Glossary

A-C

Adverse effect/event
a harmful and undesired effect resulting from a medication or other intervention

Akathisia
a syndrome characterized by unpleasant sensations of inner restlessness that manifests itself with an inability to sit still or remain motionless. It can be an adverse effect of taking medications. Akathisia may range in intensity from a sense of disquiet or anxiety to severe discomfort. Some psychiatric survivors describe experiencing akathisia so severe they were driven to consider self-harm or suicide.

Atypical antipsychotic
a second generation of antipsychotic medications released in the 1990s (the first generation of so-called “typical” antipsychotic medications began appearing in the early 1950s). First generation antipsychotics medications were well-known for their adverse effects, and the new adjective “atypical” was essentially a marketing term applied to the second generation of antipsychotics to distance them from this reputation and imply that there were less adverse effects associated with them.

There is no clear line between “atypical” and “typical” antipsychotics because research has demonstrated an equal amount of adverse effects for the second generation of antipsychotics.

However, these newer antipsychotic medications are generally classed as “atypical:” Aripiprazole (Abilify), Olanzapine (Zyprexa), Quetiapine (Seroquel), Risperidone (Risperdal), Ziprasidone (Geodon, Zeldox), and others.

Cohort
a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period (e.g., are born, are exposed to a drug or vaccine or pollutant, or undergo a certain medical procedure). They may be compared to the general population during the course of a cohort study (see below).

Cohort Study
an observational study that is longitudinal (takes place over a longer period of time with data collection occurring periodically) which follows a group of people who initially do not have a given disease/condition to determine the role of different risk factors in the probability of developing the disease/condition over time.

Comorbid/Co-occurring

indicates a medical condition existing simultaneously but independently with another condition in a patient. Sometimes, the term is also used to indicate a medical condition in an individual that causes, is caused by, or is otherwise related to another condition in the same individual.

D-F

Diagnostic inflation
refers to the continuous growth of the number of psychiatric labels (as categorized in successive editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM; the 5th and largest edition of which was published in May, 2013). As the term “inflation” suggests, it is thought that this growth is artificial and reflects commercial interests more than the legitimate existence of pathology.

Double blind experiment
a clinical trial or experiment in which neither the researchers nor the participants know who belongs to the test group and who belongs to the control group (is receiving a placebo).

Drug-naive
an individual who is not habituated to a particular drug. Can also indicate an individual who has never taken a particular drug.

Efficacy
the capacity for beneficial change (or therapeutic effect) of a given medical intervention, such as a drug, therapy, surgery, etc.

G-I

Hypomania
a mood state characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated (euphoric) or irritable mood, considered to be a less severe form of mania (see below).

J-M

Mania
a state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels, which may be characterized by some of the following behaviors: psychotic features, hallucinations, delusion of grandeur, suspiciousness, catatonic behaviour, aggression, and a preoccupation with thoughts and schemes that may lead to self-neglect.

Mediation
in statistics, a mediation model is one that seeks to identify and explain the mechanism or process that underlies an observed relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable by including a third explanatory variable, known as a “mediator variable.”

Meta-analysis
a comprehensive study of a large group of experiments or datasets (perhaps already published) in an attempt to find common features or correlations across this large body of work.

 

N-Q

Neuroleptic
an alternative and older name for the class of drugs now more frequently referred to as “antipsychotics.” The etymology of the word (“seizure-causing”) was meant as a warning of the brain-damaging potential of these medications.

Off-label use/off-label marketing of medication
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves pharmaceutical medications for specific uses, which are then printed on the official “label.” Pharmaceutical companies may not market medications for “off-label” (un-approved by the FDA) uses. However, doctors may legally prescribe medications for off-label uses.

Polypharmacy
when multiple pharmaceuticals are prescribed at the same time.

Psychosis
a madness state in which the individual’s experiences are not in agreement with consensual reality.

 

R-Z

Tardive dyskinesia
a neurological disorder resulting in involuntary, repetitive body movements caused by long-term or high-dose use of antipsychotic medications. Though often irreversible, if caught early it may be reversed by careful discontinuation of the medication.

Typical antipsychotic
the  first generation of antipsychotic medications released starting in 1951 with Thorazine, these medications were well-known for their adverse effects. They were later classed as “typical” as part of a marketing strategy to promote the second generation of so-called “atypical” antipsychotics (see above).

 

 

 


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