Obesity and Mental Health

           By: Maryellen Van Atter

      Obesity has become a global epidemic. It is a health problem which occurs when one has an abnormal percentage of body fat in relation to their height. Though obesity is often seen negatively, it is important to recognize that it is often not a self-inflicted condition which can result from a variety of factors including genetics, behavior, and environment.

Obesity can cause changes in your mental health. Some common psychological disorders which may be brought on by obesity include depression, eating disorders, anxiety, low self-esteem, and distorted body image. Some studies have found striking results, such as that those who are severely obese are 3-4 times more likely to suffer with depression. Despite these serious concerns, it may be difficult for those suffering from obesity to seek out mental health care because of the stigmatization of obesity.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapy which changes client attitudes and behaviors by focusing on thoughts, beliefs, and way of thinking. This therapy is one of the most effective and well-known forms of therapy, and is effective in treating many mental health conditions including those associated with obesity. Additionally, family-based therapies have been shown to help treat obesity and assist clients, especially children with obesity. One of the goals is to develop healthy habits. Having a clear mind and good mental health is an important part of coping with obesity and changing your physical health.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with the emotional effects of obesity, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3233636/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388583/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065663/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/obhttp://www.jlgh.org/Past-Issues/Volume-4—Issue-4/Behavioral-and-Psychological-Factors-in-Obesity.aspxesity-and-mental-health

Anxiety and Bullying

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Anxiety and Bullying

By: Vanessa Munera

Being bullied is not an easy thing to handle. It can be a traumatic experience for teens that are being targeted. Those who are bullied experience impacts in their lives such as feeling lonely, anxious, isolated, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, when a bully moves on to the next target, these consequences of bullying linger longer for the victim. After prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse effects. These victims will experience depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide. In addition, victims of bullying can develop some sort of anxiety disorder. The top four major anxiety disorders victims of bullying can experience are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and social anxiety disorder.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this occurs after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can develop due to events such as a car accidents or losing a close relative. This disorder can also show up after repeated abuse or even bullying. Children who are bullied may experience nightmares, flashbacks, withdraw from others, or are easily startled. Kids, who undergo long term and abusive bullying, have increased chances of developing PTSD.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Kids with GAD are often tormented with worries and fear that distract them for their daily life activities. Those with generalized anxiety have a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is not uncommon with victims of bullying. With GAD, physical symptoms may appear such as insomnia, stomachaches, fatigue, and restlessness.

3. Panic Attacks: Those who suffer from panic disorders must deal with unpredictable and repeated attacks. When suffering from a panic attack, the attack is usually with no warning and can cause physically symptoms. These symptoms include sweating, chest pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In fact, a part of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in panic attacks. When left untreated, the sufferer will begin to avoid going out or things they once enjoyed, in order to prevent another panic attack.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder: People who suffer from social anxiety fear being humiliated or seen negatively by others. Those with this disorder often worry that the way they look or act cause others to mock them. This can cause sufferers to avoid social gatherings to avoid being humiliated. In fact victims of bullying often develop social anxiety due to the repeated shame and public humiliation they experienced.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, 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/

 

References:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/bullying-and-anxiety-connection-460631

https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog

 

 

Caregiver Depression

Caregiver Depression

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Caring for another individual is no easy feat; just as parenting requires preparation, so does caring for a family member with an illness or disability. A seldom discussed topic is ‘caregiver syndrome’, also known as caregiver depression or caregiver burnout. It is estimated that 20% of family caregivers suffer with depression – in the general population, it is reported that 7.1% of all individuals suffer from depression. This means that caregivers experience depression at a rate more than double the average person. Despite the prevalence of this condition, it is rarely talked about and sometimes viewed as something shameful. This should not be: caregiving is a difficult job and the first step to feeling better is acknowledging that it’s okay to feel the way you do. Just as there is no ‘perfect’ way to parent, there is no ‘perfect’ or ‘right’ way to be a caregiver.

Everyone experiences depression differently, but a few common signs are a loss of interest in things that you once found enjoyable, a change in sleeping patterns, and feeling irritable, hopeless, or helpless. These symptoms can persist even if you have placed a loved one in a care facility. Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective at managing caregiver depression and helping caregivers to feel more satisfied with their lives. Additionally, antidepressant medications can provide symptom relief; combined with psychotherapy, this can allow caregivers to explore their feelings and manage their caregiving responsibilities.

