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

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

Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/shopping

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200603/doped-shopping

CBT & DBT

Image result for cbt and dbt therapy

CBT & DBT

By: Vanessa Munera

When it comes to psychotherapy, there are different types. Psychotherapy is also known as “talk therapy”. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Psychotherapy is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties”. This is when an individual speaks with a therapist or psychologist in a safe and confidential environment. During these talk sessions, you are able to explore and understand your feelings and behaviors, and develop coping skills. In fact, research studies have found that individual psychotherapy can be effective at improving symptoms in a wide array of mental illnesses, making it both popular and versatile treatment. There are different types of psychotherapy that can assist people. The most common types of psychotherapy are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, is a form of therapy that consists of focusing on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. This type of therapy helps patients gain control over and accept unwanted thoughts and feelings so that they can better manage harmful or unwanted behaviors. CBT is usually used to treat conditions related to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and social skills. As a matter of fact, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for these conditions, as well as improving brain functioning. CBT can benefit people at any age, such as a child, adolescent, and adult.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy that was originally designed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over time, this type of therapy has been adapted to help treat people with multiple different mental illnesses, but it is mostly used to treat patients who have BPD as a primary diagnosis. Although DBT is a form of CBT, it has one big exception: it emphasizes validation and accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors instead of struggling with them. DBT allows patients to come in terms with their troubling thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that they have been struggling with. Studies of Dialectical Behavior Therapy have shown effective long-term improvements for those suffering from mental illness. DBT also helps lower the frequency and severity of dangerous behaviors, utilizes positive reinforcement to promote change, and helps individuals translate what they learned in therapy to everyday life.

 

References:

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/psychotherapy

https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/difference-dbt-cbt-therapies/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy

Anger in Children

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Children experience anger. This is an expected part of growing up and learning how to navigate life’s situations. However, when anger becomes overwhelming and distressing for your child and for your family it may be indicative of a greater issue. If your child has trouble controlling their tantrums or frequently experiences anger, you may consider addressing the emotion and helping your child control their anger.

Though every child is different, there are some warning signs that your child’s anger is out of control. These include the child displaying behavior that is dangerous to themselves or others, the child’s teachers reporting that the behavior is out of control, the behavior alienating the child from their peers at school and preventing social interaction (birthday party attendance, etc.), and the behavior disrupting home life. Additionally, parents should observe if their child feels badly about him or herself as a result of their inability to control their anger. This illustrates that the child is experiencing distress because of the lack of control over their emotions, and is a sign that their anger is beyond what is normal or expected for a child their age.

There are many different causes for this behavior. These causes may include anxiety, learning disabilities, trauma, sensory processing issues, or general distress. Triggers are also an important thing for parents to recognize if they are worried about their child’s anger. Identifying triggers or situations which result in anger can help discern the cause of the anger and ways in which it can be effectively managed. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are two treatment methods which professionals use to help a child manage their anger and teach the child coping mechanisms and emotional regulation.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a child’s anger expression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/anger-issues-in-children-and-teens/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/growing-friendships/201806/children-s-anger-management-strategies-work

https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/anger-overload/

https://childmind.org/article/is-my-childs-anger-normal/

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)

By Tatyana A. Reed

As the weather seems to slow down and we shift from bright sunny days to cold winter nights, some of us may notice a sudden change of mood that comes with this weather shift. This change of mood is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “S.A.D is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.”

Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Causes

  • People with SAD may have trouble regulating seratonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood.
  • People with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin.
  • People with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D.

 

Getting Treated

  • Medication: if someone suffers from S.A.D they can be helped by taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). However, like all medication there are side effects, make sure to speak with your doctor about this first.
  • Light therapy: the feelings of S.A.D can be lessoned by sitting in front of a light box that emits 10,000 lux of cool- white- fluorescent light for 20-60 minutes. The light is said to replace the loss of light from daylight savings
  • Therapy: it is best to talk with a psychologist, counselor, or someone in the mental health field when feeling different types of emotions that may be negative such as sadness or anger. Seeking help is the first step to eliminating S.A.D.

If you or a person you know is struggling with S.A.D, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

References:

Koblenz, Jessica. “11 Things About Seasonal Affective Disorder That Psychologists Wish You Knew.” Reader’s Digest, www.readersdigest.ca/health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-facts/. (PHOTO)

National Mental Health Institute. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml.

 

Personality Psychology: The Big Five O.C.E.A.N.

Personality Psychology: The Big Five O.C.E.A.N.

By Crystal Tsui

You may have seen quizzes online that can help determine your personality. Most of the quizzes online revolve around the basis of five core personality traits. Fiske, Norman, Smith, Goldberg, and McCrae & Costa were the leading researchers that brought evidence of the big five traits. The five traits are scaled on a spectrum, for example if a person was rated low in Neuroticism; they were rated high in Emotional Stability. The five traits are categorized as:

  • Openness: high levels of imagination, insight, tend to be adventurous, creative
  • Conscientiousness: high levels of thoughtfulness, goal-directed behaviors, good impulse controls, and organized
  • Extroversion: high levels of excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.
  • Agreeableness: high levels of trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors
  • Neuroticism: high levels of sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability. They tend not to handle stress well.

These five traits have been found to be universal. One study showed that people in more than 50 different cultures found that the five dimensions could be accurately used to describe personality. Also, the five dimensions have biological and environmental origins that can influence the change of personality.

