Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, 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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TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

By: Dianna Gomez

A “traumatizing” experience is one that is dangerous, scary or unexpected and can leave a person affected emotionally. There are many different kinds of experiences that can be considered traumatizing. Traumatic events can be caused by other people such as terror attacks, community violence (mugging, shooting, assault, bullying), or a very serious car accident. Traumatic experiences can also be natural. Examples of natural traumatic events include hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Regardless of what category of trauma an event falls under, each has the potential to leave a certain amount of impact on a person’s brain.

For most people, with time comes less feelings of trauma following an event. However, it is not unheard of for a traumatic experience to leave a person affected for the rest of their lives. In addition, everyone reacts and copes with trauma differently. A majority of people have similar symptoms following a traumatic event that include trouble sleeping or concentrating, constantly thinking about what occurred, and feeling anxious, sad or angry. These can last for several weeks or even months following a traumatic event. There are a few actions that a person can take that are known to be the healthiest ways to cope after experiencing something traumatic. These healthy coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs
  • Spending time around loved ones or supportive people in your life that you trust
  • Maintaining normal daily routines (eating, exercising, sleeping)
  • Staying active! The more you have to keep your mind preoccupied, the less time you have to be consumed by negative thoughts about the event

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

 

Your Brain on Stress

By: Stephanie Osuba

Our brain has an automatic response to stress located in the amygdala, an almond sized structure in our brain that regulates emotion. Once a threat is perceived, the amygdala releases a number of hormones – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine – to prepare for the “fight or flight” response. This is all well and good for physical threats, but what about interpersonal threats? Threats that are far more complex that need an actual solution rather than simply running away. That’s when your prefrontal cortex comes into play as it handles all of the executive function in your brain and allows you to think critically about situations. This way you can learn how to deliberately take a step back and think about how you are going to handle the stressor. So instead of letting your emotions dictate when you are angry with your significant other, dealing with rude customers, or have one too many, here are some ways you can learn to manage your stress in a constructive way:

  • Take a Breath: Calm things down and take deep breaths. This clears your head long enough for you to regain control of your emotions and let your prefrontal cortex get onboard. Once you do that, you can start critically thinking about what to do with your stressor.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of being in the present and being aware of your surroundings and the social context you are in. By asking yourself, “why am I feeling angry?” or “is saying this mean thing the best thing to do right now?” you can stop yourself from acting out in a way that you might regret.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Some situations allow room for you to intervene, and others do not. Focus your energy on aspects you can anticipate, while at the same time mindfully accepting the aspects that you cannot.
  • Broaden Your View: When the amygdala gives off negative emotions due to the stressor, the anxiety usually narrows your point of view and drives you to find the quickest solution to the problem. As we know, the fastest solution isn’t always the best and it prevents you from using the stressful opportunity to grow and learn from the situation and finding a creative solution.

As much as we would rather not have to deal with it, stress is part of our daily lives and learning how to manage it can give us the life skills to handle, relatively, any situation thrown at us.

Source: Greenberg, M., Ph.D. (2017, September 7). Five Secrets to a Stress-Proof Brain. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201702/five-secrets-stress-proof-brain

If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological distress due to stress, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

By: Gisela Serrano

Bing Eating Disorder is a relatively new disorder that was only recently added to the DSM-5 in 2013. So, what exactly is Binge Eating Disorder? According to the American Psychiatric Association, Binge Eating Disorder is “characterized by recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry.” BED is one of the most common eating disorders and research shows that over 50% of people who suffer from BED do not seek or receive treatment. Binge eating disorder can affect just about anyone regardless of race, sex, or age. Most of those who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder are overweight or obese, but not all. Some sufferers actually appear perfectly healthy with regard to their weight. Those who suffer from BED experience extreme shame and guilt for the amount that they eat in such short periods of time. They understand that it is not healthy, but they feel it is almost impossible to change their ways. This is why those who suffer from BED prefer to eat alone rather than feeling ashamed and embarrassed in front of others. Someone who is not well informed on the disorder may not understand and, therefore, is quick to judge and disapprove or make nasty and unnecessary comments to the sufferer. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Binge Eating Disorder is a serious disorder that affects normal, everyday people. If you feel as though you or a loved one might be suffering from this disorder, seeking treatment would be best as it is not always easy to do on one’s own. You can contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy at our office in Paramus, NJ at (201) 368-3700 or our Manhattan location at (212) 722-1920 to see how our services and approaches can help you or a loved one treat your disorder. You can also visit our website http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Resources:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/new-dsm-5-binge-eating-disorder

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/ResourceHandouts/InfographicRGB.pdf

Low Self Esteem: 7 Steps to Start Loving Yourself

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Self-esteem describes the way that we evaluate and judge ourselves. It is assessed on a continuum from high to low, with unfortunately many people who fall under the category of having low self-esteem. People who feel this way about themselves do not see themselves and their views as valuable, compare themselves to others, feel worthless, and lack self-confidence.

