Anxiety: Exposure Therapy Helping Teens Combat Anxiety

By Hannah Pierce

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique in which a person is exposed to a feared object or situation to overcome their anxiety. A majority of researchers and clinicians believe that exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for many anxiety disorders. One study even found that people improved more using this technique than taking antidepressants.

Although exposure therapy is proven to be very effective, it is not frequently used with teens. Many teens suffering with anxiety are prescribed medication rather than receiving therapy. It is difficult for people to consent to exposure therapy because they do not want to do something that will make them feel even more anxious.

One article documented teens’ experiences with exposure therapy. A 14-year-old suffering from social anxiety, depression, OCD, and binge-eating agreed to tackle his social anxiety through exposure therapy. On a busy college campus he sat on a bench next to a stranger and initiated a conversation. To some people this may seem simple but to a teen suffering from social anxiety, the task is very daunting. He sat on the bench and tried to talk to the stranger but the stranger just kept texting and playing with his phone. Although the exchange did not turn into a conversation, at least the teen faced his fear and realized it wasn’t that bad.

Another teen’s exposure involved him holding a sign that read “I’ve been bullied. Ask me.” Thomas hoped to combat his anxiety while also educating people on bullying. Most students on the campus walked by him without giving him a second glance. After a while, a couple stopped to talk to Thomas. The man empathized with him, sharing that he had been bullied as well and the woman applauded Thomas for his bravery.  After the exchange Thomas was very pleasantly surprised and realized he did not have much to be so anxious about.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

Source: “The Kids Who Can’t” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

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Depression: How Exercise can help Part 2: The Exercise Influence

Depression has a variety of causes and these causes are not easily eliminated despite their detrimental effects on a person’s life and relationships. Moderate to severe cases may only be manageable by pharmacology and therapy, which includes the therapy loved ones can also give by providing companionship, understanding, and love. For mild to slightly moderate cases, however, scientists have found through multiple research studies conducted on over 1 million patients, exercise alleviates some of the symptoms of depression in patients and also could potentially prevent depression developing from those not suffering yet. This means, to be clear, exercise is not a cure for depression, but it can help alleviate the symptoms.

Exercise is associated with endorphins. Endorphins are endogenous opioids naturally released by your body, which have a similar chemical structure and composition to morphine. Endorphins, like morphine, attach to opioid receptors within our body and block pain transmission while also producing euphoria. Euphoria is a rushing sensation of happiness, energy, and joy. This can be seen when runners experience the “runner’s high” after running for an extended period of time without feeling fatigued or pained. The bodies of those who exercise rigorously release these endorphins.

Not only are chemicals affected but so is the brain’s anatomy. Researchers at Harvard University contrasted patients with major depression before and after exercising. One major change researchers and doctors have found a noticeable size difference in the hippocampus of those with depression and those without. Patients with depression have a smaller hippocampus, which regulates mood. Dr. Michael Craig Miller has found that exercise helps increase nerve growth and connections within the hippocampus. This, he explains, has led to alleviation of some of the symptoms.

Another study done by conglomerating data on over 1,140,000 adults of different ethnicities and ages found that there was significant data indicating that there was a considerable link between mental health and exercise. The subjects were divided into 3 groups pertaining to their aerobic fitness. After studying depression diagnosis within these groups, the scientists found that those who were in the lowest tier (the least fit/active) were 75% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier. The second tier was 25% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier.

Additionally, researchers found, from collecting data from 25 studies, that subjects who were forced to do some moderately strenuous exercise (ex. Brisk walking) benefitted mentally from it as opposed to the control group where they were did not exercise. Researchers believe that concentrating on the exercise allowed subjects to stop ruminating and thinking negatively during that time, improving their mental health. Blood samples, drawn from patients with major depression before and after their exercise regimen, showed that subjects who exercised had different concentrations of inflammatory agents and hormones. A recent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with nearly 800 six year old children over a span of four years found that children who exercised moderately showed fewer depressed symptoms than their counterparts.

