The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the Phobias article.

Acrophobia: An abnormally excessive and persistent fear of heights. Sufferers experience severe anxiety even though they usually realize that, as a rule, heights pose no real threat to them.
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Addiction: A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. Addiction is the same irrespective of whether the drug is alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine. Every addictive substance induces pleasant states or relieves distress. Continued use of the addictive substance induces adaptive changes in the brain that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving and, all too often, relapse. Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal. The risk of addiction is in part inherited. Genetic factors, for example, account for about 40% of the risk of alcoholism. The genetic factors predisposing to addiction are not yet fully understood.

Adrenaline: A substance produced by the medulla (inside) of the adrenal gland, adrenaline (the official name in the British Pharmacopoeia) is synonymous with epinephrine. Technically speaking, adrenaline is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. It causes quickening of the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart’s contraction, opens up the bronchioles in the lungs and has numerous other effects. The secretion of adrenaline by the adrenal is part of the “fight-or-flight” reaction that we have in response to being frightened.

Aerophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of flying. Sufferers experience severe anxiety even though they usually realize that the flying does not pose a threat commensurate with their fear.
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Agoraphobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of public places or open areas, especially those from which escape could be difficult or help not immediately accessible. Persons with agoraphobia frequently also have panic disorder .
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Alprazolam: A benzodiazepine sedative that causes dose-related depression of the central nervous system. Alprazolam is useful in treating anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and muscle spasms. The brand name is Xanax. A generic version is available.

American Psychiatric Association: A medical specialty society with over 35,000 US and international member physicians who “work together to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental disorder, including mental retardation and substance-related disorders. It is the voice and conscience of modern psychiatry. Its vision is a society that has available, accessible quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.” The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the oldest national medical specialty society in the US.

Anxiety: A feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations , sweating, and feelings of stress . Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. These disorders fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.
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Anxiety disorder: A chronic condition characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension with physical symptoms such as sweating, palpitations , and feelings of stress . Anxiety disorders have biological and environmental causes.
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Arachnophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of spiders. Sufferers from arachnophobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize the risk of encountering a spider and being harmed by it is small or nonexistent. They may avoid going barefoot and may be especially alert when taking showers or getting into and out of bed. This phobia was exploited in a 1990 movie called Arachnophobia.
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Benzodiazepines: A class of drugs that act as tranquilizers and are commonly used in the treatment of anxiety. Benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness.

Beta blocker: A class of drugs that block beta-adrenergic substances such as adrenaline (epinephrine) in the “sympathetic” portion of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. By blocking the action of the sympathetic nervous system on the heart, beta blockers relieve stress on the heart; they slow the heart beat, lessen the force with which the heart muscle contracts, and reduce blood vessel contraction in the heart, brain, and throughout the body. Beta blockers may be used to treat abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias) and prevent abnormally fast heart rates (tachycardias) or irregular heart rhythms such as premature ventricular beats. Since beta blockers reduce the demand of the heart muscle for oxygen and the chest pain of angina pectoris occurs when the oxygen demand of the heart exceeds the supply, beta blockers can be useful in treating angina. They have also become an important drug in improving survival after a person has had a heart attack . Thanks to their effect on blood vessels, beta blockers can lower the blood pressure and be of value in the treatment of hypertension . Other uses for beta blockers include the prevention of migraine headaches and the treatment of certain types of tremors (familial or hereditary essential tremors).
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Blurred vision: Lack of sharpness of vision with, as a result, the inability to see fine detail. Blurred vision can occur when a person who wears corrective lens is without them. Blurred vision can also be an important clue to eye disease.

Brain: That part of the central nervous system that is located within the cranium ( skull ). The brain functions as the primary receiver, organizer and distributor of information for the body. It has two (right and left) halves called “hemispheres.”
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Breathing: The process of respiration, during which air is inhaled into the lungs through the mouth or nose due to muscle contraction, and then exhaled due to muscle relaxation.
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Claustrophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of closed spaces, of being closed in or being shut in, as in elevators, tunnels, or any other confined space. The fear is excessive (and quite common).
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Clinical psychology: A professional specialty concerned with diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain, emotional disturbance, and behavior problems.
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Cognition: The process of knowing and, more precisely, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging. The study of cognition touches on the fields of psychology, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, mathematics, ethology and philosophy.
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Cognitive: Pertaining to cognition , the process of knowing and, more precisely, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging. The study of cognition touches on the fields of psychology , linguistics, computer science, neuroscience , mathematics, ethology and philosophy.
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Cognitive-behavioral therapy: See: Cognitive therapy.

Constipation: Infrequent (and frequently incomplete) bowel movements. The opposite of diarrhea, constipation is commonly caused by irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, and medications (constipation can paradoxically be caused by overuse of laxatives). Colon cancer can narrow the colon and thereby cause constipation. The large bowel (colon) can be visualized by barium enema x-rays, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. Barring a condition such as cancer, high-fiber diets can frequently relieve the constipation.

Dizziness : Painless head discomfort with many possible causes including disturbances of vision, the brain, balance (vestibular) system of the inner ear, and gastrointestinal system. Dizziness is a medically indistinct term which laypersons use to describe a variety of conditions ranging from lightheadedness, unsteadiness to vertigo.
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Dry mouth: The condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This is due to inadequate function of the salivary glands. Everyone has dry mouth once in a while when they are nervous, upset or under stress. But if someone has a dry mouth most all of the time, it can be uncomfortable and lead to serious health problems.
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Dysfunction: Difficult function or abnormal function.
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Family history: The family structure and relationships within the family, including information about diseases in family members.
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Fear of blood: An abnormal and persistent fear of blood. Sufferers of this very common phobia dread the sight of their own blood, the sight of the blood of another person or an animal, and sometimes printed or filmed images of blood or even thoughts of blood. Blood may remind them of their own vulnerability to injury and of the eventuality of death.
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Genetic: Having to do with genes and genetic information.