Another study showed that our five factors change over time. It showed that agreeableness and conscientiousness increased, but extroversion, neuroticism, and openness generally decrease as a person ages. Sex also contributes to the five factors as well. Women tend to score higher in both agreeableness and neuroticism. Even though sex differences have been found, it does not, by itself, demonstrate that the sexes are innately different in personality, although that is a possibility.

Frank Sulloway, a psychologist who focused on birth order, found that personality traits correlate with the order of individuals’ birth. He found that firstborns are statistically more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to those born later. This could be due to firstborns caring for their younger siblings at a young age.

The Big Five is not based on any underlying theory; it is merely an empirical finding, meaning that the underlying causes behind them are unknown.

If you or someone you know is dealing with borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder or any other personality disorders, 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.verywellmind.com/the-big-five-personality-dimensions-2795422

https://www.mentalhelp.net/psychological-testing/big-five-personality-traits/

https://blog.adioma.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/big-five-personality-traits-infographic.png

Bullying: Impact of Bullying on Children’s Mental Health

Bullying: Impact of Bullying on Children’s Mental Health

By Lauren Hernandez

            National media has created a frenzy of coverage surrounding Wisconsin’s controversial ordinances which fine parents if their children are bullies in school. Some may disagree with this new policy; however, others believe this harsh measure will help to eliminate bullying among school children.

Bullying can be physical, emotional, or verbal, and is a pattern of harmful, humiliating behaviors directed towards people who seem vulnerable to the bully. Oftentimes bullying happens in school, but with the rise of technology, cyberbullying is also becoming a problem. Children who are victims of bullying are typically vulnerable to mistreatment because they may be smaller, weaker, younger, and fearful of the bully; however, this description is general and does not apply to everyone. Bullies use their power, whether that is physical strength, popularity, or intimidation to harm others. Bullies tend to demonstrate signs of aggression or hostility beginning around 2 years old. It has been found that bullies have mental health issues such as lack of emotional understanding, lack of prosocial behavior, and increased rates of hostility as well as insecurity. Additionally, bullies typically have difficult relationships with their parents, teachers, and peers.

Victims of bullying not only suffer from physical consequences, but being bullied negatively impacts their mental health and overall well-being.  These detrimental social and emotional abuses can foster the development of mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.  Victims of bullying often experience feelings of low self-esteem, isolation and loneliness. Some children create somatic symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches and other complaints which might not be valid, in order to prevent attending school. Victims of bullying generally stop liking school because they associate it with the threat of a bully. Incidents of bullying should immediately be reported to a school official, parent, or other adult that can help the victim and resolve the situation.

It is important to recognize that in most cases both the bully and the victim are suffering from mental health issues and they would benefit from treatment by a school counselor, psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.

If you or someone you know who may be suffering from bullying, depression, or anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

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

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resilience-bullying/201906/can-wisconsin-get-rid-bullies-fining-their-parents

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199509/big-bad-bully

Image Source:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=E96397A385D68EA2836ABF172145323D4ACC382E&thid=OIP.yGetJrSKLf9RfOX94w0QPwHaFj&mediaurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.scholastic.com%2Fcontent%2Fdam%2Fteachers%2Fcollections%2F17-18%2Fbullying-prevention-collections-4-3.jpg&exph=1125&expw=1500&q=bullying&selectedindex=10&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6

 

Passive Aggressiveness: Origins and How to Respond

Passive Aggressiveness: Origins and How to Respond

By Crystal Tsui

At one point or another, we have all seen or engaged in passive aggressive behaviors, whether it’s giving the silent treatment, making subtle insults, or sending one of those “as per my last email” emails. We do this because we are suppressing our anger or frustration from someone or something. Fear and anger are controlled by a region in the brain called the amygdala. Passive aggressiveness stems from that basic emotion of anger.

Anger is neither good nor bad. It is a basic, spontaneous, neurophysiological part of human emotion. As children, we were often scolded or punished for expressing anger. For example, throwing a temper tantrum is considered unacceptable. So at a young age, we started to perceive anger as taboo. As a result, we learned to suppress our feelings and engage in an indirect expression of hostility through subtle acts.

Children are most likely to act in a passive aggressive manner. Nonetheless, children are the most susceptible to change. Teaching our children that anger is just like every other emotion and directing their anger towards a positive, productive activity will help the child grow into an adult knowing how to manage their emotions properly. Some positive activities may include writing, exercising, drawing, meditating, and listening to music. These activities provide a form of distraction that can alleviate one’s mood, by stimulating another part of the brain that is not associated with the amygdala.

However, adults act this way as well because it’s easier to be passive than to be assertive and emotionally open. When children are taught to suppress their anger and they mature into an adult, it’s harder for them to stand up for themselves and to confront their source of anger.

It is best to avoid raising your voice, lecturing, or knee-jerk consequences that can exacerbate the situation. If an individual is trying to express their anger through communication, it is best to listen instead of reprimanding them for being angry.

When someone is passive-aggressive towards you, fight the urge to mirror their behavior. Instead confront the behavior because when passive-aggressive behavior is confronted directly and assertively, the hidden anger is weakened. Assertive communication and being emotionally open, no matter how hard it is, is the most effective way to acknowledge and accept anger. This builds a foundation for lifelong emotional intelligence and strong, secure relationships.

If you or someone you know has difficulty managing their anger, 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/passive-aggressive-diaries/201712/the-angry-smile-responding-passive-aggressive-behavior

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201709/how-respond-effectively-young-persons-anger

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-passive-aggressive-behavior-2795481

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/pixar/images/7/7a/Io_Anger_standard2.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/2000?cb=20150425021210