Neurofeedback

Leah Flanzman

There has recently been a great deal of discussion on a psychological treatment called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback assists people in consciously controlling their brain waves by attaching subjects to an EEG machine that extracts various brain-activity components and feeds them back to the patient.  The most common protocols used in neurofeedback training are alpha, beta, theta, and alpha/theta protocols.  The way that you select the placement of electrodes on a patients head depends on their specific brain functions and specific symptoms.  The goal is to allow the subject to assess their progress and adjust their brain waves accordingly to achieve optimal performance.  However, the effectiveness and practicality of the treatment is under debate.

According to the Basic and Clinical Neuroscience journal, many studies conducted on neurofeedback therapy reveal methodological limitations that question its effectiveness. For example, with the alpha treatment protocols, it remains unknown exactly how many treatment sessions are necessary before patients can consciously possess the ability to control their alpha waves.  Once an optimal performance is achieved, it’s difficult to study the long-term effects of these treatments, in other words how long the effects last without feedback.

The pros of neurofeedback are that it’s a safe and non-invasive procedure that has been proven effective in treating certain disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, insomnia, drug addictions, and learning disabilities. Despite this, more scientific evidence of its effectiveness must be conducted before we can consider it a valid treatment.  It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s a very expensive procedure that is not covered by many insurance companies, and is very time consuming to complete.

If you or someone you know thinks they have ADHD, anxiety, depression, or drug addictions, or learning disabilities, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

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Part 2: Marijuana as Medicine

 

Marijuana Part 2: Marijuana as Medicine

Sam Kwok

Despite the growing use of medical marijuana, under the federal jurisdiction, it is still classified as a schedule 1 drug. Twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana; however, each state has its own legislature that creates lists of preapproved conditions that may be treated with marijuana. Though, when comparing these lists, one may notice that the severity of the conditions ranges drastically. For example, California, a state known to have very loose marijuana regulation laws, has a list that include more common conditions such as anorexia, anxiety, depression, migraines, or just “any debilitating illness …deemed appropriate by the physician.” New Jersey, which is considered a moderate state when examining marijuana regulations, has a list that excludes anxiety and depression, but includes more severe illnesses including terminal cancer, muscular dystrophy, and terminal disease where the physician has determined there is less than a year of life left. Despite the differences in severity, under the US law, medical marijuana patients, dispensaries, and government officials that do not enforce the federal laws are all criminals to some extent.

In the early 70’s Nixon began his famous “War on Drugs” campaign, which intended to keep the American public safe from hard drugs. One of these drugs, was marijuana. Almost 50 years later, the same laws are still upheld and little research has been done to update the data. Technology and scientific procedures have updates, so research and laws should be updated as well.

From the little data we do have, we know that CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient of marijuana has medicinal effects. It is linked to the healthy release (unlike opiates) of dopamine and serotonin which are the “happiness” chemicals in our brain. This may be the reason why in some states, marijuana is used as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy have shown to have dramatic improvements with the introduction of CBD. The number of seizures that a child has may decrease drastically when treated with CBD oil. Marijuana is also known to help people undergoing chemotherapy treatment. It may not only help patients to regain their appetite through the reduction of nausea, but can also help reduce pain and reduce the body’s urge to regurgitate. Despite the potential of medical marijuana, further research is still barred by the government. Some suggest that the easiest way to completely legalize marijuana is if states vote to create a 28th amendment which would legalize marijuana, but that would still require ¾ of all states to vote in favor. Currently, 30 states have some laws which allow for marijuana to some extent (includes medical and recreational), but 8 more still need to reform for the possibility of a 28th amendment. The nation’s capital, Washington DC has already decriminalized the drug as well. With the current administration, marijuana will not be legalized federally. But with more and more people becoming aware of such issues, even the government will not be able to stop people from getting the medicine they need. It is clear in which direction the US is heading towards in this debate and it is only a matter of time until medical marijuana is legalized in all 50 states.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Marijuana Part 1: How does it work?

Marijuana Part 1: How does it work?

Sam Kwok

As the most commonly used illicit drug, marijuana has recently blossomed into an estimated $11 billion-dollar industry. Recently there has been a national shift towards the legalization of the drug, which has caused debates from both ends of the spectrum. But how does marijuana work?

Marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for short.  THC is produced by the cannabis plant and its molecular formula is C21H30O2. Anandamide, a naturally existing molecule in the brain, has the molecular formula C22H27NO2 meaning that the relative molecular weight and size of THC and anandamide are similar. Moreover, the 2 molecules have a similar structural layout which allows THC to imitate anandamide’s effects on the brain.

