Neurofeedback

Leah Flanzman

There has recently been a great deal of discussion on a psychological treatment called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback assists people in consciously controlling their brain waves by attaching subjects to an EEG machine that extracts various brain-activity components and feeds them back to the patient.  The most common protocols used in neurofeedback training are alpha, beta, theta, and alpha/theta protocols.  The way that you select the placement of electrodes on a patients head depends on their specific brain functions and specific symptoms.  The goal is to allow the subject to assess their progress and adjust their brain waves accordingly to achieve optimal performance.  However, the effectiveness and practicality of the treatment is under debate.

According to the Basic and Clinical Neuroscience journal, many studies conducted on neurofeedback therapy reveal methodological limitations that question its effectiveness. For example, with the alpha treatment protocols, it remains unknown exactly how many treatment sessions are necessary before patients can consciously possess the ability to control their alpha waves.  Once an optimal performance is achieved, it’s difficult to study the long-term effects of these treatments, in other words how long the effects last without feedback.

The pros of neurofeedback are that it’s a safe and non-invasive procedure that has been proven effective in treating certain disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, insomnia, drug addictions, and learning disabilities. Despite this, more scientific evidence of its effectiveness must be conducted before we can consider it a valid treatment.  It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s a very expensive procedure that is not covered by many insurance companies, and is very time consuming to complete.

If you or someone you know thinks they have ADHD, anxiety, depression, or drug addictions, or learning disabilities, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

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Hoarding Disorder: The Psychology of Hoarding

By: Heather Kaplan

Hoarding is defined as the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. This behavior brings about detrimental emotional, physical, social, financial and legal effects for the hoarder and their loved ones. Commonly hoarded items may be newspapers, magazines, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, food and clothing – items of little value to most but have extreme value to the hoarder. Even the mere thought of throwing these items away causes a hoarder extreme anxiety and distress. Hoarding ranges from mild to severe – often the hoarding can become so extreme that the home of the hoarder becomes almost inhabitable which results in increased risk of getting evicted.

There are various reasons why hoarders exhibit the behavior they do. People hoard because they believe that an item will become useful or valuable in the future. They also may feel that the item has sentimental value or is too big of a bargain to throw away. Hoarders try to justify reasoning for keeping each possession that they own. It is still unclear what causes the disorder; genetics, brain functioning and stressful life events are being studied as possible causes. Studies show that there is hyperactivity in the area of a hoarder’s brain that involves decision-making, which explains the stress associated with discarding their possessions.

Those who suffer from hoarding disorder experience a diminished quality of life. As stated before, a lack of functional living space is common amog hoarders. These living conditions can be so severe that they put the health of the person at risk. Hoarders also often live with broken appliances and without heat or other necessary comforts. They cope with these issues because of the shame they would feel if a person was the enter their home. Hoarding also causes anger, resentment and depression among family members and can affect the social development of children. Unlivable conditions may lead to separation or divorce, eviction and loss of child custody if applicable.

It is important to distinguish the difference between hoarding and collecting. Collectors have a sense of pride about their possessions and experience joy in displaying and talking about them. Their collections are often well-organized and well-budgeted. A hoarder collects a multitude of items and organizes them in a cluttered way. They are ashamed of their accumulations and do not feel a sense of pride when showing their belongings to others.

If you or a loved one suspects a hoarding disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social works and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ and Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Sources:

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/hoarding-basics

https:/www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056

Gambling Addiction

By: Heather Kaplan

Gambling is defined as playing games for a chance to either win or lose money. One who is a compulsive gambler is someone who is unable to resist their impulses to gamble. This leads to severe disturbances in their personal and social lives. The urge to gamble becomes so great that this tension can only be relieved by more gambling. One who exhibit such behavior can be classified to have a gambling addiction. Unfortunately, many gambling addicts are not aware that they have a problem. They only begin to realize the severity of the issue when they hit ‘rock bottom’.

There are various symptoms that indicate that someone is a compulsive gambler. One who has a gambling addiction usually progresses form occasional to habitual gambling. He begins to risk more and more money, which can lead to both financial and personal instability. Someone is said to have a gambling addiction if four (or more) of the following have been demonstrated in the last twelve months:

1. Needing to gamble progressively larger amounts of money to feel the same (or more) excitement

2. Having made many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling

3. Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling

4. Preoccupation or excessive thoughts (planning next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get more money to gamble with)

5. If the person is using gambling to escape problems of distress, sadness or anxiety

6. Gambling larger amounts to try to recoup previous losses

7. Lying about the amount of time and money spent gambling

8. Relying on others to borrow money due to significant gambling losses

Gambling addiction is a significant problem in the United States, impacting 1-3% of adults, men more often than women. Various complications can arise from having a gambling addiction. Those with such gambling behavior often have problems with alcohol and other substances. These people also tend to have financial, social, and legal problems. Those with gambling addictions are also at higher risk for considering or attempting suicide.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the eight behaviors listed above, you may be at risk for developing a gambling addiction. The licensed psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy are here to help. 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/

 

Eating Disorders & OCD: Is There a Relationship?

