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/.

 

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Tourette Syndrome

By: Dianna Gomez

Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder. A tic can be classified as an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Those diagnosed with this disorder will either suffer from vocal/phonic tics or motor tics. In general, vocal/phonic tics produce a sound. Examples of vocal/phonic tics include things such as sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, and shouting. Examples of more complex vocal/phonic tics include full words or phrases. These words or phrases are always out of context and may or may not be recognizable. In 10-15% of cases, words blurted out may be inappropriate such as curse words, ethnic slurs, or other words or phrases that are not viewed as socially acceptable.

Motor tics, generally, are movements. Examples of motor tics include eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking/bobbing, facial grimacing, etc. More complex motor tics include movements that involve multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of these movements are things such as hopping, jumping, twirling, etc.

While the exact cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, it has been confirmed that it is hereditary so genetics may play a role. There are, however, some treatment options that are available to help ease the symptoms. Medications for tics include Haloperidol, Pimozide, and Aripiprazole. Speech therapy is also another form of treatment for those with tics. Lastly, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is another method of treatment for tics. DBS is a relatively new procedure that utilizes an implantable electrode to alter the activity of brain circuitry.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Tourette Syndrome, 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/.

College Stress

By: Charleene Polanco

Change is a natural part of life. Some people gladly welcome change and growth, while others tend to panic when the stability of what they are used to is gone. College is one of the biggest transitions a person can experience, because it is a time for independence. Leaving the safety of your house, parents, and friends is necessary to have new experiences and make connections. College introduces a change in lifestyle, greater workload, different responsibilities, and new relationships. With all of these changes, many students experience college stress because they are unable to effectively handle the different aspects of their lives. College stress is more common than we think, with six out of ten students experiencing stress to the point of it becoming detrimental to their college lives. The symptoms of college stress include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and an inability to cope.  The more serious symptoms of college stress are suicidal thoughts, drug/alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, physically violent outbursts, and uncontrollable crying.

Since stress is so prevalent among college students, there are many tips available to help reduce and cope with stress. It is recommended that college students seek out stress management resources. On college campuses, there are many resources available to students, which can help them manage their lives. Counseling services are one of the many resources designed to hear student’s problems and provide them with solutions. If a person is uncomfortable with contacting counseling services, they can start out by talking to a trusted friend, advisor, or family. However, if you are experiencing the more serious symptoms of college stress, it is highly encouraged that you seek out counseling services or other professional resources.

If you or someone you know is suffering from college stress, 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/.

Sources:

NYU. “Stress.” Stress, NYU, www.nyu.edu/life/safety-health-wellness/live-well-nyu/priority-areas/stress.html

“Student Guide to Balancing Stress.” Best Colleges, Best Colleges , 28 June 2018, www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/.

 

Alcoholism: A Life Altering Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

According to Mayo Clinic, alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is defined as an alcohol use pattern that involves the inability to control ones drinking. For many who are on track to become an alcoholic, it seems pretty easy to keep convincing themselves that they have the ability to quit whenever they want. However, when he or she realizes their alcohol tolerance has increased, and that he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, an alcohol use disorder has developed. The common symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Uncontrolled alcohol consumption
  • Using alcohol in unsafe situations, such as driving
  • Failure to fulfill major school or work obligations because of repeated alcohol use
  • Craving/ urges to drink alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, and shaking
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down on the amount of alcohol consumed

Alcoholism is an important issue, because it affects a huge number of the American population. As many as 18 million Americans suffer from alcoholism, and about 100,000 die as a result. Alcoholism is also associated with other social and domestic problems, like job absenteeism and spousal/child abuse. With such a significant portion of the U.S. population suffering from this terrible disorder, and its effects on the individual and loved ones, it is imperative that a person seek help when afflicted with alcohol use disorder.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol use 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/.

