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

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression
By: Isabelle Siegel

Depression can cause immense pain and suffering for more than just the individual diagnosed. The partners/spouses of individuals with depression commonly report feeling hopeless and helpless, unsure how to provide necessary support to their partner/spouse. Attempts to help may be met with apathy or even anger, further complicating a seemingly simple question: How can I support my partner/spouse with depression?

Develop an understanding of depression and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. It can be helpful to research depression, taking note of its symptoms and causes. Understand that depression is an illness and not a choice. You may want to create a list of your partner’s/spouse’s particular symptoms and triggers for depressive episodes in order to better understand his/her experiences.

As simple as it sounds, just be there. Depression may have your partner/spouse doubting that you love him/her and may make him/her feel as though he/she is a burden to you. Assure your partner that you are there for him/her and that you love him/her despite his/her illness.

Encourage him/her to get help. Depressive symptoms can interfere with one’s motivation and ability to get help, so continuously encourage treatment. Help your partner/spouse find a therapist and/or psychiatrist, bring him/her to appointments, and cheer him/her on as they undergo treatment.

Do things you both enjoy. One important treatment step for depression is known as “opposite action,” in which individuals with depression act opposite to how they feel. If they feel like laying in bed all day, for example, they should get up and out of the house. As a partner/spouse, you can help by encouraging your partner/spouse to act opposite to their depressive urges by engaging in activities that you both enjoy.

Understand the warning signs of suicide. Individuals with depression are more vulnerable to suicide, so it may be important to know signs that your partner is considering taking his/her life. These may include talking about suicide, social withdrawal, giving away belongings, or obtaining means of attempting suicide. If you believe that your partner is at risk for suicide, seek immediate help.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Research suggests that having a partner/spouse with depression increases one’s own risk of developing depressive symptoms. It is important to understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support. Never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs, and consider seeking therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health.

If you or a loved one needs support, 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://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/supporting-partner-depression
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325523
https://www.psycom.net/help-partner-deal-with-depression/

Image Source: https://www.rewire.org/support-partner-depression/

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

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

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By: Gabriella Phillip

Anxiety is normal as we all worry from time to time about meeting deadlines for work or school, or being on time for a scheduled appointment. However, people with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, experience a chronic state of severe worry and tension, often without provocation. People with GAD aren’t usually able to shift their focus from their concerns, even though they are aware that much of their anxiety is unwarranted. These worries can include overthinking plans and solutions, inability to set aside or let go of a worry, or severe difficulty with handling uncertainty. People diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder undergo persistent, excessive worry that occurs on more days than not for at least six months and show at least 3 symptoms of the disorder.

For patients with GAD, worrying is often accompanied by physical symptoms including headaches, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, sweating, hot flashes, and restlessness. Generalized anxiety disorder affects around 6.8 million American adults; women are twice as likely as men to be afflicted. Onset age of this disorder can occur at any point in one’s life, but usually begins between childhood and middle age. Generalized anxiety disorder can affect all areas of life including social life, school, work, and family. According to a national survey conducted by the Anxiety Disorders Association, 7 out of 10 people diagnosed with GAD noted that their persistent anxiety has a clear impact on their romantic relationships and two-thirds reported that that this disorder has had a negative effect on their friendships. Generalized anxiety disorders are the most common cause of workplace disability.

Treatment for GAD commonly includes medication, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), talk therapy (psychotherapy), exposure therapy, and anxiety management; some of these treatments are used simultaneously. There is no single optimal treatment since what works for one patient might not be as effective for another patient. A combination of modalities is usually most effective.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help as we are able to provide a combination of treatments which have proven to be effective. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources

Click to access July%2015%20GAD_adaa.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder

 

Depression: Have a Case of the Winter Blues? Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

By: Keely Fell

Can’t seem to shake the winter blues? Nearly five percent of adults are experiencing symptoms that align with major depressive disorder with recurring seasonal pattern, which is more commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), an individual who is experiencing “two major depressive episodes in the last two years” that show relations to the time of year, and experience full remissions at other times they may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

It is also important to understand what is happening in the body and why an individual is experiencing such symptoms. When an individual is experiencing these symptoms, often it can be as a result of the lack of natural light due to the shorter periods of daylight during the winter season. With the lack of light, the human brain slows down the production of serotonin, and increases the production of melatonin which leaves individuals feeling drowsy. Melatonin production increase is caused by darkness, which is why we get sleepy when the sun goes down. The regulation of these chemicals is what helps create your body’s specific circadian rhythm. When this system is affected it can cause a feeling of lethargy and or restlessness.

