Bipolar Disorder: Cognitive Deficits of Which You May Not Be Aware

By Samantha Glosser

When you hear the term “bipolar disorder” your first thoughts are most likely about the cycle of elevated and depressed moods, of extreme highs and extreme lows. This is to be expected, as these states of mania and depression are hallmark features of bipolar disorder, and they are typically the symptoms highlighted by mainstream media. In mania, individuals exhibit symptoms of high energy, decreased need for sleep, feelings of euphoria, extreme irritability, and impulsivity. In a depressive state, individuals display symptoms of low energy, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, avolition, and suicidal ideation.

Sometimes there can be more to bipolar disorder than just these symptoms. For some, after the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms, there is a marked decrease in cognitive capacity across a few different areas. Typical cognitive deficits reported with bipolar disorder include the following: difficulties with working memory, such as word retrieval, and executive functioning, such as problems with planning, prioritizing, and organizing behavior. Individuals also experience difficulties retaining information that was just presented to them and can even experience slowed thought processes. These adverse cognitive impacts appear at both polarities of mood. It is also important to distinguish between two types of cognitive deficits: mood-phase specific and enduring. Mood-phase specific cognitive deficits are typical to most individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as these symptoms are only present during periods of mood intensity. Enduring deficits, on the other hand, will remain present even when an individual has sustained a period of partial remission or is at a baseline level of functioning (i.e., they are not experiencing mania or depression). Not everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences enduring cognitive deficits. Individuals with a history of higher acuity symptoms, as well as individuals with a history of treatment resistant symptoms, treatment non-compliance, and/or unhealthy lifestyle choices are more likely to suffer from enduring cognitive deficits.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from bipolar disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/


Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bipolar-you/201412/cognitive-deficit-in-bipolar-disorder

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Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy 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. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

By: Estephani Diaz

The most commonly diagnosed disorder among children and young adolescents is ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Among adults, only 4% are diagnosed with this order. The most significant common symptoms for ADHD are: hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Each symptom has their own signs that professionals look out for. For example:

Hyperactivity:

  • Talks excessively
  • Always on the go
  • Restlessness

Inattention:

  • Misses details
  • Easily distracted
  • Often forgetful

Impulsivity:

  • Tough time waiting
  • Interrupts others
  • Blurts out answers

Along with the symptoms listed above, problems with organization, time management, and controlling emotions are also pat of ADHD. Procrastination, isolation and difficulty concentrating are challenges people with ADHD may also face. It is also likely for them to have trouble with self-esteem, relationships and addiction. ADHD can cause a person to have problems at school and work as well.

ADHD may be caused by genetics, brain injuries, chemical imbalance and other causes. Poor prenatal development such as smoking while pregnant, can be a factor behind ADHD too. If diagnosed with ADHD as a child, it will continue on to adulthood. Over the years, the disorder does not go away, a person just learns to manage their ADHD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 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/.

Schizophrenia

By: Dianna Gomez

Schizophrenia is generally known to be a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Schizophrenic individuals most often have had a break with reality. When the average person hears the term ‘schizophrenia’ they immediately associate the illness with things such as hallucinations, hearing of voices, etc. Although these are accurate possibilities, there are several additional types of schizophrenia that many people aren’t aware of that people suffer from all around the globe. There are a total 5 subtypes of schizophrenia including: paranoid, disorganized, residual, catatonic and undifferentiated.

Paranoid: delusions (beliefs that may seem real to the person suffering but are not actually happening) such as believing the government is spying on them. Another symptom seen in this subtype is auditory hallucinations (hearing voices that are not real). Most often, these voices are not kind. They encourage the person to hurt others, hurt themselves, etc. These people may also see things that aren’t truly there (ex: seeing the devil).

Disorganized: in addition to having hallucinations and delusions, people with this type of schizophrenia have problems with disorganized speech (ex: speaking but not making any sense/word salad), disorganized thoughts (ex: quickly jumping from one topic to the next).

Residual: people with this type of schizophrenia mainly struggle with a lack of initiative, poor self-care/hygiene, poor social performance, underactivity, passivity, poor non-verbal communication (facial expressions, eye contact, etc). These people do not experience nearly as many hallucinations and delusions.

Catatonic: disturbances in a person’s movements and/or immobility. Catatonic individuals can maintain very unusual body positions/poses for extended periods of time. If someone were to try to move them, their limbs would be extremely resistant against efforts to be altered.

Undifferentiated: people with this type suffer from 2 or more types of symptoms listed above. They may have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior, etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from schizophrenia, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 t0 set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.

TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

By: Dianna Gomez

A “traumatizing” experience is one that is dangerous, scary or unexpected and can leave a person affected emotionally. There are many different kinds of experiences that can be considered traumatizing. Traumatic events can be caused by other people such as terror attacks, community violence (mugging, shooting, assault, bullying), or a very serious car accident. Traumatic experiences can also be natural. Examples of natural traumatic events include hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Regardless of what category of trauma an event falls under, each has the potential to leave a certain amount of impact on a person’s brain.

For most people, with time comes less feelings of trauma following an event. However, it is not unheard of for a traumatic experience to leave a person affected for the rest of their lives. In addition, everyone reacts and copes with trauma differently. A majority of people have similar symptoms following a traumatic event that include trouble sleeping or concentrating, constantly thinking about what occurred, and feeling anxious, sad or angry. These can last for several weeks or even months following a traumatic event. There are a few actions that a person can take that are known to be the healthiest ways to cope after experiencing something traumatic. These healthy coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs
  • Spending time around loved ones or supportive people in your life that you trust
  • Maintaining normal daily routines (eating, exercising, sleeping)
  • Staying active! The more you have to keep your mind preoccupied, the less time you have to be consumed by negative thoughts about the event

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. 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, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

 

Your Brain on Stress

By: Stephanie Osuba

Our brain has an automatic response to stress located in the amygdala, an almond sized structure in our brain that regulates emotion. Once a threat is perceived, the amygdala releases a number of hormones – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine – to prepare for the “fight or flight” response. This is all well and good for physical threats, but what about interpersonal threats? Threats that are far more complex that need an actual solution rather than simply running away. That’s when your prefrontal cortex comes into play as it handles all of the executive function in your brain and allows you to think critically about situations. This way you can learn how to deliberately take a step back and think about how you are going to handle the stressor. So instead of letting your emotions dictate when you are angry with your significant other, dealing with rude customers, or have one too many, here are some ways you can learn to manage your stress in a constructive way:

  • Take a Breath: Calm things down and take deep breaths. This clears your head long enough for you to regain control of your emotions and let your prefrontal cortex get onboard. Once you do that, you can start critically thinking about what to do with your stressor.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of being in the present and being aware of your surroundings and the social context you are in. By asking yourself, “why am I feeling angry?” or “is saying this mean thing the best thing to do right now?” you can stop yourself from acting out in a way that you might regret.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Some situations allow room for you to intervene, and others do not. Focus your energy on aspects you can anticipate, while at the same time mindfully accepting the aspects that you cannot.
  • Broaden Your View: When the amygdala gives off negative emotions due to the stressor, the anxiety usually narrows your point of view and drives you to find the quickest solution to the problem. As we know, the fastest solution isn’t always the best and it prevents you from using the stressful opportunity to grow and learn from the situation and finding a creative solution.

As much as we would rather not have to deal with it, stress is part of our daily lives and learning how to manage it can give us the life skills to handle, relatively, any situation thrown at us.

Source: Greenberg, M., Ph.D. (2017, September 7). Five Secrets to a Stress-Proof Brain. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201702/five-secrets-stress-proof-brain

If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological distress due to stress, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

By: Gisela Serrano

Bing Eating Disorder is a relatively new disorder that was only recently added to the DSM-5 in 2013. So, what exactly is Binge Eating Disorder? According to the American Psychiatric Association, Binge Eating Disorder is “characterized by recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry.” BED is one of the most common eating disorders and research shows that over 50% of people who suffer from BED do not seek or receive treatment. Binge eating disorder can affect just about anyone regardless of race, sex, or age. Most of those who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder are overweight or obese, but not all. Some sufferers actually appear perfectly healthy with regard to their weight. Those who suffer from BED experience extreme shame and guilt for the amount that they eat in such short periods of time. They understand that it is not healthy, but they feel it is almost impossible to change their ways. This is why those who suffer from BED prefer to eat alone rather than feeling ashamed and embarrassed in front of others. Someone who is not well informed on the disorder may not understand and, therefore, is quick to judge and disapprove or make nasty and unnecessary comments to the sufferer. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Binge Eating Disorder is a serious disorder that affects normal, everyday people. If you feel as though you or a loved one might be suffering from this disorder, seeking treatment would be best as it is not always easy to do on one’s own. You can contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy at our office in Paramus, NJ at (201) 368-3700 or our Manhattan location at (212) 722-1920 to see how our services and approaches can help you or a loved one treat your disorder. You can also visit our website http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Resources:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/new-dsm-5-binge-eating-disorder

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/ResourceHandouts/InfographicRGB.pdf

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

By: Gisela Serrano

Although Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most commonly diagnosed depressive disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as Dysthymia, is the second most common diagnosis. PDD is known to be mild and less severe than MDD, however, it is more chronic – that is, it is longer-lasting and recurring.

