Psychology and Mental Health-Related Vocabulary

Understanding psychology and mental health-related vocabulary is key to enhancing our ability to discuss and address these important topics. This vocabulary can empower us to express our feelings, comprehend the experiences of others, and navigate mental health conversations more effectively.

This post will delve into several categories of words related to psychology and mental health, from general terminology to specific disorders and treatments.

Table of Contents

1. General Mental Health Terms

These are some of the basic terms that provide a foundation for discussing psychology and mental health.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UseageExample Sentence
Mental HealthA person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-beingMental health is just as important as physical health.
StressA state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstancesThe exam period can cause a lot of stress for students.
AnxietyA feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcomeShe felt anxiety about the upcoming interview.
DepressionA mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily lifeMany people with depression may experience feelings of intense sadness.
TherapyTreatment intended to relieve or heal a disorderTherapy can be a helpful tool for managing mental health issues.
ResilienceThe ability to recover quickly from difficultiesHer resilience helped her navigate through tough times.
Coping MechanismsStrategies which help individuals to manage stress and hardshipExercise can be a healthy coping mechanism.
Self-esteemConfidence in one’s own worth or abilitiesHigh self-esteem can contribute to a positive outlook on life.
TraumaA deeply distressing or disturbing experienceShe is dealing with trauma from her past.
BurnoutA state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stressBurnout is common among healthcare professionals.
MindfulnessA mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present momentPracticing mindfulness can help reduce stress levels.

2. Specific Mental Health Disorders

The field of psychology identifies and studies a wide range of specific mental health disorders. Understanding these disorders’ names and basic characteristics can be crucial for diagnosis and treatment.

WordMeaning/UsageExample Sentence
Bipolar DisorderA disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highsHe was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year.
SchizophreniaA long-term mental disorder involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviorSchizophrenia requires long-term treatment and support.
Obsessive-Compulsive DisorderA mental disorder in which a person has certain thoughts repeatedly or feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedlyObsessive-compulsive disorder can significantly interfere with a person’s daily life.
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderA disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying eventMany veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Eating DisordersAny of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habitsAnorexia and bulimia are types of eating disorders.
PhobiasAn extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to somethingSome people have phobias of things like spiders or heights.
Panic DisorderA psychiatric disorder in which debilitating anxiety and fear arise frequently and without reasonable causePanic disorder can cause panic attacks with no clear triggers.
Social Anxiety DisorderA chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxietySocial anxiety disorder can make everyday activities like working and grocery shopping feel overwhelming.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderA brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivityAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder is often diagnosed in children.
Autism Spectrum DisorderA developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviorEarly diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can improve quality of life.
InsomniaA sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleepChronic insomnia can have a significant impact on your health and well-being.

3. Therapeutic Approaches and Treatments

There are many therapeutic approaches and treatments in the field of psychology, and understanding this vocabulary can provide a clearer picture of the options available for managing mental health.

WordMeaning/UsageExample Sentence
PsychotherapyThe treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical meansPsychotherapy can involve one-on-one or group sessions.
Cognitive Behavioral TherapyA type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviorsCognitive behavioral therapy is often used to treat anxiety disorders.
MedicationThe use of medicine to treat mental health disordersThe doctor may suggest medication as part of the treatment.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive TherapyA type of therapy that combines cognitive therapy, meditation, and mindfulnessMindfulness-based cognitive therapy can help prevent the recurrence of depression.
Group TherapyA form of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists treat a small group of clients togetherGroup therapy can offer a sense of community and understanding.
Art TherapyA form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modelingArt therapy can help individuals express feelings that are difficult to put into words.
Family TherapyA type of psychological counseling that helps family members improve communication and resolve conflictsFamily therapy can help improve troubled relationships within the family.
Psychiatric MedicationMedicine used to treat mental health disordersPsychiatric medication can manage symptoms and support recovery.
Electroconvulsive TherapyA procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizureElectroconvulsive therapy is used to treat severe depression when other treatments are unsuccessful.
Play TherapyA method of therapy that uses play to uncover and deal with psychological issuesPlay therapy is commonly used with children.
HypnotherapyThe use of hypnosis as a therapeutic techniqueHypnotherapy can help individuals manage pain, stress, and anxiety.


Psychology and mental health vocabulary can feel overwhelming due to the depth and complexity of the field. However, familiarizing oneself with these terms can lead to more meaningful conversations and an increased understanding of mental health issues.

From general terminology to specific disorders and treatments, each word serves as a tool for expressing experiences, empathizing with others, and navigating the vast landscape of mental health. Knowledge of these terms can also help dismantle the stigma associated with mental health issues, encouraging a more compassionate and inclusive society.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 7 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

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