Bipolar Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

Bipolar Disorder, also known as “Manic-Depressive,” is a disorder of the brain that causes a person to experience sudden shifts in mood, energy/activity levels, and disrupts their ability to function fully each day. The changes in mood range from a person feeling extremely “up” and energized which are known as manic episodes to feeling extremely “down” and sad which is known as depressive episodes. There are multiple forms of Bipolar Disorder, however, the two main types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Regardless of the type a person has, he or she still suffers from very similar symptoms. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes/symptoms that are either so severe the individual needs to be hospitalized immediately or the episode itself has lasted for at least 7 days. Depressive episodes occur in people with this type of Bipolar as well and these episodes can last up to at least 2 weeks at a time. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a certain pattern of depressive episodes followed by some hypo-manic episodes. The only difference between manic and hypo-manic is that hypo-manic episodes are not as intense as full on manic ones. More specifically, when a person is having a manic episode they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Racing thoughts
  • Participating in risky behaviors (ex: spending all your money)

On the other hand, when a person is going through a depressive episode, he or she can experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thinking about death and/or suicide

Luckily, there are several forms of treatment that a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can seek out to help them live a more normal and stable lifestyle. Methods of treatment include: medications (mood stabilizers, sleep medications, antidepressants, and atypical anti-psychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy), or a combination of both. Even while taking medications some mood swings may still occur. This makes it especially important that there is a close and honest patient-doctor relationship in order to manage the disorder in the most efficient way possible. In addition to these, there is also electroconvulsive therapy or “ECT,” and keeping a lifestyle chart. When keeping the lifestyle chart, the patient records their daily symptoms, sleep patterns, and other important life events.

 

If you or anyone you know may suffer from either Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

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Alcohol Use Disorder

By Samantha Glosser

Alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism, is a pattern of alcohol use that results in impairment and distress in your daily life. Short term effects of alcohol use disorder include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. However, the long term effects are much more serious and include the following: stomach ailments, heart problems, brain damage, memory loss, liver cirrhosis, and cancer. Alcohol use disorder is also linked to increased chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide and suicide, as well as increased rates of unemployment, domestic violence, and legal problems.

Cravings for alcohol, drinking in spite of it causing personal problems, an inability to stop drinking, and building up a tolerance to alcohol are common symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed if two or more of the following are present in a twelve-month period (the severity of addiction is based on how many symptoms are present):

  • Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
  • Feeling the need or trying to cut back on drinking.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking and recovering from the short-term effects of drinking.
  • Craving the use of alcohol.
  • Failing to perform responsibilities due to drinking.
  • Continuing to use alcohol even though it is creating relationship problems.
  • Ceasing participation in important activities to drink more.
  • Drinking before or during potentially dangerous activities (such as driving).
  • Continuing drinking despite its relation to physical and mental health conditions.
  • Developing a tolerance for alcohol.
  • Experiencing withdraw symptoms when reducing or stopping alcohol intake.

There are numerous treatment options available to individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder, such as detoxification, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), inpatient/outpatient treatment programs, and medication. There are also different methods to recovery, such as abstinence (completely quitting) or just cutting down on alcohol intake. Finding the right treatment options depends on the individual, which is why it is recommended to seek guidance from a trained professional.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from alcohol use 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: Alcohol Use Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/alcohol-use-disorder

Insomnia

By: Dianna Gomez

Insomnia is a condition that makes it very difficult for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, or for psychological reasons such as anxiety, depression or intrusive thoughts. In addition to these possibilities, the type of lifestyle an individual chooses to live can also be responsible for creating symptoms of insomnia. There are a few things that people who experience insomnia tend to do that may be worsening their symptoms without them even knowing. Some examples of these lifestyle habits include:

  1. Taking Mid-Day Naps
  • Whether it is short or long, sleeping in the middle of the day can increase a person’s chances of having difficulty sleeping through the night. If you can, try to avoid taking naps all together.
  1. Sleeping In Late
  • When a person is lacking sleep, it isn’t uncommon for them to attempt to fix the problem by sleeping in later the next morning to make up for their “lost hours.” However, by doing so, you are confusing your body clock which then makes it difficult to fall asleep at a regular time again the following night. This can quickly create a vicious cycle that is even harder to break.
  1. Taking Your Work Home With You
  • Regardless of what your occupation is, almost everybody has hectic daily schedules. When people are feeling behind on their work, they often decide to put in a little “over-time” by bringing their work home with them. By doing this, you make the process of “winding down” at night harder as your mind is kept wide awake and pre-occupied when it shouldn’t be.
  1. Using Electronics
  • Especially in today’s generation, it is extremely common for people to use their phones or laptops while lying in bed right before they intend to fall sleep. The problem with this, however, is that bright screens like those on our electronics actually stimulate the brain more and cause you to stay awake. This then makes it more difficult to fall asleep for the night.
  1. Working Irregular Hours
  • If you have a job that has you on various different “shifts,” sleeping may become a problem for you. If a person doesn’t stay on a regimented time schedule, their body clock cannot decipher when it should be waking up to take on a new day or winding down to get ready for bed.

 

If you have already tried reversing these lifestyle habits and still regularly experience symptoms of insomnia, 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/.

 

 

Anxiety: Social Anxiety Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being rejected by people. Many people feel some level of anxiety when they are placed into unknown social situations. However, those suffering from social anxiety disorder may avoid socializing altogether, because they cannot handle being judged or seen in a negative way by others. A person with social anxiety disorder, can experience anxiety during many different situations like; going on a date, eating in front of people, making eye contact, public speaking, or going to parties. Some of the symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Uneasy stomach/diarrhea
  • Muscle tension
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating

Social anxiety can cripple a person’s life, because normal everyday interactions are triggers of anxiety and discomfort. This is why many people who suffer from social anxiety disorder choose to isolate themselves from everyone. In order to reduce the fear of rejection, people with social anxiety disorder are encouraged to be exposed to social situations, not run away from them. Although being around others is what brings them distress, socializing is also what allows people with social anxiety to change the way they think about social engagements. Instead of having negative perceptions about the way people view them, the more they socialize and are accepted by others, the more socially anxious people see that those perceptions are not true.

If you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety, 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:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder

Nordqvist, C. (2018, February 05). What’s to Know About Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176891.php

WebMD. (2018). What Is Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder#1

 

What is Trichotillomania?

By Stephanie Osuba

Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder categorized in the Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders section in the DSM-5. It is one of the other Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) – along with excoriation (skin picking) and onychophagia (nail biting) – in which the individual will pull, pick or bite at various parts of the body resulting in damage.  Symptoms include recurring hair pulling, hair loss, and related stress and impairment because of the behavior. The disorder is not considered self-mutilation like cutting or burning because the behavior is not intentional and research suggests that there is no connection between the disorder and unresolved trauma. Often people are ashamed of the behavior and their resulting appearance because of it and try their hardest to stop. Comorbidities include, tic disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders, although, trichotillomania can also occur in the absence of any other psychopathology.  The regular age of onset is between the ages of 11 and 13, however, baby trichotillomania is a rare phenomenon that seems to go away as the child grows older. Research also suggests that the disorder is primarily genetic as it appears in the first relatives of people with trichotillomania than it does in the general population.

Available treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT) with adjunctive dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These therapies help the person to be aware of the pattern of the behavior and helps to identify triggers to pulling. It also teaches methods to redirect that urge to pull into a new healthy pattern of behavior in order to reduce or eliminate the urge. While there is no FDA-approved medication specifically for BFRBs, research is being conducted. OCD medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anafranil can help alleviate symptoms as well.

Sources: Deibler, M. W., Psy. D. (n.d.). Trichotillomania (TTM) and related Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Retrieved from http://www.thecenterforemotionalhealth.com/trichotillomania-and-related-disorders

Zwolinski, R., LMHC. (2013, October 03). Cause And Treatment Of Trichotillomania. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/04/cause-and-treatment-of-trichotillomania/

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from trichotillomania, 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/.