If you or anyone you know struggles with low self-esteem, you know how difficult it can be to bear the feelings that come with it. It can be draining, can impair overall functioning, can influence social interactions, and can cause one to be withdrawn from society. Although it is not easy to cope with low self-esteem, it can be improved through steps towards accepting and loving oneself. The capacity for change comes from within yourself!

Here are 7 Steps to Begin Loving Yourself and Boost your Self-Esteem:

1. Practice saying things you like about yourself in the mirror every morning when you wake up. Start your day taking the time to compliment yourself. This will begin to come naturally the more you do it.

2. Write out a list of your accomplishments. Accomplishments as big as landing the job you wanted or as small as getting the laundry done count. The more you applaud yourself, the more you will be able to boost your confidence.

3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and failures. It is easy to hold onto failures and consider yourself to be a failure. Learn to accept and forgive mistakes, recognizing that everyone in the world makes them.

4. Stop comparing. Remind yourself that you are different from the people around you, and that you are not them. The more you try to compare yourself with others, the more you lose sight of who you are.

5. Spend time with the people you love. It is easy to isolate when you are not feeling your best, but surrounding yourself with the family and friends who you feel closest to can boost your happiness and make you feel good about yourself, especially seeing how happy they are to be with you.

6. But also, spend time alone. Take yourself out somewhere nice, go on a long drive alone, or even travel by yourself. Giving yourself “me-time” is important in developing a better relationship with yourself.

7. Remind yourself that no on is perfect. It is easy for us to feel bad about ourselves when we think we need to be this “perfect” person. Remember, perfect does not exist, so you should just try to be you instead.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.

Tourette Syndrome

By: Dianna Gomez

Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder. A tic can be classified as an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Those diagnosed with this disorder will either suffer from vocal/phonic tics or motor tics. In general, vocal/phonic tics produce a sound. Examples of vocal/phonic tics include things such as sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, and shouting. Examples of more complex vocal/phonic tics include full words or phrases. These words or phrases are always out of context and may or may not be recognizable. In 10-15% of cases, words blurted out may be inappropriate such as curse words, ethnic slurs, or other words or phrases that are not viewed as socially acceptable.

Motor tics, generally, are movements. Examples of motor tics include eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking/bobbing, facial grimacing, etc. More complex motor tics include movements that involve multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of these movements are things such as hopping, jumping, twirling, etc.

While the exact cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, it has been confirmed that it is hereditary so genetics may play a role. There are, however, some treatment options that are available to help ease the symptoms. Medications for tics include Haloperidol, Pimozide, and Aripiprazole. Speech therapy is also another form of treatment for those with tics. Lastly, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is another method of treatment for tics. DBS is a relatively new procedure that utilizes an implantable electrode to alter the activity of brain circuitry.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Tourette Syndrome, 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/.

College Stress

By: Charleene Polanco

Change is a natural part of life. Some people gladly welcome change and growth, while others tend to panic when the stability of what they are used to is gone. College is one of the biggest transitions a person can experience, because it is a time for independence. Leaving the safety of your house, parents, and friends is necessary to have new experiences and make connections. College introduces a change in lifestyle, greater workload, different responsibilities, and new relationships. With all of these changes, many students experience college stress because they are unable to effectively handle the different aspects of their lives. College stress is more common than we think, with six out of ten students experiencing stress to the point of it becoming detrimental to their college lives. The symptoms of college stress include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and an inability to cope.  The more serious symptoms of college stress are suicidal thoughts, drug/alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, physically violent outbursts, and uncontrollable crying.

Since stress is so prevalent among college students, there are many tips available to help reduce and cope with stress. It is recommended that college students seek out stress management resources. On college campuses, there are many resources available to students, which can help them manage their lives. Counseling services are one of the many resources designed to hear student’s problems and provide them with solutions. If a person is uncomfortable with contacting counseling services, they can start out by talking to a trusted friend, advisor, or family. However, if you are experiencing the more serious symptoms of college stress, it is highly encouraged that you seek out counseling services or other professional resources.

If you or someone you know is suffering from college 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/.

Sources:

NYU. “Stress.” Stress, NYU, www.nyu.edu/life/safety-health-wellness/live-well-nyu/priority-areas/stress.html

“Student Guide to Balancing Stress.” Best Colleges, Best Colleges , 28 June 2018, www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/.