Is There A Relationship between OCD & Eating Disorders?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Eating disorders and OCD are highly comorbid. Statistics estimate that about two-thirds of those diagnosed with an eating disorder have also been diagnosed with another type of anxiety disorder, specifically, 41% of individuals with an eating disorder also meet criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and unwanted. Individuals with OCD attempt to ignore or suppress their thoughts, urges, or images by performing some behavior (compulsion).

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors are also frequently seen in eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Some of the behaviors characterized by eating disorders can be considered compulsive and ritualistic, especially those performed in an attempt to remove the anxiety or discomfort associated with eating. Obsessions that could lead to compulsive behaviors include thoughts related to weight, eating, food, or body image.

Examples of compulsive behaviors commonly associated with eating disorders include excessive exercise, constant body checking, counting calories, frequent weighing, use of laxatives to reduce weight, and following particular “rules” or “rituals” when eating a meal.

Psychotherapy, medication, or both are typically successful in treating these disorders.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD or an eating 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/

Ekern, J., & Karges, C. (2014, March 31). OCD and Eating Disorders Often Occur Together. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/co-occurring-dual-diagnosis/ocd-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/ocd-and-eating-disorders-often-occur-together

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD: SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder where the individual has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that they feel unable to control. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect adults, adolescents, and children. Most people are diagnosed around age 19, typically with an earlier age of onset in boys than in girls. Risk factors for developing OCD include close relatives with this disorder as well as exposure to abuse/trauma in childhood. People diagnosed with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. This can be disruptive to all facets of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Examples of obsessions include fear of germs or contamination, unwanted taboo thoughts involving sex/ religion/ harm, aggressive thoughts towards others or self, and a need to have things in a perfect order.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought, typically to ease the anxiety. Compulsions include excessive cleaning and/or handwashing, arranging things in a very particular way, repeatedly checking on things (checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off), and compulsive counting.

OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, 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/

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Isabelle Kreydin

You’ve heard about bipolar personality obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia disorder, and probably a handful of other ones. One of the less uncommon and less discussed one is narcissistic personality disorder. This is a mental condition in which a person has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

What lies behind the disorder? Behind the mask of extreme confidence, arrogance and/or pompousness there is a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism, insult, or contempt. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them when they feel the persons need for superiority which can lead to actions and words of disrespect.

Why does this disorder get diagnosed? Most believe that the causes are due to genetics as well as social factors, and the person’s early development such as family, personal temperament, school system, and learned coping skills to deal with stress.

What are some more possible symptoms? It’s their way or the highway, they won’t ever be wrong in situations, and if they admit to be wrong, they will put another down just in order to convince themselves that they are in the right, they can have ease lying; they can charm, falsely accuse, mooch, betray, mirror, compete, destroy, and manipulate easily. They are known also to commonly abuse drugs, alcohol or nicotine.

What problems does this disorder cause? It causes unstable and trouble in relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy, and may take this out on another human and gain the personality trait that is sadistic.

How can we help the issue? After acceptance, treatment of this personality disorder typically involves long-term therapy, possible medication, and continuing to relate better with others in relationships, working towards empathy, understanding the cause of ones emotions and what drives one to compete and distrust, practicing tolerance, and trying to release ones desire for unattainable goals and ideal conditions.If you or a person you know is struggling with a narcissistic personality disorder, or any personality disorder, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

To find out more information, visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

Trichotillomania

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the urge to pull out one’s hair. An individual with trichotillomania can pull hair from any part of their body, however the eyebrows and scalp are the most common places. If not treated, this disorder can come and go throughout an individual’s lifetime and persist for weeks, months, or years.

Trichotillomania is more common in females and is seen in 1%-2% of the population. The onset of this disorder is most commonly seen in preadolescents or young adults. The cause of this disorder in unknown, however it can be triggered by anxiety or stressful life events such as family conflict. Anxiety disorders, depression, and OCD are commonly associated with trichotillomania. Behavioral therapy and medication are often successful in treating this disorder.