Psychopaths and Sociopaths

By Stephanie Osuba

People often tend to use the terms psychopath and sociopath interchangeably while both disorders are listed under the category of antisocial personality disorders in the DSM-5, there are some distinctions. Shared traits between the two include: a disregard for the law, morality, and human rights; not feeling any remorse; and having violent tendencies.

The first major distinction is that psychopaths are born, while sociopaths are made. Psychopaths are a product of genetics and, from research, they have a physiological defect that leads to an underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotion (the amygdala). Sociopaths, on the other hand, are a result of a history of repeated childhood trauma and physical or emotional abuse. Because of this distinction, sociopaths are capable of forming attachments and feeling empathy in very restricted situations. They are more emotional in that they are nervous and easily agitated. They are prone to emotional outbursts and exhibit fits of rage. Crimes committed by sociopaths are often spontaneous, messy, and unorganized.

Psychopaths are exceptionally dangerous. They are completely incapable of forming attachments to anything and have absolutely no remorse for the things they do. They simply do not feel. Psychopaths are excellent manipulators who mimic emotion to get people to trust them. They are often very successful, smart, and charismatic which leads others to believe that they are normal. Some psychopaths even have families and other long-term relationships with people who are unaware of their diagnosis. Crimes committed by psychopaths are meticulous, premeditated, and often have a contingency in place. Even the violent ones. Psychopaths make up at least 40% of all serial killers.

Source: Bonn, S. A., Ph. D. (2014, January 22). How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wicked-deeds/201401/how-tell-sociopath-psychopath 

If you or someone you know appears to be exhibiting signs of psychopathy or sociopathy, 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/.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By: Dianna Gomez

Panic. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why is my heart beating out of my chest? Am I dying? Why can’t I make it stop?!

For some of us, these emotions are all too familiar. Anxiety can be a scary thing, especially when you’re not totally up-to-date on what exactly it is. What are you to do when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Well, have no fear because I have a few helpful tips to share!

 

Here are 5 things that you can do to calm yourself down when suffering from an anxiety attack:

  • Take Deep Breathes

Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that although it may not feel like it right now, everything will be okay.

  •  Talk Yourself Down

Repeat a calming/kind phrase to yourself OUT LOUD. Remind yourself that you are safe, loved, and never alone.

  • Seek Help

Sometimes we tend to insist that we can get through tough times all on our own, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a neutral professional, a loved one or someone you trust, find someone with whom you can talk out your troubles.

  • Use Music and Visuals

Never underestimate the power of calming music and visuals. Whether it be classical music, peaceful nature videos/sounds, or your favorite John Mayer song – let the music play and your worries float away!

  • Put Your Anxiety on Ice

Create sensory stimulation by gently sticking both of your hands into a bowl of very cold water with ice. The more ice the better.

 

If either you or anybody you know suffers from anxiety, 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/.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety: Test Anxiety

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever had a moment of extreme panic, right before the beginning of a test? How about feeling like you are about to faint, or excessive sweat during an exam? If these symptoms describe your test-taking experience, then you might be suffering from test anxiety.

Test anxiety is defined as a psychological condition where people experience severe distress and anxiety during exams. Some causes of test anxiety are fear of failure and lack of preparation. A fear of failure can result from wanting to perform well. One who associates their self-worth with a test’s outcome, can feel devastated when the grade is not what he or she expected. This creates a vicious cycle, where because the person is afraid of feeling worthless, when they fail, they become anxious while taking the exam.  As a result, their performance level on tests drops. Lack of preparation is another cause of test anxiety, which occurs when students do not study properly for an exam. For those who like to wait until the night before an exam, to cram five chapters worth of information into their brain, tests are a constant source of anxiety and stress.

Symptoms of test anxiety can be split up into three categories; physical, emotional, and behavioral/cognitive symptoms. Some physical symptoms include headaches, nausea, excessive sweating, and rapid heartbeat. Emotional symptoms can be expressed as feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, and disappointment.  Behavioral/cognitive symptoms are difficulty concentrating and negative thinking.

To help manage test anxiety, here are some tips;

  • Properly prepare for exams
  • Develop good test-taking skills
  • Engage in relaxation techniques, like taking deep slow breaths
  • Keep a positive mindset

If you or someone you know is suffering from test anxiety, 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/.

