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Terms explained

Terms explained


Medication used to treat depression and some anxiety disorders. Antidepressants work by increasing the activity and levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help to lift a person's mood.

Antipsychotic medication

Medication used mainly to treat psychosis (the main symptoms of which are hallucinations and delusions).


Meeting with a health or social care professional to discuss your mental and physical health, family background and everyday life, to find out what the problem is, how severe it is and the most suitable treatments.

Bipolar disorder

A mental health problem in which a person has periods of mania (extreme happiness or feeling 'high' or overconfident) and periods of depression.


Medication used to treat sleep problems, agitation, seizures and muscle spasms. Examples include chlordiazepoxide, diazepam and lorazepam.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT for short)

A psychological therapy that is based on the idea that the way we feel is affected by our thoughts and beliefs and by how we behave. Negative thoughts can lead to negative behaviour (such as avoiding doing things), which can affect how we feel. CBT encourages people to engage in activities and to write down their thoughts and problems. It helps them to identify and counteract negative thoughts.


A common mental health problem, the main symptoms of which are losing pleasure in things that were once enjoyable and losing interest in everyday activities and other people. Mild depression is when a person has a few symptoms that have a limited effect on their daily life. A person with moderate depression has more symptoms that can make their daily life much more difficult than usual. Severe depression is when a person has many symptoms that can make their daily life extremely difficult.


Feelings of elation (extreme happiness or feeling 'high') or irritability, or both. People with mania also feel overconfident, sleep less than usual, can have 'speeded‑up thoughts' and can take unnecessary risks.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

A type of anxiety disorder in which a person has thoughts, images or impulses that keep coming into their mind and are difficult to get rid of (called obsessions) and a strong feeling that they must carry out or repeat certain physical acts or mental processes (called compulsions).

Post-traumatic stress disorder

A type of anxiety disorder that can sometimes follow a threatening or traumatic event.

Psychological therapy

A treatment that involves meeting with a therapist to talk about feelings and thoughts and how these affect behaviour and wellbeing, or working through a computer program or book, on your own or with some help from a therapist.

Psychosis and schizophrenia

Mental health problems, the main symptoms of which are hallucinations and delusions.


A treatment in which a person works through a book, often called a self‑help manual. A healthcare professional will provide support and check progress either face to face or by phone. Self‑help is a type of psychological therapy.

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