Exercise can’t and won’t fix all problems that depressed patients endure; sometimes, it might not even help those who are suffering from severe depression and those with hormonal imbalance. However, if these studies show something, it is that exercise can help people not only physically but also mentally. So take a brisk walk one day when you’re feeling blue. It’s good for you!

 

If you find yourself depressed or becoming depressed or if you know someone who suffers from depression contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to speak with one of our therapists. Arista Counseling & Psychological Services  (201) 368-3700.

Alcohol Abuse: Binge Drinking

By Hannah Pierce

Binge drinking is the most common and deadly form of alcohol abuse in the U.S. but it is also preventable. It is defined as drinking to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This usually occurs when a woman consumes four drinks and a man consumes five drinks in two hours.

Binge drinking can happen across a lifespan but it is most common among people between the ages of 18 and 34. Many high school and college students below the age of 21 report binge drinking on occasion. It is a form of alcohol abuse that is “drinking to get drunk” rather than just having a couple drinks.

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems including:

• Alcohol poisoning
• Unintentional injuries (car accidents, falls, burns)
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Cancer (breast, mouth, liver, esophagus, colon)
• Memory and learning problems
• Poor pregnancy outcomes (miscarriage, stillborn, fetal alcohol syndrome)
• Alcohol dependence

Binge drinking can be prevented by:

• Increasing taxes on alcohol and other pricing strategies
• Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol
• Restricting the hours that alcohol can be sold
• Holding retailers responsible for harms caused by illegal distribution of alcohol to minors or customers who are inebriated
• Consultation and counseling for alcohol abuse

If you or someone you know may be binge drinking or abusing alcohol, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Stress in College

By: Hannah Pierce

Experiencing stress in college is inevitable. Moving away from home, adjusting to independence, managing difficult classes and a social life are all common stressors. When you go away to college you are leaving your social support network at home and learning how to balance your time between school, friends, and health. Feeling stressed or anxious is completely normal. Everyone experiences stress when making significant life changes such as going to college.

Stress can have negative effects physically, emotionally, mentally, and academically. When people begin to feel stressed, they often start taking less care of themselves which takes a toll on their immune system. Stress can also negatively impact relationships. It can make people more emotional and can cause them to lash out, become defensive or irritable.

Time management is a key to success in college. If stress becomes overwhelming it is important to balance everything and use time management to ensure that your schoolwork won’t start to decline.

Coping mechanisms are different for everyone. Try to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in which ever ways work best for you. Some people may go to the gym, some may read a book, listen to music or watch their favorite movie, and others may confide in friends or mental health professionals.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing stress, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2011/03/31/stress-college-causes-combat.html

Eating Disorders

By Miranda Botti

There are at least three different types of eating disorders, specifically anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. These typically affect young women in their teenage years but can also present in childhood or adulthood in both men and women. Eating disorders are a mental illness that can potentially lead to serious physical issues that may require medical attention. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder are often comorbid with depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse and are life-threatening disorders that require clinical attention. Researchers have not yet found any one cause for any of these specific disorders but have found an interaction between genetic, psychological, biological, and social factors that all contribute to the onset of an eating disorder.

 

Anorexia-in-the-mirror

 

Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an intense fear of weight gain and an extremely limited intake of certain foods causing the individual to be of tremendously low body weight. Those afflicted with anorexia possess a distorted body image, often seeing themselves as overweight. Some individuals with anorexia will also purge the little food they allow themselves to eat through self-induced vomiting, extreme exercise, or abuse of laxatives. Anorexia nervosa often has harmful physical side effects such as mild anemia, low internal body temperature, and loss off menstrual cycles in women and girls.

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Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa involves intense binge-eating followed by purging behavior, often through self-induced vomiting, extreme exercising, or the use of laxative abuse. Those afflicted feel they have no control over these behaviors. A bulimic is usually of healthy body weight or slightly over-weight and has an intense fear of weight gain. Since one typically feels intense guilt and shame for their actions and they purge in secret. Physical symptoms that arise as a result of induced vomiting are tooth decay, gastrointestinal problems, inflamed esophagus, and severe dehydration.

