Drug Abuse During Covid-19

By: Catherine Cain

The stress and uncertainty Covid-19 brings is especially dangerous to those who abuse drugs or alcohol. The increased stress, mass layoffs and unemployment, and social distancing restrictions have caused a major uptick in the number of people who self-reported drug use over the last six months. Relying on these substances to make it through a day is not only detrimental to your mental health, but puts undue stress on your body’s immune system, ultimately weakening your ability to fight off infections and viruses.

Those who smoke or vape, whether marijuana or tobacco, are at a higher risk for contracting Covid-19 and may experience severe symptoms. Smoking and vaping lead to lung damage, as does Covid-19, which is why it is especially important not to let your addiction go unchecked.

Addiction may be hard to overcome, but it is not impossible. Covid-19 creates an environment where your addiction can progress quickly, because of the reduced social interactions and prolonged periods of isolation.

Here are some ways to help combat your addiction:

Contact a medical provider immediately.

Ask about medication to combat cravings.

Include your family/friends, so you have someone to hold you accountable.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, 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:

https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/psychiatry/michigan-psychiatry-resources-covid-19/specific-mental-health-conditions/addiction-substance-use-recovery-during-covid-19-pandemic

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/03/16/addiction-treatment-facilities-are-they-prepared-for-covid-19/#3bf8b57044ea

OCD: Exposure Therapy and Medication

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a chronic, long-term disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors that take over and are constantly repeated. These repetitions can take over one’s life; all they can focus on are one’s obsessions and nothing else. Obsessions are defined as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety,” while compulsions are “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to their obsessions.” It’s a common disorder affecting about 1% of the U.S. on any given year, with a lifetime prevalence of OCD among U.S. adults falling at 2.3%. Symptoms can present themselves in a range of mild to serious, with about ½ of OCD cases falling under serious.

Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP therapy, is a common form of treatment for individuals with OCD, but it can be very harsh and relentless. In simple terms, ERP therapy takes the OCD patient and places them at the forefront of their fears so that they confront them head on, with no protection. However, when doing this they’re guided by a trained therapist to ensure they don’t resort to their compulsive behaviors. An example of this type of therapy would be having a patient who suffers from germaphobia stick their hands in dirty water without washing their hands after. Over time they’re usually able to adapt to and overcome their fears, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, this type of therapy doesn’t work for everyone and many individuals fighting OCD need medication instead, or a combination of both. Some common OCD medications are Zoloft, Prozac, and Luvox. These are all anti-depressants approved by the FDA to treat OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with obsessive compulsive 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: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/exposure-and-response-prevention

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, 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/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

After The Affair: How Therapy Can Help

By: Melissa Molina

Marriage therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps couples recognize problems and offer solutions to their relationships. Through therapy, couples can choose to strengthen their relationships or part ways. Affairs or unfaithfulness can be challenging to overcome in any marriage. Therapy can be successful and infidelity shall not recur if all parties, including the therapist, are compassionate, respectful and empathetic.

Counseling a couple after infidelity can be painful but successful in most cases. A study by Shirley Glass in 2000 found that 71% of couples she had seen in therapy after an infidelity stayed together.

What Helps the Couple Heal?

The betrayer must be patient and understand the hurt partners feelings can help the process. Details and all questions must be answered to serve the purpose of giving the hurt partner a feeling of control.

Therapists can start a ritual with the couple of burying the past, putting the infidelity behind them and remembering the good memories in their relationship.

In early stages, the hurt partner might need to hear the words “sorry” everyday.

In therapy, open discussions about what both partners need from each other sexually are very important.

Marriage Therapy can help address each partner’s needs, desires and aspirations. The hurt spouse can learn to trust the betrayer and the betrayer can learn to express their feelings in therapy. Giving yourself and your relationship the opportunity to heal and grow with marriage therapy is slow and hard work but your marriage is worth it.