 

Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Don’t Come Forward Sooner

By Samantha Glosser

If you watch the news or are an avid social media consumer, you have probably heard about various claims of sexual assault against public and political figures, where the victim did not immediately come forward. We recently saw this with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager. Situations like Dr. Ford’s have opened up a discussion about one important question: why do survivors wait so long to report an assault? Research shows that it is a normal response for survivors of sexual assault to take time before reporting the assault, if they report at all. This may not make sense to you, as you are probably wondering why they wouldn’t want justice or revenge on their abuser. However, there are numerous reasons that compel survivors to prolong or withhold disclosing that they were sexually abused.

  1. Fear of being victimized a second time. Reporting a sexual assault often leads to new and added traumas from peers, family members, police officers, lawyers, etc. This feeling often comes from having to relive the experience or from people indicating that the victim caused the sexual assault by asking questions like, “What were you wearing at the time of the attack?”
  2. Lack of support. Lack of support is a multi-faceted issue. Survivors find it hard to report if they are not surrounded by loved ones who support them. However, even with this support, individuals still refrain from reporting because they know that our society has a tendency to blame the victim for the sexual assault. A lack of support can even come from other survivors of sexual assault. Typically, other survivors are seen as a source of comfort. However, some will dismiss another person’s assault with statements like, “What’s the big deal? It happens to all of us. Get over it.”
  3. Decline in functioning after the assault. Survivors of sexual assault experience intense feelings of shame, worthlessness, and self-loathing which can quickly bring on depression and anxiety. It is difficult for survivors to contemplate a course of action after the assault when they can barely figure out how to make it through the day. In the midst of these emotions, survivors want to forget and pretend that the assault did not occur.
  4. Vague memories of the attack. In some cases, victims of sexual assault were drugged by their abuser or previously inebriated. Both of these situations can lead to victims only having a vague memory of the attack. In addition, the trauma endured by some victims is so severe it causes them to dissociate, which also leads to vague memories. When individuals do not have a vivid recollection of the event, they may be scared to come forward because they fear others will not believe them, or in some cases because they do not believe their own memories.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, 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://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-women/2018/10/6-big-reasons-women-dont-report-sexual-abuse-right-away/

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

In order to better understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD,” you must first understand the difference between an obsession and a compulsion. Obsessions are repeated thoughts or urges that cause an individual anxiety in their day to day lives. Compulsions are repetitve actions that a person feels the need to take due to their obsessive thoughts. Some common examples of obsessions are: feeling the need to have things perfectly symmetrical/in order or having an excessive fear of germs. Some examples of compulsions are: excessive cleaning or handwashing, repeatedly checking to make sure that the oven is turned off, repeatedly switching lights on and off to make sure they are completely off before leaving the room, etc. OCD is an uncontrollable, long-lasting disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults all around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common age to be diagnosed with this disorder is 19, however, it is possible to be diagnosed earlier or later in life as well. Boys tend to have an earlier age of onset than girls when it comes to OCD. Genetically speaking, a person is at higher risk for developing the disorder if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has it too. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily guarentee a diagnosis. In terms of brain structure, the two sections of the brain known to play the most prominent role in the development of OCD are the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain such as the hypothalamus, thalamus, or cerebellum, in addition to several others. The direct connection between the disorder and these parts of the brain is not fully understood yet. There are some ways that a person with OCD can manage their symptoms to obtain a better, easier way of life. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), 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/.

 

Psychopath vs. Sociopath

 By: Dianna Gomez

“You’re a psychopath!!”

How often do we ourselves use this term or hear others throw this term around? Some people may use this phrase when referring to a crazy ex-boyfriend, strict parent, or annoying sibling, when in reality; most people don’t truly understand its meaning. You may be asking yourself, so what is a psychopath? How can I know whether I am really encountering one or not? There are certain characteristics that have been found to be shared between people who are actually psychopathic or have psychopathic qualities. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulation
  • Total lack of remorse and/or empathy for others
  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of feelings of guilt
  • Grandiose sense-of-self
  • Failure to accept responsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Need for stimulation
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Parasitic lifestyle/willingness to feed off others to sustain their own lifestyle

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? A sociopath is a person diagnosed with “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” People with this diagnosis are generally very manipulative and violating of the rights of others, among other things. Sociopathy can be thought of as a less severe form of psychopathy. If a person is a psychopath then they are also a sociopath, but if a person is a sociopath they don’t necessarily need to be a psychopath. Sociopaths and psychopaths share the same basic characteristics, just at different levels of intensity.

If this personality description sounds like you or someone you know, 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/.