Health – the overall condition of the body or mind and the presence or absence of illness or injury

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Wellness – optimal health and vitality, encompassing all the dimensions of well-being

Risk Factor – a condition that increases ones chances of disease or injury

Infectious Disease – a disease that can spread from person to person; caused by microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses

Chronic Disease – a disease that develops and continues over a long period of time, such as heart disease or cancer

Lifestyle Choice – a conscious behaviour that increase or decrease a person’s risk of disease or injury; such behaviours include smoking, exercising, eating a healthy diet, etc.

Sex – the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and woman

Gender – the roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women

Genome – the complete set of genetic material in an individual’s cells

Gene – the basic unit of heredity; a section of genetic material containing chemical instructions for making a particular protein

Behaviour Change – a lifestyle management process that involves cultivating healthy behaviours and working to overcome unhealthy ones

Target Behaviour – an isolated behaviour selected as the object for a behaviour change program

Self-efficacy – the belief in one’s ability to take action and perform a specific task

Locus of Control – the figurative “place” a person designates as the source of responsibility for the events in his or her life

Stressor – a physical or psychological event or condition that produces stress

Stress Response – the physical and emotional changes associated with stress

Stress – the general physiological and emotional state that accompanies the stress response

Autonomic Nervous System – the branch of the nervous system that controls basic body processes; consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions

Parasympathetic Division – a division of the autonomic that moderates the excitatory effect of that sympathetic division, slowing metabolism and restoring energy supplies

Sympathetic Division – a division of the autonomic nervous system that reacts to danger or other challenges by almost instantly accelerating body processes

Norepinephrine – a neurotransmitter released by the sympathetic nervous system onto specific tissues to increase their function in the face of increased activity; when released by the brain, causes arousal (increased attention, awareness, and alertness), also called noradrenaline

Endocrine System – the system of glands, tissues, and cells that secrete hormones into the bloodstream to influence metabolism and other body processes

Hormone – a chemical messenger produced in the body and transported in the bloodstream to target cells or organs for specific regulation of their activities

Cortisol – a steroid hormone secreted by the cortex (outer layer) of the adrenal gland; also called hydrocortisol

Epinephrine – a hormone excreted by the medulla (inner core) of the adrenal gland that effects the functioning of organs involved in responding to a stressor; also called adrenaline

Endorphins – brain secretions that have pain-inhibiting effects

Fight-or-Flight Reaction – a defense reaction that prepares an individual for conflict by triggering hormonal, cardiovascular, metabolic, and other changes

Homeostasis – a state of stability and consistency in an individual’s physiological functioning

Somatic Nervous System – the branch of the peripheral nervous system that governs motor functions and sensory information, largely under conscious control

Personality – the sum of behavioural, cognitive, and emotional tendencies

Gender Role – a culturally expected pattern of behaviour and attitudes determined by a person’s sex

General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) – a pattern of stress responses consisting of three stages; alarm, resistance, and exhaustion

Eustress – stress resulting from a pleasant stressor

Distress – stress resulting from an unpleasant stressor

Allostatic Load – the long term negative impacts of the stress response on the body

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) – the study of the interactions among the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems

Burnout – a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM) – the portion of the sleep cycle during which dreaming occurs

Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (non-REM) – the portion of the sleep cycle that involves deep sleep; non-REM sleep induces four states of successively deeper sleep

Sleep Deprivation – a lack of sleep over time

Insomnia – a sleep problem involving the inability to fall or stay asleep; affects more than 50% of adults

Sleep Apnea – the interruption of normal breathing during sleep

Relaxation Response – a physiological state characterized by a feeling of warmth and quiet mental alertness

Visualization – a technique for promoting relaxation or improving performance that involves creating or recreating vivid mental pictures of a place or experience; also called imagery

Meditation – a technique for quieting the mind by focusing on a particular word, object (such as a candle flame), or process (such as breathing)

Biofeedback – a technique in which monitoring devices help a person become conscious of unconscious body processes, such as body temperature or blood pressure, in order to exert some control over them

Psychological Health – mental health, defined either as the absense of illness or the presence of wellness

