Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale

The Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) is a rating scale that was designed in the 1970s to measure involuntary movements known as tardive dyskinesia (TD). TD is a disorder that sometimes develops as a side effect of long-term treatment with neuroleptic (antipsychotic) medications.


Abuse is a complex psychosocial problem that affects large numbers of adults as well as children throughout the world. It is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) under the heading of "Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention." Although abuse was first defined with regard to children when it first received sustained attention in the 1950s, clinicians and researchers now recognize that adults can suffer abuse in a number of different circumstances.


Acupuncture, one of the main forms of therapy in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has been practiced for at least 2,500 years. In acupuncture, certain points on the body associated with energy channels or meridians are stimulated by the insertion of fine needles.

Acute stress disorder

Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by a cluster of dissociative and anxiety symptoms that occur within a month of a traumatic stressor. It is a relatively new diagnostic category and was added to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 to distinguish time-limited reactions to trauma from the farther-reaching and longer-lasting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Most definitions refer to addiction as the compulsive need to use a habit-forming substance, or an irresistible urge to engage in a behavior. Two other important defining features of addiction are tolerance, the increasing need for more of the substance to obtain the same effect, and withdrawal, the unpleasant symptoms that arise when an addict is prevented from using the chosen substance.

Adjustment disorder

An adjustment disorder is a type of mental disorder resulting from maladaptive, or unhealthy, responses to stressful or psychologically distressing life events. This low level of adaptation then leads to the development of emotional or behavioral symptoms.

Advance directives

An advance directive is a written document in which people clearly specify how medical decisions affecting them are to be made if they are unable to make them, or to authorize a specific person to make such decisions for them. These documents are sometimes called "living wills." Psychiatric advance directives serve the same purpose as general medical advance directives, but are written by mental health consumers as a set of directions for others to follow, made in advance of an injury, psychiatric illness, or crisis.


Affect is a psychological term for an observable expression of emotion.


Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear related to being in situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing (i.e., being on a bus or train), or in which help might not be available in the event of a panic attack or panic symptoms. Panic is defined as extreme and unreasonable fear and anxiety.

Alcohol and related disorders

Alcoholism is defined as alcohol seeking and consumption behavior that is harmful. Long-term and uncontrollable harmful consumption can cause alcohol-related disorders that include: antisocial personality disorder, mood disorders (bipolar and major depression) and anxiety disorders.


Alprazolam is a tranquilizer. It belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines.

Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease, or AD, is a progressive, incurable disease of the brain caused by the degeneration and eventual death of neurons (nerve cells) in several areas of the brain.


Amantadine is a synthetic antiviral agent that also has strong antiparkinsonian properties. It is sold in the United States under the brand name Symmetrel, and is also available under its generic name.


Amitriptyline is a medication used to treat various forms of depression, pain associated with the nerves (neuropathic pain), and to prevent migraine headaches. It is sold in the United States under the brand names Elavil and Endep.


There are numerous causes of amnesia, including stroke, injury to the brain, surgery, alcoholism, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, a treatment for various mental disorders in which electricity is sent to the brain through electrodes).

Amnestic disorders

The amnestic disorders are a group of disorders that involve loss of memories previously established, loss of the ability to create new memories, or loss of the ability to learn new information. As defined by the mental health professional's handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision (2000), also known as DSM-IV-TR, the amnestic disorders result from two basic causes: general medical conditions that produce memory disturbances; and exposure to a chemical (drug of abuse, medication, or environmental toxin).


Amoxapine is an oral tricyclic antidepressant. Formerly sold in the United States under the brand name Asendin, it is now manufactured and sold only under its generic name.


Amphetamines are a group of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. Some of the brand names of amphetamines sold in the United States are Dexedrine, Biphetamine, Das, Dexampex, Ferndex, Oxydess II, Spancap No 1, Desoxyn, and Methampex.

Amphetamines and related disorders

Amphetamines are a group of powerful and highly addictive substances that dramatically affect the central nervous system. They induce a feeling of well-being and improve alertness, attention, and performance on various cognitive and motor tasks.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and becoming fat. Because of this fear, the affected individual starves herself or himself, and the person's weight falls to about 85% (or less) of the normal weight for age and height.

Anti-anxiety drugs and abuse

Anti-anxiety drugs, or "anxiolytics," are powerful central nervous system (CNS) depressants that can slow normal brain function. They are often prescribed to reduce feelings of tension and anxiety, and/or to bring about sleep.

Antisocial personality disorder

Also known as psychopathy, sociopathy or dyssocial personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder (APD) is a diagnosis applied to persons who routinely behave with little or no regard for the rights, safety or feelings of others. This pattern of behavior is seen in children or young adolescents and persists into adulthood.

Anxiety and anxiety disorders

Anxiety is an unpleasant emotion triggered by anticipation of future events, memories of past events, or ruminations about the self.

Anxiety reduction techniques

Anxiety reduction techniques are skills that are taught by a therapist to help an individual overcome anxiety, stress, and tension. Anxiety can be experienced in a variety of ways including tension, worry, and nervousness, and can occur in thoughts or experienced as bodily senations.


