Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You

By Eleanor Kim

Pets have brought joy and comfort to pet owners for hundreds of years. The sheer presence of a happy-go-lucky dog or cat is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The benefits of pet ownership can go beyond mere companionship or responsibility, in fact, emotional support animals are able to, as their name indicates, provide emotional support and other mental health benefits.

Common ways in which emotional support animals could support their owners are:

  • Fostering emotional connectivity
  • Helping people during times of crisis
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Offering trauma support
  • Improving physical health (Lower blood pressure, decrease respiration rates, improve ability to cope with pain, etc.)
  • Lowering feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Reciprocating feelings of love and care

It is important to indicate the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals also provide emotional support to their owners; however, service animals undergo intensive training to perform specific tasks necessary to aid their owners’ needs. In contrast, emotional support animals do not need formal training and simply need to receive a certification from the state registry. In order to qualify for an emotional service animal, individuals must acquire a prescription from a licensed mental health professional indicating that the presence of an emotional support animal is necessary for the mental health of the patient.

In a time when all of us are at home and may be in need of more emotional support, emotional support animals may provide the help you need. If you are interested in receiving emotional support, whether that be through a support animal or through a mental health professional, we here at Arista Counseling are here to assist you.

If you or someone you know is looking for emotional support, 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:

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479#definition

Picture Source:

https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/can-cats-dogs-live-together-peacefully

Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, 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:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg

PTSD: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What is C-PTSD? An overview of signs and symptoms of C-PTSD

PTSD: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What is C-PTSD? An overview of signs and symptoms of C-PTSD

By: Zoe Alekel

The Mayo Clinic defines Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as, a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Although overlapping with PTSD, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) has additional symptoms and complications due to prolonged and repeated trauma over periods of time (i.e. domestic physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, childhood abuse, long-term torture, and long-term exposure to ongoing crisis conditions).

The US Department of Veterans Affairs defines C-PTSD as experienced chronic trauma that continues or repeats for months or years at a time. Some have suggested that the current PTSD diagnosis does not fully capture the severe psychological harm that occurs with prolonged, repeated trauma. Symptoms of C-PTSD can include: behavioral difficulties, emotional difficulties, cognitive difficulties, interpersonal difficulties, and somatization.

A person who has experienced a prolonged period (months to years) of chronic victimization and total control by another or other types of trauma, may also experience difficulties in the following areas:

  • Emotional regulation: Includes persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or inhibited anger.
  • Consciousness: Includes forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body (dissociation).
  • Self-perception: Includes helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
  • Distorted perceptions of the perpetrator: Includes attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with revenge.
  • Relations with others: Includes isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
  • One’s system of meanings: Includes a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

If you or someone you know needs support with C-PTSD, 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.counselingps.ychotherapynjny.com/

Image: https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/0*LbDcZnejtTf0UC5F.jpg

Sources: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/complex_ptsd.asp

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

World Kindness Day: How to stay positive in dark times

World Kindness Day: How to stay positive in dark times

By: Zoe Alekel

As Friday November 13, 2020 is World Kindness Day, it only felt right to talk about the impact that positivity and kindness have on our mental health. Keeping a positive mindset and attitude is seemingly easy when life is smooth-sailing. However, when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road that life comes with, it is a lot easier said than done. Maintaining optimism in difficult times can often seem impossible—at the least, it seems like a lot of work. If you are struggling to stay positive during a difficult time, especially during a pandemic like COVID-19, you can try to focus on the following:

  • Focus on what you can control: Remember there are things in life we can’t control, but the things we can control like how we decide to seize the day and how we treat others.
  • Limit your media intake: Social media and news media can put us in a rut when we are already feeling negative about the world. Make sure you don’t spend too much time on media and give yourself a break from negative news stories.
  • Invest in uplifting others: Acts of kindness can not only uplift others and change someone’s day, but it can also help keep you in a more optimistic mindset.
  • Set personal schedules and goals: By setting small daily goals for yourself, such as making your bed and brushing your teeth in the morning. You can start the day off accomplishing something and setting a productive mindset for the rest of the day.

