Figure Out

These definitions are intended to help you get started in the journey toward the fascinating and complex world of mental health. The terms come directly from the medical model, which is widely known but not perfect or useful in all cases. We invite you to keep exploring and considering the multiple elements and circumstances that surround every human life on this planet.


(Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a chronic mental health disorder where the person has consistent challenges paying attention. It can also include challenges due to hyperactivity or impulsivity. It is frequently but not always diagnosed during childhood.

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An unpleasant feeling of worry, dread or fear. It can be experienced by anyone in many everyday situations, such as taking a test or visiting a place you have never been before. In certain cases it can grow enough to interfere with daily life and may require professional support to help manage it; this is called Anxiety Disorder and is an umbrella term for several types among which are Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and more.

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(Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects the way a person interacts with others and communicates, it can also include specific and repetitive patterns of behavior or interest. It begins in early childhood but may not be diagnosed until later in adulthood.

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A period of grief or mourning after losing a loved one (such as a family member, friend or a pet) or during important changes of circumstances (such as moving away or at the end of a relationship). It can last from a few weeks to several months and manifests in different ways for different people.

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A type of mental illness characterized for extreme mood and energy changes between lows (depression) and highs (mania). The mood swings can happen frequently or sporadically; sometimes manic episodes can be less severe, these are called hypomanic episodes.

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A type of mental illness where the person experiences feelings of sadness, emptiness and loss of pleasure in activities that would otherwise produce interest, most of the day, during two weeks or more. Other symptoms such as irritability, distractibility or fatigue). It’s very common and can be found in children, youth and adults.

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Eating Disorder:

Reflects a group of mental health conditions that severely disrupt eating behaviors and are accompanied by stressful emotions and thoughts. They can seriously affect the psychological, social and physical wellbeing of a person.

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Mental Health:

Refers to the social, emotional and psychological well-being of a person, and is reflected in the way we connect ourselves, with others and with our environment. It’s present throughout our lives, even from the moment we are born (called infant mental health) and can vary through our lives.

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Personality Disorder:

A mental health condition that affects the way a person thinks, feels and relates to others in a disruptive way. These disruptive ways of function can cause serious problems across personal and professional contexts. There are many different types of personality disorders and usually begin early adulthood or teenage years.

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(Post-traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health condition that comes on after experiencing a deeply distressing event or series of events. The consequences of such experience affect the way a person reacts to situations, organizes thoughts, connects with others or with oneself.

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A mental health disorder that causes significant disruptions to the way a person perceives and connects with reality. It can manifest through delusions, disorganized thoughts, hallucinations or abnormal body movement. The experience can be very distressing for the person affected as well as their family and friends.

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Purposefully hurting oneself (like with cutting or burning). Self-harm generally is used as a form of coping with things that are painful, distressful, or overwhelming.

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Therapy and Treatment:

Refers to the management of a mental health condition in order to restore or improve the psychological, social and physical wellbeing of the person affected. The type and delivery of the treatment is designed by a trained professional and can take many forms, depending on the diagnosis. What works best for every condition is determined by the amount and quality of its research evidence.

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The response to an event or series of events or circumstances experienced by the person as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening which negatively affects a person across their life.

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