        If you or someone you know is struggling with caregiving responsibilities, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-depression-silent-health-crisis

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Sam Matthews

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder develops after one experience either an isolated traumatic event, or recurring traumatic events. Around 8 million people in the United States are living with PTSD, yet about 70% of US adults have reported they have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. This discrepancy is due to the fact that being exposed to a traumatic event does not in any way mean that you are going to develop PTSD. Factors that contribute to the likelihood of someone developing post-traumatic stress disorder include: a preexisting mental or physical health condition, dissociation during trauma, type of trauma, gender (women are 2x as likely to develop PTSD), age, marital status, support systems, and experience of additional stressors after the trauma. One type of PTSD is classified as dissociative, which includes the presence of persistent depersonalization or derealization symptoms. Depersonalization is like dissociation, where one experiences something as if they are an observer. Derealization on the other hand refers to feeling as if the things around you are not real, and you are disconnected from the world around you. PTSD can also have a delayed onset aspect, which means that one could develop PTSD years after the traumatic event has occurred.

PTSD has four main symptom groups which are as follows:

  1. Intrusive Symptoms
    1. Frequent thoughts or memories of the event
    2. Recurrent nightmares
    3. Flashbacks
    4. Strong feelings of distress
    5. Increased heart rate or sweating when reminded of the event
  2. Avoidance
    1. Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the event
    2. Actively avoiding places or people that remind you of the trauma
    3. Keeping yourself too busy to have time to think about the traumatic event
  3. Hyperarousal
    1. Difficulty falling asleep
    2. Irritability
    3. Outbursts of anger
    4. Difficulty concentrating
    5. Hyperactive startle response
  4. Negative Thoughts and Beliefs
    1. Difficulty remembering important aspects of the trauma
    2. Loss of interest in important and positive activities
    3. Feeling distant from others
    4. Inability to have positive feelings
    5. Feeling as though your life may be cut short

For information regarding the treatment of PTSD, please refer to the article titled, PTSD Treatment.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder#1

PTSD Treatment

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PTSD Treatment

by Sam Matthews

When treating PTSD, there are a few different evidence based therapies that can be used, including psychotherapy and medications. This article will focus on those that are classified as cognitive behavioral therapies.

  1. Trauma-focused CBT
    1. Challenging and changing automatic unhelpful, inaccurate thoughts (cognitive distortions)
    2. Gradual and safe exposure to trauma
  2. Cognitive Processing Therapy
    1. Challenging and changing upsetting thoughts that perpetuate the trauma
    2. Includes writing a detailed account of the trauma and reading it in front of the therapist and at home
    3. Therapist helps you challenge problematic beliefs around safety, trust, control, and intimacy
  3. Cognitive Therapy
    1. Challenges and reframes pessimistic thoughts and negative interpretations of the event
    2. Work through the trauma and suppressed thoughts
  4. Prolonged Exposure
    1. Gradual and safe exposure to the trauma by discussing the details of what happened
    2. Recording of your recount so you can listen to it later
    3. Involves facing situations, activities, or places that remind you of the trauma
    4. Done slowly and systematically
    5. Breathing techniques learned to alleviate anxiety
  5. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
    1. Imagining the trauma while the therapist asks you to track their fingers as they move them back and forth in your field of vision
    2. Allows you to pull everything out of your memory in a controlled manner and then back in the way non-traumatic memories are stored
    3. Does not require you to describe the trauma in detail, spend an extended time on exposure, challenge specific beliefs, or complete assignments outside of therapy sessions
  6. Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy
    1. Combines CBT with psychodynamic psychotherapy
    2. Discuss the traumatic event
    3. Teach various relaxation techniques to decrease anxiety
    4. Therapist helps to explore how the trauma has affected how you see yourself and the world
    5. Encouraged to bring someone who supports you to your sessions
  7. Narrative Exposure Therapy
    1. Create a chronological narrative of your life
    2. Helps to recreate an account of the trauma in a way that recaptures your self-respect
    3. You receive a documented biography written by your therapist at the end of treatment
    4. Typically done in small groups

For more information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, please refer to the article titled, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-are-treatments-for-posttraumatic-stress-disorder#1

 