Keeping these pointers in mind is important when trying to stay optimistic during a difficult time. Some additional ideas of ways to cope with a difficult time are:

  • Find a therapist or mental health professional: This can become an outlet to help you process the difficult time you are having and to get professional recommendations for keeping a positive mindset.
  • Find a hobby or a group to join with people that have similar interests as yours.
  • Invest in self-care: Make sure you are taking care of you! Do things that bring you joy, even if it is as simple as taking a warm shower, eating a meal you enjoy, listening to music, or calling a loved one or friend.
  • Take a few minutes every day to write down the positive events that happened during that day, or things for which you are grateful.

If you or someone you know is struggling with keeping positive or with 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/

 

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stronger-fear/202003/how-stay-positive-during-the-pandemic?collection=1151836

Image Source: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/bb/e7/2c/bbe72cda72203d29a2f24459962c6f7a.jpg

PTSD in Women

By: Catherine Cain

Experiencing trauma is common and sometimes it may develop into PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. While PTSD does affect men and women, women are significantly more likely to experience it than men. So, what is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, and the symptoms caused by this trauma continue for more than a month. While PTSD usually develops in the month following the event, it may develop months or even years after. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive memories, avoidance of anything or anyone that reminds them of the trauma, changes in mood or thinking, and changed in behavior.

Females are twice as likely to experience PTSD as men. Why is that? While exposure to trauma is lower for women than men the type of trauma is significant in the development of PTSD. Men experience traumas that result in injuries or death, such as accidents, combats, and physical assaults. Women, however, experience childhood abuse, rape, and sexual assault. The effects of sexual assault are so detrimental that in the 2 weeks following an incident of sexual assault, 94% of women experienced symptoms of PTSD.

Another key reason for this difference is the difference in coping strategies. Everyone has heard of the “fight or flight” response to dangerous situations, but it is found that women often use the “tend and befriend” response following an event. “Tending” is taking care of those around you, while “befriending” is reaching out to others for support. Because of this reliance on others, women become more vulnerable to PTSD symptoms if their support system fails them.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Post Traumatic Stress 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.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2019/PTSD-is-More-Likely-in-Women-Than-Men https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

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/

Virtual Learning: Back to School…Online!

     Living through a global pandemic has put school districts, as well as family members, through an abundance of stress and anxiety as we begin to turn the corner into our not so typical “back to school” season. Parents are presented with the hard decision of whether to send their child into the classroom (if offered that option) or risk the possibility of having to cut their hours at work in order to be at home to help facilitate their child’s virtual learning experience. Some common signs of anxiety to look out for are feeling nervous, an impending sense of danger, trouble concentrating or thinking of anything other than the present worry, and having the urge to avoid things that trigger your anxiety. Here are some tips to help take care of your mental health this upcoming school year!  

Stay Involved With Decision Making                                                                     Going back to school always involved decision making, so going back to school with COVID-19 makes planning much more necessary. To help reduce anxiety, start early to ensure you have all the necessary resources to give your child to have a successful school year (especially if they will be experiencing the classroom from home). Always ask questions if you feel unsure.

You Can’t Manage Everything                                                                               Not everything is predictable. Remember to take everything on a day to day basis and remind yourself that you are doing everything you can for your child in these unforeseen times.                                                                            

Communicate                                                                                                           Continue to research resources if needed and to reach out to your child’s school if you have any questions. Reach out to other parents in the community who are in the same situation you are in for further support. They can be good to share ideas with, but also to talk to about any doubts or worries! Establish a support system that you can contact if you ever need help.

Self-care                                                                                                                           Always remember to take time for yourself for hobbies or spending time with family and friends. Take part in activities you enjoy and that take your mind off of current worries or stressors.

