Anxiety in Young Adults During COVID-19

Anxiety in Young Adults During COVID-19

By Jackie Molan

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of anxiety have sharply increased, especially in the young adult population (ages 18-24). Young adults are particularly susceptible to pandemic anxiety because they experienced enough “normal,” pre-COVID life to understand the current uncertainty of their own futures and the future state of the world.

Potential Anxiety Risk Factors

New studies have provided evidence that certain traits present in childhood and adolescence can lead to anxiety in young adulthood. One of these traits is behavioral inhibition, a childhood temperament characterized by nervousness and fear in response to new people and situations. Those who display behavioral inhibition during childhood are more likely to experience worry dysregulation – inadequate worry management skills – during adolescence. Worry dysregulation is a strong predictor of anxiety later in life, which can be brought on by a stressful life event. Therefore, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic likely triggered anxiety in young adults who demonstrated this pattern of temperaments earlier in life.

Causes of Pandemic Anxiety

For young adults, the pandemic has interfered with their school, work, home, and social lives, leading to a significant upending of usual routines. Maintaining a daily routine often provides comfort, so it can be anxiety-inducing when this is lost due to external factors. Further, many people are experiencing “reentry anxiety” as more places reopen without mask mandates. It is difficult to navigate reentering society when there is lingering anxiety about future variants, vaccines, and mandates.

Steps to Improve Anxiety

The following are steps you can take to improve COVID-related anxiety:

  • Make time for stress reduction and self-care – This can be as simple as taking a walk or finding a few minutes during the day to meditate.
  • Follow a daily routine – Routines may be different than they were pre-COVID, but they can still be helpful.
  • Distinguish work/school life from home life – Even though you may be spending more time in your house than before, you can set boundaries to make work/school feel separate from home. Try designating certain times, or even rooms in the house, to leisure activities.
  • Seek help from a mental health professional.

Anxiety can feel like an uphill battle, but seeking help from a mental health professional can provide you with the resources you need to cope with post-COVID life.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for pandemic-related 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.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2021/study-identifies-risk-factors-for-elevated-anxiety-in-young-adults-during-covid-19-pandemic

https://psychcentral.com/coronavirus/coronavirus-overview

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/13/health/Covid-mental-health-anxiety.html

https://stayprepared.sg/mymentalhealth/articles/impact-of-covid-19-on-mental-health/

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Effects of OCD on Productivity

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Effects of OCD on Productivity

By Jackie Molan

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that interfere with the person’s daily life. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts and impulses that occur repeatedly and induce fear and/or anxiety in the person experiencing them. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that occur in response to obsessions. They are typically intended to reduce the fear or anxiety brought on by obsessions, but this effect is short-lived, and thus the cycle continues.

Approximately 2% of the population suffers from OCD. Symptoms most often appear during adolescence or adulthood and are usually chronic. Therefore, if someone develops symptoms during adolescence, OCD is likely to cause them difficulties in numerous aspects of their lives as they age. A notable example of one of these aspects is productivity, which is relevant in both school and work environments.

Perfectionistic obsessions surrounding productivity and success are common in people with OCD. If an obsession causes anxiety about failing a task or assignment, the resultant compulsion might cause that person to spend hours checking and rechecking their work. This reduces productivity in the long run because it takes up valuable time and energy that could have been spent completing more tasks. Additionally, many compulsions involve some sort of movement, so it can be difficult for someone with OCD to sit at a desk for long periods of time. When OCD gets in the way of being productive, the person is likely to stress about their lack of productivity, which further exacerbates their OCD symptoms.

Although OCD has the potential to hinder productivity, there are steps you can take to improve it:

  • Go to therapy – The techniques employed in therapy can help you keep your OCD symptoms under control, allowing for increased productivity.
  • Manage stress – Finding ways to cope with stress will help prevent OCD symptoms from worsening.
  • Gain a better understanding of perfectionism – Learning about the pitfalls of perfectionism can allow you to set more realistic goals.
  • Practice self-care and compassion – Be kind to yourself even when you are feeling unproductive.