Here are some tips and tricks to shaking those winter blues:

  1. Take a few minutes during your day to get outside Whether that’s during your lunch break or walking to pick up the mail, going outside during daylight will increase the serotonin production in your brain.
  2. Light Therapy During the dark winter months, if these symptoms are taking over you can try light therapy. Light therapy allows for the brain to think it’s being exposed to sunlight. People who use light therapy typically invest in a light box (if interested Harvard Health has many they recommend) which delivers around 10,000 lux, compared to a standard sunny day that ranges 50,000 lux or above. They recommend that, you sit in front of the light box for no more than 30 minutes a day. This allows for the brain to regulate its circadian rhythms by allowing the retinas to be stimulated. Light therapy does not work for everyone.
  3. Talk Therapy If these symptoms persist and are affecting your day talk therapy is also affective. Reaching out to a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychotherapist to come up with symptom relief is another big way to combat these symptoms. Symptom relief may include the use of antidepressants, or various therapeutic methods.

 

If you or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder or seems to have the symptoms of SAD, and needs 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/seasonal-affective-disorder-bring-on-the-light-201212215663

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder

 

Eating Disorders During the Holidays

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Eating disorders are psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. There are different kinds of eating disorders, but two prevalent ones are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa restrict their food intake with the goal of reducing their weight, and have an intense fear of gaining weight. Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa engage in binge-eating sessions followed by self-induced vomiting, and experience a lack of control over their behaviors and a fear of weight gain. These disorders are very serious and can lead to physical health problems, such as poor circulation and muscle weakness. Eating disorders are also associated with other psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Eating disorders can be especially difficult during the holiday season. For many, the holiday season puts an additional emphasis on food. Holidays gatherings involve a plethora of food, and this can be extremely difficult for those with eating disorders. The emphasis of food can amplify their concerns and increase their symptom experience, worsening their mental health. This may lead to isolation or feelings of anxiety and guilt. While holidays should be about valuing the positive relationships in your life, this meaning can be lost when there is a focus on food.

There are many treatments that can help those with Anorexia and Bulimia manage their symptoms and establish healthy eating habits. One such treatment is psychotherapy, or talk therapy. There are many variations of this therapy which are successful at treating eating disorders. One is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is aimed at changing distorted thought patterns to result in healthy behavior. Another is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), where patients identify a value or goal and then commit to doing the actions which make that goal possible. When eating disorders are accompanied by symptoms of depression or anxiety, psychiatric medication may be prescribed to assist in the management of those symptoms.

Additionally, there are steps that one can take to prevent the relapse or worsening of disordered eating during the holiday season. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, try to shift the focus during the holidays from food to activities, such as decorating, caroling, or playing games. This can ease the negative emotions of those suffering from eating disorders and help them feel more comfortable. It is also important to remind loved ones that it is okay to seek extra help during this difficult season.

If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, 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.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bulimia

https://centerforchange.com/coping-loved-ones-eating-disorder-holidays/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-treatment

https://www.sedig.org/physical-complications

 

Postpartum Depression

By: Maryellen Van Atter

          Postpartum depression is the experience of depressive symptoms (such as fatigue, changes in eating habits, and a loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable) after giving birth. Though commonly known as postpartum depression, it is now often referred to by the new name of peripartum depression. This name change indicates that the depression can onset during pregnancy or after childbirth. In addition to symptoms of depression, parents may also suffer from feelings that they are a bad parent, fear of harming the child, or a lack of interest in the child. It is also important to note that both men and women can suffer from peripartum depression; fathers may struggle with the changes that come along with a new child, and the symptoms of peripartum depression are not contingent on giving physical birth to a child. It is estimated that 4% of fathers experience peripartum depression in the first year after their child’s birth and that one in seven women will experience peripartum depression.

