In recent years, India has seen a significant change in how people look at mental health, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. People have started becoming more aware of mental health issues and are also open to talking about them and seeking help. While it’s great that more people are talking about mental health, there’s a new trend of using serious mental health terms casually as ‘buzzwords’ without really understanding how severe or impactful they can be. This article explores some common terms that are being used incorrectly or casually in today’s vocabulary 

Referring To Oneself or Others as OCD

People often use the term Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) casually, saying someone is “OCD” just because they like things neat. However, real OCD is a far more complex condition characterised by disturbing intrusive thoughts, repetitive behaviours and anxiety that extend way beyond just cleanliness and neatness. Those who suffer from OCD have little to no control over these behaviours, making it overwhelming. Thus, casually referring to someone as having OCD may end up invalidating those who actually suffer from the condition.

Sadness vs Depression

Sadness is a normal human emotion. Every one of us feels sad from time to time. However, sadness usually lasts for a few days, and we may gradually return to feeling normal. Depression, on the other hand, is much deeper as compared to usual sadness. It is characterized by negative thoughts, a loss of interest, and withdrawal from social interactions for an extended period of time. It may also lead to hopelessness and loss of confidence. Thus, depression is complex and different from normal sadness.


Like OCD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, is a diagnosable mental health condition characterized by an excessive need for admiration. However, recently, narcissism has been misused to label any kind of rude behaviour. In truth, being rude is vastly different from being narcissistic  Casually diagnosing someone with a personality disorder based on incomplete information can do more harm than good.

Other Misused Mental Health Terms

Other mental health diagnoses are also used casually these days. For ex- calling someone ‘psycho’ for behaving differently or calling someone ‘bipolar’ for having mood swings. Again psychosis and bipolar are complex conditions, and casually using these terms can invalidate the pain of those who actually suffer from them.

What Happens With The Casual Usage of Mental Health Terms?

The casual use of complex mental health conditions can be harmful in some ways, such as:

  • It seems to oversimplify complex mental health conditions, which may end up trivializing the pain of the people who really suffer from these disorders. Thus, it only increases the stigma around mental health.
  • It contributes to the spread of misinformation regarding mental health conditions
  • The use of disorders as buzzwords can lead individuals to self-diagnose without a proper understanding of these conditions, potentially causing more distress.

The Way Ahead

We need to realize that mental health conditions are complex, so we need to be careful while casually labelling ourselves or others. The proper usage of mental health terminology can bring a lot of advantages, such as

  • Using clinical terms accurately communicates the severity and complexity of mental health conditions, fostering a more accurate understanding of individual experiences.
  • It encourages people to seek help instead of trying to self-diagnose
  • It contributes to the spread of authentic information, thus reducing the stigma around mental health.


The usage of mental health terms in everyday language signifies a positive shift in the attitude of people towards mental health. However, it is crucial to differentiate between buzzwords and genuine clinical diagnoses to ensure an accurate representation of mental health experiences. One can learn to use mental health terms with care by understanding and educating themselves about the severity and complexities of different mental health conditions 



  1. MD, B. F. (n.d.). Mental Health Terminology: Commonly Misused Terms. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  2. Mitsu. (2022, October 26). Why the Misuse of Mental Health Terms Is Dangerous. Mitsu.
  3. Why Your Partner’s Probably Not a Narcissist—And Other “Therapy Speak” Terms You Might Be Misusing. (n.d.). Health. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from

Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin