Anxiety: Exposure Therapy Helping Teens Combat Anxiety

By Hannah Pierce

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique in which a person is exposed to a feared object or situation to overcome their anxiety. A majority of researchers and clinicians believe that exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for many anxiety disorders. One study even found that people improved more using this technique than taking antidepressants.

Although exposure therapy is proven to be very effective, it is not frequently used with teens. Many teens suffering with anxiety are prescribed medication rather than receiving therapy. It is difficult for people to consent to exposure therapy because they do not want to do something that will make them feel even more anxious.

One article documented teens’ experiences with exposure therapy. A 14-year-old suffering from social anxiety, depression, OCD, and binge-eating agreed to tackle his social anxiety through exposure therapy. On a busy college campus he sat on a bench next to a stranger and initiated a conversation. To some people this may seem simple but to a teen suffering from social anxiety, the task is very daunting. He sat on the bench and tried to talk to the stranger but the stranger just kept texting and playing with his phone. Although the exchange did not turn into a conversation, at least the teen faced his fear and realized it wasn’t that bad.

Another teen’s exposure involved him holding a sign that read “I’ve been bullied. Ask me.” Thomas hoped to combat his anxiety while also educating people on bullying. Most students on the campus walked by him without giving him a second glance. After a while, a couple stopped to talk to Thomas. The man empathized with him, sharing that he had been bullied as well and the woman applauded Thomas for his bravery.  After the exchange Thomas was very pleasantly surprised and realized he did not have much to be so anxious about.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

Source: “The Kids Who Can’t” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

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Depression: How Exercise can help Part 2: The Exercise Influence

Depression has a variety of causes and these causes are not easily eliminated despite their detrimental effects on a person’s life and relationships. Moderate to severe cases may only be manageable by pharmacology and therapy, which includes the therapy loved ones can also give by providing companionship, understanding, and love. For mild to slightly moderate cases, however, scientists have found through multiple research studies conducted on over 1 million patients, exercise alleviates some of the symptoms of depression in patients and also could potentially prevent depression developing from those not suffering yet. This means, to be clear, exercise is not a cure for depression, but it can help alleviate the symptoms.

Exercise is associated with endorphins. Endorphins are endogenous opioids naturally released by your body, which have a similar chemical structure and composition to morphine. Endorphins, like morphine, attach to opioid receptors within our body and block pain transmission while also producing euphoria. Euphoria is a rushing sensation of happiness, energy, and joy. This can be seen when runners experience the “runner’s high” after running for an extended period of time without feeling fatigued or pained. The bodies of those who exercise rigorously release these endorphins.

Not only are chemicals affected but so is the brain’s anatomy. Researchers at Harvard University contrasted patients with major depression before and after exercising. One major change researchers and doctors have found a noticeable size difference in the hippocampus of those with depression and those without. Patients with depression have a smaller hippocampus, which regulates mood. Dr. Michael Craig Miller has found that exercise helps increase nerve growth and connections within the hippocampus. This, he explains, has led to alleviation of some of the symptoms.

Another study done by conglomerating data on over 1,140,000 adults of different ethnicities and ages found that there was significant data indicating that there was a considerable link between mental health and exercise. The subjects were divided into 3 groups pertaining to their aerobic fitness. After studying depression diagnosis within these groups, the scientists found that those who were in the lowest tier (the least fit/active) were 75% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier. The second tier was 25% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier.

Additionally, researchers found, from collecting data from 25 studies, that subjects who were forced to do some moderately strenuous exercise (ex. Brisk walking) benefitted mentally from it as opposed to the control group where they were did not exercise. Researchers believe that concentrating on the exercise allowed subjects to stop ruminating and thinking negatively during that time, improving their mental health. Blood samples, drawn from patients with major depression before and after their exercise regimen, showed that subjects who exercised had different concentrations of inflammatory agents and hormones. A recent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with nearly 800 six year old children over a span of four years found that children who exercised moderately showed fewer depressed symptoms than their counterparts.

