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A to Z of psychology

Psychology is related to almost everything that involves people. This section aims to provide an introduction to some of the wide variety of terms and issues you may encounter. Please note, the content included here is not intended to be used for clinical or diagnostic purposes.

Term of the day


Stress is the feeling of being under a level of mental or emotional pressure beyond your ability to cope. The root causes of stress will differ from person to person, and a stressful situation for one individual may not produce the same level of stress in another.

Stress can cause negative psychological and physical reactions, affecting how you feel, think, and behave. Common signs of stress include problems sleeping, loss of appetite, and difficulty concentrating.  You may also experience feelings of anxiety, increased irritability, low self-esteem, and/or a constant sense of worry.

Although stress is not considered an illness in itself, it can lead to further illness if not addressed.

For more information on how to tackle stress and to access the support available to you, click here to visit the NHS website.

  • Achromatopsia is a form of visual agnosia which results in the loss of colour vision. The acquired form of this disorder results from a lesion (or lesions) in the V4 region of the brain.

    Though there is no physical problem preventing the eye from responding to colour correctly, or the brain from receiving this information, this lesion (or lesions) results in a disconnection with the language region of the brain. As such the individual loses the ability to identify and differentiate between colours.

    There is also a genetic (hereditary) form of the condition, which is caused by an abnormality in the retina.

  • Addiction is defined as a psychological and/or physiological dependency on a particular substance or event. Common addictions include illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and gambling.

    If the addiction is purely governed by a psychological drive, then it is known as a psychological addiction or psychological dependency.

    If the patient’s bodily mechanisms require the drug (i.e. if s/he feels physically ill if the drug is withdrawn) this is known as physiological addiction.

    For further information click here to visit the NHS website.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders, characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

    Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and most cases are diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old.

    The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems.

    For further information click here to access the NHS website.

  • The term 'agnosia' refers to an inability to recognise and interpret sensory stimuli.

    The most common form is visual agnosia (including conditions such as achromatopsia, the loss of colour vision, and prosopagnosia, aka 'face blindness'), though other forms, such as auditory agnosia, tactile agnosia, and even temporal agnosia (the inability to perceive and interpret the succession or duration of events) also exist.

    The various forms of agnosia are usually a result of lesions in the brain caused by trauma or stroke, however they can also be caused by conditions such as dementia and encephalitis, or inherited as a genetic condition.

  • Alcoholism is the term frequently given to the most serious form of problem drinking, that of alcohol addiction/dependence.

    Alcoholism can lead to serious physical and mental issues if left untreated, as alcoholics often develop a tolerance for the effects of alcohol, requiring greater and greater amounts to achieve intoxication, increasing the risk of permanent damage.

    They can also often suffer from physical withdrawal symptoms if unable to access alcohol.

    For further information on alcoholism and how to deal with it, please click here to visit the Drink Aware website.

  • Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia most commonly found in people over the age of 65.

    It initially presents with mild memory loss, but over time these memory problems become more severe and disorienting to the sufferer. Other symptoms of the condition can include sudden personality changes and frequent instances of hallucinations and/or delusions.

    Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease early diagnosis and treatment are vitally important in order to manage and reduce its symptoms and progression.

    For further information, click here to consult the NHS website.

  • The most common causes of amnesia – which refers to an abnormally severe loss or failure of memory – are stroke, head injury, illness (i.e. dementia), or poisoning. However amnesia has also been known to be triggered by sudden and intense bouts of extreme stress and/or emotional trauma.

    Medical science has identified many different types of amnesia, largely defined by the specific presentation of their symptoms.

    For example, Retrograde Amnesia refers to a loss of memory for previous events (usually confined to a brief period just preceding the damage and only in rare cases resulting in more widespread memory loss), while Anterograde Amnesia refers to an inability to form new memories after the initial onset/cause.

    For further information click here to consult the NHS website.

  • Anorexia, aka anorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder where an individual purposefully starves or under-eats in the false belief that they are overweight and/or have an unattractive body shape (see also Body Dysmorphic Disorder).

    Anorexia most commonly affects girls and women, although it has become more common in boys and men in recent years. On average, the condition first develops at around the age of 16 to 17.

    The symptoms of anorexia can lead to serious health problems if the condition is left untreated.

