Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Jaylyn Senise

Hypochondria, or the anxiety surrounding one’s health, is characterized by the fear of contracting a disease or illness. This anxiety is more common than one would expect, especially within these current times of COVID-19 where it has been heightened. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to MedicalNewsToday, approximately 4-6% of the world population deals with clinically significant hypochondria. Today, some people may begin to feel anxious given the highly contagious nature of the disease in addition to the lack of information regarding the future of the disease. Oftentimes, this may lead to physical symptoms that emerge due to the stress associated with being exposed to someone sick or contracting a disease.  With the coronavirus pandemic, hypochondria may be intensified because some of the most common symptoms such as coughing and sore throat are common and may be due to other more common colds other than COVID-19.

Some signs of hypochondria include worrying that you have serious illnesses given minor symptoms, being easily panicked regarding their health status, being preoccupied by one’s wellbeing, and avoiding people and activities in fear of risk. Proper treatment for hypochondria includes behavioral stress management programs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and visiting specialists for anxiety. The usage of antidepressants, for example Prozac and Luvox, and antianxiety medications are advised to control the effects of hypochondria.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hypochondria, 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.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypochondria-and-covid-19

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/worried-sick-help-for-hypochondria

https://www.nytimes.com/ 2018/06/18/well/a-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html

Image Source

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F06%2F18%2Fwell%2Fa-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html&psig=AOvVaw0M9bcHwiRGDUvI2RSlNcmG&ust=1625755773112000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAoQjRxqFwoTCIC39a6a0fECFQAAAAAdAAAAABAK

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

By: Hallie Katzman

Although going back to school can be very exciting for children, some kids experience high levels of stress and anxiety associated with the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. 7.1% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old have diagnosed anxiety. Anxiety disorders can be characterized by feelings of tension, intrusive or worried thoughts and physical symptoms such as sweating or a rapid heartbeat. These feelings can be heightened by stressful situations, such the transitional period of going back to school after summer vacation. Children can experience many types of anxiety related to going back to school such as separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder or social phobias and specific back to school anxiety.

These anxiety disorders can be treated through therapy plans to help manage or reduce the child’s symptoms through techniques such as rehearsing a school day. Additionally, mental health professionals can also advise the child’s parents of different techniques to help their child ease their back to school anxiety. Family, friends and teachers can help to create a supportive environment for the child when they go back to school to make the transition easier and less anxiety provoking. If the back to school anxiety persists longer than the first couple weeks of typical jitters and is causing distress to the child’s daily life, then meeting with a therapist would be beneficial to help them better manage symptoms.

               If you, your child or someone you know is experiencing back to school anxiety or other anxiety disorders or mental health issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively, at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Sources: https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/

https://nyulangone.org/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-children/types

https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20an%20emotion%20characterized,recurring%20intrusive%20thoughts%20or%20concerns.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html

Image source: https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/helping-your-child-cope-with-back-to-school-anxiety/

Munchausen’s Syndrome

By Charlotte Arehart

Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder where the individual continuously pretends to have various ailments and illnesses to seek medical attention for them. There are several other versions of Munchausen’s syndrome, including Munchausen through proxy as well as Munchausen through the internet. Munchausen’s syndrome is a mental illness that often comes along with other mental difficulties such as depression and anxiety.

Since Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose sometimes. After all, the patient is likely to be lying about their symptoms and illnesses. There are a few things that may hint that a patient has Munchausen’s syndrome, such as inconsistent medical history, constantly changing or unclear symptoms, predictable relapses, extensive medical knowledge, new symptoms after a negative test or undesired test results, symptoms are only present when the patient is being watched or is near people, and seeking treatment in many different places.

Many times in the news we hear about cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, which is when a caregiver or parent pretends that their child is afflicted by ailments. There are many famous cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, such as the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. In cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by internet, the individual attends online support groups pretending to be afflicted with the struggle that those who are attending the meetings are actually experiencing. This could be either to mock those who are attending, or simply for attention.