If you or someone you know needs support with their marriage, 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: psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-dance-connection/201302/will-your-marriage-survive-the-affair

Image Source: intentblog.com/time-seek-therapist-can-couples-counseling-help/

Addiction: How to Support a Spouse with Addiction

Addiction: How to Support a Spouse with Addiction
By: Isabelle Siegel

One hallmark sign of addiction is continued substance use despite interference with one’s interpersonal relationships. Addiction can take an immense toll on romantic relationships in particular, causing pain and suffering for both parties. The partners/spouses of people with addiction may feel as though they are helpless, unable to provide the support that is needed. However, there are steps that partners/spouses can take to support their partner/spouse and themselves.

Develop an understanding of addiction and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. Research “Substance Use Disorder” and its symptoms, taking note of which symptoms apply to your partner/spouse. It may be helpful to create a list of warning signs that your partner/spouse is using substances, as well as to learn what to do in the case of an overdose.

Support, but avoid enabling. Enabling entails making excuses for your partner’s/spouse’s addictive behavior, communicating to them that such behavior is acceptable and can be continued. Instead, stress the necessity of change while also practicing devotion and love.

Establish boundaries for your relationship. Many professionals suggest establishing a set of boundaries that must be respected. For example, you may want to tell your partner/spouse that he/she cannot use substances while in the house.

Be honest with your partner/spouse. Tell your partner/spouse how his/her behavior makes you feel. If your partner’s/spouse’s behavior is hurting you, tell him/her. It is normal to feel uncomfortable during these conversations, but they are important and even necessary for change.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support and never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs. If you feel that the relationship is putting your physical or mental health at risk, it may be necessary to end the relationship. It can be beneficial to seek therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health and to work through difficult emotions.

If you or a loved one needs support, 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/

Therapy: What is Music Therapy?

Therapy: What is Music Therapy?

By: Keely Fell

Music therapy is a relatively new form of therapy being used across the nation. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is described as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program”. (AMTA) To be considered a qualified music therapist, an individual must attend a school that is currently accredited by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Upon completion of a degree, an individual will then take the National Examination Certification Board for Music Therapists, which will then give them the title of Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC). While there are other certifications that an individual can acquire, most states will only recognize individuals with the MT-BC certification.

Music therapy can be used for a wide array of interventions, some of those being: stress management, pain relief, promoting the expression of feelings, physical rehabilitation, memory enhancement, and enhancing cognitive functioning due to early delays. The integration of music therapy into schools, rehabilitation centers, assisted living centers, hospitals, and hospice care is growing rapidly throughout the nation.

The integration of music therapy in hospitals has been growing rapidly as well. Using music to sooth patients before medical procedures, as well as using singing, instrument playing, lyric discussion, and forms of song writing to “allow the patients to reconnect with the healthy parts of themselves”. What was recorded is that with the use of music therapy, patients were able to achieve acute pain relief which then allowed them to rest.

Studies have shown that the brain reacts to music in a very different way than it reacts to anything else. When music enters the brain the first mechanisms that are triggered are the release of dopamine in the pleasure centers. Moving past just making an individual feel good, research has shown that music is associated with an increase in immunity-boosting antibodies, which means that music is also improving an individual’s immune system. Doctors have recently studied the use of vibroacoustic therapy in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, by using “low-frequency sound” to produce “vibrations that are applied directly through the body. The rhythmic pulses allow for stabilization of the disorientation.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/how-does-music-affect-your-brain

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music

https://www.musictherapy.org/

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6873880/music-brain-effect-scientists-mit-study

PTSD in Refugee and Unaccompanied Children:

By: Luz Melendez

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can occur to someone after being exposed to one or more traumatic events. These traumatic events can vary from a natural disaster, war/combat, serious injury, sexual violence, and/or exposure to death threats. After experiencing a trauma there can be an emotional reaction to these events which can include fear, helplessness, and even horror. There may also be distressing memories of the traumatic event which can be recurrent and involuntary. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms have to last for more than a month and be persistent. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