Anxiety and Politics

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by: Sam Matthews

The political climate in today’s day and age could certainly cause fear and anxiety for anyone in America. It is important to note that both fear and anxiety activate one’s attachment system. Your attachment system has evolved in order to allow you to develop strong relationships with your parents and peers, not engage in modern day political battles. This is because the system cannot differentiate between actual physical threats and imagined ones, causing it to be triggered when thinking about politics. We most commonly think about attachment figures being real people who we come into physical contact with, but a political figure or institution can easily become a symbolic attachment figure. This political figure can psychologically come to represent something that can protect you from threats and decrease your anxiety. When attachment styles are activated, they can bring out the worst in the part of the population that is insecurely attached, which in America is 45%. This situation has the potential to damage relationships, and could even bring on even more destructive behaviors. As mentioned, these problems trigger the attachment systems, causing the conflict to become more than just a superficial argument about politics, but an emotional issue, which cannot be solved through rational arguments and debates. It is normal to have anxiety about what is to become of the country you reside in, but the best recommendation one could give is to take a step back and all time to pass, and yourself to explore.

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-freedom-change/201811/attachment-theory-elections-and-the-politics-fear

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/how-stress-over-politics-affects-your-health.cfm

Stress: Effects of Stress

Image result for stressed brain

Stress: Effects of Stress

By: Vanessa Munera

When people talk about stress, what exactly is it? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. With stress the body reacts to these changes with emotional, physical, and mental responses. Stress could either be presented as a positive or negative outcome in people’s daily lives.

According to Bernstein “Stress can occur in a variety of forms” (2016). Some stress can result in short events such as an argument with a loved one. Furthermore, other stress can manifest due to reoccurring conditions; for example, a demanding job, financial problems, and/ or long term illness. When reoccurring conditions cause stress to be both intense and sustained over a long period of time, it can be considered as “chronic” or “toxic” stress”. While all stress triggers physiological reactions, chronic stress is indeed to be considered a problematic issue that creates significant harm to the brain and the functioning of the body. In fact, “stress continues to be a major American health issue”.

If you have experienced a stressful event, a certain area of the brain called the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus functions as a command center in the brain, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that person has the energy to fight or flee”. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response because it provides the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. Some of the affects from the “fight or flight” response are increased heart rate, deeper intake of oxygen, heightened senses, and the rush of adrenaline – also known as epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Finally a hormone known as cortisol is released to help restore the energy that was lost during the response. When stress is no longer present, your cortisol levels to go back to normal as if nothing happened. In addition cortisol helps regulate metabolism and immune responses.

When dealing with chronic stress, cortisol levels are at a constant high, which eventually causes health problems. Although cortisol is a natural and healthy hormone in the body, constant high levels of it can be bad for your brain. High levels of this hormone can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. As stated in the article, “it can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others” (Bernstein, 2016). In addition, chronic stress can kill brain cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. It has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory and learning. Besides chronic stress having effects on the brain, it causes effects to the human body. This type of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, it can affect other systems in the body and cause them to stop working properly. This includes digestive, excretory and reproductive structures and exacerbates already existing illness. Fighting and managing chronic stress can be difficult; however it is not too late to learn how to manage it. Toxic stress can negatively affect the brain but the brain and body can recover from these effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, please 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.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

 

Anxiety: Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety: Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Tatyana A. Reed

Social media is very prominent in today’s society and nearly everyone has a social media account; whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Although social media can be great for promoting things, it is also negatively promoting an Anxiety Disorder which is also known as Social Media Anxiety Disorder. According to ePainassist.com, “Social Media Anxiety Disorder is a mental illness that is related to generalized social anxiety, which is acquired when social media interferes with the mental and physical health of a human being.” This can mean that the idea of not being able to check your social media can cause you extreme anxiety. Your anxiety may rise because of the number of likes you’re receiving on a picture, the number of repost on your tweet, or just not getting as many views on your story. Since this new form of anxiety is now increasing, ever climbing with more technology, most people have never heard of the disorder. In this article we will delve more deeply into the topic.

According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), below are some symptoms of Social Media Anxiety Disorder:

  • Lying to others about how much time you spend on social media
  • Unsuccessfully trying to stop or reduce your use of social media
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Neglecting work or school to comment on Facebook or Twitter
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to access social media
  • Overwhelming need to share things with others on social media sites
  • Having your phone with you 24 hours a day to check your social media sites
  • Severe nervousness or anxiety when you are not able to check your notifications
  • Negative impacts in your personal or professional life due to social media usage

At first glance, the symptoms probably seem like they would have no physical or mental effects on a person. That’s a false assumption. For starters, being on a phone constantly will affect your eyes by drying them out which then leads to headaches and vision issues. Furthermore, sitting on your phone all day, instead of being active, can cause issues with weight, lower back problems, and neck strain. Using social media constantly can also feed into OCD, depression, and feelings of loneliness, according to ADAA. We think social media is all about being able to connect and share happy things with others but many people subconsciously begin to compare their lives or physical selves to others.