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Binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by extreme binge-eating, over which the afflicted feels to have no control. Unlike bulimia, binge-eating episodes are not followed by purging behavior. Those suffering are often overweight or obese and feel intense distress, guilt, and/or shame over their binge-eating and body image. This often leads to more binge-eating behavior as a method of coping with negative emotions. Physical side-effects include high blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease.

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Treatment

Treatment for these three eating disorders include psychotherapy (individual, group, and/or family), and/or medication to treat any co-occurring depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. Nutrition counseling may be helpful. Medical treatment may also be necessary for any of the physical side-effects caused by any of these maladaptive eating behaviors.

 

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia/warning-signs-symptoms

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/index.shtml

 

Bipolar Disorder in Homeland

By Miranda Botti

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, often shows its troubled face in Hollywood. The vast majority of the time, however, the character who wields this troubling disorder is shown through a very negative light. Certainly, bipolar disorder is a very difficult mental illness to possess, however, those afflicted can still be great individuals who do great things. One Hollywood character, Carrie Mathison from Homeland, deals with intense and at times debilitating bipolar disorder, but, is at the very top of her field. Carrie works as a CIA agent, consistently solving the toughest of cases and working to recruit new assets. Carrie is the cinematic proof that our society needs to move past the idea that bipolar disorder prevents you from achieving greatness.

Although Carrie Mathison is an incredibly gifted individual who works as one of the United States’ top spies, her bipolar disorder is very real and the show keeps it as so. She is impulsive, at times irrational, and when she is off her lithium medication, her mind races and she speaks somewhat incoherently, being the only one able to decipher what she says. When her mania dissipates and the depression kicks in, she is bed ridden for days, unable to break through the dark shadow that hangs over her. Carrie’s episodes are very realistic and provide a great example of what it is like to live with bipolar disorder. For this, Carrie is the perfect representation of a highly intelligent, successful individual that, despite her mental health issues, continues to contribute to society. This is a message that should be spread throughout Hollywood. For many, art imitates life, and to a large extent that is true. However, representing individuals afflicted with mental illnesses as inept, violent, and dangerous is not only extremely inaccurate, but also unfair. People with mental illness should be portrayed not only because of their mental illnesses but also because of their positive qualities. As Carrie Mathison, and thousands of people every day prove, mental illness does not totally define anyone nor does it stop anyone from making a meaningful impact or from being a positive, influential person. I hope to see more characters like Carrie Mathison in Hollywood’s future, accurately portraying mental health issues.

 If you or someone you know is suffering from Bipolar disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shrink-speak/201411/homeland-true-portrayal-mental-illness

 

OCD: What It’s Really About

By Miranda Botti

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or more commonly referred to as OCD, is a psychological disorder in which those afflicted experience recurring distressing, intrusive thoughts, images or impulses (obsessions) and attempt to remedy and alleviate such thoughts with repetitive actions (compulsions).  Such intrusive, repetitive thoughts are often constant worries about one’s health or the health of family members or loved ones, as well as fears about bad things happening to loved ones. Common compulsions include but are not limited to: repeatedly checking things, such as if an oven is off or if a door is locked, excessively cleaning oneself and/or handwashing, and compulsive counting. Many OCD patients are able to understand that their thoughts are irrational and unlikely to be remedied by their compulsive actions but continue to struggle to control their obsessions. Most people are typically diagnosed with OCD in their late teens to early 20’s, although onset at any age is possible.

The knowledge of the causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is still yet to be discovered however, risk factors include: genetics, brain structure and functioning, and/or the environment. Treatments include medications that act to inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitter called serotonin (SRI’s and SSRI’s), as well as the less frequently prescribed antipsychotic medication; psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); the approach of a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Research for treatment of OCD is up and running and clinical trials look to determine the effectiveness and safety of new treatments in order to help individuals in the future.