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. (2018, July 11). Alcohol use disorder. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243

WebMD. (2018). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder — the Basics. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/understanding-alcohol-abuse-basics#1

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

In order to better understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD,” you must first understand the difference between an obsession and a compulsion. Obsessions are repeated thoughts or urges that cause an individual anxiety in their day to day lives. Compulsions are repetitve actions that a person feels the need to take due to their obsessive thoughts. Some common examples of obsessions are: feeling the need to have things perfectly symmetrical/in order or having an excessive fear of germs. Some examples of compulsions are: excessive cleaning or handwashing, repeatedly checking to make sure that the oven is turned off, repeatedly switching lights on and off to make sure they are completely off before leaving the room, etc. OCD is an uncontrollable, long-lasting disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults all around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common age to be diagnosed with this disorder is 19, however, it is possible to be diagnosed earlier or later in life as well. Boys tend to have an earlier age of onset than girls when it comes to OCD. Genetically speaking, a person is at higher risk for developing the disorder if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has it too. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily guarentee a diagnosis. In terms of brain structure, the two sections of the brain known to play the most prominent role in the development of OCD are the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain such as the hypothalamus, thalamus, or cerebellum, in addition to several others. The direct connection between the disorder and these parts of the brain is not fully understood yet. There are some ways that a person with OCD can manage their symptoms to obtain a better, easier way of life. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), 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/.

 

Psychopath vs. Sociopath

 By: Dianna Gomez

“You’re a psychopath!!”

How often do we ourselves use this term or hear others throw this term around? Some people may use this phrase when referring to a crazy ex-boyfriend, strict parent, or annoying sibling, when in reality; most people don’t truly understand its meaning. You may be asking yourself, so what is a psychopath? How can I know whether I am really encountering one or not? There are certain characteristics that have been found to be shared between people who are actually psychopathic or have psychopathic qualities. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulation
  • Total lack of remorse and/or empathy for others
  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of feelings of guilt
  • Grandiose sense-of-self
  • Failure to accept responsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Need for stimulation
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Parasitic lifestyle/willingness to feed off others to sustain their own lifestyle

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? A sociopath is a person diagnosed with “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” People with this diagnosis are generally very manipulative and violating of the rights of others, among other things. Sociopathy can be thought of as a less severe form of psychopathy. If a person is a psychopath then they are also a sociopath, but if a person is a sociopath they don’t necessarily need to be a psychopath. Sociopaths and psychopaths share the same basic characteristics, just at different levels of intensity.

If this personality description sounds like you or someone you know, 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/.

Opioid Addiction: Treating Opioid Dependence with Medication

By Samantha Glosser

The opioid epidemic is a real and fatal problem in the United States. Every week more than 800 people die from opioid-related deaths, yet the epidemic still appears to be growing. In addition to overdoses and death, opioid addiction is also a catalyst for the spread of diseases like Hepatitis and HIV, can cause birth complications such as low birth weight and neonatal abstinence syndrome, and makes it harder for individuals to maintain jobs. The impacts of opioid addiction are devastating for the inflicted individuals, their loved ones, and their communities. Thus, it is more important than ever to provide appropriate treatment to individuals who are struggling with an opioid addiction. But when abstinence and traditional therapies fail, what treatment is left? Medication assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is a highly effective, but not commonly used, treatment method that addresses all aspects of addiction.

MAT involves the use of medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, combined with psychological treatments. This technique aligns with the disease model of addictions, which acknowledges the fact that the brain is physically altered by drug use. Treatments should then be capable of addressing the neurological and physiological changes that occur in the brain, which is where medication comes into the picture. Appropriate dosages of medications relieve the biological urge the brain feels for the drug, reduces cravings, relieves withdrawal symptoms, and improves the overall quality of life for patients. This allows an individual to begin working towards recovery at a faster pace. The medication will help them heal physically and at the same time psychological treatment will help them heal both mentally and emotionally. In addition, research shows that medication assisted treatment is proven to not only help individuals diagnosed with an opioid addiction to recover faster, but also prevents overdoses, improves daily functioning, and prevents them from committing crimes. If you or someone you know has been unsuccessful in their opioid addiction treatments, MAT may be the right treatment for you.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from opioid addiction, 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/

Jaffe, A. (2018, October 9). Is medication assisted treatment good or bad? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201810/is-medication-assisted-treatment-good-or-bad

Mental Illness Stigma Still Exists

By: Gisela Serrano

The sad reality is that a stigma on mental illness still exists, although we’d like to think that it has been minimized significantly. There are several people with a voice, including celebrities, who advocate and speak on the importance of mental health; some even give light to their own mental health issues. However, stigma on mental health illnesses is still very much alive today and can prevent many people from seeking professional help, which can be beneficial to them. Ignorance and a lack of education also play a major role in preventing people from reaching out for the help they need. People who are uneducated may not be familiar with the options they have when seeking professional providers and thus limit themselves the access of qualified providers who have more clinical experience and expertise. For this reason, they consult professionals who may not necessarily specialize in the condition from which they are suffering from. People with low income may also not be able to afford high quality care. As a result of these factors, many people usually shy away from searching for help as they unfortunately feel shame and embarrassment.

