Glossary of Terms for Mood Disorders


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This glossary contains a number of psychological terms frequently used when discussing bipolar and other mood disorders. By providing these definitions, with hyperlinks to them where they are used, we hope to make it easier for the average reader to follow the sections from the DSM-IV and other portions of our Bipolar in Depth section.

Definitions have been taken from a variety of sources. Those from the DSM-IV are so indicated. Others are indicated by "[*]", which is a link to the source. Frequently, definitions from multiple sources are provided, which do not necessarily conflict, but offer different ways to express the definitions.

the uncontrolled lack or loss of the appetite for food. [*]

sustained immobility of postures or physical attitude; [*]
waxy flexibility--rigid maintenance of a body position over an extended period of time. [DSM-IV]

mild bipolar disorder characterized by instability of mood and a tendency to swing between mild euphorias (hypomania) and depressions. [*]

a false belief, seen most often in psychosis (for example schizophrenia); [*]
a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. [DSM-IV]
delusion of being controlled
a delusion in which feelings, impulses, thoughts, or actions are experienced as being under the control of some external force rather than being under one's own control. [DSM-IV]

a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason. [*]

a state of dissatisfaction, anxiety, restlessness, or fidgeting; [*]
an unpleasant mood, such as sadness, anxiety, or irritability; [DSM-IV]
often used to describe a form of mania which is the opposite of euphoric.

depression; despondency or a tendency to be despondent; [*]
used to describe persistent depressed mood which doesn't reach the level of a major depressive episode.

a disorder of speech where there is an involuntary repetition several times of the same word; [*]
the pathological, parrotlike, and apparently senseless repetition (echoing) of a word or phrase just spoken by another person. [DSM-IV]

repetition by imitation of the movements of another. The action is not willed or voluntary one and has a semiautomatic and uncontrollable quality. [DSM-IV]

elevated mood-
an exaggerated feeling of well-being, or euphoria or elation. A person with elevated mood may describe feeling "high," "ecstatic," "on top of the world," or "up in the clouds." [DSM-IV]

a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania. [*]

mood in the "normal" range, which implies the absence of depressed or elevated mood; [DSM-IV]
mental tranquility; without manic or depressive symptoms. Often used to describe the "normal" mood range, e.g. the lithium treatment caused the patient to go from mania to euthymia.

expansive mood-
lack of restraint in expressing one's feelings, frequently with an overvaluation of one's significance or importance. [DSM-IV]

flight of ideas-
a nearly continuous flow of accelerated speech with abrupt changes from topic to topic that are usually based on understandable associations, distracting stimuli, or plays on words. When severe, speech may be disorganized and incoherent. [DSM-IV]

an inflated appraisal of one's worth, power, knowledge, importance, or identity. When extreme, grandiosity may be of delusional proportions. [DSM-IV]

grandiose delusion-
a delusion of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person. [DSM-IV]

a false perception occurring without any true sensory stimulus; [*]
a sensory perception that has the compelling sense of reality of a true perception but that occurs without external stimulation of the relevant sensory organ. Hallucinations should be distinguished from illusions, in which an actual external stimulus is misperceived or misinterpreted. [DSM-IV]

excessive sleepiness, as evidenced by prolonged nocturnal sleep, difficulty maintaining an alert awake state during the day, or undesired daytime sleep episodes. [DSM-IV]

a condition characterized by extreme overactivity; [*]
used to describe someone with hypomanic episodes, but no depressive symptoms or episodes. Sometimes considered a variation of cyclothymia.

an abnormality of mood resembling mania (persistent elevated or expansive mood, hyperactivity, inflated self esteem, etc.) but of lesser intensity. [*]

irritable mood-
easily annoyed and provoked to anger. [DSM-IV]

a subjective complaint of difficulty falling or staying asleep or poor sleep quality. Types of insomnia include: initial insomnia - difficulty in falling asleep; middle insomnia - awakening in the middle of the night followed by eventually falling back to sleep, but with difficulty; and terminal insomnia - awakening before one's usual waking time and being unable to return to sleep. [DSM-IV]

excitement of psychotic proportions manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior and elevation of mood. [*]

mixed state-
having symptoms of mania and depression simultaneously.

a chemical, such as acetylcholine, which is released from the axon of one neuron and binds to a specific site in the dendrite of an adjacent neuron, thus triggering a nerve impulse; [*]
these send messages in the brain; [*]
an imbalance may cause a mood disorder.

persecutory delusion-
a delusion in which the central theme is that one (or someone to whom one is close) is being attacked, harassed, cheated, persecuted, or conspired against. [DSM-IV]
After childbirth or after delivery. [*]

movement produced by action of the mind or will. [*]

psychomotor agitation-
excessive motor activity associated with a feeling of inner tension. The activity is usually nonproductive an repetitious and consists of such behavior as pacing, fidgeting, wringing of the hands, pulling of clothes, and inability to sit still. [DSM-IV]

psychomotor retardation-
visible generalized slowing of movements and speech. [DSM-IV]

(1) delusions or prominent hallucinations (depending upon context, the person may or may not realize the hallucinations are not real). (2) Delusions, hallucinations, or other positive symptoms of Schizophrenia (i.e., disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior). (3) A mental disorder which results in "impairment that grossly interferes with the capacity to meet ordinary demands of life" (outdated, from the DSM-II and ICD-9). (4) A loss of ego boundaries or a gross impairment in reality testing. [DSM-IV]

rapid cycling-
the occurrence of four or more mood episodes within the preceding year. (Approximately 5-15% of all bipolars.) [*]

an objective manifestation of a pathological condition. Signs are observed by the examiner rather than reported by the affected individual. [DSM-IV]

pertaining to or characteristic of the soma or body [*]

somatic delusion-
a delusion whose main content pertains to the appearance or functioning of one's body. [DSM-IV]

stressor, psychosocial-
any life event or life change that may be associated temporally (and perhaps causally) with the onset, occurrence, or exacerbation of a mental disorder. [DSM-IV]

an subjective manifestation of a pathological condition. Symptoms are reported by the affected individual rather than observed by the examiner. [DSM-IV]

thought broadcasting delusion-
the delusion that one's thoughts are being broadcast out loud so that they can be perceived by others. [DSM-IV]

thought insertion delusion-
the delusion that certain of one's thoughts are not one's own, but rather are inserted into one's mind. [DSM-IV]

ultra rapid cycling-
rapid cycling in which episodes may last no more than 24 hours. [*]

ultra ultra rapid cycling-
rapid cycling in which several switches of mood occur in a 24-hour period. [*]

Thank you Fran!! It helps to make sense of those psychiatrist reports!