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Glossary

Managing any chronic disease, including OCD, means having to learn a whole new vocabulary. Find out the meanings of the various terms you are likely to come across when reading about OCD or discussing OCD with your healthcare provider.
  1. Glossary: Depression
  2. Glossary: GAD
  3. Glossary: Panic Disorder
  4. Medical Dictionary

Defintion of OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by two core symptoms - obsessions and compulsions.

Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders are prolonged exaggerations of our normal and adaptive reaction to fearful or stressful events.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a form of mental illness in which the person is obsessed and/or preoccupied with an imagined defect or only slight anomaly in their appearance. Learn more about BDD

Clinical Psychologist
A clinical psychologist is a mental health professional with highly specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, including OCD.

Clinical Trial
Clinical trials are experiments that test a large number of people under controlled conditions to evaluate the effectiveness of new treatments. Although clinical trials are often used to evaluate new drugs, they can also be used to test different forms of psychotherapy.

Cognitions
Cognitions are the thoughts that we have on a daily basis.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment that targets the harmful obsessions and compulsions that accompany OCD.

Compulsion
Compulsions are behaviors that have to be done over and over again to relieve anxiety.

Compulsive Hoarding
Pathological or compulsive hoarding is a specific type of behavior characterized by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others (e.g., papers, notes, flyers, newspapers, clothes), severe cluttering of the person’s home so that it is no longer able to function as a viable living space and significant distress or impairment of work or social life.

Coping
Coping refers to the thoughts and actions we use to deal with stress.

Dealing With Stigma in the Workplace
If you have OCD, work -- seeking out, obtaining and maintaining gainful employment -- can be extremely challenging. While symptoms of OCD can get in the way of completing the required duties of a particular job, there is also the significant challenge of stigma, prejudice and discrimination that is associated with mental illness.

Deep-brain Stimulation
Deep brain stimulation is a technique that involves precise stimulation of particular parts of the brain through the implantation of removable electrodes

Definition of rTMS
Repetitive TMS is a relatively non-invasive procedure used to treat symptoms of mental illness, like OCD.

Defintion of D-cycloserine
D-cycloserine (sold under the name Seromycin) is an antibiotic that was developed to treat tuberculosis. However, it has recently been discovered that D-cycloserine activates specific receptors in a part of the brain called the amygdala; a part of the brain that is crucial to emotional learning such as fear conditioning.

Defintion of Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is more than having the blues or feeling sad - it is a serious mental illness that usually requires medical and psychological treatment. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you have to experience a sad or depressed mood or lose interest in things that used to be enjoyable for most of the day, nearly every...

Diagnostic Criteria
DSM Diagnostic criteria describe the duration, severity and context of symptoms that a personal must report or display in order to be diagnosed with a particular illness such as OCD.

Early Onset OCD
People who experience the onset of OCD before puberty are considered to have early onset OCD.

Exposure and Response Prevention
Exposure and response prevention is one of the most popular and effective forms of behavior therapy for OCD.

Hoarding
Pathological or compulsive hoarding is a specific type of behavior characterized by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others

Hypochondriasis
Hypochondriasis is a condition in which individuals have obsession-like concerns primarily related to their health.

Inflation of Responsibility
Inflation of responsibility is a cognitive distortion common in OCD in which you over estimate your responsibility for an event and discount, ignore or underestimate other plausible influences.

Magical Thinking
Magical thinking is an illogical thought pattern common among people with OCD.

Mental Health Glossary
A comprehensive glossary of terms related specifically to mental health.

Motivational Interviewing
Motivational interviewing techniques were originally developed to help enhance motivation for change and reduce negative feelings towards treatment in individuals struggling with substance use disorders; however, these techniques are now being used to help people with mental illness such as OCD get ready for behavior therapy.

Obsessions
Obsessions are thoughts, images or ideas that won’t go away, are unwanted and are extremely distressing or worrying.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a chronic, maladaptive pattern of dealing with other people and life challenges characterized by excessive rigidity and a need for control. Learn more about the definition of obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

OCD Spectrum Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders provides a specific definition of OCD that includes the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions that cause major distress or disruption to daily living. However, there are also a number of other disorders that while not technically meeting the DSM diagnostic criteria for OCD, fall within the so-called OCD spectrum. This spectrum captures different clusters of symptoms that are reminiscent of, but not exactly the same of OCD.

Overestimation of Threat
Overestimation of threat is a cognitive error that is common in OCD. People who have OCD often overestimate the potential for danger and the consequences of making a mistake or not doing something perfectly.

PANDAS
PANDAS is a specific form of childhood of OCD that may be an autoimmune disorder.

Sexual Obsessions - Definition of Sexual Obsessions
Although there are a wide range of sexual obsessions, common themes include homosexuality/sexual identity, sexual abuse, sexual thoughts about friends, incest, infidelity, sexual perversions, sex with animals, violent sexual behavior, and blasphemous thoughts combining religion and sex. Importantly, sexual obsessions can occur with or without...

Structured Clinical Interview
A structured clinical interview is a tool that helps physicians, psychologists and researchers make an accurate diagnosis of a variety of mental illnesses, such as OCD.

Tourette's Syndrome
Tourette’s syndrome is named after French neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette who first described this disorder in 1885. The main symptom associated with Tourette’s syndrome is the presence of tics.

Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain is injured or damaged by an outside force such as a blow to head or a gunshot.

Trichotillomania
Trichotillomania (TTM) is an impulse control disorder affecting less than 1% of the population, in which the affected person repeatedly pulls out hair from any part of the body for non-cosmetic reasons.

What is Perfectionism?
Research on perfectionism has indicated that there are two main types: adaptive or healthy perfectionism and maladaptive or unhealthy perfectionism. Learn the definition of perfectionism.

Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is an effective behavioral treatment for a variety of anxiety disorders including OCD. Exposure therapy works by taking advantage of a natural process called habituation.

Cognitive Distortion
First identified by the seminal cognitive-behavioral therapist Aaron Beck, cognitive distortions are errors in thinking that are prevalent in many forms of mental illness including mood and anxiety disorders.

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