Acute psychotic episode A psychotic episode that seems to occur suddenly with no prior indication or hints that it is about to happen.
Acute schizophrenia The sudden appearance of schizophrenia symptoms that have not been present or the worsening of symptoms over a short period of time, usually days.
Adherence Faithfully sticking to a treatment plan, including taking medications and attending therapy.
Adverse reaction See Side effect
Affect Emotional expressions of inner feelings made visible to others by movement and position of facial features or other indications of body language. Examples are smiles, frowns, shaking of the head, etc.
Affective disorder See mood disorder
Agranulocytosis A life-threatening loss of white blood cells, which fight infection. It is a complication affecting about 1 percent of patients taking the atypical antipsy-chotic drug clozapine.
Akathisia A side effect of some antipsychotic medications, causing restlessness, which is demonstrated by an inability to sit for any significant length of time and a feeling of quivering muscles.
Alogia A decreased ability to speak, a negative symptom of schizophrenia reflecting a lack of ease in thinking and speaking.
Anergia Lack of energy.
Anhedonia The inability to derive pleasure from, or take an interest in, nearly anything.
Anosognosia A person’s inability to recognize that he is ill; lack of insight into one’s own psychiatric or other physical illness or deficit. This is a common symptom of schizophrenia. Other conditions similar to schizophrenia make a person unable to recognize that he is blind when he really is, or that his arm is paralyzed when it really is.
Auditory hallucination A common symptom of schizophrenia in which a person hears sounds, noises, or voices that no one else can hear and that have no external source.
Bipolar disorder A mood disorder that cycles between depression and mania. It used to be called manic-depression or manic-depressive illness.
Blunted affect Showing limited emotional responses or a significantly reduced intensity and range of emotional expression.
Catatonia A symptom of a rare form of schizophrenia characterized by immobility or repetitive movements. Sometimes a patient with catatonia may show signs of excitation.
Catatonic schizophrenia A rare subtype of schizophrenia characterized by an extreme psychological separation from one’s surroundings. The disturbance can range from trance-like stupor, complete unresponsiveness, excitement, or the assumption of odd postures. There can be quick changes between excited behavior and stupor. Patients may be mute or they may echo repeatedly a word or words spoken by others. Sometimes mannerisms are repeated in a stereotyped way.
Chronic schizophrenia A form of the disease in which symptoms linger at a relatively milder level without significant periods of remission.
Clang Abnormal speech observed in schizophrenia during which the sound of a word influences the future choice of words more than does the context of the conversation. For example, a patient may say “You have nothing to gain. The pain comes from rain.”
Clinical trial A medical research study conducted on a group of subjects to determine the safety and effectiveness of experimental new drugs or treatments.
Clozapine The first atypical antipsychotic medication. It has the ability to help many patients who are not helped by other antipsychotic medications. It can cause a potentially fatal blood disease in one out of a hundred people.
Cognitive Intellectual, as opposed to emotional, mental processes including understanding, evaluating, remembering, and reasoning.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy A type of therapy shown to increase the coping and functional abilities of many people dealing with schizophrenia.
Combination therapy A commonly used strategy that simultaneously employs psychosocial and medical therapy to treat schizophrenia.
Delusion An unshakable belief in something that is not true or real. Evidence that a healthy person would recognize as contradictory will not persuade someone with a delusion to change her belief. Bizarre delusions are delusions that are not possible or plausible. Examples include the belief that extraterrestrial creatures have implanted a device in someone’s brain in order to listen to her thoughts or to use her brain power in order to fly their spaceship. Another example may be the belief by a male patient that he is pregnant with twins.
Depression See Major depressive disorder
Derailment A symptom of schizophrenia involving conversation that rapidly changes from one topic to another with little meaningful connection for the listener; also referred to as loose associations.
Disorganized schizophrenia A severe subtype of schizophrenia in which patients lack systematized delusions but are incoherent and show symptoms of inappropriate, blunted, or silly emotions.
Dopamine A chemical messenger in the brain that has long been implicated in schizophrenia. Many antipsychotic drugs decrease the activity of this neurotransmitter.
DSM-IV The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition. It lists the standard criteria used to classify and diagnose mental disorders. It is used by mental health professionals and insurance companies to define the diagnoses of patients.
