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

Acute Stress Disorder: Reliving trauma

Acute Stress Disorder: reliving trauma
By: Zoe Alekel

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

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

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

If you or someone you know is struggling with Acute Stress Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ Sources: https://www.stress.org/acute-stress-disorder https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/acute-stress-disorder

Sources:

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

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

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

Anxiety, 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

OCD: Perinatal/Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Perinatal/Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

By: Isabelle Siegel

Conversations about postpartum depression have recently become commonplace, leading many people to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of this condition. As a result, new mothers are much quicker to recognize and label their struggles and to seek help. However, the same attention has not been paid to a similar condition: Perinatal or Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

What is Perinatal/Maternal OCD?

Perinatal/Maternal OCD is essentially OCD with onset during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. In general, OCD involves the presence of obsessions (“unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind”) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or thought patterns performed to relieve anxiety caused by the obsessions).

Expecting and new mothers with Perinatal/Maternal OCD commonly experience obsessive thoughts about their infant’s safety, including intrusive thoughts about:

  • Unintentionally harming the infant
  • Sexually abusing the infant
  • Contaminating the infant
  • Making wrong or harmful parenting decisions

They may then engage in compulsive behaviors or thought patterns in order to relieve the resulting anxiety, including:

  • Repetitively calling the doctor or other health professionals
  • Repetitively checking on the infant
  • Total avoidance of the infant
  • Excessive washing of anything with which the infant might come in contact

Treatments for Perinatal OCD

Mothers experiencing Perinatal/Maternal OCD are not hopeless. As with other forms of OCD, Perinatal/Maternal OCD can be addressed with therapy and/or medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and, more specifically, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) can be used to target obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of Perinatal or Maternal OCD, 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/

Sources:

Image Source: https://www.mothersclub.sg/mum-confessions-1/

COVID-19: Why going outside can help with your mental health

COVID-19: Why going outside can help with your mental health

By: Alexa Greenbaum

While social distancing during COVID-19, going outside has become one of the few activities to escape the house. In states that are in lockdown, governors such as in New York, Washington, and Montana have strongly encouraged people to go outdoors to run, walk, hike, and bike while practicing safe social distancing. Although it is not clear why, studies have found that spending time outside has a positive effect on our general well-being, including mental and physical health. In fact, doctors have been issuing “nature prescriptions” as a treatment for a range of conditions including chronic stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD, as well as others.

Efforts around the world have been promoting the health benefits of time spent outside. Regardless of the level of physical activity, spending time outdoors for even just 20 minutes per day can lower stress hormone levels, boost self-esteem, and improve mood.

Time in nature serves as an escape from daily pressures. The outdoors has been found to build resilience, hope, happiness, and optimism even before the added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional research also suggests that going outside results in a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

Based on several existing literature, positive effects documented were often described as “psychological healing,” “increased sense of well-being,” and “restorative.” Thus, a form of healing to achieve, maintain or promote a positive mental health state. Nature is a critical component of overall health and a great place to start.

If you or someone you know is struggling 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.forbes.com/sites/cassidyrandall/2020/04/09/why-going-outside-is-good-for-your-health-especially-right-now/#4479a8bd2de9

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cravings/201909/nature-s-role-in-mental-illness-prevention-or-treatment

https://time.com/5539942/green-space-health-wellness/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature

Image Source:

https://41nbc.com/2020/05/10/virus-outbreak

Anxiety during COVID-19

Anxiety during COVID-19

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

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

COVID-19: Parenting in a Stressful Time

COVID-19: Parenting in a Stressful Time

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Parenting in confinement during COVID-19 has many challenges. For many, the home has become the office and the classroom, making it more difficult to be productive and motivated. During this stressful time in isolation, it can be very difficult to keep children occupied while also working remotely, dealing with finances, and navigating the danger of the coronavirus. However, by creating structure, setting boundaries, and encouraging open communication, parents can improve their family dynamic.

Parents are having to take on more responsibilities than ever before. Especially in a very uncertain time, it is normal for children and parents to feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. As a result, many parents and children are reacting to today’s stressors by acting out or regressing to behaviors long outgrown. Due to the additional stressors that come with COVID-19, parents are taking on too much which is causing parents to feel stressed, frustrated, and resentful. According to the APA’s Stress in America survey, “73% of parents report family responsibilities as a significant source of stress.” This can erode the feeling of mutual support and respect that is crucial to a healthy relationship.

To help, creating some structure in your life, such as a routine and designating a workspace for children to do their schoolwork and homework can be an effective way to set boundaries and help a family cope with stress. Thanking your child for allowing you to do your work, is an effective tool as it positively reinforces your child to continue giving you the space you need to be productive.

Sharing and designating daily responsibilities can improve the quality of a parent’s relationship with their children. Working together as a family and designating different tasks is something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.

To help parents create a healthy family dynamic in the climate of COVID-19, the way parents talk to their kids may need to be readjusted as well. Initiating regular open conversations with their kids. Giving your children your undivided attention can help a family work together to better understand, acknowledge, and address any stressors children are experiencing. Calming your children’s fears is important.

Take advantage of this time together, it can be an opportunity for your relationship with your kids to grow, but don’t forget to take care of yourself! For support, discussing experiences with friends, relatives, or a telehealth mental health professional can be helpful. At Arista Counseling, we have a multitude of different therapists that can help you.

If you or someone you know is looking for 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/ .

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/parenting-during-pandemic

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/little-house-calls/202003/parenting-during-covid-19

Image Source:

https://www.parkview.com/community/dashboard/dealing-with-parenting-stress-during-covid-19

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