Genetics: The scientific study of heredity . Genetics pertains to humans and all other organisms. So, for example, there is human genetics, mouse genetics, fruitfly genetics, etc.
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Genome: All of the genetic information, the entire genetic complement, all of the hereditary material possessed by an organism.
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Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. It is positioned in the chest behind the sternum (breastbone; in front of the trachea, esophagus, and aorta; and above the diaphragm muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities. The normal heart is about the size of a closed fist, and weighs about 10.5 ounces. It is cone-shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down to the left. Two-thirds of the heart lies in the left side of the chest with the balance in the right chest.
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Homicide: 1. The killing of a person. 2. Strictly speaking, the killing of a man. femicide. From the Latin meaning murderer, from homo, man + caedere, to kill.

Laboratory: A place for doing tests and research procedures and preparing chemicals, etc. Although “laboratory” looks very like the Latin “laboratorium” (a place to labor, a work place), the word “laboratory” came from the Latin “elaborare” (to work out, as a problem, and with great pains), as evidenced by the Old English spelling “elaboratory” designating “a place where learned effort was applied to the solution of scientific problems.”
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Mouth: 1. The upper opening of the digestive tract, beginning with the lips and containing the teeth, gums, and tongue. Foodstuffs are broken down mechanically in the mouth by chewing and saliva is added as a lubricant. Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that digests starch. 2. Any opening or aperture in the body. The mouth in both senses of the word is also called the os, the Latin word for an opening, or mouth. The o in os is pronounced as in hope. The genitive form of os is oris from which comes the word oral.

Nausea: Nausea, is the urge to vomit. It can be brought by many causes including, systemic illnesses, such as influenza, medications, pain, and inner ear disease. When nausea and/or vomiting are persistent, or when they are accompanied by other severe symptoms such as abdominal pain, jaundice, fever, or bleeding, a physician should be consulted.

Neuroscience: The study of the brain and nervous system, including molecular neuroscience, cellular neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, psychophysics, computational modeling and diseases of the nervous system. See also: Neuroscientist.

NIMH: Stands for the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., whose mission is to “provide national leadership dedicated to understanding, treating, and preventing mental illnesses through basic research on the brain and behavior, and through clinical, epidemiological, and services research.”

Panic: A sudden strong feeling of fear that prevents reasonable thought or action.
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Panic disorder : A disorder characterized by sudden attacks of fear and panic. The episodes may resemble a heart attack . They may strike at any time and occur without a known reason but more frequently are triggered by specific events or thoughts, such as taking an elevator or driving. The attacks may be so terrifying that some people associate their attacks with the place they occurred and will refuse to go there again.
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Phobia: An unreasonable sort of fear that can cause avoidance and panic. Phobias are a relatively common type of anxiety disorder.
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Polymorphism: A variation in the DNA that is too common to be due merely to new mutation. A polymorphism must have a frequency of at least 1% in the population.
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Predispose: To make more likely or render susceptible. Smoking predisposes to a number of diseases, including esophageal cancer.

Psychiatric: Pertaining to or within the purview of psychiatry , the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis , and treatment of mental illness.
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Psychiatry: The medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis , and treatment of mental illness.
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Psychology: The study of the mind and mental processes, especially in relation to behavior. There are a number of fields of psychology. Clinical psychology is concerned with diagnosing and treating disorders of the brain, emotional disturbances, and behavior problems. Child psychology is the study of the mental and emotional development of children and is part of developmental psychology, the study of changes in behavior that occur through the life span. Cognitive psychology deals with how the human mind receives and interprets impressions and ideas. Social psychology looks at how the actions of others influence the behavior of an individual.

Randomized: The use of chance alone to assign the participants in an experiment or trial to different groups in order to fairly compare the outcomes with different treatments. Randomization is an important feature of experimental design.
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Relapse: The return of signs and symptoms of a disease after a patient has enjoyed a remission . For example, after treatment a patient with cancer of the colon went into remission with no sign or symptom of the tumor, remained in remission for 4 years, but then suffered a relapse and had to be treated once again for colon cancer.
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Reuptake: The reabsorption of a secreted substance by the cell that originally produced and secreted it. The process of reuptake, for example, affects serotonin.
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Rule out: A term much used in medicine, meaning to eliminate or exclude something from consideration. The ACB (albumin cobalt binding) test helps rule out a heart attack in the differential diagnosis of severe chest pain.

Serotonin: A hormone , also called 5-hydroxytryptamine , in the pineal gland , blood platelets, the digestive tract, and the brain. Serotonin acts both as a chemical messenger that transmits nerve signals between nerve cells and that causes blood vessels to narrow.
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Social anxiety disorder: Excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations that is extremely intrusive and can have debilitating effects on personal and professional relationships. Also called social phobia.
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Social phobia: Excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations that is extremely intrusive and can have debilitating effects on personal and professional relationships.
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SSRI: Abbreviation for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly prescribed drugs for treating depression . SSRIs affect the chemicals that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. These chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, are released by one nerve and taken up by other nerves. Neurotransmitters that are not taken up by other nerves are taken up by the same nerves that released them. This process is termed “reuptake.” SSRIs work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, an action which allows more serotonin to be available to be taken up by other nerves.
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Stress: Forces from the outside world impinging on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life that can help us learn and grow. Conversely, stress can cause us significant problems.
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Substance: 1. Material with particular features, as a pressor substance.
2. The material that makes up an organ or structure. Also known in medicine as the substantia.
3. A psychoactive drug as, for example, in substance abuse.

Therapy: The treatment of disease .
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Xanax: See: Alprazolam.

Zoophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of animals.
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