Living with OCD can certainly be challenging, but a more productive future is not impossible if you understand the nature of your problem and seek professional help with a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for obsessive-compulsive 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://psychcentral.com/ocd/ocd-and-productivity#How-OCD-can-affect-productivity

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/ocd

https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/what-happened-my-child-understanding-and

Anxiety in Athletes

Anxiety in Athletes

By Fiona McDermut

            Anxiety disorders are quite common in recent times, and can interfere with completing simple daily tasks. One population in which anxiety disorders can be particularly concerning is student athletes. Student athletes experience a tremendous amount of pressure coming from multiple facets of life. This includes pressure to perform/compete well, pressure to attend athletic training daily, pressure to maintain a healthy/fit figure, and the pressure to keep up with academic assignments. Competition and a moderate level of stress have proven to be beneficial to performance in many circumstances, but the overwhelming stress that often results from being a student athlete can be debilitating and may impact success.

            Although athletes may be at an increased risk for anxiety disorders, they often find that their schedules are too busy to seek help. In order to perform physically to one’s fullest potential, mental health is just as important as physical health. Anxiety can cause both mental and physiological symptoms that can impact athletic performance.

These symptoms include:

  • Feeling powerless
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Trembling

            While decreasing the level of competition and pressure for student athletes may be a lost cause, there are ways to help deal with the feelings of anxiety that accompany this. First and foremost, it is crucial to allow yourself to take a day off when the pressure becomes too overwhelming. Do something that makes you happy, or simply give your body and mind a day of relaxation. This is especially important if you are injured, or not feeling well mentally or physically.

            If feelings of anxiety persist, it can be helpful to seek therapy. Therapy sessions provide an outlet to share emotions, as well as a professional who can help to manage anxiety. Some of the main treatments for anxiety include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychotherapy, and medication (mainly SSRIs and antidepressants). A mental health professional will work with your personal needs to establish the most effective treatment plan.

If you or someone you know is struggling 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.ncaa.org/sports/2014/10/8/mind-body-and-sport-anxiety-disorders.aspx

Image Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/13/heres-impact-of-ncaa-letting-college-athletes-profit-off-their-marketability.html

Anxiety in Elementary School Students

Anxiety in Elementary School Students

By Kim Simone

Symptoms of Anxiety

Elementary school students may present with different symptoms of anxiety each day before, during, and after school. Physical manifestations of anxiety may include stomachaches, restlessness, heart palpitations, and complaints of not feeling well enough to attend school. These children often have difficulty falling and staying asleep and may refuse to attend school in the morning. While in the classroom, these students may show difficulty concentrating, show excessive preoccupation with performance, or may perform poorly as a result of excess worry.

Types of Anxiety Presented

Separation anxiety is characterized by excessive worry about being separated from caregivers and commonly affects students of young ages. Social anxiety is another disorder that can be found in children, impacting their ability to participate in the classroom and socialize with their classmates. Another disorder is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) which affects students who worry about a wide variety of school issues. For instance, students with GAD may struggle with academic perfectionism. Although typically harder to identify in a school setting at a young age, young students may present with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Students with this disorder may perform compulsive rituals or behaviors to ease their anxiety. Other anxiety disorders that may affect a student are selective mutism and specific phobias. These often impact academic and social performance.

Treatment Options

Psychotherapy can help children struggling with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used treatment option. This therapy focuses on negative patterns of thoughts and addresses how thoughts affect the way the child feels. Parents of children with anxiety disorders can benefit from speaking to a child psychologist about how they can help. Medications may also be used to ease symptoms for a wide-variety of anxiety disorders. Treatment for anxiety disorders can be done through in-person services and virtual options, which can provide the necessary help to improve daily functioning.

If you or someone you know is struggling 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://childmind.org/article/classroom-anxiety-in-children/

Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anxiety/children-and-anxiety#:~:text=They%20may%20be%20overly%20or,enough%20to%20go%20to%20school.

Image Source:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month

Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month

By Fiona McDermut

            In light of the start of “beautiful in your own skin” month, it is important to recognize that many struggle with body image satisfaction. Not all people look in the mirror and feel content with what they see. Even if those around you do not understand your body-related concerns, your feelings are totally valid and can be helped with treatment.

            Body dysmorphic disorder (body dysmorphia) is a mental illness characterized by a hyper fixation on perceived defects in one’s appearance. This interferes with day-to-day life because one may spend a large amount of time worrying or attempting to adjust the perceived flaw. These behaviors usually result in obsessive body comparison to others, avoidance of social interaction, and frequent negative body-checking (looking in the mirror repeatedly at disliked body parts). Unfortunately, many have associated their own happiness with how closely their bodies align with current beauty standards portrayed in the media. As one lets these thoughts progress, they can worsen, and possibly be a precursor to an eating disorder or other disorders associated with body dissatisfaction such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

            While many believe that cosmetic surgery will fix their perceived flaws, research has shown that such surgeries do not improve psychological symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. The first step to resolving the issue is recognizing that you have a warped view of what you look like. If you or someone you know experiences this, it can be very beneficial to seek psychological/psychiatric assistance. Professionals in the field will be able to decide the best way to treat these disordered thoughts. The most common treatment for body dysmorphia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Other possible treatments include hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and the prescription of antidepressant medication in order to decrease the feelings of dissatisfaction.

            Working with a professional is important in situations like these, but it is still important to remind yourself that your perceived flaws are only noticed by you, and likely not those around you. Nobody is perfect, but with the constant pressure of modern media to be thin, our flaws often appear to be more apparent to ourselves than they are to others. The practice of mindfulness exercises may also help to focus your mind on what you have learned to love about yourself, and of course, do not be afraid to seek help when necessary.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphic 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201507/whats-the-best-way-deal-negative-body-image

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shrink/201409/how-stop-hating-your-body

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144507000988

Image source: https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-related-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Why Men are less likely to Seek Mental Health Services

By Jenna Chiavelli

Why Men are less likely to Seek Mental Health Services

Recent research studies have found that men are less likely to seek mental health assistance compared to their female counterparts. Men are also less likely to disclose a mental health problem to friends and family. This isn’t because men are immune to mental illnesses but rather something larger is deterring men from reaching out for help. So what can psychologists attribute this to? The answer is toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity refers to harmful social norms about how men should behave that lead to misogyny, homophobia, violence, and mental health issues. In our society, we typically categorize women as the emotional figures and men as the strong and brave figures. Due to these social norms, people assume that men do not need mental health services as it is perceived as unnatural for men to discuss their emotions and feelings. Men themselves see seeking help as a sign of weakness, tarnishing their masculinity.

The media contributes to this societal problem as well, as a majority of mental health advertisements are targeted towards women and feature women. This further perpetuates the idea that mental health is a women’s issue, rather than a human issue. It is time we stop gendering mental health and remove the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

Why it Matters

In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women. White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020. It is abundantly clear that there are men struggling with mental health conditions, so much so, that they believe suicide is the only answer. If we continue to feed into toxic masculinity, men will continue to avoid help when they need it most. So what can we do about it?

Ways to Help

  1. Educate yourself and others – mental health problems are medical problems that can impact anybody regardless of gender.
  2. Talk openly about mental health – sharing personal experiences with mental health problems can make others more comfortable talking about their own experiences.
  3. Show compassion for those with mental health problems – showing compassion for those suffering can help reduce feelings of shame.  
  4. Check on the men in your life – Men are less likely to share their feelings compared to women, so work on having honest conversations with the men in your life. Let them know that you are there for them and stay alert of any concerning changes in behavior.

If you or someone you know is 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/

Sources

https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-race-good-health/201902/mental-health-among-boys-and-men-when-is-masculinity-toxic

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Anxiety and Tests

Anxiety and Tests

 As universities are opening up and students are returning back to the classroom, students may feel increases in test anxiety as they return to an academic setting. While some anxiety may be a good motivator for studying, a crippling amount of anxiety can result in a decrease in grades and an increased risk of mental health issues. Here are some tips to conquer testing anxiety.