 

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from SMAD, 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/

References:

ePainAssist, Team. “Social Media Anxiety Disorder: Causes: Symptoms: Treatment: Recovery Tips.” EPainAssist, 15 Apr. 2019, http://www.epainassist.com/mental-health/social-media-anxiety-disorder.

Fadar, Sarah. “Social Media Obsession and Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, Nov. 2018, adaa.org/social-media-obsession.

n/a, n/a. “Social Media Anxiety Disorder All Occasion.” Zazzle.com, 2009, rlv.zcache.co.uk/social_media_anxiety_disorder_all_occasion-re4d11e0809ba45fbbbf7a966b6e2f527_xvuak_

When Fears Become Extreme

By Diana Bae

With Halloween coming next month, spooky decorations and fake spider webs begin to appear and spark a little bit of fear in all of us, as we prepare for the scares to come. Feeling afraid or scared is normal because fear allows us to be alert and safe in case of possible danger. However, when the fear persists and starts intruding our lives, it may be a phobia.

Phobias are severe fears that cause persistent anxiety over certain circumstances or objects. They can come at small to large intensities and cause distress. Some common phobias include animals (spiders), social situations (public speaking), and even the natural environment (heights).

However, there is a chance that these phobias will develop into a harsher anxiety disorder and cause distressing panic attacks. Trying to handle phobias without assistance can backfire and produce stress and anxiety due to avoidance. Thus, with the proper treatment, a person can learn how to face the phobias and reduce their feelings of panic and fear.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the difficulty of overcoming phobias alone and, thus, are dedicated to help those seeking for treatment. If you or someone you know would like to set up an appointment for our counseling services, contact us at our offices in Paramus, NJ (201) 368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY (212) 996-3939. Also, please visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/anxiety

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

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201603/where-do-fears-and-phobias-come

Image Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/well/live/fear-anxiety-therapy.html

Burnout in College Students (Part 2)

Tatyana A. Reed

HOW TO AVOID/FIGHT BURNOUT

Being stressed out may seem like a normal human thing to do, and stress can be very positive for promoting work at some points. However, if it gets to the burnout stage its best you sit down, understand what’s causing your burnout, and deal with it. Here’s a few ways to help fight/avoid burnout from happening to you:

  1. Pay attention to the warning signs

Whenever you feel like your stress is getting extremely high and starting to take a toll on you mentally and physically, you should sit down and relax.

  1. Say “no”

Yes, it’s normal after studying for a whole week that you may want to go spend some time with your friends, but if you feel extremely tired, just say no, they’ll understand.

  1. Get your proper’s night of rest

It may seem like a good idea to study all night and not sleep, but your brain actually works better when it has a good amount of sleep. Just like you get physically tired, so does your brain after a long day, get some rest.

  1. Don’t put too much on your plate

It may seem like putting more on your plate will fill your appetite but really it will not end pretty. Things get out of hand and too much on your plate may cause you not to have any personal down time to unwind.

  1. Turn “down”

Take some time alone to do things that isn’t causing your brain to stress. If this means, just sleeping, watching shows all day, whatever you need to turn down, its best to set aside some time to do this

  1. Get help

Life can definitely get stressful at times and being in college doesn’t always help that out. Try to have someone on hand that you can talk to when things get a little out of hand, whether that be a friend, family member, or professional; most college campuses do offer psychological/counseling services that may be more convenient to you. It’s okay to sit back and say “I’m super stressed out, I need to relax” because the sooner you help yourself, the less help that will need to be done. Put the flame out before you burnout.

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

References:

Harrison, Mike. “Avoid College Burnout.” Great Lakes Christian College, 22 Jan. 2018, http://www.glcc.edu/avoid-college-burnout/ (PHOTO)

Jerry, Lisa M. “10 Signs you’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Jan. 2018, http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it/.

Stephanie Cushman & Richard West (2006) Precursors to College Student Burnout: Developing a Typology of Understanding, Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 7:1, 23-31, DOI: 10.1080/17459430600964638

Vaiana, Dominic. “Burnout in College: What Causes It and How to Avoid It.” College Info Geek, 5 Mar. 2019, collegeinfogeek.com/student-burnout