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Fifty Mental and Behavioral Health Terms To Know 

Fifty Mental and Behavioral Health Terms To Know 

Mental and Behavioral Health Terms To Know

Thrive Wellness’ interdisciplinary specialists have compiled a list of mental and behavioral health terms to help deepen understanding, expand awareness, and encourage enlightened conversations about the space. Explore definitions for mental and behavioral health professionals, struggles, treatment approaches, and wellness practices below. 


  • Behavioral health: The ways an individual’s actions affect their physical and mental well-being
  • Mental health: A person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being


  • Therapist: Licensed mental and behavioral health professionals who treat a myriad of mental and behavioral health conditions through psychotherapy
  • Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in prescribing medication for managing mental and behavioral health conditions
  • Psychologist: A mental and behavioral health professional that often has a Ph.D. in psychology and can test for mental and behavioral health conditions


  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACE): Potentially traumatic events that occur during one’s youth linked to negative outcomes on physical, mental, and behavioral health
  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): An eating disorder characterized by difficulty eating due to sensory aversions, general lack of interest in food, or fear of adverse consequences
  • Anorexia nervosa: An eating disorder involving significant weight loss, calorie restriction, and distorted body image
  • Anxiety: Feelings of dread, fear, and worry that occur without the presence of a trigger
  • Binge eating disorder (BED): An eating disorder characterized by frequently eating large quantities of food and feeling a loss of control while eating
  • Bipolar disorder: A mood disorder characterized by dramatic and sudden emotional highs and lows that last anywhere between hours to months at a time
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD): A mental health diagnosis characterized by a fixation on one’s own perceived body imperfections, which are generally imperceptible to others 
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD): A mental health condition that causes a person to experience their emotions much more intensely and for a longer period of time than the average person
  • Bulimia nervosa: An eating disorder expressed by frequently eating large quantities of food, feeling a loss of control while eating, and compensatory purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or abusing laxatives 
  • Comorbidity: The simultaneous presence of two or more mental, behavioral, or physical health conditions in a person, such as an eating disorder and an anxiety disorder 
  • Diabulimia: A condition that, although not an official medical diagnosis, is recognized by the eating disorder treatment community and describes when insulin-dependent diabetes co-occurs with an eating disorder
  • Depression: A mood disorder associated with feelings of deep lasting sadness
  • Disordered eating behaviors: Any approaches to feeding oneself that prevent a person from nourishing their body adequately, consistently, and with a wide variety of foods
  • Eating disorders: Behavioral health conditions characterized by habitual and harmful disordered eating behaviors, such as calorie restriction, binge eating, or purging, that interfere with one’s ability to carry out daily activities
  • Panic attacks: Brief and intense episodes of anxiety that those with panic disorder typically experience
  • Panic disorder: An anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent panic attacks often brought on by a heightened sensitivity to bodily sensations, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, quickened pulse, tingling, and numbness
  • Pediatric feeding disorder (PFD): A condition that affects youth and limits their intake of food because of medical conditions or deficits in motor skills
  • Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs): An array of mental health conditions that may arise during the prenatal period such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis, among others
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A mental health condition that a person can develop after direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic event characterized by symptoms of intrusion, avoidance, negative changes in mood and cognition, and changes in arousal or reactivity
  • Psychosis: A mental health condition characterized by a disconnect from reality
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): A type of depression commonly beginning in the fall or winter and ending in the spring that interferes with a person’s ability to engage in everyday life and find pleasure in activities that typically spark joy
  • Self-harm: Purposefully hurt oneself often as a means of finding relief from emotional pain 
  • Stress: The body’s natural response to pressure-inducing circumstances, such as deadlines, arguments, or illness
  • Sexual assault: Any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim
  • Substance use disorder (SUD): A behavioral health condition characterized by the recurrent use of drugs or alcohol despite harmful effects on one’s life
  • Trauma: An emotional response to a distressing event such as abuse, accidents, violence, or the death of a loved one


  • Art therapy: An evidence-based therapeutic intervention that allows clients to express themselves and process their experiences through creative mediums
  • Case manager: The main point of contact for clients in higher level of care treatment programs that maintains the flow of information between the client, their family, and their providers, advocates for the client, and helps integrate the client’s personalized treatment plan
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): A therapeutic modality effective at treating disorders that are complex and co-occurring by helping individuals learn necessary skills for reducing suffering and fostering happiness in their lives
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): A treatment structure for specific mental or behavioral health conditions that typically offers clinical care four hours daily, three to five days a week
  • Medication management: The use of prescription medication to treat mental and behavioral health conditions
  • Mental and behavioral health assessments: A series of questions for new clients seeking mental or behavioral health care intended for clinicians to gain an overview of clients’ mental and behavioral health so treatment can align with their needs
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): A treatment structure for specific mental or behavioral health conditions that typically offers clinical care six to eight hours daily, five to seven days a week
  • Play therapy: A therapeutic modality that implements play as a way for clients to access and convey their inner experiences, rather than asking clients to articulate their thoughts and emotions
  • Residential treatment program: A treatment structure for specific mental or behavioral health conditions that typically requires a person to live at a facility and offers full-time care
  • Support group: A regular gathering of individuals facing similar challenging circumstances who come together intending to understand their experiences and find comfort
  • Treatment team: Interdisciplinary specialists that work together to provide targeted, connected client care 


  • Health at Every Size® (HAES®) movement: An approach that challenges existing public health narratives regarding the belief that weight determines one’s well-being and encourages society to focus on well-being as an attribute that people in all bodies possess
  • Intuitive eating: A holistic nutrition framework that focuses on using internal cues rather than external rules to help guide eating and movement choices
  • Mind-body wellness: The intertwining influence of one’s mental, emotional, and physical health on overall well-being
  • Mindful eating: A nutrition approach that applies the principles of mindfulness to eating experiences by encouraging individuals to focus on the experience of food without judgment or worrying about what’s in the food
  • Mindful movement: Physical activity that involves intentionally moving one’s body in an enjoyable way 
  • Mindfulness: A mental state that characterized by present moment awareness without judgment or interpretation
  • Self-care: The practice of intentionally engaging in activities or behaviors that promote one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being based on personal tastes, interests, and needs
  • Sleep hygiene: The act of ensuring one’s surroundings, routines, and mindset are aligned with the requirements for optimal sleep


Skilled at implementing a variety of evidence-based therapeutic interventions for mental and behavioral health struggles, our interdisciplinary specialists help facilitate clients’ healing and create space for comprehensive wellness. To learn more about our integrated mental and behavioral health services, reach out

While all Thrive Wellness locations offer interdisciplinary clinical teams who collaborate to treat eating disorders, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), and additional mental and behavioral health conditions, programs and services may vary by location.