Exercise can’t and won’t fix all problems that depressed patients endure; sometimes, it might not even help those who are suffering from severe depression and those with hormonal imbalance. However, if these studies show something, it is that exercise can help people not only physically but also mentally. So take a brisk walk one day when you’re feeling blue. It’s good for you!

 

If you find yourself depressed or becoming depressed or if you know someone who suffers from depression contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to speak with one of our therapists. Arista Counseling & Psychological Services  (201) 368-3700.

Bipolar Disorder in Homeland

By Miranda Botti

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, often shows its troubled face in Hollywood. The vast majority of the time, however, the character who wields this troubling disorder is shown through a very negative light. Certainly, bipolar disorder is a very difficult mental illness to possess, however, those afflicted can still be great individuals who do great things. One Hollywood character, Carrie Mathison from Homeland, deals with intense and at times debilitating bipolar disorder, but, is at the very top of her field. Carrie works as a CIA agent, consistently solving the toughest of cases and working to recruit new assets. Carrie is the cinematic proof that our society needs to move past the idea that bipolar disorder prevents you from achieving greatness.

Although Carrie Mathison is an incredibly gifted individual who works as one of the United States’ top spies, her bipolar disorder is very real and the show keeps it as so. She is impulsive, at times irrational, and when she is off her lithium medication, her mind races and she speaks somewhat incoherently, being the only one able to decipher what she says. When her mania dissipates and the depression kicks in, she is bed ridden for days, unable to break through the dark shadow that hangs over her. Carrie’s episodes are very realistic and provide a great example of what it is like to live with bipolar disorder. For this, Carrie is the perfect representation of a highly intelligent, successful individual that, despite her mental health issues, continues to contribute to society. This is a message that should be spread throughout Hollywood. For many, art imitates life, and to a large extent that is true. However, representing individuals afflicted with mental illnesses as inept, violent, and dangerous is not only extremely inaccurate, but also unfair. People with mental illness should be portrayed not only because of their mental illnesses but also because of their positive qualities. As Carrie Mathison, and thousands of people every day prove, mental illness does not totally define anyone nor does it stop anyone from making a meaningful impact or from being a positive, influential person. I hope to see more characters like Carrie Mathison in Hollywood’s future, accurately portraying mental health issues.

 If you or someone you know is suffering from Bipolar disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shrink-speak/201411/homeland-true-portrayal-mental-illness

 

Depression: Why Exercise Can Help (part 1: what is depression?)

Eve Bae

With around 16.1 million Americans affected by major depressive disorder and around 3.3 million American adults affected by persistent depressive disorder1, it is imperative for health care professionals to figure out how to help patients suffering with their disorder. These statistics even exclude children and those under the age of legal adulthood, making the number of afflicted patients most likely greater. With the different types and degrees of severity of depression, it is difficult to state that there is one encompassing solution for this multifaceted diagnosis.

Depression is a state of being characterized by multiple symptoms such as depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure, fatigue, negative feelings of worthlessness, difficulties with concentration or thinking which impair the patient’s daily life activities. The patient must have been feeling this way for at least the same 2 week period and all symptoms must be caused solely by this disorder. This condition can have a biological, social, or even environmental base. Researchers have found that people suffering from depression have a smaller hippocampus and other biological differences, which differentiate them from those who do not suffer from this condition. Another area explored and hypothesized is the role neurotransmitters play in this disorder. Harvard researchers, doctors, and psychologists acknowledge that the brain is a dynamic system with no one neurotransmitter as the sole cause for all patients but there may be different problematic neurotransmitters for each patient. When the fragile balance of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate, and/or GABA is disrupted, it affects the brain and ultimately the patient, influencing their moods, emotions, and behavior.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

So how can exercise help this difficult disorder? Onto Part 2!

