The ASAP Dictionary of Anxiety and Panic Disorders

H2 Receptor Blocker - an anti-ulcer medication used to regulate the acidity of the stomach. Also see proton pump inhibitor and ulcer.

Health Anxiety - see hypochondria.

Health Phobia - see hypochondria.

Healthy Anxiety - any anxiety that is roughly appropriate to circumstances. Contrast with anxiety disorder.

Heart Attack - see cardiac disorder.

Heartburn - see gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) - a bacteria naturally found in the stomach. This bacteria is normally harmless. However, when a person is exposed to extreme or prolonged stress, the chemistry of the stomach may change in such a way that H. Pylori produces ulcers.

Helminthophobia - a phobia of worms.

Hematidrosis - a rare condition in which a person sweats blood. Apparently caused by hemorrhage into the sweat pores during moments of extreme stress or anxiety. Also known as hemidrosis. Also see perspiration.

Hemidrosis - see hematidrosis.

Herb - any seed plant that withers to the ground at the end of a growing season. Contrast with trees where bark protects a trunk that lives from year to year. Commonly, however, the word 'herb' is used in reference to any part of any plant used in a medicinal manner.

Herbalist - a person who specializes in the healing properties of herbs.

Herbal Remedy - any medication prepared from natural plants. When using herbal remedies, one should be very cautious about dosage since herbal potency can vary greatly depending on the source of the herb. Before trying a herb, please consult a medical doctor and an experienced herbalist rather than experiment on your own. Remember, "natural" does not necessarily mean "safe"; some herbal remedies are chemically similar to pharmaceutical medications. Typically, herbal remedies are considered a form of alternative medicine. Some herbal remedies used to treat anxiety include Bach Rescue Remedy, Calms Forte, catnip, chamomile, ginger, ginseng, hypericum, kava, passion flower, skullcap, valerian, yohimbe.

Holistic - relating to the "whole" of an individual's health (all aspects of mental and bodily health). Though nice in theory, "holistic medicine" is often synonymous with alternative medicine and consumers should use discretion.

Homeopath - see homeopathist.

Homeopathist - a believer or practitioner of homeopathy.

Homeopathy - treating a disease with minute doses of a medicine, often highly diluted. Homeopathy is typically considered an alternative medicine.

Homeostasis - the ability of a system to maintain a constant state. Adj. Homeostatic. Contrast with allostasis. An example of homeostatic balance is the regulation of blood glucose at a precise concentration by the hormones insulin and glucagon which, respectively, decrease and increase blood glucose.

Homework - any cognitive or behavioral exercise recommended by a therapist to be conducted between therapy sessions independently.

Hormone - a chemical messenger released from an endocrine gland into the blood that produces some biological action on target tissues elsewhere in the body. Contrast with neurotransmitter. Generally, hormones regulate the body's internal environment (allostatic or homeostatic control), regulate reproductive processes, and affect mood and behavior. There are two main classes of hormones which are called steroid and non-steroid. The steroid hormones include cortisol, estrogen, testosterone. The non-steroid hormones include cholecystokinin, epinephrine, dopamine, insulin, melatonin, norepinephrine, oxytocin, prolactin, serotonin, vasopressin.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) - providing supplements of a hormone, or similar acting chemical, to restore a healthy hormonal balance.

Horror - a pronounced state of fear, often characterized by dread, loathing or aversion.

Housebound - difficulty leaving one's residence. This condition is common with anxiety disorders and is often a consequence of agoraphobia or social phobia. Also see adjustment disorder, recluse, shut-in.

H. Pylori - see Helicobacter Pylori.

HRT - see Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Humor - to characterize or perceive something in an amusing manner. Real and severe instances of depression, fear, healthy anxiety or anxiety disorders are generally not humorous when experienced. Nonetheless, maintaining a sense of humor in the midst of such challenges is an important coping skill. Humor is often a natural and healthy way to relieve nervous tension, stress or pain. Consequently, comedy often addresses stressful situations. Also see laughter.

Humors - bodily fluids which were once imagined to govern health and mood. The four so-called "Cardinal Humors" were blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy; associated with the colors red, green, yellow, and black. Also see hysteria.

Hydrocortisone - synthetic, or pharmaceutically prepared, cortisol.

Hydrotherapy - any therapy that uses water to promote relaxation, increase circulation, provide nerve stimulation or even aid in detoxification via skin pores. Also see spa.

Hypericum Perforatum - a plant used as a herbal remedy; antidepressant, anxiolytic. Commonly called Saint John's Wort or SJW. CAUTION: Hypericum appears to act as an MAOI, so users should follow an MAOI diet (perhaps not as rigorously as with pharmaceutical MAOIs) as well as avoid certain medications that may harmfully interact with an MAOI (such as SRIs).