Anandamide is part of the endocannabinoid (EC) system in the body which helps neurons regulate the release of neurotransmitters- the brains way of sending and retrieving messages. Generally, cannabinoids affect the brain by slowing down the transmission of neurotransmitters. When marijuana is smoked, a large amount of THC enters the lungs and into the bloodstream where it can flow into the brain. THC then bonds to the same receptors anandamide normally would to slow down the activity of certain enzymes which reduces the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Because anandamide does not naturally occur is large quantities, smoking THC overwhelms the brain, and it is this reaction that gives users that “high” feeling.

The other main chemical compound in marijuana is cannabidiol- known as CBD. CBD has been popularized due to its medicinal effects and much of the medical marijuana platform is built upon the usage it. Some laws allow, medical usage of CBD concentrates, but still consider THC as a schedule I drug. Though its molecular formula is identical to THC, it lacks key functional groups and effects the brain differently. This is why CBD has no psychoactive effects. CBD actually inhibits an enzyme used to activate receptors lowering the psychoactive effects of THC. While THC directly effects the brain by bonding to a receptor, CBD indirectly affects the brain by activating adenosine receptors. These receptors have been linked to having anti-anxiety effects and are known to also release dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that is linked to pleasant feelings. CBD also activates serotonin receptors which are linked to benefiting sleep, appetite, anxiety, and depression issues.

Since marijuana is still illegal federally, there has been little research on long term effects on the brain. Several studies have shown that marijuana use during a child’s developing age may have irreversible damaging effects to the brain. Marijuana has also been known to have harmful effects when mixed with other drugs such as alcohol. Users of the drug have also been known to have a higher chance of becoming to addicted to other drugs as marijuana is a gateway drug. However, majority of the research are inconclusive and more research must be done to make definitive conclusions.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

Nicotine Addictions

Isabelle Kreydin

People living with mental illness have a high rate of tobacco addiction. In America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. What’s it mean to be addicted? You might have problems paying attention, trouble sleeping, appetite change, and/or powerful cravings for tobacco at least once a day.

The nicotine in any tobacco product absorbs into ones blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Nicotine increases levels of the chemical dopamine, which affects parts of the brain that control reward and pleasure. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. commonly lack a consistent flow of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters), and the nicotine can therefore be a sort of temporary enhancer and mood booster.

The addiction itself however, is more about the lies one feeds to himself, the subconscious thought that the cigarettes, e-cigarette or other drug will truly fill a void in the addict’s mind or body. Those struggling with addiction have something in common: an ache that they believe can be dimmed. Whether it’s simply a drug to relieve temptation, or tension in the mind or of thoughts, it’s still an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Like most drug addictions, nicotine only provides one with temporary relief or a brief time away from reality. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Please do not be one of those statistics.

Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs) cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important that individuals living with mental illness quit smoking. Like an e-cigarette, smokeless tobacco products contain 3 to 4 times more nicotine than cigarettes and contain substances that increase risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. If you ever wanted to quit your addiction in the future, it would only be more difficult, as your body becomes dependent on the chemicals and drugs you chose to feed it. Recovery is a long process, however very possible.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

Alcohol Abuse: Binge Drinking

By Hannah Pierce

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

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

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems including:

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

Binge drinking can be prevented by:

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

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

Suicide Prevention the Right Way: Part 2

By: Sam Reiner

(cont from part 1)

That’s basically the whole article and after reading this you’re probably thinking “why would I ever show this to someone who is thinking of suicide?” Well although what he talks about may seem like the worst thing to tell people it’s in the details that makes the article really stick out. Like I said before, when Wong mentions the possibility of the afterlife he says your two options are one of the worst parts of hell or eternal nothingness. It is a scientific fact that something is always better than nothing so the downside of nothing for eternity is never explained but when he talks about Hell it is a different story. After he is done describing all the terrible things Hell has in store for the rest of eternity he brings up the fact that there are people who have it worse than you do.

Remember how I said that Wong mentions a kid with a rare skin disease. This kid’s skin is constantly drying and falling off in chunks so you would think that he might be the most likely to commit suicide because he is in constant pain. But instead, he is also over 18 years old and runs triathlons. Although it may seem random to talk about, Wong only mentions him to make a good point, if he can find a reason to live so can you. The main point of this whole section is, “if you’re figuring that, yes, you can man up and face whatever challenges the next life presents, then you might as well do that now, in this life, and skip the extra step. It’s just more efficient that way.”