When diagnosing a patient with PDD, it must be ruled out that the symptoms the patient is experiencing cannot be better explained by a psychotic disorder or attributed to substance abuse. The symptoms must also cause distress to the patient and interfere or cause disturbances in their everyday life. Patients experience a “low” mood and feel down for most of the day, for a majority part of the time than not, for at least two years or more.  The patient cannot be without symptoms for more than two months; otherwise, he or she cannot be diagnosed with PDD.

As listed in the DSM-5, patients must experience two or more of the following symptoms, along with depressed symptoms, to receive a medical diagnosis of PDD:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Treatments for Persistent Depressive Disorder include talk therapy or medication such as antidepressants and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. If you feel like you might be suffering from Persistent Depressive Disorder, it is important that you seek professional help as this disorder is highly treatable. At Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy center, we have qualified professionals that may be able to help you. You can reach us at our office in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Anorexia and Amenorrhea: How Anorexia can be the Reason for Losing your Period

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Eating disorders are ruthless mental illnesses which severely impact on one’s mental and physical well-being. One such eating disorder is Anorexia Nervosa. This ailment is characterized by a severely distorted body image, a fear of gaining weight, extreme starvation and restriction of food intake, and a very low body weight. This deprivation of food and nutrients can have detrimental effects to the body. Anorexia Nervosa is primarily prevalent among younger females, although impacting males as well. One side effect of this eating disorder in females is amenorrhea, or losing one’s menstrual cycle.

Amenorrhea can be classified into two forms: primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea occurs when a female does not begin her menstrual cycle by sixteen years of age. Secondary amenorrhea, loss of the menstrual cycle after it has already begun, is prevalent in many females with anorexia nervosa. The loss of one’s period can be attributed to low body weight, extreme amounts of exercise, and greater stress levels. The loss of such a regulated bodily cycle in a female’s body is dangerous, and can indicate the severity of and impairment caused by anorexia nervosa.

If amenorrhea and the underlying causes of its occurrence are not addressed, women are at risk of becoming infertile. In addition, the levels of estrogen decrease in the female body, leading to the development of pre-menopausal symptoms including loss of sleep, night sweats, and irritable moods. Finally, amenorrhea and the resulting reduction in estrogen can deplete amounts of calcium, thus making bones brittle and more susceptible to breakage. This can even occur in younger women with anorexia who are struggling through amenorrhea.

It is imperative that one seeks treatment if they are struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, and especially if one is also experiencing amenorrhea. Therapy and medication can be of assistance in overcoming this disorder, and in restoring one’s menstrual and mental well-being.

If you or someone you know is dealing with Anorexia Nervosa and/or amenorrhea, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.

Low Self Esteem: 7 Steps to Start Loving Yourself

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Self-esteem describes the way that we evaluate and judge ourselves. It is assessed on a continuum from high to low, with unfortunately many people who fall under the category of having low self-esteem. People who feel this way about themselves do not see themselves and their views as valuable, compare themselves to others, feel worthless, and lack self-confidence.

If you or anyone you know struggles with low self-esteem, you know how difficult it can be to bear the feelings that come with it. It can be draining, can impair overall functioning, can influence social interactions, and can cause one to be withdrawn from society. Although it is not easy to cope with low self-esteem, it can be improved through steps towards accepting and loving oneself. The capacity for change comes from within yourself!

Here are 7 Steps to Begin Loving Yourself and Boost your Self-Esteem:

1. Practice saying things you like about yourself in the mirror every morning when you wake up. Start your day taking the time to compliment yourself. This will begin to come naturally the more you do it.

2. Write out a list of your accomplishments. Accomplishments as big as landing the job you wanted or as small as getting the laundry done count. The more you applaud yourself, the more you will be able to boost your confidence.

3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and failures. It is easy to hold onto failures and consider yourself to be a failure. Learn to accept and forgive mistakes, recognizing that everyone in the world makes them.

4. Stop comparing. Remind yourself that you are different from the people around you, and that you are not them. The more you try to compare yourself with others, the more you lose sight of who you are.

5. Spend time with the people you love. It is easy to isolate when you are not feeling your best, but surrounding yourself with the family and friends who you feel closest to can boost your happiness and make you feel good about yourself, especially seeing how happy they are to be with you.

6. But also, spend time alone. Take yourself out somewhere nice, go on a long drive alone, or even travel by yourself. Giving yourself “me-time” is important in developing a better relationship with yourself.

7. Remind yourself that no on is perfect. It is easy for us to feel bad about ourselves when we think we need to be this “perfect” person. Remember, perfect does not exist, so you should just try to be you instead.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.