 

If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Information taken from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

What exactly is a “Panic Attack”?

by Sarah Moore

Panic Attacks: What are they?

We’ve all heard of panic attacks before, on television, in the movies and even in day-to-day conversation. In today’s age, people tend to use the term lightly, as an expression of a reaction to a stressful event or fearful encounter. One might say, “When I heard that the company was planning to downsize next year, I just about had a panic attack”. But to use the term this way does not describe what a panic attack truly is: a sudden, unexpected feeling of overwhelming and disabling anxiety, often with no premeditating cause.

So what exactly does a panic attack involve? The DSM-5 defines a panic attack as involving four (4) or more of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • A feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Chills or hot flushes

While it’s true that anyone can experience a panic attack, they are most commonly associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Specific Phobias. Does this mean someone who experiences a panic attack has one of these conditions? Not necessarily. The DSM-V defines the diagnostic criteria for Panic disorder as suffering from frequent, often unexpected panic attacks. In addition, at least one attack must be followed by the fear that more attacks will occur, causing an individual to change his or her behavior in order to avoid triggering such attacks. It is important to note that other possible causes for panic attacks, such as side effects from drugs or medications must be ruled out before someone can be diagnosed with any of the above disorders. Panic attacks can be debilitating, but with the right treatment, recovery is possible.

If you believe that you or a loved one has or may be suffering from panic attacks, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

Depression: Why Exercise Can Help (part 1: what is depression?)

Eve Bae

With around 16.1 million Americans affected by major depressive disorder and around 3.3 million American adults affected by persistent depressive disorder1, it is imperative for health care professionals to figure out how to help patients suffering with their disorder. These statistics even exclude children and those under the age of legal adulthood, making the number of afflicted patients most likely greater. With the different types and degrees of severity of depression, it is difficult to state that there is one encompassing solution for this multifaceted diagnosis.

Depression is a state of being characterized by multiple symptoms such as depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure, fatigue, negative feelings of worthlessness, difficulties with concentration or thinking which impair the patient’s daily life activities. The patient must have been feeling this way for at least the same 2 week period and all symptoms must be caused solely by this disorder. This condition can have a biological, social, or even environmental base. Researchers have found that people suffering from depression have a smaller hippocampus and other biological differences, which differentiate them from those who do not suffer from this condition. Another area explored and hypothesized is the role neurotransmitters play in this disorder. Harvard researchers, doctors, and psychologists acknowledge that the brain is a dynamic system with no one neurotransmitter as the sole cause for all patients but there may be different problematic neurotransmitters for each patient. When the fragile balance of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate, and/or GABA is disrupted, it affects the brain and ultimately the patient, influencing their moods, emotions, and behavior.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

So how can exercise help this difficult disorder? Onto Part 2!

  1. adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
  2. photo: affinitymagazine.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/1468445687-depression.jpg

Good Grief: Part 5

By: Sam Reiner

And now we have come to the last part of my blogs on grief. So far we have gone over what you will be going through while grieving and how long grief should last. But now we must ask, how can you move on? Well that’s easy, you know you can move on when you’ve hit the acceptance stage and start feeling better. You may start to feel better in small ways at first. You could find it easier to get out of bed in the morning or you could have burst of energy. You will begin to feel like your old self again and you will start to reorganize your life to accommodate the loss. This may cause you to have a series of ups and downs. One day you may feel amazing but the next you feel absolutely terrible. You may feel guilty or disloyal for moving on and that this is a completely normal feeling. It is also normal to feel grief on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or other special times. However, it’s important to remember is that all these feelings are completely natural.

And just like that, we have reached the end. At the beginning of part 1 I hoped to answer 3 questions about grief. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? If I did my job correctly, I have been able to answer all these questions so you are better prepared to face the hardship that is grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.