Anorexia Nervosa

A condition characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Symptoms include a refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height, body type, age and activity level, an intense fear of weight gain, feeling “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss, loss of menstrual periods and extreme concern with body weight and shape.


The continued behavior (e.g. using a substance such as alcohol or drugs) against the desire or attempts to refrain from the behavior.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD tends to first appear prior to the age of seven, and continues into adolescence, and at times into adulthood. ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity that is substantive, impairing and significantly more prominent than population norms. ADHD is present in all environments, including with friends, at home and at school and impacts the ability to function.

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder in childhood affecting around 5% of children. Approximately 65% of children with ADHD will continue to meet diagnostic criteria during adolescence. Impulsivity and hyperactivity often lead to disruptive behavior.


The fear and avoidance of situations in which one would feel unsafe if they began to experience a panic attack.


Limited communication and withdrawal from social interaction.

Binge Eating DisorderĀ 

Uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge.


Individuals with bipolar disorder (also know as manic depressive illness) may experience rapid mood changes, and during sever episodes may experience hallucinations (perceptions, such as sounds, visions, etc that do not exist) and delusion, (fixed false beliefs). This illness is characterized by alternating cycles (episodes) of depression and mania. These cycles may be frequent (daily) or infrequent (years apart). In young people, manic cycles often contain substantial irritability as well as, or even instead of the grandiosity and euphoria symptoms seen in adults.

A diagnosis of bipolar requires at least one depressive episode and one manic episode. The usual first episode in a person who develops a bipolar illness is depression. Occasionally, a person can have two or more episodes of depression prior to the first manic episode occurring. For most people with bipolar illness, the first episode of the disorder beings in the teenage years.

Blunted Affect

These individuals experience less sadness, joy or anger than most people.

Bulimia Nervosa

A secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food through vomiting, laxative abuse or over-excercising

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A form of psychotherapy which is tailored to treat various mental illnesses. It focuses on changing the patient’s thoughts and behaviors and to reverse the symptoms and increase patient’s functioning.


Cutting is the practice of purposefully injuring yourself by using a sharp object to scratch or cut skin deep enough to draw blood. It is a type of self-injury behavior typically seen more among young teen girls, although older teen girls as well as boys can engage in the practice.


A disorder of thought and content or a belief that something has occurred or will occur that is not real or within reality. Persistent false beliefs that are odd, exaggerated and/or irrational.


Depression, sometimes referred to as Clinical Depression, is a mood disorder characterized by intense negative emotions and feelings, that negatively impact on people’s lives leading to social, educational/vocational, personal and family difficulties.

It is a mental disorder, that is due to a medical condition affecting the way mood is controlled by the brain. It is different than feeling emotional distress or sadness. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), the most common type of depression, usually begins in the teen years or early adulthood. Individuals with MDD will experience periods of time (lasting months to years) where they experience intense depressive episodes, which are separated by periods where they experience a relatively stable mood.

Sometimes a negative event(such as the loss of a loved one, or severe and prolonged stress) will trigger these episodes but often they will occur spontaneously. MDD is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety and is always accompanied by significant problems with family, friends, work or school that arise because of the effect of MDD on the person.

Eating Disorder

A group of conditions defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and mental health.

Flattened Affect

The expression of few emotions, which can include expressing the opposite emotion, for instance, laughing at death.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD is described as excessive anxiety and worry occurring for an extended period of time. An individual with GAD will constantly worry about several different things and will have persistent apprehension. The worry and anxiety cause emotional distress, difficulty with enjoying life, problems with relationships and school (or work) and will lead to numerous physical symptoms of which there is no other explanation (such as headaches, lump in your throat, sighing, aches, pains, nausea, etc.).

It is perfectly acceptable to have an anxiety response to danger. Indeed this is the well known flight or fight response that is protective (i.e. when a dog is chasing you, when you are moving away from home for the first time), but this is different from GAD. A person with GAD constantly feels tense and on edge, even when there is no danger present.

Mental Disorder

A mental illness makes the things you do in life hard, like: work, school and socializing with other people. If you think you, or someone you know, might have a mental disorder, it is best to consult a professional. Early identification and effective intervention is the key to successfully treating the disorder and preventing future disability. A healthcare professional will connect the symptoms and experiences the patient is having with recognized diagnostic criteria to help formulate a diagnosis and a plan of recovery.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is made up of two parts the ‘obsession’ and the ‘compulsion’. The obsession can vary in form, but it is persistent, intrusive, unwanted thoughts, images or impulses (urges). Obsessions are recognized by the person who performs them to be irrational, senseless, intrusive or inappropriate, but they are not able to control them.

The compulsion side of the illness is the repeated behaviors, which the person performs in order to reduce the anxiety associated with the obsession. These activities vary from person to person but some common compulsions include: counting, touching, washing and checking.

Obsessions and compulsions can range in intensity to the point where they interfere with daily functioning and can cause the individual, and those around them, a great deal of distress.

Obsession and compulsions are sometimes mistaken for psychotic behaviors, but they are completely different. Someone experiencing OCD is aware that the thoughts they are having are their own, and the actions they are performing have a reason behind being done.

What may have started as a tiny concern, suddenly feels like it has snowballed out of control.

Panic Disorder

A body’s natural response to potential danger is the fight or flight response. This brain response occurs immediately upon perception of danger and activates many brain areas designed to protect you from danger. As part of this response, the brain orchestrates the release of adrenaline and other hormones throughout the body, so you can respond to the threat. This protective mechanism is called the fight or flight response and the emotional and physical components are known as panic.

Sometimes panic can occur “out of the blue”, when there is no danger. This is clearly not useful and can cause significant problems for the person who experiences the panic. If a person experiences many panic attacks they often begin to worry in anticipation of having an attack. Sometimes this worry becomes so strong that they avoid going to places where a panic attack might happen. For some people this may lead to agoraphobia or severe limitations to where they feel comfortable going (such as school, the mall, driving etc).

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A type of anxiety disorder which occurs after seeing or experiencing a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. Often associated with people in the military in war zones but also found in victims of domestic abuse, rape and violence.


The term is used to describe the state of a person who projects unusual behaviors, delusions (irrational beliefs) and hallucinations (sensory experiences that are not really happening.)


Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that often begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. It is an illness of the brain that affects how a person perceives the world, how they think and how they behave. Individuals experiencing schizophrenia have both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include: delusions, hallucinations as well as disorganized speech and behavior. These symptoms often alternate with negative symptoms which include blunted affect, flattened affect, alogia and avoltion. Schizophrenia usually takes years to develop. A person with schizophrenia will often have negative symptoms for a few years before positive symptoms develop.

Positive does not mean the symptoms are good, but that those symptoms are more easily treated. Negative symptoms are deficits of normal emotional responses or other thought processes and respond less well to medication.


Suicide, the deliberate taking of one’s own life, is the third leading cause of death in teens aged 15-19 in the US. Suicide itself is not a mental disorder, but one of the most important causes of suicide is a mental illness, most often depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), schizophrenia and substance abuse.

Suicide is found in every culture and may be the result of complex social, cultural, religious and socio-economic factors, in addition to mental disorders.

Not all self-harm behaviors are attempts to die by suicide. There may be many alternate reasons for these actions which include the individual attempting to cry out for help when they are in an ongoing harmful situation such as sexual abuse. A suicide is distinguished from a self-harm behavior, like cutting, by the person’s intent to die.

Suicide Ideation

Includes thoughts and fantasies about, or ruminations and preoccupations with, death in general, and self-inflicted death in particular.


sources:;;;;; U.S. National Library of Medicine