Bipolar Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

Bipolar Disorder, also known as “Manic-Depressive,” is a disorder of the brain that causes a person to experience sudden shifts in mood, energy/activity levels, and disrupts their ability to function fully each day. The changes in mood range from a person feeling extremely “up” and energized which are known as manic episodes to feeling extremely “down” and sad which is known as depressive episodes. There are multiple forms of Bipolar Disorder, however, the two main types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Regardless of the type a person has, he or she still suffers from very similar symptoms. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes/symptoms that are either so severe the individual needs to be hospitalized immediately or the episode itself has lasted for at least 7 days. Depressive episodes occur in people with this type of Bipolar as well and these episodes can last up to at least 2 weeks at a time. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a certain pattern of depressive episodes followed by some hypo-manic episodes. The only difference between manic and hypo-manic is that hypo-manic episodes are not as intense as full on manic ones. More specifically, when a person is having a manic episode they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Racing thoughts
  • Participating in risky behaviors (ex: spending all your money)

On the other hand, when a person is going through a depressive episode, he or she can experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thinking about death and/or suicide

Luckily, there are several forms of treatment that a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can seek out to help them live a more normal and stable lifestyle. Methods of treatment include: medications (mood stabilizers, sleep medications, antidepressants, and atypical anti-psychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy), or a combination of both. Even while taking medications some mood swings may still occur. This makes it especially important that there is a close and honest patient-doctor relationship in order to manage the disorder in the most efficient way possible. In addition to these, there is also electroconvulsive therapy or “ECT,” and keeping a lifestyle chart. When keeping the lifestyle chart, the patient records their daily symptoms, sleep patterns, and other important life events.

 

If you or anyone you know may suffer from either Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II Disorder, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

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Depression in Children

By Samantha Glosser

Depressive symptoms in children are often not apparent to parents and teachers. In fact, a new study at the University of Missouri demonstrated that although 30% of 643 children reported feelings of mild to severe depression, parents and teachers often failed to notice symptoms in these children. This could be detrimental to children, because not noticing depressive symptoms can lead to long-term problems caused by depression. In addition, children with depressive symptoms, and depression, can be up to six times more likely to have deficits in social and academic areas.

If parents and teachers identify depressive symptoms as early as possible, it allows the child to work through their academic and social difficulties and prevent further development of depression. To better help our children, it’s important to first understand why symptoms often go unnoticed. This could be because depression in children can appear as irritability, rather than the typical sad mood most people associate with depression. Another reason is that parents and teachers see children in different settings, thus they often come to different conclusions about the presence of depressive symptoms (could be present in school, but not at home). Next, it’s important to become familiar with symptoms of depression. Parents and teachers should be looking for the following signs: feelings of sadness or loneliness, feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy, loss of pleasure and interest in activities, difficulties eating or sleeping, difficulties concentrating, feelings of guilt/worthlessness, and even thoughts of death or suicide.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from depression, 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/

Source: Pedersen, Traci. “Depressed Kids Far More Likely to Have Social, Academic Deficits.” Psych Central, 30 Aug. 2018, psychcentral.com/news/2018/08/30/depressed-kids-far-more-likely-to-have-social-academic-deficits/138292.html.

Postpartum Depression

By Samantha Glosser

“I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child. But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure.” -Gwyneth Paltrow

Postpartum depression can begin as early as a few weeks after giving birth, and it affects one in seven women. Symptoms of postpartum depression include the following: depressed mood or mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal from loved ones, loss of appetite or an increased appetite, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, fatigue or loss of energy, anxiety, fear of not being a good mother, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. These symptoms typically interfere with your life and your ability to raise and connect with your child. Although it is not certain what causes postpartum depression, it is most likely due to a combination of hormones and emotional processing deep in the brain.

As noted by Gwyneth Paltrow, an actress using her fame to shed light on the severity of this disorder, postpartum depression is not one size fits all; every woman experiences it differently and experiences symptoms at different severities. This is why it is important for women to be open and honest about their experiences with postpartum depression. Women often feel a lot of shame when they have postpartum depression, because they do not understand why they are feeling this way or what they are feeling. They feel like they are alone in these feelings. However, this is not the case. Other famous mothers such as Brooke Shields and Marie Osmond, like Paltrow, are using their platforms to share their struggles with postpartum depression and let women know that they are not alone and that they should not feel ashamed, which is opening up the doorway to treatment for all women. Postpartum depression can be effectively treated with psychotherapy, support groups, and psychiatric medication if needed. These treatments are the most efficient way for you to feel better and connect with your child.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from postpartum depression, 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/.