Early treatment A treatment strategy that stresses recognizing symptoms when they are still mild and treating them as soon as possible. It has been shown to improve the outcome for patients.
Echolalia A symptom of schizophrenia involving the repetition or echoing of something said by another person, repeatedly, without any apparent meaning or purpose.
Echopraxia A symptom of schizophrenia involving the repetitive imitation of another person’s movement.
Euphoria In mood or psychotic disorders, a pathological state of elation unrelated or barely related to outside events that would justify the feeling of extreme joy.
Extrapyramidal symptoms Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms associated with older antipsychotic medications including slowed movement, loss of facial expression, shakiness in the limbs, arms held at the sides when walking, muscular rigidity, uncontrolled contractions of muscles affecting posture, and involuntary movements often involving the tongue and lips.
Family psychoeducation A training program that teaches family members or friends about schizophrenia and how to help someone with schizophrenia at home or outside the hospital. Such training has been shown to have significant benefits for both patients and caregivers.
Flat affect The lack of emotional expression in the face or voice.
Glutamate A chemical messenger in the brain that has been implicated in schizophrenia.
Gray matter Brain substance consisting of nerve cells. Often referred to by nonspecial-ists as the part of the brain used to think.
Guardian A person over the age of eighteen years or an organization appointed by a court to act in the best interest of a person who is incapacitated physically or mentally. The guardian has the responsibility to make decisions for the person and to provide for his personal needs. In the case of a mentally ill person, responsibilities would also include arrangement of appropriate, professional treatment.
Hallucination A positive symptom of schizophrenia that may involve any of the five senses (hearing, seeing, touch, smelling, or tasting) in which a person perceives something to be there when nothing is and no one else can sense it. It is experienced by the person in the same way events are perceived during a dream, except in this case, the person is awake. Patients with schizophrenia most commonly hear things or see things that are not there. Hallucinations of touch, smell, or taste are very rarely present in schizophrenia.
Heredity All the characteristics and potential characteristics of physical qualities handed down from parent to child through genetic material contained in genes.
ICD 10 The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision; the international standard diagnostic classification for general epidemiological and health management purposes compiled by the World Health Organization. Schizophrenia and related disorders are described in Chapter V of the most recent edition.
Illusion The misperception of the nature or identity of something that does exist (unlike hallucinations, in which it is imagined). An example would be the misperception of a wallpaper pattern as being somebody’s face, or of symbols as representing the solution of a certain problem.
Inappropriate affect Emotional demonstrations that do not match the situation that elicits them; for example, laughing at something sad or crying at something funny.
Loose associations See Derailment
Major depressive disorder (also known as depression) A mood disorder producing emotional symptoms of overwhelming feelings of despair, hopelessness, and sadness along with several other physical symptoms, which persist daily for an extended period of at least two weeks. It is a disease that interferes with the ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities.
Mania A period of extreme euphoria and often unrealistic enthusiasm resulting from a mood disorder. Manic “highs” are often characterized by unrestrained energy and grandiose ambition, sometimes accompanied by agitation and extreme excitability. Speech reflects the rapid coming and going of ideas. It is one of the phases of the so-called manic-depressive illness, which is currently known as bipolar disorder.
Manic episode A period of mania.
Medication schedule A plan describing how and when prescribed medications should be taken. It includes the names of the medications and their dosages. Sometimes called a medication regimen.
Mixed episode A period of manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder during which a person has symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time. This can result in someone experiencing despair while feeling highly keyed up and severely irritable.
Mood disorders A group of mental disorders that usually involve abnormalities of mood, causing depression, mania, or a mixed state of both. They include bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, and substance-induced (intoxication/withdrawal) mood disorder, among others.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) A leading educational and advocacy group, founded by parents of children with mental illness in 1979.
Negative symptoms A major subcategory of schizophrenia symptoms that includes decreased intellectual, emotional, or behavioral expression. People with negative symptoms may seem withdrawn, unresponsive, uninterested in, and uninvolved with, their surroundings. They may keep to themselves and express little emotion.
Neologism An invented word, found in the speech of some people with schizophrenia.
Neuroleptic agent An older term applied to the original or typical antipsychotic drugs such as Haldol and chlorpromazine. The term refers to the neurological side effects associated with this class of drug.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome A serious, rare side effect of antipsy-chotic drug treatment producing sweating, fever, blood pressure changes, rigid muscles, stupor, and other neurological problems. It requires immediate medical treatment.
