Mental Health Glossary


I am a high functioning, majorly depressed, always anxious, self harmer.  

WTF does that mean?  Let me help.  Now that I’m going to be open about this mental health shit, I think it’s important to define certain terms, in my own words, that I will be using in my writing. 


psychiatrist: someone who prescribes drugs

“I need to make an appointment with my psychiatrist ASAP!  I’m out of meds!” Billy exclaimed.

psychologist: someone who talks with you about your problems; also known as: shrink, therapist; does not have the power to prescribe drugs 

Elsa hated her psychologist, Dr. Moore, with a passion.  It could have been his lisp, or the long hairs extending well past his nostrils, or the way his ‘therapy’ sessions felt more like a condescending shakedown than a dialogue, or a combination of all three.  

therapy: a block of time spent discussing one’s problems, outbursts, and ways to better cope in the future

Time moved much slower during therapy.  With half an hour left in the session, Omar had to come up with an excuse to get out of there fast.  His interest in the conversation had dwindled, but more than that, his bowels were calling.  

antidepressants: daily happy pills; only effective when taken regularly; including but not limited to Prozac, Lexapro

Isaiah threw the round white pills onto the sidewalk outside 2 Perry St.  He didn’t need prescription antidepressants to function, to go to work, to go grocery shopping.  At least, that's what he told himself. 

anti-anxiety pills: instant happy pills; mild tranquilizers; including but not limited to Xanax, Ativan

Without her anti-anxiety pills, Bridgette couldn’t bear to ride the subway to work, let alone leave her apartment.  

major depression: also known as clinical depression, sadness a person usually cannot escape on his/her own; not to be confused with colloquial ‘depression’ or the comedown one feels after a music festival; theorized to be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain 

Major depression was common in his family.  Like his father before him, Ryan had been passed on the genetic gift of extreme, persistent sadness.  

self harm: any form of self-inflicted pain; including but not limited to cutting, scratching, taking prescription pills not as prescribed

Liza felt the rush of endorphins after her daily ritual of self harm.  It was a feeling like no other. 

5150: CA law by which you can be taken against your will into a psychiatric hospital if deemed a harm to yourself or to others by ‘medical professionals’

In early 2008, Britney Spears was held on a 5150 for mental evaluation.  

For more indepth information and explanations, check out  This website is a clear, easy-to-read resource for those suffering from mental health problems and their family and friends.  I wish this website had existed when I first started cutting at age 15.  Depression is real.  Self harm is real.  Your feelings are real.  #endthestigma