If you or someone you know needs support with anxiety, 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/

Source: : https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-mentality/202008/back-school-in-pandemic-tips-foster-mental-health                                Image Source: https://www.theonlinemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/back-to-school.jpg

Acute Stress Disorder: Reliving trauma

Acute Stress Disorder: reliving trauma
By: Zoe Alekel

It is not uncommon to experience a traumatic event in life. In fact, trauma related incidences range from experiencing a car accident, to experiencing an assault or witnessing a crime. All of these stressful situations can be lead causes to an anxiety disorder known as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). According to the American Institute of Stress, ASD is defined by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms that occur for a short time after experiencing a trauma—an experience that can be emotionally distressful and painful, and that can cause mental and physical symptoms. After experiencing a traumatic event, it is not uncommon to develop ASD; in fact 5-20% of people that experience traumatic events will develop ASD.

Symptoms of ASD include intrusion symptoms, like involuntary distressing memories; negative mood symptoms, such as the inability to experience positive emotions like love and happiness; dissociative symptoms, like seeing yourself from the outside, the feeling that nothing is real and that time is slowed down; avoidance symptoms, such as avoiding thoughts, feelings, and places associated with the trauma; and arousal symptoms, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, irritable behavior, and difficulty concentrating.

This can be extremely overwhelming and invasive to someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and it is uncomfortable to feel as if you have to relive the event itself. However, ASD does not have to take over your life completely. By implementing an immediate therapeutic intervention right after the trauma, it decreases the likelihood of ASD becoming prolonged and turning into PTSD. Ways to manage the stress and anxiety that comes with ASD are mindfulness and relaxation, talking to a trained trauma specialist, and having a support system that you can confide in.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Acute Stress 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.stress.org/acute-stress-disorder https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/acute-stress-disorder

Sources:

https://www.stress.org/acute-stress-disorder

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/acute-stress-disorder

Image Source: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=pzmTf9qk&id=BA5B0BB1D4515DA5195D41BA6070603AE32437C7&thid=OIP.pzmTf9qkbMtGaFDdxylNNAHaD4&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2fwww.elementsbehavioralhealth.com%2fwp-content%2fuploads%2f2017%2f01%2fptsd.jpg&exph=630&expw=1200&q=Post-Traumatic+Stress+Disorder+Acute&simid=608012514216510765&ck=9282692BACE02BB16355712947A1C3BA&selectedIndex=136&FORM=IRPRST&ajaxhist=0

Anxiety: Going Back to School during a Pandemic

By Mizuki Wada

You know it’s time to get ready for school or work when you see the pumpkin displays and school supplies in stores. However, with the global pandemic going on this year there is far more tension and nervousness besides the first day jitters. From parents sending their kids, faculty going back to classrooms or students getting ready for in-person sessions, many of those could be feeling high pressure and anxiety. However, here are a few ways that could help you steer clear from overwhelming anxiousness.

  • Acknowledge– It is crucial to acknowledge your feelings and stress. Understanding the reason why you’re feeling a certain way is the key to finding a solution.
  • Attitude– Try to look at the big picture and find some positive factors of returning to school. Only looking at the negative aspects can cause the situation to be a lot scarier than it actually is.
  • Support– Find a support group! Whether it be your family or friends, having people that would listen to you talk is very beneficial. Try talking about how you’re feeling to those who understand you.
  • Knowledge– Educate yourself on the situation. People can tell you one thing, but are they really true? Limit your news intake and check whether these sources are trustworthy or not. There’s a difference between educating yourself and filling yourself with information.
  • Physical Health– Although it may sound irrelevant, mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Even if it’s a simple walk or a yoga session, moving your body physically can help alleviate stress. It’s important to keep a healthy body for a healthy mind.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Anxiety or any other mental illnesses, 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

Reference:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beyond-the-doubt/202003/respond-instead-react-managing-covid-19-anxiety

https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/stress/manage-back-to-school-stress-coronavirus

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