Apathy can be defined as an absence or suppression of emotion, feeling, concern or passion. Further, apathy is an indifference to things generally found to be exciting or moving.

Appetite suppressants

Appetite-suppressant medications are drugs that promote weight loss by decreasing appetite or increasing the sensation of fullness.


Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment based on the external use of essential aromatic plant oils to maintain and promote physical, physiological, and spiritual wellbeing. The essential oils may be used in massage, added to a warm bath, used to moisten a compress that is applied to the affected part of the body, added to a vaporizer for inhalation, or diffused throughout a room.

Asperger's disorder

Asperger's disorder, which is also called Asperger's syndrome (AS) or autistic psychopathy, belongs to a group of childhood disorders known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) or autistic spectrum disorders. The essential features of Asperger's disorder are severe social interaction impairment and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior and activities.

Assertiveness training

Assertiveness training is a form of behavior therapy designed to help people stand up for themselves—to empower themselves, in more contemporary terms. Assertiveness is a response that seeks to maintain an appropriate balance between passivity and aggression.

Assessment and diagnosis

The psychological assessment is a structured interview that gathers information from and/or tests a person to evaluate a mental health complaint.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder characterized by distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors, and the inability to remain focused on tasks or activities.


The term "autism" refers to a cluster of conditions appearing early in childhood. All involve severe impairments in social interaction, communication, imaginative abilities, and rigid, repetitive behaviors.

Aversion therapy

Aversion therapy is a form of behavior therapy in which an aversive (causing a strong feeling of dislike or disgust) stimulus is paired with an undesirable behavior in order to reduce or eliminate that behavior.

Avoidant personality disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is one of several personality disorderslisted in the newest edition of the standard reference guide to mental disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-IV-TR. It is characterized by marked avoidance of both social situations and close interpersonal relationships due to an excessive fear of rejection by others.


Barbiturates are a large class of drugs, consisting of many different brand name products with generic equivalents, that are used primarily for mild sedation, general anesthesia, and as a treatment for some types of epilepsy. One barbiturate, butalbital, exists only as a component of several headache preparations.

Beck Depression Inventory

The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a series of questions developed to measure the intensity, severity, and depth of depression in patients with psychiatric diagnoses. Its long form is composed of 21 questions, each designed to assess a specific symptom common among people with depression.

Behavior modification

Behavior modification is a treatment approach, based on the principles of operant conditioning, that replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative reinforcement.

Bender Gestalt Test

The Bender Gestalt Test, or the Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test, is a psychological assessment instrument used to evaluate visual-motor functioning and visual perception skills in both children and adults. Scores on the test are used to identify possible organic braindamage and the degree maturation of the nervous system.


Benztropine is classified as an antiparkinsonian agent. It is sold in the United States under the brand name Cogentin and is also available under its generic name.

Beta blockers

Beta blockers, also known as beta antagonists, are a class of drugs that were first developed for the treatment of certain heart conditions and hypertension. Later, beta blockers were also found to be useful in glaucoma, migraine, and some psychiatric disorders such as performance anxiety, tremors secondary to lithium, and movement disorders that are caused by some drugs used in the treatment of psychosis.


Bibliotherapy is an adjunct to psychological treatment that incorporates appropriate books or other written materials, usually intended to be read outside of psychotherapy sessions, into the treatment regimen.

Binge eating

Binge eating is a form of overeating in which a person ingests a large amount of food during a discrete period of time (within one or two hours, for example) and experiences feelings of being out of control and unable to stop eating during the episode. In practice, the duration of a binge may vary greatly from one event to the next, making it difficult to define the number of binges occurring in a given day.


Biofeedback is a technique that uses monitoring instruments to measure and feed back information about muscle tension, heart rate, sweat responses, skin temperature, or brainactivity.


Biperiden is classified as an antiparkinsonian agent. It is sold in the United States under the brand name of Akineton.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder is a mood disorder that causes radical emotional changes and mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. The majority of bipolar individuals experience alternating episodes of mania (an elevated or euphoric mood or irritable state) and depression.

Bipolar disorders

Bipolar disorders is the name given to a group of mental disorders characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood. People diagnosed with bipolar disorders experience moods ranging from deepest depression to mania, often with periods of less extreme moods, or even emotional stability, in between.

Body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is defined by the DSM-IV-TR(a handbook for mental health professionals) as a condition marked by excessive preoccupation with an imaginary or minor defect in a facial feature or localized part of the body. The diagnostic criteria specify that the condition must be sufficiently severe to cause a decline in the patient's social, occupational, or educational functioning.

Bodywork therapies

Bodywork therapies is a general term that refers to a group of body-based approaches to treatment that emphasize manipulation and realignment of the body's structure in order to improve its function as well as the client's mental outlook. These therapies typically combine a relatively passive phase, in which the client receives deep-tissue bodywork or postural correction from an experienced instructor or practitioner, and a more active period of movement education, in which the client practices sitting, standing, and moving about with better alignment of the body and greater ease of motion.

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental disorder characterized by disturbed and unstable interpersonal relationships and self-image, along with impulsive, reckless, and often self-destructive behavior.


The brain is the part of the central nervous system located in the skull. It controls the mental processes and physical actions of a human being.