Insomnia

By: Dianna Gomez

Insomnia is a condition that makes it very difficult for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, or for psychological reasons such as anxiety, depression or intrusive thoughts. In addition to these possibilities, the type of lifestyle an individual chooses to live can also be responsible for creating symptoms of insomnia. There are a few things that people who experience insomnia tend to do that may be worsening their symptoms without them even knowing. Some examples of these lifestyle habits include:

  1. Taking Mid-Day Naps
  • Whether it is short or long, sleeping in the middle of the day can increase a person’s chances of having difficulty sleeping through the night. If you can, try to avoid taking naps all together.
  1. Sleeping In Late
  • When a person is lacking sleep, it isn’t uncommon for them to attempt to fix the problem by sleeping in later the next morning to make up for their “lost hours.” However, by doing so, you are confusing your body clock which then makes it difficult to fall asleep at a regular time again the following night. This can quickly create a vicious cycle that is even harder to break.
  1. Taking Your Work Home With You
  • Regardless of what your occupation is, almost everybody has hectic daily schedules. When people are feeling behind on their work, they often decide to put in a little “over-time” by bringing their work home with them. By doing this, you make the process of “winding down” at night harder as your mind is kept wide awake and pre-occupied when it shouldn’t be.
  1. Using Electronics
  • Especially in today’s generation, it is extremely common for people to use their phones or laptops while lying in bed right before they intend to fall sleep. The problem with this, however, is that bright screens like those on our electronics actually stimulate the brain more and cause you to stay awake. This then makes it more difficult to fall asleep for the night.
  1. Working Irregular Hours
  • If you have a job that has you on various different “shifts,” sleeping may become a problem for you. If a person doesn’t stay on a regimented time schedule, their body clock cannot decipher when it should be waking up to take on a new day or winding down to get ready for bed.

 

If you have already tried reversing these lifestyle habits and still regularly experience symptoms of insomnia, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

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Anxiety: Social Anxiety Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being rejected by people. Many people feel some level of anxiety when they are placed into unknown social situations. However, those suffering from social anxiety disorder may avoid socializing altogether, because they cannot handle being judged or seen in a negative way by others. A person with social anxiety disorder, can experience anxiety during many different situations like; going on a date, eating in front of people, making eye contact, public speaking, or going to parties. Some of the symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Uneasy stomach/diarrhea
  • Muscle tension
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating

Social anxiety can cripple a person’s life, because normal everyday interactions are triggers of anxiety and discomfort. This is why many people who suffer from social anxiety disorder choose to isolate themselves from everyone. In order to reduce the fear of rejection, people with social anxiety disorder are encouraged to be exposed to social situations, not run away from them. Although being around others is what brings them distress, socializing is also what allows people with social anxiety to change the way they think about social engagements. Instead of having negative perceptions about the way people view them, the more they socialize and are accepted by others, the more socially anxious people see that those perceptions are not true.

If you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety, 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:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder

Nordqvist, C. (2018, February 05). What’s to Know About Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176891.php

WebMD. (2018). What Is Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder#1

 

What is Trichotillomania?

By Stephanie Osuba

Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder categorized in the Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders section in the DSM-5. It is one of the other Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) – along with excoriation (skin picking) and onychophagia (nail biting) – in which the individual will pull, pick or bite at various parts of the body resulting in damage.  Symptoms include recurring hair pulling, hair loss, and related stress and impairment because of the behavior. The disorder is not considered self-mutilation like cutting or burning because the behavior is not intentional and research suggests that there is no connection between the disorder and unresolved trauma. Often people are ashamed of the behavior and their resulting appearance because of it and try their hardest to stop. Comorbidities include, tic disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders, although, trichotillomania can also occur in the absence of any other psychopathology.  The regular age of onset is between the ages of 11 and 13, however, baby trichotillomania is a rare phenomenon that seems to go away as the child grows older. Research also suggests that the disorder is primarily genetic as it appears in the first relatives of people with trichotillomania than it does in the general population.