Neuron A nerve cell. The contact points between nerve cells are gaps called synapses, which are believed to be the site of action of antipsychotic drugs.
Neurotransmitters Chemical messengers in the nervous system that carry information between nerve cells. Abnormalities in neurotransmitter function appear to play an important role in schizophrenia and other mood and mental disorders. Antipsychotic drugs appear to work by adjusting the function of one or more selected neurotransmitters.
NIH National Institutes of Health, the leading federal government agency funding and directing medical research in the United States.
NIMH A part of the NIH, the National Institute of Mental Health is the leading federal government agency funding and directing mental health research in the United States.
Noncompliance Failure to take medicine and/or to participate in treatment as prescribed by a physician. In many cases, noncompliance results in recurrence of psychotic symptoms. Failure to accept any treatment can result in severe symptoms and mental decline.
Paranoia An unfounded feeling of being threatened, resulting in fear, suspicion, hostility, or distrust of others.
Paranoid-type symptoms False beliefs that make a person feel she is being persecuted, cheated, spied on, plotted against, secretly ridiculed, or harassed. One in three schizophrenia patients show signs of paranoid symptoms.
Positive symptoms Symptoms of schizophrenia that appear to be excessive versions of normal behavior, thinking, or feeling. They are called positive because they are evident as the presence of something that is not normally present (compared with negative symptoms, which are subtractions, or the absence, of certain functions that are normally present). Hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking are examples of positive symptoms.
Prognosis The predicted outcome of a disease based on the experiences of similar cases in the past and special circumstances of the patient’s case.
Psychosis A loss of contact with reality due to delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, or catatonic behavior.
Psychotherapist A trained professional who treats people with mental disorders by addressing psychological problems. Psychotherapists educate patients and teach them techniques to help them understand and control their thoughts, emotions, or behaviors.
Psychotherapy A technique applied by a psychotherapist to help patients as described in the previous entry. There are several different types of psychotherapy.
Psychotic episode A time when a person experiences severe and disturbing forms of hallucinations, delusions, or other psychotic symptoms. Sometimes unexpected with rapid onset, these are very stressful for both patient and family. Usually controlled by antipsychotic medication.
Psychotic symptom A feature of psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. Examples include hearing voices or other hallucinations, delusions, and severely disordered thinking.
Remission A period during which a patient has no symptoms of the disease.
Residual schizophrenia One of the five different types of schizophrenia, characterized by the absence of prominent delusion, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior. Evidence of persistent schizophrenia instead of a full remission is based on negative symptoms or only mild and faded psychotic symptoms.
Schizoaffective disorder A mental disorder with lasting major depressive, manic, or mixed episodes along with psychotic symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and behavior. It must include a period of at least two weeks during which the patient experienced the psychotic symptoms without any prominent depressive or manic symptoms.
Schizophrenia A complex brain disease, or perhaps a group of psychotic disorders, that can lead to the deterioration of social and personal functioning as a result of disorganized thinking, delusions, hallucinations, and social withdrawal, as well as other symptoms.
Schizophreniform disorder A diagnosis for patients whose symptoms are identical to those of schizophrenia except that they have been present for more than one month but less than six months.
Side effect Any unintended and unwanted reaction to a medication. They can range from harmless and annoying to serious and life-threatening.
SSDI Social security disability insurance.
SSI Supplemental security income.
Symptom A behavior or other indication of the presence of a disease or disorder.
Tardive dyskinesia A potential side effect, most often associated with long-term use of older antipsychotic medications, producing involuntary movements. They frequently involve the tongue, mouth, lips, and muscles in the face, but may also occur anywhere else in the body.
Thought disorder A symptom of schizophrenia that may involve the form or the content of a person’s thoughts. Thought disorder prevents patients from thinking rationally and logically. Thoughts are disconnected and out of order, sped up or slowed down. Speech and communication also are affected. Delusions are considered a thought disorder that involves thought content.
Ventricles Also called cerebral ventricles, these are spaces or cavities normally found in the brain. Ventricles may be enlarged in some people with schizophrenia, a finding believed to reflect the role of abnormal brain developmental in the cause of the disease.
White matter Brain tissue that consists mostly of nerve fibers and the light-colored insulating material, myelin, that covers them.