Source: Layton, M. J. (2016, January 26). Task force urges doctors to screen new moms for depression. Retrieved from http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2016/01/26/task-force-urges-doctors-to-screen-new-moms-for-depression/94422958/

Depression: Can it be Effectively Treated in Adolescents without Medication?

By Samantha Glosser

Although antidepressant medications are typically seen as the first course of treatment for adolescents diagnosed with depression, many families do not want their kids to begin taking medication. This could be because of personal values and beliefs or because they cannot afford medication. In addition, almost half of all adolescents who begin treatment with medications eventually discontinue use due to the side effects or because they feel that it is not benefiting them enough. If you decide that medication isn’t right for your child, there are other options that are effective. One clinically proven method used to treat depression in adolescents is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a short-term, goal-orientated therapy that focuses on changing patterns of thinking and behaviors that contribute to the patient’s issues. For example, your teenager may feel depressed because they are distorting the importance of certain events. This could start as simply getting a D on their final. However, their thoughts soon begin to spiral, and they begin to think that with this D on their transcript they will never be able to get into college or get a good job. CBT works by challenging this maladaptive thought pattern and teaches patients to replace these thoughts and consider alternative viewpoints. Recent studies have shown that CBT can be just as effective in treating depression as antidepressant medications and will lead to increased moods in adolescents. If you and your child have come to the decision that medication is not right for them, cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective treatment plan that just might be the right fit for your needs.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Martin, B. (2018, April 04). In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/?li_source=LI&li_medium=popular17.

Wood, J. (2018, January 21). For Teens, CBT in Primary Care Can Be Cost-Effective Versus Meds. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/01/20/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-cost-effective-for-teens-who-decline-antidepressants/131463.html.

Isolation vs. Loneliness: How They Both Affect Your Mental Health

By Stephanie Osuba

People are constantly throwing around the terms introvert or extrovert to describe their personalities. For example, a common thing for an introvert to do would be to cancel plans and spend the night alone, and chalk it up to being an introvert. Not that there is anything wrong with some people thriving without the company of others or needing some time to recharge alone. However, when does isolation become dangerous for your mental health? How often is it okay? And how is it related to feelings of loneliness?

The difference between isolation and loneliness is a physical one. To isolate yourself would be to physically separate yourself from the company of other people, intentionally or not. Loneliness is the internal feeling of being alone. That’s why when people are isolated, they don’t necessarily feel alone and in the same way, people who are constantly surrounded by others, like celebrities, can feel incredibly lonely. A recent study in the journal Health Psychology has found a relationship between isolation and loneliness: when one is more physically isolated, it produces more feelings of loneliness and vice versa. Both of these finding have been related to a higher risk of depression and mortality.

Tips on how to enjoy your “me time,” and also protect your mental health:

  • Set a Time Frame: How many times do you want to socialize a week? Or a month? Everyone’s answer to this is different, but try to stick to your number. It’s important to know what your social boundaries are, but also not to fall into a pattern of isolation.
  • Talk to Your Closest Friends: Your friends can often be the people who help you navigate social situations and hold you to social commitments. They are also the people that won’t overstep your social boundaries and to whom you can talk about anything with.
  • Volunteer or Join Clubs: Get out in the community and get to know the people in your neighborhood. Volunteer for a cause you believe in or join a local club that tailors to your interests. It’s a great way to meet new people and can help fill your “social quota” for the month.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues due to isolation or loneliness, 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: Plata, M., Psy D. (2018, August 29). When Isolating Yourself Becomes Dangerous. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-gen-y-psy/201808/when-isolating-yourself-becomes-dangerous.

Stress: The Endless Pressures on the Brain

A common factor that unites all people is experiencing stress. Stress is the way that our bodies react to various situations including pressure, threats, challenges, or barriers. All individuals experience this in some form in their work, home, or school settings, some to a greater degree than others. We live in a world where we often encourage those around us to do more, work harder and longer, and essentially take on more stressors. This is a very dangerous situation, as stress can be very harmful to our brains.