Available treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT) with adjunctive dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These therapies help the person to be aware of the pattern of the behavior and helps to identify triggers to pulling. It also teaches methods to redirect that urge to pull into a new healthy pattern of behavior in order to reduce or eliminate the urge. While there is no FDA-approved medication specifically for BFRBs, research is being conducted. OCD medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anafranil can help alleviate symptoms as well.

Sources: Deibler, M. W., Psy. D. (n.d.). Trichotillomania (TTM) and related Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Retrieved from http://www.thecenterforemotionalhealth.com/trichotillomania-and-related-disorders

Zwolinski, R., LMHC. (2013, October 03). Cause And Treatment Of Trichotillomania. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/04/cause-and-treatment-of-trichotillomania/

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from trichotillomania, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By: Dianna Gomez

Panic. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why is my heart beating out of my chest? Am I dying? Why can’t I make it stop?!

For some of us, these emotions are all too familiar. Anxiety can be a scary thing, especially when you’re not totally up-to-date on what exactly it is. What are you to do when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Well, have no fear because I have a few helpful tips to share!

 

Here are 5 things that you can do to calm yourself down when suffering from an anxiety attack:

  • Take Deep Breathes

Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that although it may not feel like it right now, everything will be okay.

  •  Talk Yourself Down

Repeat a calming/kind phrase to yourself OUT LOUD. Remind yourself that you are safe, loved, and never alone.

  • Seek Help

Sometimes we tend to insist that we can get through tough times all on our own, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a neutral professional, a loved one or someone you trust, find someone with whom you can talk out your troubles.

  • Use Music and Visuals

Never underestimate the power of calming music and visuals. Whether it be classical music, peaceful nature videos/sounds, or your favorite John Mayer song – let the music play and your worries float away!

  • Put Your Anxiety on Ice

Create sensory stimulation by gently sticking both of your hands into a bowl of very cold water with ice. The more ice the better.

 

If either you or anybody you know suffers from anxiety, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety: Test Anxiety

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever had a moment of extreme panic, right before the beginning of a test? How about feeling like you are about to faint, or excessive sweat during an exam? If these symptoms describe your test-taking experience, then you might be suffering from test anxiety.

Test anxiety is defined as a psychological condition where people experience severe distress and anxiety during exams. Some causes of test anxiety are fear of failure and lack of preparation. A fear of failure can result from wanting to perform well. One who associates their self-worth with a test’s outcome, can feel devastated when the grade is not what he or she expected. This creates a vicious cycle, where because the person is afraid of feeling worthless, when they fail, they become anxious while taking the exam.  As a result, their performance level on tests drops. Lack of preparation is another cause of test anxiety, which occurs when students do not study properly for an exam. For those who like to wait until the night before an exam, to cram five chapters worth of information into their brain, tests are a constant source of anxiety and stress.

Symptoms of test anxiety can be split up into three categories; physical, emotional, and behavioral/cognitive symptoms. Some physical symptoms include headaches, nausea, excessive sweating, and rapid heartbeat. Emotional symptoms can be expressed as feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, and disappointment.  Behavioral/cognitive symptoms are difficulty concentrating and negative thinking.

To help manage test anxiety, here are some tips;

  • Properly prepare for exams
  • Develop good test-taking skills
  • Engage in relaxation techniques, like taking deep slow breaths
  • Keep a positive mindset

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

Source:

“Test Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America , 2018, adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety

Stress: The Detrimental Effects of Stress on the Body

By: Charleene Polanco

Stress is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension, and whether it is about taking a final exam for class, going off to college for the first time, or work-related, stress can affect the way we perform. If gone unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of negative consequences on the body, which will be discussed. Stress has been linked to a number of physical and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, heart attacks and stroke. A constant high level of stress, can lead to immune system disturbances, which can cause an increase in your body’s susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have direct effects on the skin leading to rashes and hives.