  1. adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
  2. photo: affinitymagazine.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/1468445687-depression.jpg

Good Grief: Part 5

By: Sam Reiner

And now we have come to the last part of my blogs on grief. So far we have gone over what you will be going through while grieving and how long grief should last. But now we must ask, how can you move on? Well that’s easy, you know you can move on when you’ve hit the acceptance stage and start feeling better. You may start to feel better in small ways at first. You could find it easier to get out of bed in the morning or you could have burst of energy. You will begin to feel like your old self again and you will start to reorganize your life to accommodate the loss. This may cause you to have a series of ups and downs. One day you may feel amazing but the next you feel absolutely terrible. You may feel guilty or disloyal for moving on and that this is a completely normal feeling. It is also normal to feel grief on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or other special times. However, it’s important to remember is that all these feelings are completely natural.

And just like that, we have reached the end. At the beginning of part 1 I hoped to answer 3 questions about grief. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? If I did my job correctly, I have been able to answer all these questions so you are better prepared to face the hardship that is grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Good Grief: Part 4

By: Sam Reiner

Over the last few parts we have been discussing the 5 stages of grief, using Zelda to further explain each stage. Now that we are done with the stages and Zelda we must now move on to the next topic, “How long does grief usually last?” Seems simple, but really this is an extremely difficult question to answer for the simple fact that people experience grief in different ways. Some people are able to feel better after 6 weeks while others can take up to 4 years to really get over a loss. In reality, the only one that really knows when you should be done with grieving is you. It is a process whose time table only you can decide. That being said there are ways to help you get through the grieving process a bit quicker. Some ways include:

  • Talk about how you’re feeling with others.
  • Try to keep up with your daily tasks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can make you feel more depressed.
  • Get back into your normal routine as soon as you can.
  • Avoid making major decisions right away.
  • Allow yourself to cry, to feel numb, to be angry, or to feel however you’re feeling.
  • Ask for help if you need it

Now before I wrap this part up I have to mention that it is important to tell the difference between normal grieving and depression. Although they share very similar symptoms, the feelings associated with grief should be temporary. If you don’t start to feel better over time, it is very likely you have depression. But how long is too long? Again, that’s up to you as when you are grieving it is important to be self-aware of your emotions. The only way to know it’s been to long is when you feel that it’s been too long.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Good Grief: Part 3

By: Sam Reiner

(once again to understand what I am talking about read the first 2 parts)

Despite all your bargaining, you eventually realize that there is nothing you can do to stop or reverse what happened. With the realization that there is no escaping fate comes the desire to disconnect and retreat inward, which leads to stage 4: Depression. The sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and realize its effect on your life. This is when you will feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely and in the game, this can be seen at the Great Bay. It is here that you me Lulu, a Zora who has lost her egg, simply standing in silence gazing out to the sea. The loss of her eggs has caused her to retreat inward and become depressed, which is very common for people who have just lost a loved one.

However, as the old saying goes “This too shall pass.” Stage 5: Acceptance. This is when you finally accept the reality of your loss, and although you may still feel sad you can now begin to move forward with your life. In game, this is signified by the Land of the Dead, Ikana Valley. It is here that you meet Sharp, a ghost you help reach acceptance with his mistreatment of his brother. A very literal representation of acceptance, but a more symbolic example is the Stone Tower, where you climb up towards the heavens. As you climb you will also need to create 4 twin statues (one for each town) with the 4 being symbolic of the past 4 stages of grief. Much like these statues, during the stages of grief you feel dull and lifeless but they are essential in order for you to go through the grieving process. This is even shown in game as you must leave the statue behind when you go up to the next floor, symbolizing passing though the stages of grief. By leaving them behind you can make your way to the top in order to obtain enlightenment and then flip the tower putting the heavens at your feet, solidifying your acceptance. You even have to fight the Garo Masters, beings literally described as “Emptiness cloaked in darkness.” These are clear symbols to the internal battle between light and darkness on the road to acceptance and also shows your victory over the empty feelings that come with grief. By overcoming the darkness and emptiness inside you and reaching the top, you show that you have accepted the past and are ready to face the future.