It is important that medical staff keeps an eye out for those who may be experiencing Munchausen’s Syndrome, since it can be difficult to spot. Those who are suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome or Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy should seek mental health treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Munchausen’s syndrome, 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.webmd.com/mental-health/munchausen-syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554979/

https://10faq.com/health/munchausen-syndrome-symptoms/?utm_source=7017173049&utm_campaign=6449781305&utm_medium=78641056298&utm_content=78641056298&utm_term=munchausen%20syndrome&gclid=CjwKCAjwieuGBhAsEiwA1Ly_nQk9C1zizAwKaVlu7DhBKde8bnBOPK7v4QhwG7rYBc-ZZj3av-254BoCzqAQAvD_BwE

Image Source: https://healthproadvice.com/mental-health/An-Understanding-of-Munchausen-Syndrome

Low Maintenance Might be a Bad Thing

By Katie Weinstein

In our society low maintenance is always seen as a good or neutral thing. People who are low maintenance are seen as flexible, nice, and easy going. If you are low maintenance meaning you can walk out the door without spending an hour doing your hair and makeup that is great, but if you are a low maintenance friend or partner out of fear of asking people to meet your needs, it is time to set boundaries and begin advocating for yourself.

Some people become high maintenance because their parents downplayed their feelings or were not able to meet the needs of their child for reasons such as working multiple jobs, having another child who was high-need, or suffering from an addiction problem. Other people become high need because peers labeled them as dramatic or they were excluded in school so learned to become an easy friend so they shut down their needs. As a result, people learn to be low maintenance so that they take up as little space as possible. In reality, if you’re low maintenance as a result of fear of asking people to meet your emotional needs and coming across as needy, it can take a toll on you.

It is important to first start with identifying what your needs are and what makes you happy. You also need to remind yourself that your needs are valid and it is normal to ask things of people. You are not being overly sensitive or dramatic. While it might seem horrifying to ask people for things, build up the confidence to set boundaries and tell people how you feel. True friends or partners will stick around even if it takes some getting used to. It is also important to tell yourself a new narrative about your needs. Instead of telling yourself that you are dramatic, tell yourself you are advocating for yourself. Once you stop being so low maintenance your confidence will improve, you will build better relationships, and people will stop using you. It is important to get as much in a relationship as you give. If you need help identifying your needs, building your confidence, or advocating for yourself, therapy might be a great option for you.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-the-generations/202101/are-you-too-low-maintenance?collection=1151944

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sexual-self/202104/why-some-people-feel-sad-after-sex

If you or someone you know is low maintenance and seeking 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/

Discipline and the Effects of Yelling at a Child

By Katie Weinstein

When it comes to verbal abuse, many people disregard it as a form of abuse because it is not as concrete as physical or sexual abuse, and it is more difficult to draw the line between verbal abuse and scolding. However, the effects of yelling and verbal abuse are just as detrimental and intense as any other type of abuse and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Being yelled at frequently increases the activity of the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotions. This is because loud noises are signaled to the brain as a warning sign for danger. The amygdala increases stress hormones in the body, which increases muscular tension. These signals tell the body to fight, flight, or freeze, but none of these options are okay when a parent is yelling at a child since it isn’t acceptable to run away from a caregiver or fight them, which leaves the body to be in a stress condition with no purpose or function.  

There are long term effects of yelling at a child frequently since the brain develops neuronal pathways according to our experiences. If the child is conditioned to frequently respond to stressful situations, the child will develop pathways that activate a stress response quickly. Since negative interactions impact a person more than positive interactions, it affects our expectations and self-esteem drastically, especially if the yelling involves name calling, as well as behavior. One might think that yelling would get a child not engage in a specific behavior, but in reality yelling increases bad behavior due to stress and increased aggression as a result of a hyperactive amygdala, which may cause the parent to yell more. Since the child is constantly stressed, they are at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, since yelling is not an effective communication style, the child may not learn to properly communicate, which can affect the child’s relationships in the future, leading to more problems down the road.

If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma from verbal 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/

https://optimistminds.com/psychological-effects-of-being-yelled-at/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2018/The-Problem-with-Yelling#:~:text=Being%20frequently%20yelled%20at%20changes,increasing%20muscular%20tension%20and%20more.

