and self-worth; rapid speech; bouncing from one idea to another without control; and poor judgment, including spending sprees, drinking binges, sexual promiscuity, and overly active behavior.

MANIC DEPRESSION: former name for bipolar disorder. A type of mood disorder that involves wild swings between feeling very low (depressed) and very high (manic).

MONOAMINE OXIDASE INHIBITORS (MAOIs): a variety of antidepressant. These drugs are effective, but can cause a hypertensive crisis if taken with certain other medications or foods. The two types available in the United States are phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylpromine (Parnate).

MOOD DISORDER: a chronic abnormal mood, usually depressed, but in some cases, extremely elated. There are four types of mood disorders: major depressive disorder (depression), cyclothymia, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia.

NEUROTRANSMITTERS: chemicals produced by nerve cells to communicate with other nerve cells. Abnormalities involving two neurotransmitters -- norepinephrine and serotonin -- are somehow involved in the development of depression.

NOREPINEPHRINE: a neurotransmitter (chemical produced by nerve cells) involved in the development of depression.

ORTHOSTATIC HYPOTENSION: feeling dizzy when you stand or sit up quickly. A side effect produced by many antidepressants.

PHOTOTHERAPY: also called light therapy. Using light to treat winter depression. It is very effective.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: a form of depression that occurs during the first few months after delivery. It does require treatment.

POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS: a form of psychosis (loss of touch with reality) that affects about one out of every several hundred women during the first month after delivery. These women may hurt themselves or their babies, so they need to be hospitalized for their own protection while antidepressant therapy kicks in.

PSYCHOTHERAPY: talk therapy. Three types of psychotherapy commonly used to treat depression are cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy.

RAPID CYCLERS: people with bipolar disorder who rapidly switch from one mood to another.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD): a form of depression that occurs only during certain parts of the year. There are two varieties: winter and summer.

SELECTIVE SEROTONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIs): a relatively new variety of antidepressant that has fewer side effects. Examples include Prozac (fluoxetine) and Paxil (paroxetine).

SEROTONIN: a neurotransmitter (chemical produced by nerve cells) involved in the development of depression.

SEROTONIN SYNDROME: a serious, potentially fatal side effect caused when certain antidepressants are taken during the same period. Your doctor will tell you how long you should be off a particular antidepressant before it's safe to start taking another variety.

SUMMER DEPRESSION: a form of seasonal affective disorder that occurs during the summer.

TRICYCLIC AMINES (TCAs): a form of antidepressant. Although they are effective, they can have serious side effects and can be used to commit suicide. Common TCAs include amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepine (Adapin, Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor).

WINTER DEPRESSION: a form of seasonal affective disorder that strikes during the winter.

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