Not long ago there was news of research claiming to show that social anxiety disorder and shyness are not synonymous. Apparently there was still some kind of confusion. This being the case, I thought it might be a useful to translate a number of Pseudo-Medical terms back into the plain everyday speech.

It was my understanding that we might be able to clear up a lot of misunderstanding about these terms if we put each them into the simple sentence: A person with ______ is a person who _____s, and so that is what I’ve endeavored to do.

A person with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a person who rebels.

A person with Conduct Disorder is a person who misbehaves.

A person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a person who is disinterested and distracted at study or on the job.

A person with Intermittent Explosive Disorder is a person who expresses road rage.

A person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a person who worries.

A person with Social Anxiety Disorder is a shy person who worries.

A person with Depressive Disorder is a person who is unhappy.

A person with Separation Anxiety Disorder is a person who clings.

A person with Seasonal Affective Disorder is a person who is unhappy during the holidays.

There are no drugs to treat shyness. On the other hand, if a person goes to the doctor and the doctor says that this person has social anxiety disorder, the person can receive a prescription for a benzodiazepine, the same drug used in the treatment of general anxiety disorder. This drug, if one was wondering, provides a punch equivalent to the taking of a couple of drinks of an alcoholic beverage, and it is credited with having the power to transform a wallflower into the life of the party. Like alcohol, the drug is addictive.

If a person is unhappy, and the person goes to a doctor, the doctor will in all probability prescribe an SSRI antidepressant for that person. Antidepressants do considerably less, and yet they are still credited with making people more content with themselves.

The problem we have here is that if a person goes to a doctor because they are unhappy, or if a person goes to a doctor because they are shy, all the person is going to get out of the experience is a bottle of pills. Alright, fine and dandy so long as shyness and unhappiness have nothing to do with what is going on, or not going on, in a person’s life. According to the doctor all you need is a bottle of pills. If you need anything else, I suggest you consult somebody in another profession.

Let’s review what we’ve learned today.

Pseudo-medical Jargon

1. Oppositional Defiant Disorder

2. Conduct Disorder


4. Intermittent Explosive Disorder

5. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

6. Social Anxiety Disorder

7. Depressive disorder

8. Separation Anxiety Disorder

9. Seasonal Affective Disorder

Plain English

1. Rebellion

2. Misbehavior

3. Disinterest and distraction

4. Road Rage

5. Worry

6. Shyness mixed with worry

7. Unhappiness

8. Clinging

9. Holiday blahs

The good news is that no one need take a pill for the Plain English version.