PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Anna Straus

What is PTSD and why does it occur? Two people may experience the same event, such as a car accident. One person is shaken up but recovers in a day or two; the other is consistently plagued with anxiety and stress at even the thought of getting in a car. Psychology supposes that something in the brain can get ‘stuck’ when a person processes a traumatic event.

PTSD is characterized by high levels of distress, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks and bad dreams. As a result people may avoid anything that slightly reminds them of the traumatic event, become emotionally numb or depressed and withdraw from otherwise enjoyed activities.

People at high risk for PTSD are people who are likely victims or witnesses of traumatic scenes: war veterans and domestic violence victims being among the most prone, although people with otherwise happy lives can also experience PTSD. The type or nature of traumatic event does not necessarily determine whether someone will get PTSD, rather, PTSD happens because of a person’s way of reacting to and attempts to ‘get over’ the event.

When left untreated the symptoms of PTSD can cause a multitude of secondary psychological and behavioral symptoms. People may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms. They may experience severe depression because of the negative impact that their PTSD stress has on all other aspects of their life.

A variety of treatments have been shown to improve PTSD symptoms. The efficacy of the treatments depending on multiple factors. Some research shows that a chemical imbalance occurs in PTSD patients, and medication appears to stabilize this. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapies also show promising results. These therapies help a patient confront their traumatic experience in a safe setting and reprocess it in a more effective way.

If you believe that you or a loved one has PTSD, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and 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.

 

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Logotherapy: The Search for Meaning

 

4ca1c28dce143e607ec4f0768683ea1e[1].jpgLogotherapy is a form of psychotherapy formed by Dr. Victor Frankl. It is based on the belief that the primary force of motivation in humans is our need to see meaning in our lives. Frankl believed that even in the darkest situations, humans will strive to create meaning out of their experience. Frankel developed this theory after he spent years in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. There was no freedom in the physical sense, but Frankel realized that he still had the freedom to choose how he existed mentally in such a difficult situation. Frankl and some of his fellow inmates found that by making it their mission to help fellow prisoners in need, they found meaning in what seemed like a helpless position and a hopeless situation.

Frankl survived the camps, citing the meaning he had found as a key factor contributing to his survival. He went on to apply his theory to his own system of existentially based psychotherapy. With depressed clients especially, who were struggling with both inner demons and tough situations like divorce or the death of a loved one, he encouraged them to search for something in their lives that could provide meaning. He introduced clients to the idea of inner freedom: their freedom to choose the stance they took in even the most destitute situations and the freedom they had to search for meaning in whatever they experienced.

If you are having difficulty finding meaning in your life, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Weight Gain/Loss: It’s All in Your Head

It seems as though there are always new weight loss ads, pills, and detoxes surfacing. Even with all of these new tips and tricks, people are continuing to complain that they cannot lose weight. Furthermore, even if people do lose weight, they regain that same weight soon after. How could this be? Perhaps this may happen because losing/gaining weight is more than just the food you consume, but actually is based upon how you perceive yourself and how you address your eating habits.

First and foremost, your perception of what your body is (or what you want it to be) should be realistic. To be beautiful you do not have to be tall and lengthy or curvy at every inch of your body.  A body mass index (BMI) calculator is a simple way to determine relatively how healthy/unhealthy you are. If you aren’t at your ideal weight, don’t fret! With some minor behavioral changes, you will start becoming a healthier version of yourself. A healthier lifestyle isn’t only made up of physical improvements, but mental ones as well.

Converting from a distracted eater to a mindful one is no easy task. Distracted eaters often have less satisfactory experiences when eating. Realistically, we’ve all eaten while distracted (walking, texting, or even driving), but how often do you really savor your food when doing so? A mindful eater is able to focus on what they are consuming, savoring every bite. They focus on their senses, analyzing the various textures, tastes, colors, and smells of their food. In turn, you may eat fewer calories and become full more quickly, whereas a distracted eater doesn’t focus on the amount of consumption ultimately increasing their caloric intake. So the next time you go to eat a meal or even a snack, remember to choose the healthy option and, most importantly take the time to sit down and enjoy your food.

If you believe that you or a loved one is struggling with weight gain/loss, 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.

Source: Avena, Nicole, Ph.D. “Are Your Cognitive Behaviors Hurting Your Health?” Psychology Today, 2016 April 18. Web.

By: Alexis Ferguson

Relationships: Abusive Relationships: Why We Repeat the Past

“Why didn’t you just walk away?” “How could you let this happen to yourself again?” These questions are not uncommon for survivors of domestic abuse to hear. When a person has numerous maladaptive relationships, it leaves them and others baffled. Why on earth would someone put themselves in an abusive situation again? The answer to this lies in a psychological phenomenon called “repetition compulsion.” In repetition compulsion, a person either puts themselves into a situation where abuse is likely to happen again, or they reenact the past situation with another partner. Below are some theorized reasons why people repeat the past in their relationships.

  1. Change can be a scary or anxiety-provoking thing. Most of us stick to what we know, even if it means regularly dating partners who are physically and/or emotionally abusive.
  2. Some think that by putting themselves in the same situation, they can change the outcome this time. They think that they will be able to master this relationship, and this will make up for the last bad one.
  3. We might believe that if we act in just the right way, our partner’s behavior will change and they will treat us right.
  4. We begin to internalize the beliefs that we are unlovable and deserve to be mistreated.
  5.  Unconsciously or consciously, we seek out abuse from others due to conditioning.
  6. “Winning” an argument with an abusive partner may lead us to believe that we are able to do this again and the abuse will stop.

Despite how terrible the situation may be, know that you are not alone, there is help available, and there are resources to begin the healing process.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Further reading: “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Source: Esposito, Linda. “Why Do We Repeat the Past in Our Relationships?” Psychology Today. Sussex Pulishers, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016

By: Scout H

Relationship & Dating Tips

First dates can be exciting, enjoyable, and can open up a wide range of possibilities. If you’re about to spend time with someone new, make sure you keep your eyes open for some red flags that may predict the fate of your relationship down the road.

  • If they pay more attention to electronics than to you during the first date, you can easily tell where their priorities are.
  • If they spend the majority of the time talking about themselves during the date, it is possible you might end up with a narcissist.
  • Disclosing how much they hate their job or friend or relative, especially on a first date, should make you apprehensive. This shows that they have a history of tumultuous relationships.
  • Talking about an ex or comparing you to an ex is a huge indicator that your date is still hanging on to the past.
  • Asking if someone is enjoying the restaurant/music/movie is fine. You might find yourself becoming uncomfortable with how many times you need to reassure them. However, asking many times throughout the night how things are going may be a sign of low self-esteem.
  • If during the date they disclose a view that is fundamentally different from yours, don’t ignore it! Having different opinions is fine, but if your core beliefs are too different, this could make for some serious clashing in a relationship.
  • Being unnecessarily rude towards the waiter, a parking attendant, or other person in front of you is never a good sign. If they blow up on people for small things, imagine how they’d treat you if they thought you did something wrong!

If you learn to recognize the red flags, you will be able to know when to call a first date your last date!

If you’re dealing with relationship problems, consider reaching out to the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722 1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source: Degges-White, Suzanne. “13 First Date Red Flags.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.

By: Scout H