Overall, many people fear that they would be the subject of criticism, lose friendships and relationships, and lose their jobs if they were to confide in someone about their mental health state. According to David B. Feldman Ph.D., in his post “The Tragedy of Mental Illness Stigma” on Psychology Today, “in half of U.S. states, admitting to a history of mental illness can lead to loss of a driver’s license, inability to serve on a jury or run for office, or even potentially loss of custody of a child.” It makes absolute sense why some people would be hesitant about speaking out or seeking the help they need. The bottom line here is: there is nothing wrong with accepting that you need help – whatever your situation or problem may be. Recognizing that you need help is the first healthy step you can take to achieving mental health and overall taking care of yourself. Stop waiting decades to search for help or receive care. Many mental health illnesses are treatable and for good reasons should not be put off. Talking to your friends and family is also an important step you should consider taking as it can provide you the strong moral support system you need. The sooner you learn to avoid and disregard mental illness stigma, the quicker you can be on the road to recovery.

 

Self-esteem

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt that, “you weren’t good enough?” If you have, self-esteem is at the core of this feeling, because it involves perceptions one has of oneself. These perceptions eventually become beliefs about self-worth and value. That is why self-esteem is so important in a person’s life, because how people think of themselves, is what drives them towards or away from certain actions. High self-esteem is often associated with multiple accomplishments in life. This is because people with high self-esteem, believe that they are worthy of the opportunities they get, and, therefore, make the most out of them. One the other hand, those with low self-esteem, constantly believe that they are not good enough. When an opportunity presents itself to them, people with low self-esteem feel like they do not deserve it, and do not perform their best. This is why low self-esteem is associated with depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from low self-esteem, here are a couple of tips available to raise self-esteem:

  • Identify triggers of low self-esteem: if you are able to recognize the places or people that lower your self-esteem, you are able to avoid or prepare for them. This way, learning experiences come from each event.
  • Avoid negative self-talk: if you do not think negatively about yourself, you are able to feel better and attempt things you would normally avoid.
  • Connect with loved ones: family members and friends can be great emotional support because people who care about you, will also make you feel loved and wanted. Nurture these feelings so that eventually you are able to see yourself as they do, and will slowly learn how to love yourself a little more each day.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, 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/.

Sources:

Gross, S. J. (2016, July 17). How To Raise Your Self-Esteem. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-raise-your-self-esteem/

Mind for Better Mental Health. (2013). How to increase your Self-esteem. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/#.W9cKgY2WyM8

 

Couples Counseling: The Benefits

By Stephanie Osuba

According to PsychCentral.com, there are many reasons why people chose to participate in couples therapy, as well as many reasons they don’t. The common reason couples usually don’t consider counseling is out of embarrassment or the stigma that surrounds the intimate details of one’s personal relationship. The stigma dictates that only people who are in a very broken state in their relationship can benefit from couples counseling. However, no relationship is perfect and sometimes even the most socially competent of us need the help of a professional. Psychologists can help couples identify key problems in the relationship in a structured way that acknowledges the feelings of both parties. Although it’s never easy to reopen past wounds, it is the only way to push through to a place of understanding with a partner. Sessions can also determine whether the relationship needs some fine-tuning, a complete rebuilding, or a separation of ways.

Here are some benefits of couples counseling:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Increase in emotional and physical connection
  • Life plan development
  • Resolving conflicts in a structured way
  • Building a healthy relationship ­– ultimately leading to individual growth as well

Common issues couples hope to resolve in therapy: infidelity, poor communication, financial issues, parenting or co-parenting, work and career, emotional and physical intimacy, separation or divorce, abuse, grief and loss, and life transitions.

If you or someone you know appears to be having marital problems, 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/