Common Symptoms:

•Recurrent pulling out hair resulting in noticeable hair loss
•An increasing sense of tension before pulling out the hair or when resisting the behavior
•Pleasure, gratification, or relief when pulling out the hair
•The disturbance is not accounted for by another mental disorder and is not due to a general medical condition (dermatological condition)
•Repeated attempts have been made to decrease or stop hair pulling
•The behaviors cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (loss of control, embarrassment, or shame)
•Hair pulling may be accompanied by a range of behaviors or rituals involving hair (rolling hair between the fingers, pulling strands between one’s teeth, biting hair into pieces, or swallowing hair)

If you or a loved one 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/

Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling). (2017, March 29). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/trichotillomania-hair-pulling

Skin-Picking/Excoriation Disorder: An Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD: Skin-Picking/Excoriation

Written by: Jinal Kapadia

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. There are many different types of OCD disorders, but one disorder in particular deals with skin picking; it is called Excoriation.

Excoriation disorder affects around 1.4% of the general population, and its symptoms appear most commonly during adolescence, around the onset of puberty. This disorder, sometimes referred to as chronic skin-picking or dermatillomania, is characterized by repeated picking at one’s own skin resulting in skin lesions and sometimes significant disruption in one’s life.

In order to be diagnosed with Excoriation disorder, a person must exhibit the behavior of picking one’s skin that results in skin lesions and repeated attempt to stop this behavior. These symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment, can not be caused by a medical or dermatological condition or substance, and can not be better explained by another psychiatric disorder.

The treatment for Excoriation disorder is similar to the treatment for general Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the sense that both suggest the use of medication, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to reduce the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors of the person suffering from the disorder.

If you or someone you know has Excoriation disorder or seems to have the symptoms of Excoriation disorder, and needs help, 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:

Mentalhealthamerica.com. (2018). Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking or Dermatillomania). [online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/excoriation-disorder-skin-picking-or-dermatillomania [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].

Mghocd.org. (2015). Excoriation. [online] Available at: https://mghocd.org/clinical-services/excoriation/ [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].

Nimh.nih.gov. (2016). NIMH » Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. [online] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].

Anxiety: Exposure Therapy Helping Teens Combat Anxiety

By Hannah Pierce

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique in which a person is exposed to a feared object or situation to overcome their anxiety. A majority of researchers and clinicians believe that exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for many anxiety disorders. One study even found that people improved more using this technique than taking antidepressants.

Although exposure therapy is proven to be very effective, it is not frequently used with teens. Many teens suffering with anxiety are prescribed medication rather than receiving therapy. It is difficult for people to consent to exposure therapy because they do not want to do something that will make them feel even more anxious.

One article documented teens’ experiences with exposure therapy. A 14-year-old suffering from social anxiety, depression, OCD, and binge-eating agreed to tackle his social anxiety through exposure therapy. On a busy college campus he sat on a bench next to a stranger and initiated a conversation. To some people this may seem simple but to a teen suffering from social anxiety, the task is very daunting. He sat on the bench and tried to talk to the stranger but the stranger just kept texting and playing with his phone. Although the exchange did not turn into a conversation, at least the teen faced his fear and realized it wasn’t that bad.

Another teen’s exposure involved him holding a sign that read “I’ve been bullied. Ask me.” Thomas hoped to combat his anxiety while also educating people on bullying. Most students on the campus walked by him without giving him a second glance. After a while, a couple stopped to talk to Thomas. The man empathized with him, sharing that he had been bullied as well and the woman applauded Thomas for his bravery.  After the exchange Thomas was very pleasantly surprised and realized he did not have much to be so anxious about.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

Source: “The Kids Who Can’t” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

OCD: What It’s Really About

By Miranda Botti

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or more commonly referred to as OCD, is a psychological disorder in which those afflicted experience recurring distressing, intrusive thoughts, images or impulses (obsessions) and attempt to remedy and alleviate such thoughts with repetitive actions (compulsions).  Such intrusive, repetitive thoughts are often constant worries about one’s health or the health of family members or loved ones, as well as fears about bad things happening to loved ones. Common compulsions include but are not limited to: repeatedly checking things, such as if an oven is off or if a door is locked, excessively cleaning oneself and/or handwashing, and compulsive counting. Many OCD patients are able to understand that their thoughts are irrational and unlikely to be remedied by their compulsive actions but continue to struggle to control their obsessions. Most people are typically diagnosed with OCD in their late teens to early 20’s, although onset at any age is possible.

The knowledge of the causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is still yet to be discovered however, risk factors include: genetics, brain structure and functioning, and/or the environment. Treatments include medications that act to inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitter called serotonin (SRI’s and SSRI’s), as well as the less frequently prescribed antipsychotic medication; psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); the approach of a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Research for treatment of OCD is up and running and clinical trials look to determine the effectiveness and safety of new treatments in order to help individuals in the future.

 

If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Information taken from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml