Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

If your daily life is hindered as a result of your obsessions and compulsions, you may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (abbreviated as OCD). A person with OCD experiences frequent upsetting thoughts (aka obsessions) that they try to combat and control by performing ritualistic behaviors (aka compulsions). It is important to note that healthy people who do not have OCD can also have rituals, but the difference in people with OCD is that their rituals cause them great distress and interrupt their daily life. Examples of common rituals that people with OCD perform include excessive hand washing, locking and unlocking their locks multiple times before leaving, skin picking, pulling out hair (trichotillomania) and combing their hair compulsively; as you can see, these compulsions can clearly hinder one’s daily life. These rituals, which are repetitive and uncontrollable, are carried out in order to get brief relief from the anxiety one’s compulsions can cause.

Although these repetitive behaviors occur as a result of one’s obsessions, scientists are not certain what the exact causes of OCD are. However, they do hypothesize that genetics do play a major role in the development of this disorder and possibly environmental stressors as well. OCD typically develops in the childhood/teenage years, as most people who have it are diagnosed by the age of 19. And although OCD tends to be a lifelong disorder if left untreated, the exact course varies. Most people do control it with the proper treatment. Since it is co-morbid with other disorders such as eating disorders, anxiety disorders or depression, one can also find great relief by getting the co-occurring disorder treated as well. As far as treatments for OCD go, similar to the treatments available and recommended for many other disorders, medications and the use of psychotherapy work best. If you suspect you or someone you know has OCD, it is urgent that you contact a mental health specialist to first determine whether or not you or your loved one has it, and second to find the best treatment option available.

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have OCD, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: nimh.nih.gov

By: Shivani J. Patel

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Worrying Excessively: How You May Have GAD and How to Cope With It

If you worry excessively without any apparent reason then you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (also abbreviated as GAD). Someone with GAD tends to worry about many aspects of their life, when there is really little to no reason to do so: they tend to anticipate the worst. People with GAD find it hard to relax, difficult to concentrate and get startled easily. This also leads to other physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle tension and/or aches, headaches, trembling, irritability, sweating, twitching, nausea, lightheadedness, loss of breath, hot flashes and frequently going to the bathroom. However, it is important to note that these symptoms wax and wane and are not always exhibited together at the same time. In general, these symptoms start to appear slowly, as the onset of GAD is very slow. The risk of developing GAD starts in one’s late teens/young adult years, and doubles if one is female rather than male; however, no one is immune from developing it.

People with mild GAD can often function normally and carry out their daily tasks but for those with moderate to severe GAD, even carrying out the simplest tasks can become very difficult. Consequently, it is important to get help if you think you may have GAD. Luckily, there are many treatment options available including psychotherapy and/or medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that teaches you how to restructure your thoughts, behaviors and reactions so that you can have a different outlook of your situation; it is especially effective in treating GAD. In addition, medication can also help to balance the neurotransmitters in your system that are associated with emotion, fear and worry. People also find hypnosis and relaxation are effective methods to help you gain control over your anxiety.

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have an anxiety disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: adaa.org, nimh.nih.gov

By: Shivani J. Patel

Bulimia Nervosa: What to Look for and How to Get Help

Bulimia Nervosa: What to Look for and How to Get Help

Bulimia nervosa, which is simply known as bulimia, is a type of eating disorder in which the person affected has episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by some sort of compensatory behavior such as purging, excessive exercising or fasting. Someone with bulimia, or any type of eating disorder for that matter, usually has an unrealistic body image of him/herself, which results in unhealthy eating habits. People who are bulimic, just like those who are anorexic, fear gaining weight, want to lose weight and are extremely unhappy with their body. However, what sets bulimics apart is that they usually end up maintaining a healthy/normal body weight for their size. This makes it harder for others to notice that they have an eating disorder. But unlike healthy people, people with bulimia have physical symptoms that are present as a result of their disorder. This includes worn tooth enamels, acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems, a chronically inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands, severe dehydration, intestinal distress and irritation and lastly, electrolyte imbalance. However, before these symptoms worsen, you can look out for these warning signs of bulimia: evidence of binge eating (disappearance of large amounts of food in a short period of time and finding large amounts of wrappers and containers), an excessive and rigid exercise regimen even if they have an injury, illness or feel fatigued, evidence of purging behaviors such as frequent bathroom trips after meals, finding wrappers for laxatives or diuretics, smells of vomit, withdrawal from usual friends/activities, and the discoloration/staining of teeth, swelling of cheeks and jaw areas and calluses on hands/knuckles from inducing vomiting.

By looking out for these symptoms and warning signs, you may be able to figure out whether someone you know and love may have bulimia nervosa and thus get them the proper help they need. However, before the psychological and cognitive aspects of bulimia are treated –just like any other eating disorder- the body must first be treated physically. The first step is to restore adequate nutrition and bring the person back to a healthy weight. After one’s body has become stabilized, they can then move onto other treatment options that deal with the cognitive aspects of the disorder. The most effective treatment is psychotherapy which is often used in conjunction with medication. Psychotherapy helps the person understand their thoughts and cognitions, allowing them to rethink how they see themselves. It helps them fix their distorted self-body image.

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have seasonal affective disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, http://www.nimh.nih.gov

By: Shivani J. Patel

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): It’s More than Just Post-Holiday Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): It’s More than Just Post-Holiday Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a subtype of depression in which the person experiences feelings of sadness, a sudden loss of interest in things they usually enjoy and an overall negative fluctuation from their baseline mood. SAD is different from regular depression in that the contributing factors are a bit more specific: these include less natural sunlight and the nostalgia that usually follows the holiday season. The symptoms of SAD can vary from person to person but usually include persistent sad, anxious or “empty feelings”, feelings of pessimism and hopelessness, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, fatigue and decreased energy, insomnia or excessive sleeping, difficulty concentrating, irritability and restlessness as well as thoughts of suicide and/ or attempts at suicide (nimh.nih.gov). More often than not, when these symptoms show up during the winter months, it may be more serious than just post-holiday blues.

Although women are 70% more likely to experience depression in their lifetime and the likelihood of experience peaks at 32 years old, anyone can experience it. Therefore it is a matter that should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you know thinks that they may have SAD, talk to a therapist as soon as possible. He/she can tell you about the various treatment options that are used to combat SAD. This could include light therapy, psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medications. Light therapy helps to reset your body’s daily rhythms and increase melatonin that may have been thrown off and decreased due to the lack of natural sunlight. Unfortunately, light therapy alone does not always help. Therefore psychotherapy and/or medications are usually the treatments of choice. Psychotherapy allows you to gain insight into your depression and learn how to change certain behaviors and thought patterns that may be making things worse for you; when combined with antidepressants that increase certain chemicals in your brain that are involved in regulating your mood, the long term prognosis of SAD is bright (no pun intended!).

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have seasonal affective disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: mentalhealth.gov, nimh.nih.gov

By: Shivani J. Patel