Self-actualization – the highest level of growth in Maslow’s hierarchy

Self-Concept – the ideas, feelings, and perceptions one has about oneself; also called self image

Self-Esteem – satisfaction and confidence in oneself; the valuing of oneself as a person

Autonomy – independence; the sense of being self-directed

Inner-Directed – guided in behaviour by the inner set of rules and values

Other-Directed – guided in behaviour by the values and expectations of others

Authenticity – genuineness

Normality – the psychological characteristics attributed to the majority of people in a population at a given time

Identity Crisis – internal confusion about who one is

Values – criteria for judging what is good and what is bad, which underlie one’s moral decisions and behaviour

Cognitive Distortion – a pattern of negative thinking that makes events seem worse than they are

Self-Talk – the statements a person makes to himself or herself

Defense Mechanism – a mental mechanism for coping with conflict or anxiety

Assertiveness – expression that is forceful but not hostile

Anxiety – a feeling of fear that is not directed toward any definite threat

Simple (Specific) Phobia – a persistent and excessive fear of a specific object, activity, or situation

Social Phobia – an excessive fear of being observed in public; public speaking is the most common example

Panic Disorder – a syndrome of severe anxiety attacks accompanied by physical symptoms

Agoraphobia – an anxiety disorder characterized by fear of being alone away from help and avoidance of many different places and situations; in extreme cases, a fear of leaving home… comes from Greek “fear of public market”

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable worry about all kinds of things and anxiety in many situations

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, recurring thoughts and the performing of senseless rituals

Obsession – a recurrent, irrational, unwanted thought or impulse

Compulsion – an irrational, repetitive, forced action, usually associated with an obsession

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – an anxiety disorder characterized by reliving traumatic events through dreams, flashbacks, and hallucinations

Mood Disorder – an emotional disturbance that is intense and persistent enough to affect normal function; two common types of mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder

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Depression – a mood disorder characterized by loss of interest, sadness, hopelessness, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, and other physical symptoms

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) – the use of electric shock to induce brief, generalized seizures; used in the treatment of selected psychological disorders

Seasonal Depressive Disorder (SAD) – a mood disorder characterized by seasonal depression, usually occurring during winter, when there is less daylight

Mania – a mood disorder characterized by excessive elation, irritability, talkativeness, inflated self-esteem, and expansiveness

Bipolar Disorder – a mental illness characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania

Schizophrenia – a psychological disorder that involve a disturbance in thinking and in perceiving reality

Placebo – a chemically inactive substance that a patient believes is an effective medical therapy for his or her condition. To help evaluate a therapy, medical researchers compare the effect of the particular therapy with the effects of the placebo. The “placebo effect” occurs when a patient responds to a placebo as if it were an active drug

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – a disorder characterized by persistent, pervasive problems with inattention and/or hyperactivity to a degree that is not considered appropriate for a child’s developmental stage and that causes significant difficulties in school, work, or relationships

Stimulus – anything that causes a response

Response – a reaction to a stimulus

Reinforcement – increasing the future probability of a response by following it with a reward

Exposure – a therapeutic technique for treating fear in which the subject learns to come into direct contact with a feared situation

Drug – any chemical other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body

Psychoactive Drug – a drug that can alter a person’s consciousness or experience

Intoxication – the state of being mentally affected by a chemical (literally; a state of being poisoned)

Addictive Behaviour – any habit that has gotten out of control, resulting in a negative effect on one’s health

Addiction – psychological or physical dependence on a substance or behaviour, characterized by a compulsive desired and increasing need for the substance or behaviour, and by harm to the individual and/or society

Habituation – similar to addiction, involving the routine use of a substance, but without the level of compulsion or increasing need that characterizes addiction

Pharmacy – the art of compounding drugs from various substances

Pharmacology – the science and study of drugs

Substance Abuse – a maladaptive pattern of using any substance that persists despite adverse social, psychological or medical consequences. The pattern may be intermittent, with or without tolerance and physical dependence

Physical Dependence – the result of physiological adaptation that occurs in response to the frequent presence of a drug; typically associated with tolerance and withdrawal

