By: Sarah Cohen
When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.
If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.
The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.
If you or someone you know needs support with their 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/
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a disorder that is composed of patterns of unwanted or intrusive thoughts that cause repetitive actions or compulsions that create difficulties by interfering with day to day activities. This is different than being a perfectionist because OCD thoughts are not just extra worrying about real life issues or enjoying a clean house. When most people think of OCD, they usually imagine someone who is always cleaning, and while this can be a manifestation of OCD, there are many other themes OCD might center around. For example, checking things such as light switches and locks excessively in order to get to a “good” number of times. Symptoms of OCD include obsessive and/or compulsive thoughts that take up a large amount of time and prevent normal work or school functioning. Obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts or urges that cause anxiety and distress usually followed by compulsions which are repeated actions meant to lessen the anxiety from the obsessions or prevent something bad from occurring. OCD is more common in women than men and usually begins during the teen or young adult years. Symptoms usually start off little by little and vary throughout the lifetime of the patient. Risk factors for OCD include a family history of OCD, physical differences in the brain, traumatic life events, or other mental health disorders. While there is no cure, if a patient can manage their symptoms well, they can lead a normal life. Treatments include psychotherapy, meditation, medication, and in rare cases when both medication and therapy are not effective, neuromodulation.
If you or someone you know needs support managing their OCD, 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/ .
By: Keely Fell
Can’t seem to shake the winter blues? Nearly five percent of adults are experiencing symptoms that align with major depressive disorder with recurring seasonal pattern, which is more commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), an individual who is experiencing “two major depressive episodes in the last two years” that show relations to the time of year, and experience full remissions at other times they may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
It is also important to understand what is happening in the body and why an individual is experiencing such symptoms. When an individual is experiencing these symptoms, often it can be as a result of the lack of natural light due to the shorter periods of daylight during the winter season. With the lack of light, the human brain slows down the production of serotonin, and increases the production of melatonin which leaves individuals feeling drowsy. Melatonin production increase is caused by darkness, which is why we get sleepy when the sun goes down. The regulation of these chemicals is what helps create your body’s specific circadian rhythm. When this system is affected it can cause a feeling of lethargy and or restlessness.
Here are some tips and tricks to shaking those winter blues:
- Take a few minutes during your day to get outside Whether that’s during your lunch break or walking to pick up the mail, going outside during daylight will increase the serotonin production in your brain.
- Light Therapy During the dark winter months, if these symptoms are taking over you can try light therapy. Light therapy allows for the brain to think it’s being exposed to sunlight. People who use light therapy typically invest in a light box (if interested Harvard Health has many they recommend) which delivers around 10,000 lux, compared to a standard sunny day that ranges 50,000 lux or above. They recommend that, you sit in front of the light box for no more than 30 minutes a day. This allows for the brain to regulate its circadian rhythms by allowing the retinas to be stimulated. Light therapy does not work for everyone.
- Talk Therapy If these symptoms persist and are affecting your day talk therapy is also affective. Reaching out to a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychotherapist to come up with symptom relief is another big way to combat these symptoms. Symptom relief may include the use of antidepressants, or various therapeutic methods.
If you or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder or seems to have the symptoms of SAD, 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/ .
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
By: Julia Keys
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been normalized and trivialized in society as a need for everything to be meticulously clean and organized when in reality it is a serious psychological disorder that can cause significant distress for those who have it. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by a pattern of uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts, known as obsessions, which can only be remedied by certain behaviors, known as compulsions. People with OCD are commonly depicted as being ultra-neat or afraid of germs, which is true for some people, but the way OCD expresses itself is unique to the individual.
There are several common themes that psychologists have determined when treating patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One common theme is contamination. This may take on the literal meaning in which an object or place can be perceived as dirty, but it can also mean that contact with a person, place, or object will cause great harm. Checking is another typical behavior. One may check if something is safe or turned off over and over again. Checking can also express itself in the need for constant verbal reassurance, so a person with OCD may ask the same question over and over. People with OCD may be worried that they will suddenly lose control and hurt themselves or someone else. In efforts to qualm these obsessions, one may avoid certain places or people or have plans set in place that could prevent them from acting out these thoughts.
