Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.
By: Keely Fell
Heartbreak notably causes a great deal of emotional pain, but have you ever wondered what it does to the chemistry in your brain? Experiencing heartbreak can cause pains in the chest, gut and even in our throat. Such sensations can leave one feeling broken. The brain has quite a way of reacting to the experience of a broken heart, and understanding the feelings caused by brain reactions is essential to overcoming heartbreak.
One of the most interesting brain reactions to heartbreak is the experience of withdrawal symptoms in the absence of love. Often times when experienced, the brain mechanisms that are activated are the same as if someone is withdrawing from drugs like nicotine, cocaine, etc. So you could make the connection that love is addicting, thus creating a chemical reaction when you fall in love that is similar to a “high”.
Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have been performed showing how these mechanisms are being activated in the brain. A study conducted by Art Aron, Lucy Brown, and Helen Fisher found that the area of the brain associated with the rewards system, known as the caudate nucleus, lights up on scans when in love. This shows that love might be more than just an emotion and more of a response searching for the reward of affection. People who use drugs such as nicotine and cocaine see similar brain activity across fMRI scans. In both cases, the brain is experiencing a spike in the release of dopamine through the caudate nucleus. It was also observed that when an fMRI scan was performed on people experiencing the first stages of a break up, the caudate nucleus was still in “motivation mode”, meaning that the individual was still searching for that “fix” of love.
Understanding that these feelings and symptoms are deeper rooted than just simply feeling sad over a broken heart, can help us through the healing process. Over time the brains need to fulfill the “fix” will subside and will move onto the next big thing.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .
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By Gabriella Phillip
Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.
Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.
When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .
By: Keely Fell
Can’t seem to shake the winter blues? Nearly five percent of adults are experiencing symptoms that align with major depressive disorder with recurring seasonal pattern, which is more commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), an individual who is experiencing “two major depressive episodes in the last two years” that show relations to the time of year, and experience full remissions at other times they may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
It is also important to understand what is happening in the body and why an individual is experiencing such symptoms. When an individual is experiencing these symptoms, often it can be as a result of the lack of natural light due to the shorter periods of daylight during the winter season. With the lack of light, the human brain slows down the production of serotonin, and increases the production of melatonin which leaves individuals feeling drowsy. Melatonin production increase is caused by darkness, which is why we get sleepy when the sun goes down. The regulation of these chemicals is what helps create your body’s specific circadian rhythm. When this system is affected it can cause a feeling of lethargy and or restlessness.
Here are some tips and tricks to shaking those winter blues:
- Take a few minutes during your day to get outside Whether that’s during your lunch break or walking to pick up the mail, going outside during daylight will increase the serotonin production in your brain.
- Light Therapy During the dark winter months, if these symptoms are taking over you can try light therapy. Light therapy allows for the brain to think it’s being exposed to sunlight. People who use light therapy typically invest in a light box (if interested Harvard Health has many they recommend) which delivers around 10,000 lux, compared to a standard sunny day that ranges 50,000 lux or above. They recommend that, you sit in front of the light box for no more than 30 minutes a day. This allows for the brain to regulate its circadian rhythms by allowing the retinas to be stimulated. Light therapy does not work for everyone.
- Talk Therapy If these symptoms persist and are affecting your day talk therapy is also affective. Reaching out to a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychotherapist to come up with symptom relief is another big way to combat these symptoms. Symptom relief may include the use of antidepressants, or various therapeutic methods.
If you or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder or seems to have the symptoms of SAD, and needs help, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .
By Gabriella Phillip
Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.
Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.
Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .