Mindfulness: Its Effects on Anxiety and Depression

Mindfulness: Its Effects on Anxiety and Depression

By: Stacey Rodriguez

Mindfulness, derived from Buddhist teachings, is a practice which fosters introspective awareness. It’s main principles consist of actively experiencing the present moment, as well as practicing radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is a distress tolerance skill, which is implemented by openly recognizing thoughts and experiences without the tension of subjective or negative perception. Central facets of radical acceptance include self compassion and validation. This perspective emphasizes defusion, which is the process of separating the mind from its thoughts; the act of perceiving oneself as the observer of one’s thoughts, rather than identifying with them, allows individuals to healthily process emotions while remaining grounded and rational. Mindfulness is a defining feature of several modern therapeutic approaches, such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT). DBT is a form of cognitive therapy, in which the approach focuses on recognizing maladaptive behavioral patterns and core beliefs. Similarly, MBCT uses cognitive behavioral therapy supplemented by mindfulness meditative practices, in order to help individuals become aware of their thoughts and feelings all while avoiding the loop of negativity. 

Practicing mindfulness has proven to have an abundance of promising effects on the mind and body. Overall, it has shown to significantly reduce anxiety and depression. Methodical data suggests that the practice influences stress pathways, and even modifies structure and activity in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation in the brain. Additionally, studies have found mindfulness to have the same moderate effect on treating depression as does medication, as well as moderate effects on anxiety and pain. 

Some mindful activities include:

  • Journaling
  • Practicing breathing techniques
  • Mediation
  • Yoga

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for 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/

Source:https://www.apa.org/topics/mindfulness/meditation#:~:text=Researchers%20reviewed%20more%20than%20200,%2C%20pain%2C%20smoking%20and%20addiction.

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/03/cover-mindfulness

Image source: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/

Social Anxiety; Going Back to Normalcy After the Pandemic 

By Jillian Hoff

As everyone starts to go back to their lives before the pandemic it is important to recognize that some individuals will feel uncomfortable after being in quarantine for so long. Some people will most likely feel some amount of social anxiety when going back out. It is important to recognize that most people are going to feel anxious when returning back to normalcy. Most people will just feel these emotions a different degree. Social anxiety is more than just feeling nervous. It could occur when a person feels as though they are being judged or being put down by the people around them when that isn’t the case. This will be normal as people go back to socializing in any type of setting. One major issue society might have would be to relearn social behaviors. Some things that we previously would not have thought about doing became common actions for us during the pandemic. Things like making facial expressions under our masks or talking during a meeting because that is what we got used to doing, is not going to be acceptable behavior when one’s in person.

It is important not to rush into socializing in person. Start by having in-person meetings or work once or twice a week and slowly add more days after you are comfortable. If you have an event that you need to go to, try planning a solution in advance that will make you most comfortable to be there. You can also practice mindfulness and deep breathing exercises as a way to gain some control over your anxiety. However, what is most important is to realize that everyone is getting back to normalcy and that others will feel the same way as you do.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for social 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/

Sources:

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2021/06/21/the-19th-explains-how-to-manage-postpandemic-social-anxiety

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/managing-post-pandemic-social-anxiety/

https://tulsaworld.com/opinion/columnists/cartoon-post-pandemic-anxiety/article_453797b8-8804-11eb-a763-3371541a6ae8.html

Low Maintenance Might be a Bad Thing

By Katie Weinstein

In our society low maintenance is always seen as a good or neutral thing. People who are low maintenance are seen as flexible, nice, and easy going. If you are low maintenance meaning you can walk out the door without spending an hour doing your hair and makeup that is great, but if you are a low maintenance friend or partner out of fear of asking people to meet your needs, it is time to set boundaries and begin advocating for yourself.

Some people become high maintenance because their parents downplayed their feelings or were not able to meet the needs of their child for reasons such as working multiple jobs, having another child who was high-need, or suffering from an addiction problem. Other people become high need because peers labeled them as dramatic or they were excluded in school so learned to become an easy friend so they shut down their needs. As a result, people learn to be low maintenance so that they take up as little space as possible. In reality, if you’re low maintenance as a result of fear of asking people to meet your emotional needs and coming across as needy, it can take a toll on you.

It is important to first start with identifying what your needs are and what makes you happy. You also need to remind yourself that your needs are valid and it is normal to ask things of people. You are not being overly sensitive or dramatic. While it might seem horrifying to ask people for things, build up the confidence to set boundaries and tell people how you feel. True friends or partners will stick around even if it takes some getting used to. It is also important to tell yourself a new narrative about your needs. Instead of telling yourself that you are dramatic, tell yourself you are advocating for yourself. Once you stop being so low maintenance your confidence will improve, you will build better relationships, and people will stop using you. It is important to get as much in a relationship as you give. If you need help identifying your needs, building your confidence, or advocating for yourself, therapy might be a great option for you.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-the-generations/202101/are-you-too-low-maintenance?collection=1151944

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sexual-self/202104/why-some-people-feel-sad-after-sex

If you or someone you know is low maintenance and seeking therapy, 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/

Post Pandemic Social Anxiety

By Katie Weinstein ­­­­­­­­

Whether it is anxiety about rusty social skills or interacting with unvaccinated people, adjusting back to normalcy will be a challenge for everyone, so it is essential to find ways to cope with returning back to normal. 

One thing to keep in mind is that it is normal to have social anxiety about the adjustments that are to come. Everyone has been out of practice of picking up on social cues through Zoom. Like any skill, it might seem overwhelming to relearn at first, but with practice, people can regain their social skills. 

One way to help adjust and prevent post pandemic social anxiety is to gradually build up the amount of social interactions you are having and to slowly increase your group size. It is important to stretch a little out of your comfort zone by saying yes to some plans to get back into regularly seeing people, but it is also important to stand up for yourself and not participate in events that make you outwardly uncomfortable. Another thing that you can do to cope with post-pandemic social anxiety is reward yourself for going a little out of your comfort zone with things that you enjoy like ice cream or watching a movie. You can also try dressing up to go out. While lounging out in sweats is sometimes the most comfortable option, dressing up a little can make you feel like your best self and help you incentivize you to go out. It is also important to acknowledge when you need help and when to see someone to help cope with social anxiety.

Sources

If you or someone you know is struggling with social 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/

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/after-a-year-of-isolation-social-interaction-may-cause-anxiety#Why-you-may-feel-anxious-about-returning-to-normal

https://www.verywellmind.com/social-anxiety-disorder-tips-302420

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

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

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

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/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

COVID-19: Anxiety

COVID-19: Anxiety

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Reported rates of anxiety have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people reporting anxiety and fear symptoms is well above historical norms. Polls have found that nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health. Hotlines have seen consistent results. During April alone, a month in which most Americans were in quarantine, the federal government’s distress hotline increased text rates more than 1,000 percent. In addition, dozens of states and locally run distress hotlines have reported sizeable increases in call volume as well. If you are experiencing anxiety during this time, you are not alone.

Americans who are in quarantine and sheltering in place are suffering. Outbreaks are stressful and symptoms of anxiety can include:

•    Fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones.

•    Changes in sleep or eating patterns.

•    Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

•    Worsening of chronic health problems.

•    Worsening of mental health conditions.

•    Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. 

In particular, those who have reported high rates of fear and anxiety include:

•    Minorities

•    Women

•    Older people and people with preexisting health conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as well as people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance abuse

•    Adults under the age of 34 (children and teens)

•    People who are helping with the response to COVID-19 (doctors, health care providers, and first responders

During this time, it is more important than ever to take care of your mental health. Asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength. Call your health care provider if you are experiencing stress or anxiety. Health care providers can help you by providing a procedure and referrals.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety  from COVID-19 or another crisis, 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.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-mental-health

Image Source:

https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/4/16/21219693/coronavirus-anxiety-depression-mental-health-ptsd-covid

Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Being Shy

By: Gabriella Phillip

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition involving an intense, persistent fear of being watched or judged by others. The fear that people with social anxiety experience in social situations is so strong that they often feel as though it is beyond their control. Social Anxiety Disorder affects around 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia.

Common symptoms for people with social phobia include

  • being extremely anxious around other people,
  • being self-conscious in front of others,
  • being very afraid of being embarrassed in front of other people
  • being the focus of other people’s judgment
  • worrying for days or weeks before a social event
  • having a difficult time cultivating friendships
  • avoiding places where other people will be present

Bodily symptoms for people with social anxiety include

  • heavy sweating
  • trembling
  • nausea
  • blushing
  • having difficulty speaking

Social phobia sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it, while others don’t. When chemicals in the brain are not at a certain level it can cause a person to have social phobia. Social anxiety usually begins during childhood/ teenage years, typically around age 13. A doctor can tell if the person has this disorder if symptoms are present for at least 6 months. This disorder should be treated in a timely manner to help spare those diagnosed from years of unpleasant feelings and anxiety.

Treatment can help people with social phobia feel less anxious and fearful. Two types of treatments used for Social Anxiety Disorder are psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and medication that’s safe and effective, often used in combination. Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective type of psychotherapy used for anxiety related disorders. Medication used to treat Social phobia include selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, and beta blockers. It’s important to choose a method of treatment that is best suited towards your individual needs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can 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. 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/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml

https://www.verywellmind.com/difference-between-shyness-and-social-anxiety-disorder-3024431