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Clinically Speaking

a guide to medical terms & acronyms

ADHD/ADD Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

AE adverse events: an undesirable experience reported during the course of a clinical study, regardless if it was associated with the intervention or not

asthma: a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways the lungs where the bronchial tubes become swollen, constricted & blocked. Symptoms include: chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath & wheezing

ANS autonomic nervous system: part of the peripheral nervous system responsible for all the unconscious functions of the body such as breathing and the heart beating


BDI Beck Depression Inventory


CAD Coronary Artery Disease

case study: a particular instance of something used or analyzed in order to illustrate a thesis or principle.

CHF  Congestive Heart Failure

contraindication: a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient

COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


DASS Depression Anxiety Stress Scales

DSM Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


EIF Exercise-induced Feeling Inventory


FSFI Female Sexual Function Index: questionnaire that measures sexual function in women


GABA gamma-aminobutyric acid: a neurotransmitter. tends to be low in those with depression, anxiety & PTSD

GAD generalized anxiety disorder


HAM-D Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression

HCP Healthcare provider

HHS Hearth Hope Scale

HRQL health-related quality of life

HRV heart rate variability: indicator of the body & mind’s ability to flow with ease between SNS activation & PSNS activation; tends to be low in people who suffer from anxiety, depression & PTSD

hypertension: high blood pressure


leptin: hormone that inhibits hunger


meta-analysis: a study that looks at multiple studies and pools data using statistical analysis

MDD major depressive disorder: persistent depressed mood that interferes with an individual’s daily functioning for 2+ weeks; symptoms: change in appetite, change in sleep, psychomotor agitation or retardation, loss of interest in activities or decreased sex drive, increased fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, slowed thinking or impaired concentration, a suicide attempt or thoughts of suicide

MOA mechanism of action: how a therapy works

MSQ Male Sexual Quotient: questionnaire that measures sexual function in men


OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: persistent ideas, thoughts and compulsive rituals that negatively impacts an individual’s lifestyle despite the knowledge the thoughts or behavior is excessive or unreasonable


panic disorder: recurrent unexpected periods of intense fear or discomfort that develop suddenly and peak within 10 minutes, characterized by 4+ symptoms: heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, feelings of being out of reality or detached from self, fear of losing control, fear of death, feelings of numbness or tingling sensations, chills or hot flushes.

PMDD premenstrual dysphoric disorder: a more severe form of PMS, that includes symptoms of a depressed mood: anxiety, anger,   irritability or tension, decreased interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, change in appetite or sleep, feeling out of control, breast tenderness, headache, joint/ muscle pain, bloating & weight gain.

PNS peripheral nervous system

PHQ-9 Patient Health Questionnaire

PSNS parasympathetic nervous system

precaution: explains how to use a medication/therapeutic intervention safely including physical impairments and drug interactions

p.r.n (pro re nata) latin abbreviation often seen with prescriptions to take as needed

prophylaxis: action taken to prevent disease

PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder: exposure to a traumatic event that causes an individual to re-experience the event through intrusive thoughts, flashbacks or dreams; to experience intense psychological distress & physiological reactivity on exposure to triggers; avoidance of situations reminiscent of the trauma; inability to recall details of event; emotional numbing; diminished interest in activities; symptoms of autonomic arousal: hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance, impaired concentration, irritability or outbursts of anger


QIDS-SR Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report

QoL quality of life


RCT randomized control trial: research study that randomly assigns participants to treatment intervention(s) or control group in order to reduce bias. This is the gold standard in clinical research.


SNS: sympathetic nervous system 

Social Anxiety Disorder: intense & persistent fear of social situations which involve exposure to unfamiliar environments, people or possible scrutiny. Individuals may try to avoid the situation or endure it with intense anxiety, distress &/or functional impairment.


VAD vertebral artery dissection: flap-like tear of the inner lining of the vertebral artery in the neck which supplies blood to the brain. This can occur following minor head & neck trauma. Rapid head turning, tennis, yoga & vigorous exercise have all been implicated in case reports (DeBenke 1994)


warning: possible serious side effects that could occur from a therapeutic intervention

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