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

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: Going Back to School during a Pandemic

By Mizuki Wada

You know it’s time to get ready for school or work when you see the pumpkin displays and school supplies in stores. However, with the global pandemic going on this year there is far more tension and nervousness besides the first day jitters. From parents sending their kids, faculty going back to classrooms or students getting ready for in-person sessions, many of those could be feeling high pressure and anxiety. However, here are a few ways that could help you steer clear from overwhelming anxiousness.

  • Acknowledge– It is crucial to acknowledge your feelings and stress. Understanding the reason why you’re feeling a certain way is the key to finding a solution.
  • Attitude– Try to look at the big picture and find some positive factors of returning to school. Only looking at the negative aspects can cause the situation to be a lot scarier than it actually is.
  • Support– Find a support group! Whether it be your family or friends, having people that would listen to you talk is very beneficial. Try talking about how you’re feeling to those who understand you.
  • Knowledge– Educate yourself on the situation. People can tell you one thing, but are they really true? Limit your news intake and check whether these sources are trustworthy or not. There’s a difference between educating yourself and filling yourself with information.
  • Physical Health– Although it may sound irrelevant, mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Even if it’s a simple walk or a yoga session, moving your body physically can help alleviate stress. It’s important to keep a healthy body for a healthy mind.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Anxiety or any other mental illnesses, 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

Reference:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beyond-the-doubt/202003/respond-instead-react-managing-covid-19-anxiety

https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/stress/manage-back-to-school-stress-coronavirus

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: Coping with Anxiety

By: Melissa Molina

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic might be upsetting and stressful for individuals. Anxiety and fear about the virus and what could happen can be overpowering and cause forceful feelings in adults and children. General well-being activities, for example, social distancing or wearing masks, can cause individuals to feel detached and forlorn and can result in anxiety. Nonetheless, these activities are important to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Being able to cope with anxiety due to COVID-19 is important and here are some tips on how to do just that:

  1. Educate yourself and your loved ones on what to do if one is sick. Contact a healthcare provider before starting any self treatment for the coronavirus.
  2. Take breaks and do not over-stress yourself with reading fake news, social media and/or conspiracies.
  3. Isolate and protect yourself but stay connected with friends and loved ones.
  4. Find a new hobby, something to keep you busy and something you can control.
  5. Focus on positives: cooking, reading a new book or tv shows.
  6. Practice self care: try to eat well balanced meals, get plenty of sleep and unwind by taking deep breaths.

It is completely ordinary and justifiable to feel anxiety in the time of COVID-19. Indeed, uneasiness is a solid response to new, perhaps difficult conditions. It can provoke us to focus, prepare, and guard ourselves. However, your anxiety, when coped with, can in turn transform from something that controls you to something that can help you.

If you or someone you know needs support with 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-resilience/202003/coping-anxiety-in-the-age-covid-19 https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/coronavirus-anxiety.htm

Picture Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/kLzf9JG3FSaXdWFi6

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