One population that is less talked about when it comes to PTSD is children, but more specifically refugee or asylum seeking children. The current population of children with PTSD in the U.S. is about 5% and among refugee children in the U.S. it’s about 54%. These children are experiencing hunger, extreme poverty, bombings, abductions, sexual assault, and even witnessing deaths. These stressors can often co-occur making everyday life very difficult for them. The effects of these events are causing developmental regression, clinginess, repetitive play of the trauma/s, anxiety, depression, ACES, and mood changes. One effect that is very important is how the brain is being affected by these traumas. PTSD is developed in two key regions of the brain, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala reacts too strongly while the prefrontal cortex impedes the ability to regulate a threat response. It’s the perfect storm that leads to hyperarousal, hyper vigilance, and sleep deprivation which are big issues when it comes to children. Children’s brains are growing and developing and these traumas are stunting the global developmental growth of these children’s brains.

Often PTSD in refugee or asylum seeking children, if left untreated/undiagnosed, can and will lead to life long-lasting effects. In the situation these children are in, it’s difficult to not only diagnose them but to properly treat them. Many if not all have witnessed one or more of the stressors mentioned above and these children are out in the world not only having their lives completely change but having their mental health deteriorate. Thankfully some host countries who take in refugees, screen them and try to help them adjust to their now new lives and overcome barriers that come with accessing physical and mental health care. This also includes overcoming the stigma that refugees have of seeking mental health care. Like mentioned before only some host countries do this, others are still fixing their processing of refugees.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Reference:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Depression: Have a Case of the Winter Blues? Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

By: Keely Fell

Can’t seem to shake the winter blues? Nearly five percent of adults are experiencing symptoms that align with major depressive disorder with recurring seasonal pattern, which is more commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), an individual who is experiencing “two major depressive episodes in the last two years” that show relations to the time of year, and experience full remissions at other times they may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

It is also important to understand what is happening in the body and why an individual is experiencing such symptoms. When an individual is experiencing these symptoms, often it can be as a result of the lack of natural light due to the shorter periods of daylight during the winter season. With the lack of light, the human brain slows down the production of serotonin, and increases the production of melatonin which leaves individuals feeling drowsy. Melatonin production increase is caused by darkness, which is why we get sleepy when the sun goes down. The regulation of these chemicals is what helps create your body’s specific circadian rhythm. When this system is affected it can cause a feeling of lethargy and or restlessness.

Here are some tips and tricks to shaking those winter blues:

  1. Take a few minutes during your day to get outside Whether that’s during your lunch break or walking to pick up the mail, going outside during daylight will increase the serotonin production in your brain.
  2. Light Therapy During the dark winter months, if these symptoms are taking over you can try light therapy. Light therapy allows for the brain to think it’s being exposed to sunlight. People who use light therapy typically invest in a light box (if interested Harvard Health has many they recommend) which delivers around 10,000 lux, compared to a standard sunny day that ranges 50,000 lux or above. They recommend that, you sit in front of the light box for no more than 30 minutes a day. This allows for the brain to regulate its circadian rhythms by allowing the retinas to be stimulated. Light therapy does not work for everyone.
  3. Talk Therapy If these symptoms persist and are affecting your day talk therapy is also affective. Reaching out to a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychotherapist to come up with symptom relief is another big way to combat these symptoms. Symptom relief may include the use of antidepressants, or various therapeutic methods.

