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Glossary of Children Mental Health Terms

  • Anxiety
    The fearful anticipation of further danger or problems accompanied by an intense unpleasant feeling (dysphoria) or physical symptoms. Anxiety is not uncommon in children and adolescents.
  • Autism
    A neuro-developmental condition which is usually diagnosed in the first 3 years of life. Generally parents become concerned when their child has delays in speech development, limited social relatedness, and restricted interests and activities.
  • Bipolar Disorder
    A type of mood disorder with marked changes in mood between extreme elation or happiness and severe depression during adolescence.
  • Child Psychiatrist
    A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling and behavior affecting children, adolescents and their families.
  • Child Psychologist
    A trained professional who provides treatment to children with mental health issues.
  • Clinical Social Worker
    Provides mental health services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in individuals, families, and groups.
  • Conduct Disorder
    A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior among teenagers in which they violate the rights of others, or violate norms or rules that are appropriate to their age.
  • Depression
    A type of mood disorder characterized by low or irritable mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities over a period of time.
  • Developmental Disabilities
    A disability of a person which is attributable to a condition closely related to mental retardation which results in impairment of intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior.
  • Eating Disorder
    Unhealthy pattern of eating characterized by preoccupation with food and distorted body image.
  • Evidence Based Practice
    Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) comprises empirically-validated processes that facilitate the conscientious, explicit and judicious integration of individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research in making decisions about the care of individual patients.
  • Mental Illness
    Disorder of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
    Teenagers with OCD have obsessions and/or compulsions. An obsession refers to recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause severe anxiety or distress. Compulsions refer to repetitive behaviors and rituals (like hand washing, hoarding, ordering, checking) or mental acts (like counting, repeating words silently, avoiding).
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
    An ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning.
  • Physical Abuse
    Physical abuse occurs when a person responsible for a child or adolescent’s welfare causes physical injury or harm to the child.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
    PTSD can occur when a teenager experiences a shocking, unexpected event that is outside the range of usual human experience. The trauma is usually so extreme that it can overwhelm their coping mechanisms and create intense feelings of fear and helplessness.
  • Psychotherapy
    A form of psychiatric treatment that involves therapeutic conversations and interactions between a therapist and a child or family.
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
    A complex psychiatric illness that can affect young children. It is characterized by serious problems in emotional attachments to others and usually presents by age 5, but a parent, caregiver or physician may notice that a child has problems with emotional attachment by their first birthday.
  • Substance Abuse / Dependence
    Use and abuse of drugs and alcohol.
  • Sexual Abuse
    Teenage sexual abuse occurs when an adolescent is used for gratification of an adult’s sexual needs or desires. Severity of sexual abuse can range from fondling to forcible rape.
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