Depression: Identifying Signs of Depression in Someone Close to You

Identifying Signs of Depression in Someone Close to You

By Fiona McDermut

            Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental illness is not a simple task, especially when it comes to someone you care about. Even when the signs of mental illness are identified, it is difficult to decide what to do next. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a 25% increase in cases of depression in the world. In a time of great distress for many, it is vital to look out for the people we love.

            If you suspect that someone you know may be struggling with depression, it is crucial to look out for the following signs:

  • Loss of interest
  • Extreme loss or increase in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and sexual dysfunction

            Some of these signs may seem obvious, but many who struggle with depression may cut themselves off from the social world. This makes it difficult to detect the warning signs of mental illness. Therefore, it is important to check in on the people you care about, especially during a time in which the majority of social interactions have been cut off, limited, or turned to strictly virtual contact. If someone you know is struggling with symptoms of depression, it may be necessary to seek medical help. There are many causes of depression, many types of depression, and many treatment methods. A mental health care professional will be able to identify the key factors that go into developing a treatment plan that works best for each individual in need.

The following methods are used to treat people with depression:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Antidepressant medication
  • Brain stimulation therapy

            Admitting that one needs help is not an easy task. Therefore, providing support, comfort, and assistance for a loved one can make a tremendous difference in one’s mental health outcomes. Simply having one strong social connection has been shown to have multiple health benefits. Most people are not trained in the treatment of depression, but everyone is capable of spending time with those they love and guiding them through the process of recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, 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.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide#:~:text=COVID%2D19%20pandemic%20triggers%2025,of%20anxiety%20and%20depression%20worldwide

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/recognizing-symptoms#lostinterest

Image Source: https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/uploads/How_Friends_Help_You_Regulate_Your_Emotions.jpg

Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month

Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month

By Fiona McDermut

            In light of the start of “beautiful in your own skin” month, it is important to recognize that many struggle with body image satisfaction. Not all people look in the mirror and feel content with what they see. Even if those around you do not understand your body-related concerns, your feelings are totally valid and can be helped with treatment.

            Body dysmorphic disorder (body dysmorphia) is a mental illness characterized by a hyper fixation on perceived defects in one’s appearance. This interferes with day-to-day life because one may spend a large amount of time worrying or attempting to adjust the perceived flaw. These behaviors usually result in obsessive body comparison to others, avoidance of social interaction, and frequent negative body-checking (looking in the mirror repeatedly at disliked body parts). Unfortunately, many have associated their own happiness with how closely their bodies align with current beauty standards portrayed in the media. As one lets these thoughts progress, they can worsen, and possibly be a precursor to an eating disorder or other disorders associated with body dissatisfaction such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

            While many believe that cosmetic surgery will fix their perceived flaws, research has shown that such surgeries do not improve psychological symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. The first step to resolving the issue is recognizing that you have a warped view of what you look like. If you or someone you know experiences this, it can be very beneficial to seek psychological/psychiatric assistance. Professionals in the field will be able to decide the best way to treat these disordered thoughts. The most common treatment for body dysmorphia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Other possible treatments include hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and the prescription of antidepressant medication in order to decrease the feelings of dissatisfaction.

            Working with a professional is important in situations like these, but it is still important to remind yourself that your perceived flaws are only noticed by you, and likely not those around you. Nobody is perfect, but with the constant pressure of modern media to be thin, our flaws often appear to be more apparent to ourselves than they are to others. The practice of mindfulness exercises may also help to focus your mind on what you have learned to love about yourself, and of course, do not be afraid to seek help when necessary.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphic 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201507/whats-the-best-way-deal-negative-body-image

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shrink/201409/how-stop-hating-your-body

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144507000988

Image source: https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-related-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Celine Bennion

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder in the United States, currently impacting 3.1% of the population; as many as 5.7% of U.S. adults report experiencing this disorder at some point in their lives. GAD is characterized by feelings of excessive worry which have no particular trigger. This anxiety can be felt about school, work, social interactions, or even common, everyday events. These behavior patterns and cognitive issues become disordered when they begin to disrupt normal functioning.

Symptoms of GAD include the following: restlessness, being wound-up or on-edge, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleeping problems including difficulty falling/staying asleep or unsatisfying sleep. At least three of these symptoms must be present for at least six months for a patient to be diagnosed with GAD.

Treatment:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is particularly helpful in treating anxiety disorders, including GAD. This therapy involves teaching patients different ways to approach anxiety inducing situations by changing how they think, behave, and react to them. It also helps to implement social skills in patients.

Medications are another form of treatment for GAD. It should be noted, however, that medications are used to help decrease symptoms of a disorder and do not cure it entirely. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are commonly used to treat GAD. Anti-depressants work for both depression and anxiety by altering chemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine. They help to regulate mood and relieve symptoms associated with these disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the most commonly used anti-depressants. Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, are effective in treating anxiety symptoms quickly. They are often used as a second option when anti-depressants are not enough to relieve symptoms.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an anxiety 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/anxiety-disorders

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

https://adaa.org/blog/category/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad (photo)

Depression and Humor

By Katie Weinstein

Humor is not only used as a way to get a good laugh with friends, but as a coping mechanism to defuse a situation. Using a positive humor style is associated with good health outcomes, but using a negative humor style, such as self-deprecation, is linked to depression.

It is important to know how to laugh at yourself, but it is also important to know when your self-deprecating has gone too far and is leading to depression. Some signs might be that you can’t take a compliment or that it is a reflex to use self-deprecating humor since this is indicative of low self-esteem. It is easy to justify self-deprecating humor as not wanting to sound too arrogant, but if you use it alone, this is a major warning sign since no one will be there to laugh at your jokes. Another sign might be that you start to actually believe what you’re saying. The point of self-deprecating humor is to make light of imperfections, not to validate insecurities. When you’ve gone too far with self-deprecating humor, the people around you might either tell you this or stop laughing at that type of humor since it makes other people uncomfortable.