Common obsessions may include, but are not limited to:
- Fear of germs or contamination
- Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
- Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order
Common compulsions may include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
- Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
- Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
- Compulsive counting
When reading these lists one might think that these behaviors are relatively typical, however people with OCD spend an excessive amount of time and effort thinking about obsessive thoughts and preforming rituals to control them. A person with OCD may feel brief relief after preforming a compulsion, but they do not feel pleasure from such acts. Obsessions and compulsions are very difficult to control and may result in significant problems in one’s daily life or relationships.
If you or someone you know is struggling OCD, 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/ .
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Bullying: Impact of Bullying on Children’s Mental Health
By Lauren Hernandez
National media has created a frenzy of coverage surrounding Wisconsin’s controversial ordinances which fine parents if their children are bullies in school. Some may disagree with this new policy; however, others believe this harsh measure will help to eliminate bullying among school children.
Bullying can be physical, emotional, or verbal, and is a pattern of harmful, humiliating behaviors directed towards people who seem vulnerable to the bully. Oftentimes bullying happens in school, but with the rise of technology, cyberbullying is also becoming a problem. Children who are victims of bullying are typically vulnerable to mistreatment because they may be smaller, weaker, younger, and fearful of the bully; however, this description is general and does not apply to everyone. Bullies use their power, whether that is physical strength, popularity, or intimidation to harm others. Bullies tend to demonstrate signs of aggression or hostility beginning around 2 years old. It has been found that bullies have mental health issues such as lack of emotional understanding, lack of prosocial behavior, and increased rates of hostility as well as insecurity. Additionally, bullies typically have difficult relationships with their parents, teachers, and peers.
Victims of bullying not only suffer from physical consequences, but being bullied negatively impacts their mental health and overall well-being. These detrimental social and emotional abuses can foster the development of mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. Victims of bullying often experience feelings of low self-esteem, isolation and loneliness. Some children create somatic symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches and other complaints which might not be valid, in order to prevent attending school. Victims of bullying generally stop liking school because they associate it with the threat of a bully. Incidents of bullying should immediately be reported to a school official, parent, or other adult that can help the victim and resolve the situation.
It is important to recognize that in most cases both the bully and the victim are suffering from mental health issues and they would benefit from treatment by a school counselor, psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.
If you or someone you know who may be suffering from bullying, depression, or anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .
By: Lauren Hernandez
If you or someone you know has been seeing a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner for treatment of depression, there are various types of antidepressants a mental health provider can prescribe. It is important to be familiar with different types of antidepressants in order for you, as the patient, to understand what the medication actually does on a neurological level.
The most common type of antidepressant prescribed is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, known as an SSRI. SSRIs mainly treat depression but they are also effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which impacts your mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning as well as other similar functions. On a neurological level, SSRIs prevent serotonin reabsorption which builds up serotonin in the synapse. This allows receptors to receive the signal and react with the optimal amount of serotonin. People suffering from major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders typically have lower serotonin levels. By preventing reabsorption in the synapse via medications, symptoms of these disorders may decrease. In 1987 Prozac was the first approved for treatment of those with depression and became one of the most prescribed antidepressants. Other common SSRIs include Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, SNRIs differ from SSRIs in that they block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that influences hormones and the “fight or flight” response in the brain. Approved SNRIs include Cymbalta, Pristiq and Effexor XR.
Some of the other common types of antidepressants prescribed include norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) which block the reabsorption of norepinephrine and dopamine. This is only seen to be effective in the medication bupropion, which is also known as Wellbutrin. Other types of antidepressants that are less common include Tetracyclics (TCA’s), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s), and Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors. These older medications are not prescribed as frequently because of the development of newer medications that effectively decrease symptoms and have fewer side effects.
Medication is helpful; however, it is most effective when used in combination with different types of psychotherapy or support groups. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or any type of anxiety or mood disorder, it is important to seek professional help from a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can provide antidepressants as well as support through talk therapy. If you or someone you know is currently taking antidepressants, it is extremely important to continue taking the medication and avoid discontinuations.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder, please contact 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/ .