Unlike rashes and hives, which are visible, stress can affect various systems, organs, and tissues within the body, signs that are not seen, and are, therefore, much harder to notice. Some parts of the body affected by stress are the nervous and cardiovascular systems. When stressed, the nervous system signals the body’s adrenal glands to secrete adrenalin and cortisol. Since both of these hormones cause high blood pressure, a person who is under constant stress, also has elevated blood pressure which can lead to heart problems in the future. Even if a stress episode is considered to be minor, repeated minor stress episodes can negatively impact a person’s cardiovascular system by causing inflammations in the coronary arteries. This can eventually cause heart attacks. In order to prevent the negative consequences of untreated high levels of stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. There are multiple symptoms of stress, some of which include, frequent headaches, cold hands/feet, dry mouth, heartburn, depression, forgetfulness, and rapid or mumbled speech.

If you or someone you know is suffering from 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source:

“Stress Effects.” Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017.

Mindfulness: Why We Should All Practice It

We live in a time when everyone is either living in the past or future. Being in the moment, or living in the present, seems to be a concept foreign to so many of us. By not living in the current moment, we are simply ensuring a life filled of stresses and regrets. How can we better learn to focus on the present?

Mindfulness means being aware of our surroundings, our body, our feelings, and thoughts in the moment. It involves recognizing and accepting our thoughts or sensations for what they are in a given moment without any judgment or negative perceptions. The practice of mindfulness gives our minds the chance to tune into the present.

It is critical for all of us to learn to practice mindfulness and how to be in the present. This will help us to avoid living a stressful life. This technique helps us learn to relax, be calm, and appreciate the present. Learning to practice mindfulness does not involve any major changes we need to make to our lives – simply setting aside a few minutes to be aware of ourselves and surroundings can have long term benefits. Here are some examples of mindful exercises we can all strive to implement in our daily lives:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Stand or sit down in a comfortable position and focus your thoughts and energy on your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Be aware of only your breathing, and let go of your thoughts, letting them come and go as they pass.
  2. Mindful Observing: Look at any object in your surroundings/environment and focus solely on the object for a few minutes. Take a moment to notice every possible aspect of the object, including its color, shape, movement, features, and how it changes. Your mind will be focused on this object and will enable you to relax.
  3. Mindful Listening: Close your eyes and take a moment to listen to all of the sounds in your surroundings. Try to identify as many sounds as you can possibly hear and describe them. This allows your mind to again focus on something in the current moment instead of the thoughts in your mind.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress or anxiety and wants to learn how mindfulness can help you, 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/.

Stress: The Endless Pressures on the Brain

A common factor that unites all people is experiencing stress. Stress is the way that our bodies react to various situations including pressure, threats, challenges, or barriers. All individuals experience this in some form in their work, home, or school settings, some to a greater degree than others. We live in a world where we often encourage those around us to do more, work harder and longer, and essentially take on more stressors. This is a very dangerous situation, as stress can be very harmful to our brains.

There are numerous impacts that prolonged stress can have on our brains. When a stressor is present, the body has several physical reactions, including increased heart rate, sweating, raised levels of epinephrine, and constricted blood vessels. In our brains, a signaling pathway is activated involving the hippocampus and pituitary gland which results in the release of the hormone glucocorticoid, a stress hormone. This hormone is generally regulated by the body, released in fixed amounts when we wake up and is necessary for our body to operate. However, when stress is chronic and the brain pathway is activated excessively, glucocorticoids can inhibit growth, bone formation, and the immune response. They are linked to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, destroying neurons, impairing memory, and slowing down cognitive function.

As stress is faced recurrently, the brain learns to acclimate to the body being in constant states of elevated tension and anxiety. The circuitry of neurons and connections of synapses changes to adapt to the higher levels of glucocorticoids. Additionally, people exposed to more stress noted to have a larger amygdala in the brain, which is the region responsible for processing threatening and emotional situations. A larger amygdala indicates that the individual is more susceptible to stressors and is unable to recover from them well. Finally, such individuals were also seen to have a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both responsible for decision making and rational thinking.

It is evident that the stressful lifestyles that many of us live can have a severe adverse impact on our brains and health, most invisible to the eye but nevertheless perilous. Instead of endorsing demanding lives and tiring jobs, which can have negative consequences, we should be inspiring people to learn how to relax and take time for themselves. People should be urged to engage in activities such as meditation, pursue hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and give their brains a break from the stressors and anxiety that are continuously causing pressure.