 

If you or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder or seems to have the symptoms of SAD, and needs help, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/seasonal-affective-disorder-bring-on-the-light-201212215663

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder

 

CBT & DBT

Image result for cbt and dbt therapy

CBT & DBT

By: Vanessa Munera

When it comes to psychotherapy, there are different types. Psychotherapy is also known as “talk therapy”. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Psychotherapy is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties”. This is when an individual speaks with a therapist or psychologist in a safe and confidential environment. During these talk sessions, you are able to explore and understand your feelings and behaviors, and develop coping skills. In fact, research studies have found that individual psychotherapy can be effective at improving symptoms in a wide array of mental illnesses, making it both popular and versatile treatment. There are different types of psychotherapy that can assist people. The most common types of psychotherapy are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, is a form of therapy that consists of focusing on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. This type of therapy helps patients gain control over and accept unwanted thoughts and feelings so that they can better manage harmful or unwanted behaviors. CBT is usually used to treat conditions related to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and social skills. As a matter of fact, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for these conditions, as well as improving brain functioning. CBT can benefit people at any age, such as a child, adolescent, and adult.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy that was originally designed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over time, this type of therapy has been adapted to help treat people with multiple different mental illnesses, but it is mostly used to treat patients who have BPD as a primary diagnosis. Although DBT is a form of CBT, it has one big exception: it emphasizes validation and accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors instead of struggling with them. DBT allows patients to come in terms with their troubling thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that they have been struggling with. Studies of Dialectical Behavior Therapy have shown effective long-term improvements for those suffering from mental illness. DBT also helps lower the frequency and severity of dangerous behaviors, utilizes positive reinforcement to promote change, and helps individuals translate what they learned in therapy to everyday life.

 

References:

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/psychotherapy

https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/difference-dbt-cbt-therapies/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy

Vape and E-Cigarette Addiction

By: Maryellen Van Atter

    

E-cigarette devices, such as the Juul, are more prevalent than ever. These devices were originally created to help established smokers stop smoking traditional cigarettes. However, because of their ease of use, portability, and sweet taste/smell, they have become popular with a generation of teens who have never smoked traditional cigarettes. This is concerning because of the plethora of health concerns surrounding the devices. They still contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine is shown to raise blood pressure and spike adrenaline and heartrate, which can lead to increased risk of heart attack. Vaping has been linked to severe respiratory illnesses, and it may be related to pulmonary disease. It can worsen asthma, cause nausea, and irritate the mouth and throat.

While these physical health effects are often discussed, there is less discussion about the mental effects of nicotine addiction. Those who smoke have a lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder which is more than double the prevalence in those who do not smoke. Some research has gone even farther and said that smoking may change neurotransmitter activity in the brain, leading to increased risk of depression. Despite this, the devices are still popular. While it is possible to vape something that does not contain nicotine, it is uncommon and teens often are not entirely aware of what is in what they are inhaling.

The percentage of teens that vape is increasing. Studies have found that 42.5% of high school seniors report vaping in their lifetime; this is dangerous behavior. However, it is important to remember that blame is unhelpful in helping a teen to kick their vaping habit. Similarly, reminding a teen about the risk of cancer and family addiction histories is not an effective way to get them to quit. Teens will respond best to calm conversations and discussions about how their vaping may be affecting them and the things that they consider important, such as school, extracurriculars, and sleep. Helping someone stop smoking is no easy job and it is not something that has to be done alone.

Addiction is a serious mental health concern and the sooner addiction can be treated, the better. There are both psychological and physical symptoms associated with addiction. There are many effective, FDA approved treatments for smoking cessation. These treatments include hypnotherapy, which uses guided relaxation and focused attention to change behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to discover the root of behaviors and works to change attitudes surrounding the behavior, psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and motivational interviewing, which aims to illuminate differences between a patient’s goals and their behaviors. There is no shame in seeking out therapy to assist in quitting smoking or helping a loved one quit smoking, and it is best to seek help as soon as the problem is recognized. The longer one waits, the more established addictive behaviors become.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a vaping addiction, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/print/17921-number-of-teens-vaping-hits-record-high-survey-shows

https://www.psycom.net/mental-health-wellbeing/juuling-teenagers-vaping/

https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/teen-vaping/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes/what-are-treatments-tobacco-dependence

https://www.medscape.com/answers/287555-158503/what-is-the-association-between-nicotine-addiction-and-depression

https://psychcentral.com/lib/can-smoking-cause-depression/