  • Study Smarter, Not Harder: Make sure you’re prepared for the test. Don’t cram and don’t spend too long stressing over the subject. Ask friends and family for help, and set goals to help you reach your potential in different subjects.
  • Focus on the positives: Negativity can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself you’ll do poorly, you’ll end up not having the motivation to study and thus do poorly. Practice positive self-talk and set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Build Good Habits: Manage your time wisely. Make sure to get enough sleep the day before the test and eat something nutritious the morning of the test.
  • Do Relaxation Exercises: There are a number of ways to alleviate physical symptoms. Do breathing exercises, count backwards from one hundred, and meditate. Find out which relaxation technique works best for you.

            As everyone returns to the classroom there will be an adjustment period. Be proactive in helping your test anxiety and practice the methods that work best for you.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an anxiety 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/

SOURCE: https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-guide/treating-test-anxiety#references

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/

Burnout; what it is and how to prevent it

By Katie Weinstein

When push comes to shove, stress becomes burnout. This can lead to detrimental effects on our physical and mental health, so it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning to occur. Burnout is a gradual process that is defined as an extended period of stress and exhaustion that feels like it isn’t improving. Some signs of burnout are losing interest and motivation to a point in which you become disengaged, which can cause a cynical and resentful attitude. Burnout also affects physical health, causing changes in appetite and sleep and frequent headaches.

The causes of burnout include work, lifestyle, and personality traits. Lack of recognition in a chaotic or high pressure environment can make someone more susceptible to burnout. Some ways to improve work related burnout are to outsource or share responsibilities and to set boundaries for off times such as not checking email. Another cause of burnout can be caregiver burnout, since it can be very tiring to care for a child. It’s important to remember that it does not make you a bad parent or friend to ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs a break. Additionally, a perfectionist attitude and pessimistic view on things may lead to burnout, it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning so that you can practice stress managing techniques and find time to do things that you enjoy to prevent burnout. 

Knowing the difference between a burnout and being overly stressed is essential for mental health. It is important to limit contact with negative people and reach out to supportive friends and family in order to shape a more positive attitude and prevent burnout.

If you or someone you know is experiencing burnout or high levels of stress, 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 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/burnout

OCD: Life During a Pandemic

By Charlotte Arehart

It seems logical to assume that those struggling with OCD are having a harder time during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not necessarily true. While some people who suffer from OCD are having more troubles, not every person who has OCD is seeing a difference in their symptoms. For example, someone who’s OCD focuses on other infectious agents that are not COVID-19 will probably not see a lot of change in their symptoms. A study done in November of 2020 found that OCD symptoms increased in frequency significantly more in “washers,” or people who are afraid of contamination, than in non-washers with OCD.

Many individuals with OCD are expressing how the pandemic has made other people realize what it is like to obsess over contamination. For some people with OCD, this has been the way they have felt for their entire lives. For many of us, obsessively cleaning and sanitizing things has only become part of our habits because of the pandemic.

One benefit that doctors have been seeing during the pandemic, specifically for OCD treatment, is the fact that online therapy sessions allow the patient to have their session in any setting. Many people who are being treated for OCD use exposure therapy with their therapists to help reduce their symptoms. This involves patients exposing themselves to stimuli that may induce their symptoms in an attempt to reduce their anxiety about these symptoms. With sessions being held on telehealth, patients can move about their environment and even do their therapy in unusual locations that allow them to expose themselves, with professional direction, to their stressors. This would not always be possible in an office setting.

The bottom line is that one cannot assume that an individual with OCD is experiencing worse symptoms due to the pandemic. While this is true some people who are suffering from OCD, not every individual’s stressors include the virus. It is important that someone who is experiencing OCD seeks treatment as soon as possible, before symptoms worsen. OCD can be debilitating if it is extreme. Therapy is an excellent form of treatment for OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with 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/

Sources:

https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/covid-q-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644184/

Image Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/13/872466613/obsession-or-just-good-hygiene-keeping-the-coronavirus-and-ocd-at-bay