            Peripartum depression is different from the ‘baby blues’. Many new mothers will feel despondent, anxious, or restless in the first week or two after giving birth; this is due to the variety of biological, financial, and emotional changes which occur after having a child. This is called the baby blues. However, these feelings will not interfere with daily activities and will pass within ten days. If these symptoms persist, or if they do interfere with daily activities and functioning, it is likely that the problem is something more serious such as peripartum depression. It’s important to seek treatment for these symptoms as soon as you’re aware of them. Many parents feel a stigma against reporting these feelings, but this should not be the case: experiencing peripartum depression does not mean that you are a bad parent or that you do not love your child. It is a psychological condition which many people experience and it can be resolved with proper treatment.

Peripartum depression can be treated through therapy and through medication. Common treatments include psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, and antidepressant medication. Medication should always be managed by a professional, especially if being administered to a mother who may be breastfeeding. These treatments have been proven effective in many studies and are able to help with symptoms of peripartum, or postpartum, depression.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with peripartum depression, 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.aafp.org/afp/2016/0515/p852.html

https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.post-partum.html

https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/news/20190320/fda-approves-first-drug-for-postpartum-depression#2

https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/understanding-postpartum-depression-treatment#3

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039003/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression

Obesity and Mental Health

           By: Maryellen Van Atter

      Obesity has become a global epidemic. It is a health problem which occurs when one has an abnormal percentage of body fat in relation to their height. Though obesity is often seen negatively, it is important to recognize that it is often not a self-inflicted condition which can result from a variety of factors including genetics, behavior, and environment.

Obesity can cause changes in your mental health. Some common psychological disorders which may be brought on by obesity include depression, eating disorders, anxiety, low self-esteem, and distorted body image. Some studies have found striking results, such as that those who are severely obese are 3-4 times more likely to suffer with depression. Despite these serious concerns, it may be difficult for those suffering from obesity to seek out mental health care because of the stigmatization of obesity.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapy which changes client attitudes and behaviors by focusing on thoughts, beliefs, and way of thinking. This therapy is one of the most effective and well-known forms of therapy, and is effective in treating many mental health conditions including those associated with obesity. Additionally, family-based therapies have been shown to help treat obesity and assist clients, especially children with obesity. One of the goals is to develop healthy habits. Having a clear mind and good mental health is an important part of coping with obesity and changing your physical health.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with the emotional effects of obesity, 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.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3233636/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388583/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065663/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/obhttp://www.jlgh.org/Past-Issues/Volume-4—Issue-4/Behavioral-and-Psychological-Factors-in-Obesity.aspxesity-and-mental-health

Caregiver Depression

Caregiver Depression

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Caring for another individual is no easy feat; just as parenting requires preparation, so does caring for a family member with an illness or disability. A seldom discussed topic is ‘caregiver syndrome’, also known as caregiver depression or caregiver burnout. It is estimated that 20% of family caregivers suffer with depression – in the general population, it is reported that 7.1% of all individuals suffer from depression. This means that caregivers experience depression at a rate more than double the average person. Despite the prevalence of this condition, it is rarely talked about and sometimes viewed as something shameful. This should not be: caregiving is a difficult job and the first step to feeling better is acknowledging that it’s okay to feel the way you do. Just as there is no ‘perfect’ way to parent, there is no ‘perfect’ or ‘right’ way to be a caregiver.

Everyone experiences depression differently, but a few common signs are a loss of interest in things that you once found enjoyable, a change in sleeping patterns, and feeling irritable, hopeless, or helpless. These symptoms can persist even if you have placed a loved one in a care facility. Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective at managing caregiver depression and helping caregivers to feel more satisfied with their lives. Additionally, antidepressant medications can provide symptom relief; combined with psychotherapy, this can allow caregivers to explore their feelings and manage their caregiving responsibilities.

        If you or someone you know is struggling with caregiving responsibilities, 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-depression-silent-health-crisis