By: Lauren Hernandez
Many people face anxiety on a daily basis. Panic attacks are an extreme form of anxiety that many people experience. Panic attacks are described as an immediate fear of dying, going crazy or losing control. People who experience panic attacks may feel intense fear despite no real danger. Attacks may last anywhere from about ten minutes to an hour or more. Panic attacks are categorized as either situational or unexpected. According to PsychologyToday, “situational panic attacks are triggered by a particular scenario while unexpected panic attacks seem as though they come out of nowhere.” While general anxiety is the worry that bad things might happen in one’s life, panic attacks feel like a surge of imminent danger and often have physical symptoms.
Symptoms of panic attacks include:
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
- Choking sensations
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Numbness or tingling sensations, particularly in the extremities or around the lips
- Chills or hot flashes
Panic attacks are a terrifying experience; however, they are quite treatable and can be helped with a combination of therapy and medications. For people who experience situational panic attacks, it is best to leave the feared situation which will typically decrease anxiety and end the panic attack. For people who experience unexpected panic attacks, take note of where, when, and possibly why the panic attack began in order to analyze this occurrence further with a mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is one of the most common methods of treating panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Additionally, medication such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can help relieve anxiety and prevent panic attacks. Immediate relief can be achieved when benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Klonopin are taken. These medications are potentially abusive so they must be used with caution. If you or someone you know is suffering from panic attacks or severe anxiety, contact a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can help.
If you or someone you know who may be suffering from panic attacks, 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/ .
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Suicide Prevention: What Can You Do to Help?
By Lauren Hernandez
If someone you care about has recently expressed suicidal thoughts or has told you they have attempted suicide, it is important to offer support to that person and to seek professional help. Suicide attempts are often triggered when a person cannot handle the certain stressors and do not have stable coping mechanisms to overcome these obstacles. People considering suicide typically struggle with other mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as a variety of other conditions. If someone has shared their suicidal thoughts with you, provide them with close comfort by staying with them. Even if you are unsure of what to say, it is important for that person to know that they are not alone.
It is important to make a plan, that encourages at risk individuals to see a provider such as a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can offer professional help. If they are overwhelmed by their workload, perhaps try to ease their worries by offering to help them complete specific burdening tasks. It is important to offer them a way in which they can surround themselves with supportive people, perhaps invite them to a relaxing and judgement free space with a few friends. Additionally, help them to find ways in which they can practice self-care, healthy eating, exercise, and sleep, as well as listening to music and other activities that help to boost mood.
It is important to recognize that although you are trying to help a loved one to the best of your ability, the person struggling with suicidal thoughts needs professional care and therapy. There is only so much you can do to help and that is why reaching out to safety networks is essential. Other resources you should find in your area include mental health providers such as a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can work with the patient to create a plan and prescribe medication. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 to request immediate assistance and hospitalization to prevent self-harm or a possible suicide from happening. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7 confidential Lifeline which is available at any time for anyone in the United States to get support if you or a loved one is in crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number is 1-800-273-8255. To find more information on how to help yourself or someone in crisis can be found on these websites:
If you or a loved one is suffering from suicidal thoughts please contact 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/ .
Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs)
By Lauren Hernandez
Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are a group of disorders composed of “self-grooming” behaviors in which a person might pull, pick, bite, or scrape one’s hair, skin, or nails. BFRBs can be considered “impulse disorders,” however; it is still undetermined whether they are either impulsive or compulsive behaviors. People suffering from BFRBs typically lack awareness towards engaging in the repetitive behavior. BFRBS are problematic when they occur repetitively and cause a person distress in their physical, social, and emotional lives. The cause of BFRBs is still being researched; however, for some, habitual behaviors such as biting nails, chewing on their cheeks, and pulling their hair may develop into an impairing pattern associated with other mental illnesses.
Most BFRBs are associated with anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorders because they are difficult for individuals for control. BFRBs not only have an emotionally distressing impact, as an individual may experience high levels of shame, but BFRBs can also cause physical injuries such as scarring, skin infections, or bald spots.
The most common BFRBs include:
- Trichotillomania- compulsive hair pulling
- Dermatillomania- Compulsive skin picking
- Onychophagia- Compulsive nail biting
Treatment of BFRBs include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and supplements, however, there are lower rates of treatment success due to lack of research on the disorders and effective treatment methods. Treatment for BFRBs should be discussed with a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner in order to tailor treatment for an individual.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a Body-focused repetitive behavior, 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/ .