Mental Health Terms

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There are currently 19 names in this directory beginning with the letter P.
Panic Attack

A sudden, unpredictable, intense episode of anxiety characterised by personality disorganisation, a fear of losing one’s mind, going crazy, being unable to control one’s behaviour, a sense of impending doom, helplessness and being trapped.

Panic Disorder

A disorder with recurrent, unexpected Panic Attacks followed by at least one (1) month of persistent concern about having another Panic Attack, worry about the possible implications or consequences of the Panic Attacks, or significant behavioural change related to the attacks.


An enduring disposition to act and feel in particular ways. These patterns are sometimes described by different dimensions, eg. extroverted, neurotic.

Personality Disorder

A disorder with deeply ingrained and maladaptive patterns of behaviour, persisting through many years, usually commencing in adolescence. The abnormality of the behaviour must be sufficiently severe that it causes suffering, either to the patient or to other people or both.


Unrealistic fear or aversion to a situation or thing. Avoiding the feared situation may severely restrict one’s life and cause much suffering.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A disorder which follows a traumatic event such as major disaster, rape, torture or accidents. Involves re-living the event and withdrawal from the external world.

Primary health care

The first level of contact with the health system (GPs, community health centres, etc.).


The prediction of the probable outcome of an illness over a given period of time.

Psychiatric crisis response and treatment

Provision of ongoing assessment, short-term interventions and treatment in the community for psychiatric crisis resolution. It includes the management of a person in an acute episode of mental illness with access to treatment options in a variety of settings to prevent admission to an acute inpatient unit.


A medical practitioner who has completed formal specialist training in the study of abnormal behaviour from a medical perspective. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication and authorise medical treatment to people suffering from psychiatric conditions. Psychiatrists provide diagnoses and can provide psychotherapy.


A treatment modality based on Freudian constructs, the analysis of the relationship that the client develops with the psychoanalyst.

Psychogeriatric services

A component of the mental health service which targets older people with mental illness who require both specialised mental health and aged care expertise.


A person who has completed six years of training in the science of human behaviour. There are a number of types of psychologists involved in mental health. Clinical psychologists typically have an individual focus based on a medical model and work with clients presenting with psychiatric symptoms. Community psychologists also work in mental health settings but focus on the person in context of their community and culture and don’t utilise a medical model. Counselling psychologists typically deal with non-psychiatric conditions and generally do not utilise a medical model approach. Neuropsychologists focus on the relationship between neurology and psychology.


Refers to the combination of physical and mental ability. The term is used for disorders in which muscular activities are affected by brain disturbance.


A severe disease or disorder of the mind characterised by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality. There is often a lack of insight, although memory and intellect tend to remain intact.


Refers to the mind/body relationship. Usually refers to illnesses which are caused by the interaction of mental and physical factors.


Psychological methods for the treatment of mental disorders and psychological problems, eg. psychoanalysis, family therapy, group therapy.

Psychotropic drugs

Drugs which affect mood, eg. antidepressants, stimulants, tranquillisers.


A disorder where the person repeatedly starts fires. The person may be indifferent to the consequences to life or property caused by the fire, or they may derive satisfaction from the resulting property destruction.

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