    For further information and support, click here to consult the NHS website or visit www.b-eat.co.uk.

  • Anxiety is a normal, if unpleasant, part of life, which can affect us all in different ways and at different times. Whereas stress is most often linked to a specific external factor (or factors), those experiencing anxiety are not always aware of the cause.

    Anxiety usually manifests itself as a feeling of profound agitation and unease about an imminent unpleasant experience, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as breathlessness, sweating, and a racing heartbeat. In the most severe cases these symptoms can be extremely debilitating.

    For further information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of anxiety click here to visit the Anxiety UK website.

  • Aphasia is a condition which affects the brain’s ability to use language. Most commonly it is used as part of the term “acquired aphasia”, which indicates that a patient has developed aphasia after an accident or illness.

    The condition can be broadly divided into three overarching categories – receptive aphasia (an inability to understand language as it is received), expressive aphasia (the inability to produce language, although the patient themselves may be unaware of this), and global aphasia (an inability to both produce and comprehend language).

    See also Broca’s Aphasia, Wernicke’s Aphasia, Korsakoff’s Syndrome.

    For further information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of aphasia click here to consult the NHS website or click here to visit the National Aphasia Association.

  • Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of autism where the individual may present with average or above average intelligence, and fewer problems with speech, but still have difficulties with understanding and processing language and social situations.

    The primary symptoms of the condition manifest in the form of persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning”.

    For more information please click here to consult the National Autistic Society.

  • What is Autism? Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them, and people with autism may experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

    Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but many have accompanying learning disabilities and will require a lifetime of specialist support. 

    For further information and support click here to visit the National Autistic Society website.

  • Bipolar Disorder (also known as Bipolar Affective Disorder) is a condition in which individuals suffer from extreme shifts in mood, leading to periodic episodes of depression and mania which can have a detrimental effect on their ability to conduct and cope with everyday life.

    During an episode of depression, sufferers are known to experience overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and lethargy, potentially leading to instances of self-harm or thoughts of suicide.

    During episodes of mania individuals may feel superficially happy and energised, however these periods often coincide with a lack of inhibition, an inability to rest or sleep, and occasionally the manifestation of certain symptoms of psychosis (such as seeing/hearing things which are not there).

    For more information click here to access the NHS website or click here to visit the Mind page on Bipolar Disorder.

  • Body Dysmorphia (or BDD, Body Dysmoprhic Disorder) is an anxiety disorder related to body image, often characterised by obsessive and disproportionate negative thoughts about one’s appearance and/or weight.

    Individuals with BDD often develop a series of compulsive behaviours and routines (see also: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in response to these constant thoughts/worries, which can further manifest themselves in the development of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, etc.

    For more information click here to consult the Mind website or click here to visit AnxietyUK.

  • A form of aphasia whose primary symptom is a difficulty in producing fluent spoken language (though their ability to understand/comprehend speech is often preserved).

    Click here to visit the National Aphasia Associatio website.

  • Bulimia (aka ‘Bulimia Nervosa’) is an eating disorder where people attempt to control their weight by severely restricting the amount of food they eat, then binge eating and purging the food from their body by making themselves vomit or by using laxatives.

    This cycle of binging and purging is often triggered as a response to periods of emotional distress, and can have serious physical consequences, such as permanent damage to the teeth and hair, kidneys, and the heart.

    For further information and support click here to consult the NHS website or go to www.b-eat.co.uk to find out more.

  • Clinical psychology aims to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological wellbeing.

    Clinical psychologists deal with a wide range of mental and physical health problems including addiction, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties, relationship issues, etc.

    They may undertake a clinical assessment to investigate a clients’ situation, utilising a variety of methods including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour. Assessment may lead to advice, counselling or therapy.

    Click here for more information about clinical psychology from our Member Network microsite.

    See all articles related to Clinical Psychology

  • 'Cognitive Behavioural Therapy' refers to a range of psychotherapeutic techniques (talking therapies) designed to help people change how they think (cognitive), and how they act (behaviour), and to help them make sense of problems by systematically breaking them down into a more manageable form.

    The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, and clinical depression, and for the neurological myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or chronic fatigue syndrome).

  • Counselling psychologists work with both adults and children across a diverse range of issues, such as bereavement, relationships, mental health problems, etc, and aim to explore the underlying causes behind them.