There are numerous impacts that prolonged stress can have on our brains. When a stressor is present, the body has several physical reactions, including increased heart rate, sweating, raised levels of epinephrine, and constricted blood vessels. In our brains, a signaling pathway is activated involving the hippocampus and pituitary gland which results in the release of the hormone glucocorticoid, a stress hormone. This hormone is generally regulated by the body, released in fixed amounts when we wake up and is necessary for our body to operate. However, when stress is chronic and the brain pathway is activated excessively, glucocorticoids can inhibit growth, bone formation, and the immune response. They are linked to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, destroying neurons, impairing memory, and slowing down cognitive function.

As stress is faced recurrently, the brain learns to acclimate to the body being in constant states of elevated tension and anxiety. The circuitry of neurons and connections of synapses changes to adapt to the higher levels of glucocorticoids. Additionally, people exposed to more stress noted to have a larger amygdala in the brain, which is the region responsible for processing threatening and emotional situations. A larger amygdala indicates that the individual is more susceptible to stressors and is unable to recover from them well. Finally, such individuals were also seen to have a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both responsible for decision making and rational thinking.

It is evident that the stressful lifestyles that many of us live can have a severe adverse impact on our brains and health, most invisible to the eye but nevertheless perilous. Instead of endorsing demanding lives and tiring jobs, which can have negative consequences, we should be inspiring people to learn how to relax and take time for themselves. People should be urged to engage in activities such as meditation, pursue hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and give their brains a break from the stressors and anxiety that are continuously causing pressure.

If you or someone you know is suffering from excessive stress and/or 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/.

Suicide and Mental Health Issues in College Students

By Samantha Glosser

Many students expect their college years to be the best years of their lives. They will achieve great academic successes, make life-long friends, go to the best parties, and enjoy living away from their parents. This idea is emphasized all around us in movies, TV shows, and social media posts. However, this is a glorified image of college that may not be the case for all students. In fact, according to a recent study by the American College Health Association, about 1 in every 11 college students have attempted suicide; 1 in 5 students has considered suicide and 1 in 5 students engage in self-harm.

How could these statistics be true when students are told that they are living in the best years of their lives? As it turns out, the college years are filled with numerous different stressors. These stressors include academic and career difficulties, intimate relationships, finances, personal and family health problems, issues with personal appearance, and death of family members and friends, just to name a few. 3 out of every 4 college students have experienced at least one of these stressors within the last year. These stressors are highly associated with mental health diagnoses, self-harm, and suicidality. The societal pressure that college should be the best years of your life can also be contributing to these statistics. If a student feels alone or thinks that no one else is experiencing similar feelings, it can push them closer towards self-harm and suicide.

If you or someone you know appears to be at immediate risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are not at immediate risk, but appear to be suffering from suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues, 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/

Source: https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/09/11/survey-1-in-5-college-students-stressed-considers-suicide/138516.html

Depression

By: Dianna Gomez

Similar to most mental health illnesses, depression does not discriminate. Depression doesn’t take into consideration what age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or religion a person is. In fact, not only does depression affect both men AND women, it may be experienced differently by each group as well. In general, depression is more commonly found in women then it is found in men. When it comes to women specifically, the higher rates of depression have been linked to biological, hormonal, life cycle, and psychosocial factors. It has been shown that hormones directly affect emotions and mood through brain chemistry. A time when women are especially at risk is after giving birth when physical and hormonal changes, as well as new responsibilities for their new born baby can be overwhelming. Postpartum Depression can also occur in new mothers and must be attended to immediately. When speaking about their depression, women are more likely to describe their experiences as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and/or guilt.

When men are depressed, they are more likely to describe their experiences as having feelings of fatigue, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, irritability, sleep issues, etc. In attempt to relieve themselves of their depression, men are more likely to bury themselves in their work and find ways to keep themselves preoccupied so they aren’t forced to confront their feelings head on. They may also participate in risky or reckless behaviors. Alcohol and substance use is another coping mechanism that men usually turn to. This is usually followed by episodes of anger and aggression.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Despite this, there is still no known cause for this debilitating illness. That is why it is absolutely crucial that professional help is sought out.