Source:

“Test Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America , 2018, adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety

Stress: The Detrimental Effects of Stress on the Body

By: Charleene Polanco

Stress is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension, and whether it is about taking a final exam for class, going off to college for the first time, or work-related, stress can affect the way we perform. If gone unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of negative consequences on the body, which will be discussed. Stress has been linked to a number of physical and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, heart attacks and stroke. A constant high level of stress, can lead to immune system disturbances, which can cause an increase in your body’s susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have direct effects on the skin leading to rashes and hives.

Unlike rashes and hives, which are visible, stress can affect various systems, organs, and tissues within the body, signs that are not seen, and are, therefore, much harder to notice. Some parts of the body affected by stress are the nervous and cardiovascular systems. When stressed, the nervous system signals the body’s adrenal glands to secrete adrenalin and cortisol. Since both of these hormones cause high blood pressure, a person who is under constant stress, also has elevated blood pressure which can lead to heart problems in the future. Even if a stress episode is considered to be minor, repeated minor stress episodes can negatively impact a person’s cardiovascular system by causing inflammations in the coronary arteries. This can eventually cause heart attacks. In order to prevent the negative consequences of untreated high levels of stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. There are multiple symptoms of stress, some of which include, frequent headaches, cold hands/feet, dry mouth, heartburn, depression, forgetfulness, and rapid or mumbled speech.

If you or someone you know is suffering from 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/.

Source:

“Stress Effects.” Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017.

Communication Differences Between Genders

 

By: Dianna Gomez

Where would the world be without communication? Whether it be conscious or unconscious, we communicate in one way or another with those around us every minute of every day. We communicate in the work place, in relationships, with our friends and family – sometimes even when passing by strangers walking down the street. You would think that with the amount of communicating we do as a human species on a daily basis, we would have it all down to a “ T ” by now but that is far from the truth. Every once in a while we experience miscommunication and other frustrations related to interacting with the people around us. In order to improve the quality of communication in one’s own life, it is important to begin by understanding the different methods of communication between each gender. There are so many fundamental differences regarding the way in which men and women behave and think when it comes to communication. On average, women tend to speak more than men and when each gender is communicating, they do so for different reasons and from different perspectives.

Here is a list of these differences:

  1. Reasons For Talking
  • Men believe that communication should always have a clear purpose. Whether there is a problem in need of a solution or a specific question needing an answer, men use communication to get to the bottom of any topic of conversation in the most efficient way possible. On the other hand, a woman views communication as a way to discover how she may feel about something. Women like to lay all the potential pros and cons out on the table and discuss each more thoroughly. When it comes to relationships, communication is a way in which women increase intimacy with their significant others. They share their thoughts to rid themselves of any negative feelings they may be having.

2. How Much Should Be Said

  • Similarly to the first point, men always put productivity and efficiency at the very top of their lists. When telling a story, men only share the details that are absolutely necessary to get to the point. Women tend to share as much detail as possible, even if it isn’t necessarily needed. This is often times why men may interrupt women half way through an explanation when they have already received the point that is ultimately trying to be made.

3. What Does It Mean To “Listen?

  • When a woman first initiates a conversation with a man, she assumes they are doing so to obtain some type of advice or assistance. They automatically think to themselves “what can we actually do about this?” From the woman’s perspective, having the conversation all on it’s own is a way of finding a solution to any problem. Women just want to feel like they are being heard and understood, and if they feel this is happening any problem will already feel partially solved.

Communication is so important in every aspect of our lives. Especially when it comes to having relationships with significant others, if these fundamental differences aren’t already understood, there will be many disagreements and arguments about things that there wouldn’t be otherwise. Regardless of what gender you are, the next time you find yourself feeling frustrated when communicating with the opposite sex, take a step back and try to see the situation from their point of view. If this is done over a long enough period of time, you will find that life will soon go a lot smoother in all areas of your life.

 

If you or anybody you know may be having trouble with communication or may be having relationship problems they can’t seem to resolve, 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/.