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

Bipolar Disorder: Loving someone with bipolar disorder, the ups and downs

Bipolar Disorder: Loving someone with bipolar disorder, the ups and downs
By Zoe Alekel

Loving someone with bipolar disorder can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge to help both you and your loved one. The first step in loving someone with bipolar disorder would be to understand what it means to be bipolar. Although you may never know exactly how your loved one feels, it is important to understand and educate yourself about their behaviors and emotions. According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). To understand what your loved one is going through, it is key to remind yourself that your loved one can’t always control these emotional mood swings—and more importantly it is not a reflection of you or how they feel about you.

It is understandable that it can be difficult to understand these seemingly sudden and intense mood swings, and your loved one struggling with bipolar disorder may already know this and feel bad about how it affects you. Make sure you approach them with kindness, and always ask them what you can do to help them. Sometimes space and understanding that the mood swing will pass is enough support for your loved one. No matter how involved or uninvolved they want you to be with their mental health, always respect their wishes.

One thing you can do to help you cope with your loved one’s bipolar disorder is to find others that have loved ones with bipolar disorder as well. Additionally, you can reach out to a therapist to share your feelings and the struggles that you experience as someone who has a loved one diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A way you can further educate yourself on bipolar disorder is to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. NAMI provides credible information for those with loved ones diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and suggests you can try the following to help a family member or friend with bipolar disorder:

  • Recognizing and preventing serious mood episodes/ mood swings
  • Being able to recognize the warning signs of mania and depression
  • Making sure your loved one is taking their medication regularly and consistently (as directed)
  • Communicating and making time to talk to your loved one about their feelings when they feel ready
  • Remaining calm and rational with your loved one
  • Keeping a positive attitude and a clear mind to help your loved one the best you can
  • Reaching out for psychological support for you and your loved one

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar 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://nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder/Support#:~:text=NAMI%20and%20NAMI%20Affiliates%20are%20there%20to%20provide,about%20bipolar%20disorder%20or%20finding%20support%20and%20resources.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-is-2020/201206/bipolar-disorder-loving-someone-who-is-manic-depressive

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955#:~:text=Both%20a%20manic%20and%20a%20hypomanic%20episode%20include,sprees%2C%20taking%20sexual%20risks%20or%20making%20foolish%20investments

Image Source: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=Yu1OAouO&id=1B4D516A8A17EF4EE248CCCBAD2EC46DA7E6585F&thid=OIP.Yu1OAouOT_6cQM6Ql4oDYQHaLW&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2fi.pinimg.com%2foriginals%2f13%2fbb%2f82%2f13bb82bf3d3c1b28a560d610c2d17fad.jpg&exph=1128&expw=736&q=loving+someone+with+bipolar+disorder&simid=608040637685434558&ck=DC1BFB40548A0FA375883D67352A1C1F&selectedIndex=21&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

Bipolar Disorder: How to Support a Spouse with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder: How to Support a Spouse with Bipolar Disorder

By: Isabelle Siegel

Bipolar Disorder is characterized by alternating manic (“elevated, expansive, or irritable mood”) and depressive (“depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in life”) episodes. The disorder causes significant suffering for the individual diagnosed, as well as his/her loved ones. It can be extremely difficult to support a partner or spouse with Bipolar Disorder, but it is possible with the right mindset and preemptive actions.

Develop an understanding of Bipolar Disorder and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. Psych Central suggests creating a list of warning signs that your partner/spouse starts to exhibit before or while entering a manic or depressive episode. This will help you to better understand your partner/spouse, as well as enable you to interpret his/her behaviors in the context of the disorder.

Learn what helps (and what does not help) when your partner/spouse is in a manic or depressive episode. When your partner/spouse is stable, work together to create a list of actions you can take to alleviate symptoms when he/she is in a manic or depressive episode.

Communicate. As cliche as it sounds, open communication is integral to maintaining a relationship with someone who has Bipolar Disorder. It is important that each partner/spouse feels heard and validated at all times.

During manic or depressive episodes, understand your partner’s/spouse’s behavior in the context of the disorder. During episodes, it is important to view your partner’s/spouse’s actions and words as symptoms of a disorder rather than as reflective of his/her true feelings. If your partner/spouse says something hurtful, for example, try to understand the role that the disorder is playing in causing this behavior.

Allow yourself to feel frustration, upset, or any other emotion. Understand that Bipolar Disorder is an illness and that it is normal for difficult or conflicting emotions to arise. Do not feel guilty for feeling frustrated, upset, angry, resentful, or even for wanting to leave your partner/spouse at times. All of these feelings are normal.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support and never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs. It can be beneficial to seek therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health and to work through difficult emotions.

If you or a loved one needs support and help understanding yourself and/or a family member, 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:
https://psychcentral.com/blog/helping-your-partner-manage-bipolar-disorder/
https://www.nami.org/personal-stories/living-with-someone-with-bipolar-disorder
https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/relationship-guide
https://www.psycom.net/bipolar-definition-dsm-5/

Image Source:
https://medium.com/@christinacare/a-guide-to-supporting-a-partner-in-therapy-f0d64575558

Depression: Difference between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

By Gabriella Phillip

Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.

Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.

When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, 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 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.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/major-depressive-episode-it-bipolar-i-or-unipolar-depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850601/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/unipolar-and-bipolar-depression-different-or-the-same/AE364DFBFFBAF1F66A9294A55120C64E/core-reader