If either you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Neurofeedback

Leah Flanzman

There has recently been a great deal of discussion on a psychological treatment called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback assists people in consciously controlling their brain waves by attaching subjects to an EEG machine that extracts various brain-activity components and feeds them back to the patient.  The most common protocols used in neurofeedback training are alpha, beta, theta, and alpha/theta protocols.  The way that you select the placement of electrodes on a patients head depends on their specific brain functions and specific symptoms.  The goal is to allow the subject to assess their progress and adjust their brain waves accordingly to achieve optimal performance.  However, the effectiveness and practicality of the treatment is under debate.

According to the Basic and Clinical Neuroscience journal, many studies conducted on neurofeedback therapy reveal methodological limitations that question its effectiveness. For example, with the alpha treatment protocols, it remains unknown exactly how many treatment sessions are necessary before patients can consciously possess the ability to control their alpha waves.  Once an optimal performance is achieved, it’s difficult to study the long-term effects of these treatments, in other words how long the effects last without feedback.

The pros of neurofeedback are that it’s a safe and non-invasive procedure that has been proven effective in treating certain disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, insomnia, drug addictions, and learning disabilities. Despite this, more scientific evidence of its effectiveness must be conducted before we can consider it a valid treatment.  It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s a very expensive procedure that is not covered by many insurance companies, and is very time consuming to complete.

If you or someone you know thinks they have ADHD, anxiety, depression, or drug addictions, or learning disabilities, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists 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.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

The Power of Optimism

Isabelle Kreydin

When you go through a traumatic experience, the time it takes to recover is immeasurable and flooded with uncertainty. It could be anything between a breakup, abuse, a car accident, a loved one’s death, or even your entire childhood. When you acquire a mental illness, or know someone who has, it truly does affect every aspect of your life. Even stress, can alter brain chemistry and one’s way of life. But brokenness is not beautiful because of the way you are, but the way you will be when you are finally free.

You might feel alone. But you are alone because you feel as though are burdening others with your pain, and now are trying to reassemble yourself on your own and trying to fight the mental illnesses from becoming you. You’re trying but right now you are physically and mentally exhausted. It’s a tiring work of progress, but the only way out of the tunnel is through, and we know better than to turn around or take steps backwards.

It is easy for the brain to resort to the cloud that a trauma or illness might have installed in you, falling into despair or numbness, and there is truly nothing worse. Isolation is not the key, though it is most commonly a side effect of any of these negative experiences. Despite contrary belief, this leads you to an opportunity to get help. To find help within friends, family, and professionals. They can only help you understand that although you may not always be able to feel it, there is so much love and beauty to this world. There will ALWAYS be people there for your support. If you don’t feel this way, go out and make new friends, talk to your therapist, reach out to adults you may trust, or even kind strangers. The world has more love to offer than it seems.

Optimism is tough. You can be fighting for your body and thoughts to be positive, and have an outlook on life that shows light. However, your brain and body may be inflicting darkness, or feelings of nothingness, completely out of your control.

Optimism is also a savior. The more you put this fight into your brain, the more you convince yourself that you are going to make it, that everything will be okay, the more likely it is for your body to start behaving this way. Get up and force yourself to make plans, to do anything you once enjoyed or might find joy in.

The world may be falling a part in many aspects, and so are some humans that occupy it. However, everybody is still on this earth giving their full efforts to find the ultimate goal, happiness. It should not be overthought; it should not become the only purpose one strives for. It should be a feeling that comes through every day activities, thoughts, conversations. Positivity can help motivate the brain to feel that happiness, to appreciate the times it is felt, to hope for more positive outcomes and experiences. These can come from setting goals, making friends, loving, giving, being active, showing compassion, pursuing passions, treating oneself, or even physically seeing the beauty this world has to offer.
Life is too short to not love with everything you are. Giving with little return is tough, but you are tougher and have years to be given what you give.

Together, with optimism, have those around you help you rewrite your story and your future, and remember that it is okay to not be okay. There are billions that have struggled, there are millions that are fighting to overcome, and there are millions that have overcome and become a light and inspiration to us all.

You are never alone, and it will be worth it when you reach the end of that tunnel or even when you begin to see the light.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, 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.