If you or someone you know is suffering from excessive stress and/or 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/.

OCD: Supporting a Loved one with OCD

It can be devastating to see a loved one suffer through a mental illness. This holds very true for loved ones of individuals afflicted with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. OCD is a ruthless anxiety disorder that traps people in repetitive thoughts or rituals. The disorder is characterized by irrational thoughts, or “obsessions,” that people have, which are addressed through “compulsions,” or behaviors to appease the thoughts. Obsessions and compulsions can range from concern over hygiene or safety, resulting in recurrent handwashing or checking locks on doors, or clarifying meanings with other people, which result in repeating words and phrases. An attempt to resist the compulsion leads to extreme feelings of anxiety, which are extremely unpleasant.

Individuals with OCD are constantly fighting their minds every single day, and fighting the urge to give in to the compulsions while also experiencing anxiety. As a family member or loved one of the effected individual, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to best be supportive and help the significant other overcome their OCD. Here are a list of tips to support a loved one struggling with OCD:

  1. Do not accommodate the OCD. A large part of this illness involves the individual asking for reassurance or wanting to continuously repeat an action or phrase until the OCD is “satisfied.” While it may seem like giving them the reassurance is the nice thing to do, this actually worsens the condition. Reassurance may remove anxiety for a short amount of time, but allows the OCD to continue to take over and keeps the individual under the control of OCD.
  2. Uncertainty is key. When presented with the previous situation about being asked reassurance, the best thing to do is leave the individual with uncertainty. This will result in them feeling anxiety, which may be hard to see, but is crucial in their resisting the compulsions and in the long run overcoming the OCD. When asked for reassurance, simply do not respond, or say “this could be true, but I don’t know for sure.” Uncertainty = anxiety = healing.
  3. Be compassionate. While you should be firm in not giving reassurances, be compassionate, empathetic, and understanding of your loved one. OCD is tiring, and the individual does not want to be asking you for reassurances or fighting with their mind. Be caring and loving to them.
  4. Educate yourself! The more you can learn about OCD, how it works, and its symptoms, the more effective you can be in helping your loved one and in tackling the illness together.
  5. Maintain your own life. It can be a natural thought to want to take time from work or school to help a loved one with OCD and to be around them. Do NOT do this – it is important to take care of yourself, have your own life and space, and not cater everything around the OCD. Your loved one will feel guilty if you are giving up things to take care of them, and you will soon tire out and not be effective in helping. OCD can be a trying disease to overcome, but with the correct treatments and proper support, it can be overcome. By knowing the best ways to be supportive of your loved ones, you can facilitate the process of their working towards a life free of OCD.

If you or someone you know is suffering from 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/.

Suicide and Mental Health Issues in College Students

By Samantha Glosser

Many students expect their college years to be the best years of their lives. They will achieve great academic successes, make life-long friends, go to the best parties, and enjoy living away from their parents. This idea is emphasized all around us in movies, TV shows, and social media posts. However, this is a glorified image of college that may not be the case for all students. In fact, according to a recent study by the American College Health Association, about 1 in every 11 college students have attempted suicide; 1 in 5 students has considered suicide and 1 in 5 students engage in self-harm.

How could these statistics be true when students are told that they are living in the best years of their lives? As it turns out, the college years are filled with numerous different stressors. These stressors include academic and career difficulties, intimate relationships, finances, personal and family health problems, issues with personal appearance, and death of family members and friends, just to name a few. 3 out of every 4 college students have experienced at least one of these stressors within the last year. These stressors are highly associated with mental health diagnoses, self-harm, and suicidality. The societal pressure that college should be the best years of your life can also be contributing to these statistics. If a student feels alone or thinks that no one else is experiencing similar feelings, it can push them closer towards self-harm and suicide.

If you or someone you know appears to be at immediate risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are not at immediate risk, but appear to be suffering from suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Source: https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/09/11/survey-1-in-5-college-students-stressed-considers-suicide/138516.html