Hyperhidrosis - excessive perspiration caused by medical and/or emotional factors. Hyperhidrosis can be focal (limited to parts of the body) or generalized (the whole body).

Hypersensitivity - exaggerated sensitivity. Anxiety and panic disorders can increase a person's sensitivity to light, sound, smell, taste, touch, temperature, balance, and even emotional issues. Such sensitivity can have psychosomatic effects. Also see hypervigilance, perceptual filtering.

Hypersomnia - abnormally excessive sleeping which can last days or longer.

Hypertension - abnormally high blood pressure. Symptoms may include anxiety, dizziness or headache. Contrast with hypotension. Also see white-coat effect.

Hyperthyroid - a thyroid disorder where the thyroid gland is over productive. Symptoms include excessive energy, difficulty sleeping. This condition can be medically diagnosed with a blood test. Also see hypothyroid.

Hyperventilation - excessive breathing that changes carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the blood. Hyperventilation can be caused by an anxiety attack or, conversely, an anxiety attack can be caused by hyperventilation. Breathing into a paper bag or one's own shirt has been a popular method for combating hyperventilation, which might directly affect blood chemistry or might reinforce awareness of breathing (provide a focus for biofeedback). Also see breathing exercise, dysautonomia, suffocation alarm.

Hyperventilation Syndrome - a dated alternate name for panic disorder.

Hypervigilance - a heightened sense of perception induced by anxiety. Episodes of hypervigilance can make people acutely aware of subtle details normally ignored, sometimes to a degree where even familiar environments may seem somehow changed. Also see depersonalization, derealization, hypersensitivity, perceptual filtering.

Hypnagogic - relating to drowsiness prior to sleep.

Hynoanalysis - see Hypnotic Psychotherapy.

Hypnopompic - relating to semiconsciousness prior to waking. Also see sleep paralysis.

Hypnos - a god from Greek mythology who personified sleep. Son of the night goddess Nyx. Brother to Thanatos (death). Father of the Oneroi (dreams). Roman, Somnus. Also see mythology.

Hypnosis - a psychological technique involving relaxation and voluntarily ignoring conscious thought processes. Hypnosis attempts to directly access the unconscious mind.

Hypnotic - anything that induces hypnosis, trance state or sleep.

Hypnotic Psychotherapy - any psychotherapy which explores unconscious impressions using the technique of hypnosis. Useful when an anxiety disorder might involve psychological repression. Contrast with hypnotic suggestion.

Hypnotic Suggestion - modifying unconscious tendencies through hypnosis. Sometimes useful for specific or simple phobias, but rarely useful for agoraphobia, social phobia or other anxiety disorders. Contrast with hypnotic psychotherapy.

Hypochondria - a somatoform disorder characterized by an exaggerated concern of diseases or medical disorders that can result in psychosomatic symptoms. Also known as health anxiety or health phobia. Also see cyberchondria, medical school syndrome, worried well. Contrast with anosodiaphoria.

Hypochondriac - someone who suffers from hypochondria.

Hypochondriacal Neurosis - a dated alternate name for various anxiety disorders. See neurosis.

Hypochondriacism - see hypochondria.

Hypochondriasis - see hypochondria.

Hypoglycemia - a condition of low blood sugar which can cause fainting and has symptoms similar to anxiety disorders. This condition can be medically diagnosed with a blood sugar test, preferably a five hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). Adj. Hypoglycemic.

Hypotension - abnormally low blood pressure. Symptoms may include anxiety and dizziness. Contrast with hypertension. Also see orthostatic hypotension, postural hypotension.

Hypothalamus - a part of the limbic system that, along with the pituitary gland, monitor and regulate body temperature, blood flow, water-salt balance, numerous hormones, hunger, sleep and reflexes related to anger and fear. Also see corticotropin releasing factor.

Hypothyroid - a thyroid disorder where the thyroid gland is under productive. Symptoms include fatigue, excessive sleeping. This condition can be medically diagnosed with a blood test. Contrast with hyperthyroid.

Hysteria - a term (dating from the time of Hippocrates, 400 BC) for excessive and uncontrollable emotion, including anxiety disorders and related conditions. Adj. Hysterical. The term is derived from the Greek word "hystera" meaning uterus or womb. Since the condition seemed to affect mainly women of childbearing years, it was believed to be caused by a wandering uterus. Also see humors, mass hysteria, vapors.

Hysterical Conversion - a dated term describing a severe psychosomatic response where emotional trauma is manifested as apparent physiological symptoms; such as deafness, paralysis, blindness or surdomutism. Conversion hysteria can occur in traumatic or post traumatic situations. See acute stress disorder.

Hysterical Fugue - a pronounced amnesia produced by emotional stress which typically lasts several days. Often involves aimless wandering.

Hysterical Personality - a dated term which typically refers to any personality characterized by excessive emotion often with unhealthy social traits.

The ASAP Dictionary of Anxiety and Panic Disorders