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Prophylaxis (Greek "προφυλάσσω" to guard or prevent beforehand) is any medical or public health procedure whose purpose is to prevent, rather than treat or cure a disease. Roughly, prophylactic measures are divided between primary prophylaxis (to prevent the development of a disease) and secondary prophylaxis (whereby the disease has already developed and the patient is protected against worsening of this process).
Some specific examples of prophylaxis of relevence to psychologists include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) may, with caution, be an example of a chronic migraine preventative (see Amitriptyline and migraines' prevention by medicine).
- Condoms are sometimes referred to as "prophylactics" because of their use to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Daily and moderate physical exercise in various forms can be called prophylactic because it can maintain or improve one's mental health.
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