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Anxiety Glossary

Terms used to explain Anxiety can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.


Function: abbreviation
autonomic nervous system

Adrenal Gland

adrenal gland
Function: noun
: either of a pair of complex endocrine organs near the anterior medial border of the kidney consisting of a mesodermal cortex that produces glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid, and androgenic hormones and an ectodermal medulla that produces epinephrine and norepinephrine —called also adrenal, suprarenal gland


Pronunciation: \ˌag(-ə)-rə-ˈfō-bē-ə\

Function: noun
: abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by avoidance of open or public places


Pronunciation: \-ˈbläk-ər\

Function: noun
: any of a group of drugs (as propranolol) that combine with and block the activity of a beta-receptor to decrease the heart rate and force of contractions and lower high blood pressure and that are used esp. to treat hypertension, angina pectoris, and ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias compare alpha-blocker


Pronunciation: \ˈdō-pə-ˌmēn\

Function: noun
1: a monoamine C8H11NO2 that is a decarboxylated form of dopa and occurs esp. as a neurotransmitter in the brain and as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of epinephrine see intropin


Pronunciation: \-ˈthal-ə-məs\

Function: noun
pl -mi
Pronunciation: \-ˌmī\
: a basal part of the diencephalon that lies beneath the thalamus on each side, forms the floor of the third ventricle, and includes vital autonomic regulatory centers (as for the control of food intake)


Pronunciation: \ˈmā-nē-ə, -nyə\

Function: noun
: excitement of psychotic proportions manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood; specif: the manic phase of bipolar disorder


Pronunciation: \ˌn(y)ur-ō-tran(t)s-ˈmit-ər, -tranz-\

Function: noun
: a substance (as norepinephrine or acetylcholine) that transmits nerve impulses across a synapse see false neurotransmitter

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

obsessive–compulsive disorder
Function: noun
: a psychoneurotic disorder in which the patient is beset with obsessions or compulsions or both and suffers extreme anxiety or depression through failure to think the obsessive thoughts or perform the compelling acts abbr. OCD—called also obsessive-compulsive neurosis, obsessive-compulsive reaction

Panic Attack

panic attack
Function: noun
: an episode of intense fear or apprehension that is of sudden onset and may occur for no apparent reason or as a reaction to an identifiable triggering stimulus (as a stressful event); specif: one that is accompanied by usu. four or more bodily or cognitive symptoms (as heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, or feelings of unreality) and that typically peaks within 10 minutes of onset


Pronunciation: \ˈfō-bē-ə\

Function: noun
: an exaggerated and often disabling fear usu. inexplicable to the subject and having sometimes a logical but usu. an illogical or symbolic object, class of objects, or situation compare compulsion obsession


Pronunciation: \ˌsī-kō-ˈther-ə-pē\

Function: noun
pl -pies

1: treatment of mental or emotional disorder or maladjustment by psychological means esp. involving verbal communication (as in psychoanalysis, nondirective psychotherapy, reeducation, or hypnosis)
2: any alteration in an individual's interpersonal environment, relationships, or life situation brought about esp. by a qualified therapist and intended to have the effect of alleviating symptoms of mental or emotional disturbance


Pronunciation: \ˌsir-ə-ˈtō-nən, ˌser-\

Function: noun
: a phenolic amine neurotransmitter C10H12N2O that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found esp. in the brain, blood serum, and gastric mucous membrane of mammals —called also 5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine


Pronunciation: \ˈsin-ˌaps also sə-ˈnaps, chiefly Brit ˈsī-ˌnaps\

Function: noun

1: the place at which a nervous impulse passes from one neuron to another
2: see: synapsis

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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More than 18 percent of American adults have some form of anxiety disorder-the most common mental illness in the United States.