Same goes for when he describes suicide methods. Like last time I don’t want to be specific on this topic but every method that he mentions is put in a way that would dissuade anyone from trying it. To me however the best part of this article is in the 3rd section, Timing. This is the section where the article really shines as it is here that Wong not only uses common sense, but statistics too when he talks about the 50% Rule. Why is the fact he uses statistics so important? It’s because that is definitive proof that you have something to look forward to and that you have a purpose. Also, when he talks about revising your suicide note, he recommends asking the suicide hotline to do it for you as they “deal with dozens of suicides every day and they know a good note when they hear one,” (very funny Wong). Honestly, I want to go into so much more detail on this article, especially the 50% Rule, but I feel as though the only way to truly see why I love this article so much is to read it. So, I’m going to put the link at the end and I really suggest you read it. I guarantee it will have you thinking differently.

http://www.cracked.com/article_15658_the-ten-minute-suicide-guide.html

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

Addiction: Addictive Behaviors

Addiction: Addictive Behaviors

By Marilyn Wells

 

Addictions come in many forms, some of which may be hard to even recognize as a problem. Addictions have serious effects on mental health, physical well-being, and affect the lives of those around the addict.  First, it is important to recognize whether or not you or a loved one is engaging in any addictive behaviors.

Some addictive behaviors include:

  • Inability to quit a certain habit, even when you want to
  • Remaining in the environment the addiction or craving formed in
  • Unable to control the craving
  • Substituting one addictive behavior for another
  • Desire for the craving, even when the craving ceases to result in pleasure
  • Self-medication

Addictive behaviors are often linked to Antisocial Personality Disorder, low tolerance for stress, compulsive behaviors, insecurity and depression.

Addictive behaviors are hard to conquer alone and may be signify another underlying mental health issue. If you or anyone you know is or may be expressing addictive behaviors, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201702/10-patterns-addictive-behavior

https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/mental-health/addictive-personality/

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

PAWS

By Marilyn Wells

 

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) occurs after alcohol or drug withdrawal, which presents fewer physical withdrawal symptoms, but is more disruptive to an individual emotionally and psychologically. PAWS occurs as a reaction to the individual’s brain returning to a normal state, which can often take up to two years.

Symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Rapid/extreme mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Variations in energy and concentration

Individuals with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome often experience these symptoms in episodes, which last for several days. During these episodes, individuals often struggle to fight the temptations to relapse.  However, with the help of a psychologist, individuals suffering from PAWS can better understand the process their bodies are going through, and learn how to practice methods of relaxation and self-care that will smooth the transition back to a normal life.

 

The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Source: addictionsandrecovery.org

Drugs on College Campuses

Substance Abuse

It’s that time of year when everyone is anticipating the upcoming academic school year. With students returning to campus, parties will be on the rise. Welcome back parties are anticipated events on college campuses. Whether one is aware or not, these parties run rampant with various types of drugs. Some students are willing participants whereas others are unknowingly participating in the use of substances. Use of these drugs or substances may lead to risky behavior than can later have effects on the user and others in close proximity.

Some strategies to avoid being under the influence whether knowingly or unknowingly are listed below.

  1. Know your limits.
  2. If you’re going to drink alcohol, know what number of drinks will cause impairment. It’s not advisable to take other substances because of the effects they may cause alone or combined.
  3. Have a buddy system established.
  4. Even though you are college student, have someone that will be responsible for you and vice versa. If you intend on consuming or using any substances, have a designated driver. Have that person ensure your safety throughout the night.
  5. Be careful.
  6. Do not take drinks from random individuals. If you did not see the drink being opened or poured into a glass, kindly reject it. Likewise, be aware of anything that you consume.
  7. Have fun.
  8. So you’ve established a safety plan, great! Go out and enjoy yourself!

 

Written by:  L. Matthew

Treating Teen Addiction with Cognitive Based Therapy

By: Caroline Leary

In the past few years, there has been a huge influx of young adults seeking treatment for substance abuse. Many of these young people are not even legally of age to consume alcohol, yet are diagnosed as alcoholics. Other than alcohol, painkillers, opiates, and narcotics have become increasingly popular drug choices for young people. The popularity and accessibility of these drugs is leading to an increase in American teen addiction, overdose, and mortality.

Addiction counseling includes several forms of therapy that have been effective in treating teen addiction. These effective treatment therapies focus more on the teen as a whole person as opposed to just the symptoms of the addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT for short, does just this. CBT targets reasons for behaviors as well as the behaviors themselves with the goal of helping the teen understand why they developed the addiction. This newfound understanding through CBT, combined with other approaches such as AA/NA, may help the teen overcome the addiction.

After the teen learns the principles of CBT, he or she will be able to pin point what initially triggered his or her poor behavior and handle it in a more positive way.

If you are a teenager in need of addiction counseling, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Comments are welcome