Substance Dependence – a cluster of cognitive, behavioural, and physiological symptoms that occur in someone who continues to use a substance despite suffering significant substance-related problems leading to significant impairment or distress; also known as addiction

Tolerance – lower sensitivity to a drug so that a given dose no longer exerts the usual effect and larger doses are needed

Withdrawal – physical and psychological symptoms that follow the interrupted use of a drug on which a user is physically dependant; symptoms may be mild or life-threatening

Dual (Co-Occurring) Disorder – the presence of two or more mental disorders simultaneously in the same person; for example, drug addiction and depression

Neurotransmitter – a brain chemical that transmits nerve impulses

Pharmacological Properties – the overall effects of a drug on a person’s behaviour, psychology and chemistry

Dose-Response Function – the relationship between the amount of drug taken and the intensity and the type of the resulting effect

Time-Action Function – the relationship between the time elapsed since a drug was taken and the intensity of its effect

High – the subjectively pleasing effects of a drug, usually felt quite soon after the drug is taken

Placebo Effect – a response to an inert or innocuous medication given in place of an active drug

Opioid – any of several natural or synthetic drugs that relieve pain and cause drowsiness and/or euphoria; examples are opium, morphine, and heroin; also called narcotic

Euphoria – an exaggerated feeling of wellbeing

Depressant, or Sedative-Hypnotic – a drug that decreases nervous or muscular activity, causing drowsiness or sleep

Central Nervous System (CNS) – the brain and spinal cord

Sedation – the induction of a calm, relaxed, often sleepy state

Tranquilizer – a CNS depressant that reduces tension and anxiety

Anesthetic – a drug that produces a loss of sensation with or without a loss of consciousness

Stimulant – a drug that increases nervous or muscular activity

State Dependence – a situation in which information learned in a drug-induced state is difficult to recall when the effect of the drug wears off

Psychosis – a severe mental disorder characterized by a distortion of reality; symptoms might include delusions or hallucinations

Depersonalization – a state in which a person loses his or her reality or perceives his or her body as unreal

Hallucinogen – any of several drugs that alter perception, feelings, or thoughts; examples are LSD, mescaline, and PCP

Synesthesia – a condition in which a stimulus evokes not only the sensation appropriate to it but also another sensation of a different character; such as when a colour evokes a specific smell

Altered State of Consciousness – profound changes in mood, thinking, and perception

Flashback – a perceptual distortion or bizarre thought that recurs after the chemical effects of a drug have worn off

Codependency – a relationship in which a non-substance-abusing partner or family member is controlled by the abuser’s behaviour; codependent people frequently engage in enabling behaviours

Alcohol – the intoxicating ingredient in fermented or distilled beverages; a colourless pungent liquid

Proof Value – two times the percentage of alcohol by volume; a beverage that is 50% alcohol is 100 proof

One Drink – the amount of a beverage that typically contains about 0.6 ounce of alcohol; also called a standard drink

Metabolism – the chemical transformation of food and other substances in the body into energy and wastes

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) – the amount of alcohol in the blood in terms of weight per unit volume; used as a measure of intoxication

Cirrhosis – a disease in which the liver is severely damaged by alcohol, other toxins, or infection

Cardiac Myopathy – weakening of the heart muscle through disease

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – a characteristic group of birth defects caused by excessive alcohol consumption by the mother, including facial deformities, heart defects, and physical and mental impairments

Alcohol Related Nuerodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) – cognitive and behaviour problems seen in people whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy

Alcohol Abuse – the use of alcohol to a degree that causes physical damage, impairs functioning, or results in behaviour harmful to others

Alcohol Dependence – a pathological use of alcohol or impairment in functioning due to alcohol; characterized by a tolerance and withdrawal symptoms; alcoholism

Alcoholism – a chronic psychological disorder characterized by excessive and compulsive drinking

Binge Drinking – periodically drinking alcohol to the point of severe intoxication

Hallucinations – a false perception that does not correspond to external reality, such as seeing visions or hearing voices that are not there

Delirium Tremens (the DTs) – a state of confusion brought on by the reduction of alcohol intake in and alcohol-dependant person; other symptoms are sweating, trembling, anxiety, hallucinations, and seizures

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Health Science: Key Terms," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,
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