    If you are looking for someone to examine the wider causes of a particular problem, a counselling psychologist may be for you. 

    Click here for more information about counselling psychology from our Member Network microsite.

    See all articles related to Counselling Psychology

  • Cyberpsychology is an emerging field focussing on the study and analysis of various psychological phenomena linked to the increasing presence and usage of technology in our lives, covering topics from online relationships and digital identity to the applications and implications of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

    For more information click here to visit cyberpsychology.org.

  • What is dementia? Dementia is a global deterioration of intellectual function due to the progressive atrophy of the central nervous system.

    Dementia usually affects those aged 65 and over, and presents with a cluster of symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, and the potential for sudden changes in personality and mood (amongst others).

    Although there is currently no cure for dementia, early diagnosis can enable the condition to be treated and managed in order to slow the progression of these symptoms.

    For further information and support click here to consult the NHS website or click here to visit the Alzheimer’s Society webpage.

  • A state of depressed and flattened mood often accompanied by a loss of interest, or inability to find pleasure, in normally enjoyable activities. It can also be linked to severe weight loss, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

    It can appear as a symptom of many mental disorders and has numerous different variants with similar but different dominant symptoms or underlying causes.

    (Based on information from Anxiety UK. Click here to visit their website.)

  • Down’s Syndrome is a genetic condition which typically causes some level of learning disability along with certain characteristic physical features. In general it is not an inherited condition and results instead from a chance chromosomal aberration during conception. In some cases genetic screening can help assess the likelihood that a baby will be born with Down’s Syndrome.

    For further information click here to access the NHS website or the click here to visit the Down’s Syndrome Association.

  • As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, Dyscalculia is “a specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing accurate and fluent calculation.”

    For more information click here to visit the British Dyslexia Association website.

  • Dyslexia is a relatively common condition epitomised by chronic difficulties with reading, writing, and spelling. It can be inherited (Developmental Dyslexia) or can be caused by damage to the brain (Acquired Dyslexia).

    The Equality Act of 2010 officially defined Dyslexia as a disability, and it is estimated that around 10% of the UK population are dyslexic to some extent, with around 4% suffering from severe difficulties and impairment.

    Individuals with dyslexia may require extra support in school or in the workplace, and current legislation requires all employers and educators to provide reasonable adjustments for students and employees who may have dyslexia.

    For more information click here to access the NHS website or click here to visit the British Dyslexia Association.

  • A specific class of mental condition characterised by disturbances or problems associated with feeding or eating (such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa).

    Problems with food can begin when it is used to cope with boredom, anxiety, or feelings of anger, loneliness, sadness, or shame. Food becomes a problem when it is used to cope with painful situations or feelings, or to relieve stress often without the person even realising it.

    It is unlikely that an eating disorder will result from a single cause. It is much more likely when a number of factors, events, feelings, or pressures combine and leave an individual feeling unable to cope. These can include: low self-esteem, family relationships, problems with friends, bereavement, problems at work, college or university, lack of confidence, sexual or emotional abuse, etc. Many people talk about simply feeling ‘too fat’ or ‘not good enough’.

    (Based on information on the b-eat website. Click here to visit the site.)

    See all articles related to Eating Disorders

  • Educational psychology is concerned with helping children and young people experiencing problems that can hinder their chance of learning.

    Many educational psychologists work within the local education authority system, helping clients deal with difficulties in learning and social adjustment, so if you are looking for a ‘child psychologist' then an educational psychologist may be able to help.

    Click here to find out more information about educational psychology from our Member Network microsite.

    See all articles related to Educational Psychology

  • Epilepsy is the name given to a condition which affects the brain and causes repeated seizures. The frequency and severity of these seizures can vary from person to person, ranging from periodic sensations of dissociation to full loss of consciousness and convulsions. Some types of epilepsy only afflict people for a certain period of their lives, but for many others epilepsy is a lifelong condition that requires constant treatment and management.

    The primary treatment for epilepsy is the consumption of a regular regimen of anti-epileptic drugs designed to stop or reduce the occurrence of seizures.

    For further information please click here to consult the NHS website or click here to visit Epilepsy Action.

  • A psychologist who conducts research utilising experimental scientific methods to discover the processes underlying how people think and behave.