The relationship between self-depreciative humor and depression remains unclear as to which causes the other or if there is a cyclical effect between the two. It is possible that people who are depressed choose a self-deprecating humor style because they are attempting to cope with low self-esteem or it is possible that repetitive negative humor causes low self-esteem and depression. A third possibility is that genetic and environmental factors affect depression and negative humor styles.

One way to stop using self-deprecating humor is to fight the urge to put yourself down when someone compliments you and just say thank you. Being cognizant of when you are using self-deprecating humor and the way the way that it makes you feel is important for helping you to stop using it.

If you or someone you know is experiencing low self-esteem and or depression 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/humor-sapiens/201911/the-relationship-between-humor-and-depression

Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

By: Zoe Alekel

Have you been experiencing persistent sadness, anxiety, or feelings of emptiness? Even hopelessness, irritability, guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies—these are all symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). More commonly, MDD is known as depression. Dealing with this diagnosis is not easy because of how long these symptoms can last and how invasive they feel.

The Mayo Clinic defines MDD as “A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living” (Mayo Clinic). It is important to consider contacting a doctor or a therapist to discuss these symptoms, as they can become more severe and invasive with time.

Some ways you can reach help are:

  • Call a local counseling or psychological center.
  • Call a psychiatrist in your area that can help provide medication if needed.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one for support.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that the earlier the treatment begins with a therapist or a psychiatrist, the more effective it can be. Depression can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination. Additionally, meditation and mindfulness can help develop coping skills for those experiencing depression. If you are experiencing depression, it is important to remember that there is hope and there is a way out of the darkness you are experiencing.

If you or someone you know needs support with depression, please contact our psychotherapy office 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/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Image Source:
http://metamedianews.com/2018/06/mdd-major-depressive-disorder/

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

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)

By Tatyana A. Reed

As the weather seems to slow down and we shift from bright sunny days to cold winter nights, some of us may notice a sudden change of mood that comes with this weather shift. This change of mood is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “S.A.D is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.”

Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Causes

  • People with SAD may have trouble regulating seratonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood.
  • People with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin.
  • People with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D.

 

Getting Treated

  • Medication: if someone suffers from S.A.D they can be helped by taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). However, like all medication there are side effects, make sure to speak with your doctor about this first.
  • Light therapy: the feelings of S.A.D can be lessoned by sitting in front of a light box that emits 10,000 lux of cool- white- fluorescent light for 20-60 minutes. The light is said to replace the loss of light from daylight savings
  • Therapy: it is best to talk with a psychologist, counselor, or someone in the mental health field when feeling different types of emotions that may be negative such as sadness or anger. Seeking help is the first step to eliminating S.A.D.

If you or a person you know is struggling with S.A.D, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. 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.

References:

Koblenz, Jessica. “11 Things About Seasonal Affective Disorder That Psychologists Wish You Knew.” Reader’s Digest, www.readersdigest.ca/health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-facts/. (PHOTO)

National Mental Health Institute. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml.

 

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

By: Julia Keys

Anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome occurs when a person suddenly stops taking their anti-depressants. Sometimes individuals decide to go off of their medication because of side effects such as weight gain, nausea, or sexual dysfunction. Another common reason why individuals stop their medication “cold turkey” is because they may feel as if the medication has changed their personality. Anti-depressants are not meant to change one’s personality, but sometimes they can cause fogginess or fatigue which can make the patient feel “not like themselves” or “out of it”. However, abruptly going off medication can cause symptoms that are more painful and severe than the side effects one might feel on an anti-depressant that is not right for them.

The effects of anti-depressant discontinuation can be felt as early as a couple hours to as late as a couple days after missing a dose depending on the type of anti-depressant. Symptoms are typically ameliorated within six to twenty four hours after taking the missed dose.

Symptoms of Anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Problems with balance
  • “brain zaps” or “brain shocks”, the sensation of a jolt of electricity running through the head, neck or limbs
  • Anxiety

Unlike illegal drugs, phasing out of anti-depressants can be a painless process if done correctly. In order to go off of anti-depressants successfully, one must slowly wean themselves off the medication with the help of a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Tips to prevent or minimize anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome:

  • NEVER stop taking medication without talking to your doctor
  • Follow your doctor’s directions exactly when going off your meds. If you start to feel any of the symptoms of anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome contact your doctor as soon as possible
  • Set a reminder on your phone or computer to take your medication each day
  • Always keep your medication in the same place
  • Make sure to keep on top of your doctor’s appointments by putting them in a calendar so that you will never run out of medication by accident

If you are struggling with mental health issues and are in need of treatment, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

Source for picture:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailv2&iss=sbi&form=SBIIRP&sbisrc=ImgDropper&q=imgurl:https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.w1jYI-8qe7WzoyGlc18DmQHaFj%26w%3D259%26h%3D194%26c%3D7%26o%3D5%26dpr%3D1.15%26pid%3D1.7&idpbck=1&selectedindex=0&id=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.w1jYI-8qe7WzoyGlc18DmQHaFj%26amp%3Bw%3D259%26amp%3Bh%3D194%26amp%3Bc%3D7%26amp%3Bo%3D5%26amp%3Bdpr%3D1.15%26amp%3Bpid%3D1.7&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.w1jYI-8qe7WzoyGlc18DmQHaFj%26w%3D259%26h%3D194%26c%3D7%26o%3D5%26dpr%3D1.15%26pid%3D1.7&exph=0&expw=0&vt=2&sim=0