Increased Drug and Alcohol Use during the Stay at Home Order

By Eleanor Kim

The Coronavirus pandemic has left the whole world isolated with very little to do aside from school or work. As the stay at home orders continue, individuals have been forced to find other means of coping or simply passing the time. Some individuals have found coping mechanisms that have ignited newfound purpose during such bleak times; however, others have embarked on less than beneficial pastimes, turning to drugs and alcohol as a means of “getting through” the pandemic. Cases of substance use disorder, or SUD, have skyrocketed since the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic with cases of patients who have experienced overdoses and other complications related to substance abuse increasing as well. In a recent survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 13.3% of respondents stated that they have either started or increased substance use in order to cope with the stress and emotions caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent national emergency. With the world in such an unstable and worrisome state, it is not surprising to see individuals seek comfort in any way that they can, especially as those individuals face new and or preexisting stressors and anxieties through isolation.

As the pandemic continues, the surging mental health and substance abuse epidemics have shown to go hand in hand with one another. In fact, throughout the pandemic, there has been a 62% increase in worry, a 51% increase in sadness, a 51% increase in fear, and a 42% increase in loneliness. It was also revealed that within the past year, there has been a 32% increase for non-prescribed fentanyl, a 20% increase for methamphetamine, a 12.5% increase for heroine, a 10% increase for cocaine, as well as an 18% increase in suspected drug overdoses. These increases have not gone unnoticed. Those that already struggled with substance abuse or other mental health disorders have found stay at home orders increasingly difficult given the limited access to their usual treatment and support groups. Those who wish to begin receiving professional help with their substance use have had harder times finding adequate care given the decrease in in- and out-patient support and treatment over the past year. These limitations have fed into the increases in mental health struggles and SUD cases, leaving those who have been affected feeling desperate and out of control.

Substance abuse is not the answer to these difficult and isolating times. There is still hope for those who wish to seek other, more benevolent means of coping with the pandemic and for those who wish to begin treatment for their substance use disorder. Telehealth is one way that individuals with SUD, or other destructive coping mechanisms, can begin receiving professional help and therapy. Counselors and therapists are available to talk with you or anyone you know who may be dealing with substance use disorders during this time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, 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/.

Resources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/09/addressing-unique-challenges-covid-19-people-in-recovery

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219362/

https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21139889/drug-abuse-on-the-rise-because-of-the-coronavirus

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

Image Source:

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/covid-crisis-exacerbating-lgbtq-alcohol-abuse-studies-find-n1257008

Dreams & Nightmares

Dreams & Nightmares

By: Daniela Vargas

Dreams are images, ideas, emotions and sensations that occur in our minds while we sleep. Dreams happen during the REM stage, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This is the stage where our brain activity is the most active and resembles the state of being awake. Dreams can occur during other stages, but they are not as vivid and we usually don’t remember those dreams. Dreams can last from a couple of seconds to 20 – 30 minutes. On average people have 5 dreams; some can have up to 7.

            Sometimes dreams turn into nightmares and those can lead to psychological distress. Nightmares can cause post-traumatic stress, anxiety disorder, dissociation and psychological changes. “Re-experiencing” is a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as flashbacks.

            These nightmares can get worse and lead to insomnia. Therapy can help your sleep schedule become regular; it can also help with post traumatic distress order.

If you or someone you know is in the need of help with destressing from dreams or nightmares please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey arrange an appointment with one of our licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. You can 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.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/dreaming

https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/dreams/

Image: https://www.stockvault.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Nightmares-23.jpg

Gaining Familial Support through Therapy

By Eleanor Kim

Starting therapy is a crucial step towards achieving emotional and psychological wellbeing. Therapy in conjunction with support and love from family members provides a sense of familiarity and comfort while receiving professional help. As the individual continues their therapy, it may be beneficial for all family members to consider family therapy as a means of familial support for their loved one during what may be a difficult or challenging time for the individual.

Family therapy is a form of therapy that allows family members to express their care for a family member who may be dealing with mental health or substance abuse disorders while also strengthening their own familial relations through proper communication. Family therapy will also allow family members to receive the support they may need while they learn how to best help their loved one and to address any questions or concerns they may have regarding their condition.

Family therapy is not limited to families dealing with psychological or addiction issues. In fact, family therapy is a great option for all families, especially for those who are seeking professional guidance while navigating through situations that may cause their family stress, anger, grief, or conflict. Possible matters include, but are not limited to, marital issues, loss, illness, grief, life style changes, and other environmental stressors. Family members will work on strengthening their empathy and understanding for one another as therapists assist individuals to express their needs or concerns in an open and non-judging environment. Family therapists will also guide family members throughout the process of understanding what their loved one is experiencing, as is the case in individual therapy. It is beneficial for both parties to communicate with one another in ways in which they can help one another throughout the recovery process.

At Arista Counseling, we have many therapists who are ready to help you and your family through any psychological conditions, substance abuse issues, or otherwise troubling matters that may currently be affecting your family.