    Experimental psychologists have traditionally conducted research, published articles and taught classes on neuroscience, developmental psychology, sensation, perception, attention, consciousness, learning, memory, thinking, and language. More recently, the experimental approach has extended to motivation, emotion and social psychology.

  • Gender Dysphoria is a condition where an individual experiences clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning due to a perceived mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It is sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence or transgenderism.

    For more information and information on how to access support please click here to consult the NHS website.

  • A form of personality disorder where the individual is unable to resist the urge, impulse, or temptation, to engage in a particular action or actions – often socially undesirable or physically damaging – as part of a wider set of problems characterised by a lack of emotional or behavioural self-control.

    Disorders of this kind are more common among teenagers and young adults.

  • A form of Impulse-Control Disorder which manifests itself in a consistent pattern of theft and a desire to steal things of little to no monetary value or personal use. It is important to note that in cases of Kleptomania the act of stealing is not done as a response to any sort of delusion or hallucination, and is not linked to any sort of manic episode or as part of any other compulsive, conduct, or antisocial personality disorder

    Kleptomania is more common in women, and is often difficult to differentiate from normal criminal acts of theft (such as shoplifting). Occasionally the individual may be found to have hoarded large amounts of stolen items, or even to have surreptitiously returned them to their original owners.

  • Klinefelter Syndrome (aka Klinefelter's, KS or XXY) is a condition where male children are born with an extra X chromosome. Klinefelter’s is relatively common, affecting approximately 1 in every 660 males, and although many individuals may not ever realise they possess this extra chromosome, on occasion it can result in problems which require treatment.

    For more information on the symptoms and issues sometimes associated with Klinefelter Syndrome click here to access the NHS website.

  • In some cases also referred to as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndome, this is a form of chronic memory disorder often caused by prolonged and severe alcohol abuse.

    Individuals with Korsakoff Syndrome often present with problems learning new information, as well as an inability to remember recent events and/or long-term memory gaps, though their day to day ability to think and reason socially may seem unimpaired.

    One particularly striking additional symptom is the tendency for individuals to “confabulate” (i.e. make-up) explanations for events which they cannot actually remember. In many cases the individuals in question actually believe these explanations themselves. The causes and underlying mechanisms of this “confabulation” are still largely unknown.

  • A theory of behavioural learning based on research by Martin Seligman, wherein individuals suffer from a debilitating sense of negativity, apathy, and powerlessness in the belief that they are helpless or unable to influence the outcome of events around them. This often arises as a result of some traumatic event or as a consequence of a persistent period of failure and is thought to be widely associated with Depression.

  • Science has identified a wide variety of Learning Disabilities, all of which have an effect on the way a person understands, learns, and responds to information, as well as to their ability to process and communicate.

    Learning difficulties caused by a particular type of Learning Disability can be classed as Mild, Moderate, or Severe. Individuals with a mild Learning Disability may be able to talk and function relatively easily and be able to look after themselves, however many of those with more severe disabilities may not be able to communicate or learn at all.

     It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people in the UK alone have some sort of learning disability, and that some 350,000 of these can be classed as severe.

    Click here to consult the NHS website for more information.

  • The term Mania refers to clinically defined periods of over-active and/or highly excitable behaviour, wherein normal reasoning and risk-processing may be impaired. It is most frequently associated with Bipolar Disorder. During periods of mania individuals may suffer from a lack of inhibition and impulse control, an inability to rest or sleep, and may also occasionally show symptoms of psychosis (such as seeing/hearing things which are not there).

  • This term can be used either to describe someone’s level of mental well-being or an absence of any mental disorder.

    It describes an individual's ability to enjoy and cope with the normal stresses of life, work, and be able to make a contribution to his or her community.

    (Based on information from Anxiety UK. Click here to visit their website.)

  • This is a psychological disorder wherein those affected either pretend to be ill or deliberately induce symptoms of illness in themselves as part of a pathological desire for the attention and care of others.

    People with Munchausen’s Syndrome can be very manipulative and calculating, and may often spend years travelling from hospital to hospital feigning illness until they are discovered and exposed. In particularly extreme cases individuals have been known to undergo unnecessarily painful or life-threatening medical treatments and/or surgical procedures as a result of their condition.

    There is also a variant of the disorder known as 'Munchausen’s By Proxy' wherein a person fabricates or induces illness in someone (usually a child) under their care.