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/effects-of-yelling-at-kids

Procrastinating before bed? This might be why

By Katie Weinstein

Revenge bedtime procrastination is defined as the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure activities. The reason it is called “revenge” bedtime procrastination is to get back at the day time hours for stealing away free time. Many people are tired when going to bed and intend to go to sleep, but chose to binge shows on Netflix or scroll through hours of Tik Toks without an external reason to stay awake, meaning there is an intention-behavior gap. 

Since revenge bedtime procrastination is still a relatively new idea in sleep science, the underlying psychology explaining this phenomenon is still being debated. One explanation is that daytime workload depletes our capacity for self-control, so we can’t fight our urge to stay awake to participate in leisure activities even though it means we will be better rested for the next day. Another explanation might be that some people are naturally “night owls” and are forced to adapt to an early schedule, so this is their way of finding time to recover from stress. A third explanation might be that, during the pandemic, domestic and work lives are blurred as people work overtime hours and do not divide work time from leisure time. 

The reason that it is important to be aware of revenge bedtime procrastination is because sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause daytime sleepiness, which harms productivity, thinking, and memory as well causing physical effects such as insufficient immune function and increased susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

In order to prevent revenge bedtime procrastination, try putting away technology 30 minutes before bed, create a regular bedtime routine, avoid caffeine late in the afternoon, and find time for leisure activities during the day. It is also important to recognize when you need help managing your procrastination and your sleep problems.

If you or someone you know is struggling with revenge bedtime procrastination or other types of sleep problems, 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.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/revenge-bedtime-procrastination

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/revenge-bedtime-procrastination-a-plight-of-our-times#Tips-for-better-sleep

Neurotic Perfectionism and Dance

By Katie Weinstein

Dancing is proven to lower rates of anxiety and depression as well as increase self-confidence and provide opportunities for social interaction. However, the competitive dance field creates an environment that promotes neurotic perfectionism, causing dancers to lose their love for dance. While perfectionism is what enables dancers to strive towards meeting their goals and working hard, neurotic perfectionism is when people set unreasonable expectations for themselves and feel shame when they do not achieve their goal. Neurotic perfectionism can lead to disordered eating, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.

Dancers feel that there is no excuse for not landing the part or not getting attention from their teacher besides lack of effort, so dancers spend hours perfecting their mistakes and comparing themselves to others in the mirror, fostering an incredibly competitive environment and causing dancers to become overly critical of their bodies and skills. Instead of focusing on the positive and creating opportunities from mistakes, dancers expect every movement to be perfect and are overly self-critical when this isn’t the case. Additionally, dancers compete with other people for their next paycheck, so they end up setting super high expectations that are nearly impossible to achieve, wishing they could get their leg up higher or look thinner than everyone else in the room. They often think that if they are not casted, they might not be able to afford to pay rent or buy groceries. Dancers end up pushing themselves too far, and often end up with insomnia from nervousness and injured because of burnout. This can even lead dancers to self-medicate so that their injuries are off the record, leading to substance abuse.

Some signs of neurotic perfectionism include setting unrealistic expectations, feeling shame or guilt and overemphasizing the final product, but underemphasizing the process. It is important to change your thought patterns so that you are not overly critical and can set realistic goals for yourself.

If you or someone you know is experiencing neurotic perfectionism, 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/talking-about-trauma/202101/competitive-dancers-risk-neurotic-perfectionism

https://www.dancespirit.com/perfectionism_101-2326036484.html

Stop Nagging and Build Better Communication Skills

By Katie Weinstein

Nagging is a type of interpersonal communication defined as persistent, repetitive behavior to try to get an individual to complete or stop a task. Naggers are associated with a passive aggressive, obsessional and negative personality types. There is a common misconception that naggers enjoy nagging, but often times; the nagger’s mood is dysregulated and they feel anxious and frustrated. They obsess over a particular thing and cannot tolerate these feelings, so they off load their problems onto the nearest person available, which is why nagging is commonly associated with a partner. Additionally, naggers may have a high need structure for their immediate environment and have a deep fear that their world could spiral if things are not kept entirely in order.