If you or someone you know is seeking familial support or has considered family therapy, 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

References:

http://www.acenterfortherapy.com/family_issues.php

Image Source:

https://www.seekpng.com/ipng/u2a9o0y3w7e6w7a9_family-counseling-clipart-marriage-and-family-therapist-clipart/

Schizophrenia: Signs and Symptoms

Schizophrenia: Signs and Symptoms

Ziara Pena

Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly. Although the exact cause is unknown, genetics, environment, altered brain chemistry and structure might play a role.

People who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia often show symptoms through their behavior, thoughts, mood, speech and psychological awareness. The common symptoms are as followed:

Behavior

  • Social isolation, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, compulsive behavior, excitability, hostility, repetitive movements, self-harm, or lack of restraint

Cognition

  • Thought disorder, delusion, amnesia, belief that an ordinary event has special and personal meaning, belief that thoughts aren’t one’s own, disorientation, mental confusion, slowness in activity, or false belief of superiority

Mood

  • Anger, anxiety, apathy, feeling detached from self, general discontent, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, elevated mood, or inappropriate emotional response

Psychological Awareness

  • Hallucination, paranoia, hearing voices, depression, fear, persecutory delusion, or religious delusion

Speech

  • Circumstantial speech, incoherent speech, rapid and frenzied speaking, or speech disorder

Other common symptoms:

  • Fatigue, impaired motor coordination, lack of emotional response, or memory loss

Schizophrenia needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional as it is chronic and can last for years or be lifelong. Although medication may help, it does not cure the disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with schizophrenia, 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.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=abstract&utm_content=Schizophrenia&utm_campaign=Knowledge-panel

Photo Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-symptoms-of-schizophrenia-2953120

Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, 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/ .

References:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Special Needs Children during Virtual Learning

By Eleanor Kim

With the abrupt transition to online learning last March, teachers, students, and parents alike were left to quickly adjust and find new ways of making virtual learning feel “normal”. While this transition may have come more naturally to some, there are still many families who are struggling to ensure that their children are getting a quality education in their homes. One demographic of online learners who are finding it exceptionally difficult are those who have special needs and learning disabilities. It is hard to spend hours focusing on a Zoom session, especially when special needs learners no longer have direct access to the specialized teachers and aids that help them learn in a normal school setting. Unfortunately, this additional stress during an already unprecedented time has taken a toll on special needs parents and it is important that parents are self-compassionate to themselves as they journey through this uncharted online learning experience. That being said, there are still many new strategies that parents can try to implement to assist their child’s distanced learning.

  • Ask teachers to offer “asynchronous” work in conjunction with any Zoom activities to allow your child more hands-on learning opportunities or request more one-on-one learning through break out rooms or personal Zoom meetings
  • If you are unable to remain with your child during their school hours, reach out to your child’s teachers and aids for an update on how they are doing and how you can help after school hours
  • Offer your child “fidget toys” during Zoom calls to help them remain focused on class material
  • If your child has a hard time staying seated during Zoom meetings, offer Bluetooth earbuds or headphones to allow your child the ability to move around while still remaining attentive and participatory during class
  • Incorporate time within your child’s schedule to stretch and relieve any additional stress or energy by going outside or having a dance break!
  • Make sure to schedule check-in meetings with your child’s school team (teachers, aids, counselor, etc.) to help your child express any frustrations or emotions they are experiencing during this difficult time.

Let your child know that it is okay to be having a hard time right now and that you are there to help them through it. Also make sure that you, the parent, are receiving the support you need while helping your special needs child with online learning in addition to any other struggles you may be facing during these unusual and overwhelming times. We here at Arista Counseling have many therapists and support options available for you.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, 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://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_parents_can_support_children_with_special_needs_during_distance_learning

Image Source:

https://dynaimage.cdn.cnn.com/cnn/c_fill,g_auto,w_1200,h_675,ar_16:9/https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.cnn.com%2Fcnnnext%2Fdam%2Fassets%2F200810224242-20200810-online-learning-main.jpg

PTSD in Women

By: Catherine Cain

Experiencing trauma is common and sometimes it may develop into PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. While PTSD does affect men and women, women are significantly more likely to experience it than men. So, what is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, and the symptoms caused by this trauma continue for more than a month. While PTSD usually develops in the month following the event, it may develop months or even years after. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive memories, avoidance of anything or anyone that reminds them of the trauma, changes in mood or thinking, and changed in behavior.

Females are twice as likely to experience PTSD as men. Why is that? While exposure to trauma is lower for women than men the type of trauma is significant in the development of PTSD. Men experience traumas that result in injuries or death, such as accidents, combats, and physical assaults. Women, however, experience childhood abuse, rape, and sexual assault. The effects of sexual assault are so detrimental that in the 2 weeks following an incident of sexual assault, 94% of women experienced symptoms of PTSD.

Another key reason for this difference is the difference in coping strategies. Everyone has heard of the “fight or flight” response to dangerous situations, but it is found that women often use the “tend and befriend” response following an event. “Tending” is taking care of those around you, while “befriending” is reaching out to others for support. Because of this reliance on others, women become more vulnerable to PTSD symptoms if their support system fails them.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Post Traumatic Stress 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.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2019/PTSD-is-More-Likely-in-Women-Than-Men https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

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