  • Neuropsychology looks at the relationship between the physical brain and its various functions, dealing with topics such as sensory perception, memory, and the biological basis for conditions like depression.

    Psychologists within this field also help with the assessment and rehabilitation of people with brain injury or other neurological conditions, such as strokes, dementia, and degenerative brain disease.

    Click here for more information about neuropsychology from our Member Network microsite.

    See all articles related to Neuropsychology

  • Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology but it is now considered to be an interdisciplinary science in collaboration with many other fields, including psychology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, philosophy, etc.

    The techniques used by neuroscientists include molecular and cellular studies of individual nerve cells, imaging of sensory and motor tasks in the brain, and beyond, and recent theoretical advances in the study and modelling of neural networks have played a vital role in increasing the scope and depth of neuroscience as a discipline.

  • A form of memory-based delusion where the individual is unable to differentiate between which memories are real and which memories are the product of fantasy.

  • What is Parkinson’s Disease? This term refers to a condition in which parts of the brain become steadily more damaged and degraded due to the progressive loss of nerve cells in the substantia nigra.

    This damage leads to a major reduction in dopamine, and is the primary cause of many of the physical and psychological symptoms associated with the condition. These symptoms can include bouts of severe depression and/or anxiety, as well as problems with balance, sleep, and memory.

    The majority of those affected by Parkinson’s Disease will begin to present with symptoms from around the age of 50 onwards, and men are at slightly higher risk of developing the condition than women.

    For more information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of Parkinsons’ Disease please click here to visit the NHS website.

  • A phobia is an irrational and chronic fear of something that would not normally trouble most people, be it spiders, heights, clowns, etc.

    Any phobia may produce a state of panic when the sufferer is confronted with the phobic object/situation. A wide variety of physical symptoms can be experienced such as nausea, sweating, increased heartbeat, and loss of balance/equilibrium.

    For this reason, many people are forced to enter into a pattern of avoidance which can vary enormously in severity - from someone who would not want to touch a spider to someone who cannot even look at a picture of a spider in a magazine without undergoing a severe reaction.

    The latter demonstrates just how debilitating even a simple phobia can be, as phobic individuals can find it necessary to greatly alter or adapt their daily lives around the pressures and constraints of this irrational fear.

    For further information click here to access the Anxiety UK website.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder arising as a delayed and drawn-out response after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. It is characterised by intense fear, distressing flashbacks, recurrent dreams, panic attacks and heightened (often debilitating) awareness.

    PTSD is sometimes found in ex-military personnel who have been involved in conflict situations, but can also occur following traumatic childbirth, recurrent domestic violence, and other distressing events.

    For further information and support click here to visit the NHS website.

  • The term 'psychometrics' refers to psychological measurement using tests or, more specifically, to the methodology that underlies these tests and their development.

    Psychological testing is designed to provide objective measures of one or more psychological characteristics. The most important feature of psychological tests is that they produce measures obtained under standardised conditions which have known reliability and validity (i.e. they provide a reliable and appropriate way of comparing one person’s performance against others).

    Psychological tests are used in many walks of life to assess ability, personality and behaviour, for example, as part of the selection process for job interviews, or to assess children in schools or offenders in prisons.

    Broadly speaking there are two main types of psychological test – those that measure ability, aptitude or attainment and those designed to assess personal qualities such as personality, beliefs, values or motivations.

  • Also known as “face blindness”, Prosopagnosia refers to an inability to recognise faces unrelated to memory problems, loss of vision, or learning disability. Individuals with Prosopagnosia are often completely unable to recognise the faces of family members, friends, or anyone else they would otherwise be expected to know on sight.

    Individuals may attempt to compenmsate for their condition by developing other ways of recognising people (e.g. by their walk, their hairstyle, their voice), but the condition can frequently be isolating for those involved, who may have difficulty in forming relationships, and struggle in social situations.

    Prosopagnosia can be either “developmental” or “acquired” (usually through brain damage via stroke or trauma) and it is estimated that around 1 in 50 people have the developmental form of the condition in the UK alone.

    To find out more click here to consult the NHS website.

  • The term "quantitative" refers to research which collects data in a systematic and empirical manner and represents this data in a mathematical form (statistics, percentages, etc).

