Explanation of technical words and terms

Advance decision

A legally binding document that states the treatments that a person (aged 18 or over) does not want to be given if they lose the capacity to make decisions about their treatment. There is more information on the NHS Choices website. Go to the NHS website and search for 'advance decisions'.

Advance statement

A general statement about a person's preferences for treatment and care. This should be used by healthcare professionals if the person loses the capacity to make decisions about their treatment and communicate their needs. Unlike advance decisions, advance statements are not legally binding.

Anticoagulant

A medicine used to prevent blood clots.

Anticonvulsant

A medicine used to treat epilepsy.

Antidepressant

Medication used to treat depression. 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 primarily in the treatment of psychosis (the main symptoms of which are hallucinations and delusions). Some antipsychotics can also treat depression when taken with an antidepressant; examples of these include olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone and aripiprazole.

Carer

In this information we use 'carer' to mean a friend or family member who cares for someone with an illness or disability.

Carer's assessment

An assessment by social services of a carer's physical and mental health and their needs in their role as a carer. Every person aged 16 years and older who cares for someone on a regular basis has the right to request such an assessment. There should be a written carer's plan, which is given to the carer.

Delusions

Having fixed beliefs that are false but which the person believes in completely.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

A test to record the rhythm and activity of the heart.

Hallucinations

Hearing voices and sometimes seeing things that are not there.

Light therapy

A treatment for seasonal depression involving a device that can create artificial sunlight, such as a light box.

Lithium

Medication used mainly in the treatment of a mental disorder called bipolar disorder (or manic depression) but which can also be used to treat moderate or severe depression in combination with an antidepressant.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

A psychological treatment that helps people with depression to become aware of negative thoughts and reduces the tendency to react to them. The aim is to encourage people to feel differently about their negative thoughts rather than to change the content of their thoughts.

Psychological treatment

A general term used to describe meeting with a therapist to talk about feelings and thoughts and how these affect a person's life and well-being.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

A type of antidepressant. Examples include citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline.

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