Often times the nagger thinks that continuously asking for something will get the other person to complete the task that they need. In reality, the other person most likely responds in non-compliance, meaning they say yes to the nagger’s request, but do not follow through, ignore the nagger, or say no. This is because the person being nagged tunes out the nagger. The nagger then might become increasingly aggressive, which decreases the likelihood of compliance.

In order to get people to comply with a task it is important to practice better communication. One thing that might help is to give a person a to-do list either via text or on paper with an agreed upon, realistic deadline so that the person won’t forget the task and can complete it on their time. Another thing you can do is be straight forward. Instead of complaining that your partner never does the dishes, ask them to do the dishes. It is also important to know when you need help to stop nagging and begin working on better communication skills.

If you, you and your partner, or you and your family are looking for 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/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-is-2020/202106/two-motivations-the-nagging-personality-type

http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Nagging

https://www.webmd.com/women/features/stop-nagging

Burnout; what it is and how to prevent it

By Katie Weinstein

When push comes to shove, stress becomes burnout. This can lead to detrimental effects on our physical and mental health, so it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning to occur. Burnout is a gradual process that is defined as an extended period of stress and exhaustion that feels like it isn’t improving. Some signs of burnout are losing interest and motivation to a point in which you become disengaged, which can cause a cynical and resentful attitude. Burnout also affects physical health, causing changes in appetite and sleep and frequent headaches.

The causes of burnout include work, lifestyle, and personality traits. Lack of recognition in a chaotic or high pressure environment can make someone more susceptible to burnout. Some ways to improve work related burnout are to outsource or share responsibilities and to set boundaries for off times such as not checking email. Another cause of burnout can be caregiver burnout, since it can be very tiring to care for a child. It’s important to remember that it does not make you a bad parent or friend to ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs a break. Additionally, a perfectionist attitude and pessimistic view on things may lead to burnout, it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning so that you can practice stress managing techniques and find time to do things that you enjoy to prevent burnout. 

Knowing the difference between a burnout and being overly stressed is essential for mental health. It is important to limit contact with negative people and reach out to supportive friends and family in order to shape a more positive attitude and prevent burnout.

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

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/burnout

OCD: Life During a Pandemic

By Charlotte Arehart

It seems logical to assume that those struggling with OCD are having a harder time during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not necessarily true. While some people who suffer from OCD are having more troubles, not every person who has OCD is seeing a difference in their symptoms. For example, someone who’s OCD focuses on other infectious agents that are not COVID-19 will probably not see a lot of change in their symptoms. A study done in November of 2020 found that OCD symptoms increased in frequency significantly more in “washers,” or people who are afraid of contamination, than in non-washers with OCD.

Many individuals with OCD are expressing how the pandemic has made other people realize what it is like to obsess over contamination. For some people with OCD, this has been the way they have felt for their entire lives. For many of us, obsessively cleaning and sanitizing things has only become part of our habits because of the pandemic.

One benefit that doctors have been seeing during the pandemic, specifically for OCD treatment, is the fact that online therapy sessions allow the patient to have their session in any setting. Many people who are being treated for OCD use exposure therapy with their therapists to help reduce their symptoms. This involves patients exposing themselves to stimuli that may induce their symptoms in an attempt to reduce their anxiety about these symptoms. With sessions being held on telehealth, patients can move about their environment and even do their therapy in unusual locations that allow them to expose themselves, with professional direction, to their stressors. This would not always be possible in an office setting.

The bottom line is that one cannot assume that an individual with OCD is experiencing worse symptoms due to the pandemic. While this is true some people who are suffering from OCD, not every individual’s stressors include the virus. It is important that someone who is experiencing OCD seeks treatment as soon as possible, before symptoms worsen. OCD can be debilitating if it is extreme. Therapy is an excellent form of treatment for OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, 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.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/covid-q-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644184/

Image Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/13/872466613/obsession-or-just-good-hygiene-keeping-the-coronavirus-and-ocd-at-bay