    The methods of quantitative research and data collection are designed to be reliable and unbiased, and should mean that findings from the data sample can be readily applied to the wider population.

  • The term "qualitative" refers to research which collects information in an attempt to gain insight into the underlying reasons and motivations behind certain phenomena, often through the use of unstructured or semi-structured data collections techniques (interviews, case studies, etc). Though usually considered to be less reliable and less widely-applicable than quantitative forms of research, qualitative methods are generally regarded as having more real-world validity.

  • Schizophrenia is a long-term condition whose symptoms can include (but are not necessarily limited to) visual and auditory hallucinations (seeing or hearing things which are not there), delusional beliefs, erratic behavioural changes, and difficulty in thinking clearly.

    Schizophrenia most commonly begins to present in early adulthood, and it has been suggested that the condition affects approximately 1 in 100 people in the UK.

    One common error is to confuse schizophrenia with ‘Multiple Personality Disorder’. Although an individual with schizophrenia may experience voices with no clear source, these are considered to be auditory hallucinations, and not a product of a ‘split’ personality.

    For more information click here to consult the NHS website or click here to visit Rethink.org.

  • The term ‘self-harm’ refers to when an individual purposefully damages or injures themselves, often in response to, or as an attempt to cope with, severe emotional distress.

    For more information on this topic or if you, or anyone around you, may be undergoing a period of self-harm, we urge you to consult the NHS website.

  • Sport psychologists aim to work with, and improve the performance of, both elite athletes and amateur participants in both team and individual sports.

    Exercise psychology is primarily concerned with the application of psychology to increase exercise participation and motivational levels in the general public. Some psychologists work in both fields.

    Click here for more information about sport and exercise psychology.

  • 'Stockholm Syndrome' is a maladaptive coping strategy in response to extremely traumatic or stressful situations.

    Not all experts are in agreement on the precise features and factors that contribute to cases of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, but most agree that the condition itself is characterised by the formation of a powerful and irrational sense of connection and identification with an abuser, assailant, or kidnapper.

  • Stress is the feeling of being under a level of mental or emotional pressure beyond your ability to cope. The root causes of stress will differ from person to person, and a stressful situation for one individual may not produce the same level of stress in another.

    Stress can cause negative psychological and physical reactions, affecting how you feel, think, and behave. Common signs of stress include problems sleeping, loss of appetite, and difficulty concentrating.  You may also experience feelings of anxiety, increased irritability, low self-esteem, and/or a constant sense of worry.

    Although stress is not considered an illness in itself, it can lead to further illness if not addressed.

    For more information on how to tackle stress and to access the support available to you, click here to visit the NHS website.

  • The term ‘substance abuse’ refers to a pattern of use of drugs or alcohol in which the individual consumes these substances in an amount or manner which is ultimately harmful to them.

    Persistent abuse often leads to the development of physiological or psychological dependence, which can result in severe behavioural or mental changes, increased tolerance, and debilitating physical withdrawal symptoms.

    Click here to consult the WHO for more information.

  • What is synaesthesia? Synaesthesia is a condition where a sensation which stimulates one of the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste – also triggers a sensation in one of the others.

    For example, individuals with synaesthesia have been known to report that certain numbers have a particular taste, or certain colours have a particular smell, etc.

  • This is a neurological condition (i.e. one which affect the brain and nervous system) which manifests itself in a profusion of involuntary physical and verbal tics.

    These tics take the form of sudden and unconscious muscle contractions, ranging from short, sharp twitches or exclamations, to larger bodily movements and/or longer sounds/phrases.

    For more information on the prevalence, symptoms, and management of Tourette’s Syndrome, click here to visit the NHS website.

  • Psychological trauma is something which can occur when an individual undergoes some sort of severely distressing or disturbing experience (whether it is an accident, the sudden loss of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse, etc) that they are unable to process in a healthy manner.

    Reactions to psychological trauma can vary and may include (but are not limited to): unpredictable emotions and/or mood swings, lack of affect, flashbacks, headaches, nausea, etc

    If not treated or addressed, psychological trauma of this kind can lead to a variety of further complications, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and self-harm.

  • Often used interchangeably with the term 'racism', xenophobia refers to an irrational fear or hatred of anything strange or foreign. However it is not considered a medical phobia and is instead regarded as socio-political in nature.

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