And with that, we have reached the end of the 5 stages of grief. Now that you know what to expect when faced with grief, it now becomes a question of how long with it last? Unfortunately this is getting pretty long so I’m going to have to save that for next time.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

gad1

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

By Emily Aranda

Anxiety manifests itself in many forms and can be triggered by many stimuli. It is common to think of anxiety as stress that is tied to a situation, person, place, etc. of which rationally causes one anxiety, but generalized anxiety disorder is different. Generalized anxiety is not tethered to a physical or metaphysical thing; rather, it is free floating, does not require a trigger, and is not necessarily rational. Generalized anxiety is excessive, chronic, and interferes with one’s lifestyle. It affects 6.8 million US adults (3.1% of the US population) and is most commonly found in women. It is possible to develop generalized anxiety as a child or as an adult. Those with GAD tend to worry about the same topics as their peers, but to a disproportionate degree.

The mental symptoms of GAD are as follows:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Persistent worrying or obsessing
  • Inability to relax or let things go
  • Distress about decision making
  • imagining every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
  • feeling anxiety without an apparent cause

GAD does not only involve excessive worry. GAD involves physical symptoms as well. The following is a list of the physical implications of GAD:

  • Trouble sleeping, staying asleep
  • Hypertension in muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Trembling
  • Inappropriate sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a debilitating condition that can be addressed by a professional. If you or someone you know is having issues with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Source:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20024562

Good Grief: Part 1

By: Sam Reiner

Grief is something that is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is an emotion that can come from the loss of a loved one, moving to a new home, suffering a chronic illness, or even the end of a relationship. It is a feeling that hits hard and can make you feel completely empty inside. Although we all must face grief at one point or another, no one knows what to expect when they are actually faced with it. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? Over the next few blogs I will try my best to answer these questions.

So, let’s go down the list and start with what exactly will you feel when you are face with grief. Although the process is different for everyone, doctors have identified 5 common stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance (DABDA). Now in order to explain it further I’m going to once again use a video game, this time Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I swear I didn’t even plan this but when it comes to examples of the 5 stages of grief this is probably the best example of it in pop culture as you actually play through all 5 stages of grief via the 5 locations. But I’m going to have so go into more detail on it another day. This is going to take a while to explain and deserves its own blog. In the next part I will be discussing the first three stages of grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Suicide Prevention the Right Way: Part 2

By: Sam Reiner

(cont from part 1)

That’s basically the whole article and after reading this you’re probably thinking “why would I ever show this to someone who is thinking of suicide?” Well although what he talks about may seem like the worst thing to tell people it’s in the details that makes the article really stick out. Like I said before, when Wong mentions the possibility of the afterlife he says your two options are one of the worst parts of hell or eternal nothingness. It is a scientific fact that something is always better than nothing so the downside of nothing for eternity is never explained but when he talks about Hell it is a different story. After he is done describing all the terrible things Hell has in store for the rest of eternity he brings up the fact that there are people who have it worse than you do.

Remember how I said that Wong mentions a kid with a rare skin disease. This kid’s skin is constantly drying and falling off in chunks so you would think that he might be the most likely to commit suicide because he is in constant pain. But instead, he is also over 18 years old and runs triathlons. Although it may seem random to talk about, Wong only mentions him to make a good point, if he can find a reason to live so can you. The main point of this whole section is, “if you’re figuring that, yes, you can man up and face whatever challenges the next life presents, then you might as well do that now, in this life, and skip the extra step. It’s just more efficient that way.”

Same goes for when he describes suicide methods. Like last time I don’t want to be specific on this topic but every method that he mentions is put in a way that would dissuade anyone from trying it. To me however the best part of this article is in the 3rd section, Timing. This is the section where the article really shines as it is here that Wong not only uses common sense, but statistics too when he talks about the 50% Rule. Why is the fact he uses statistics so important? It’s because that is definitive proof that you have something to look forward to and that you have a purpose. Also, when he talks about revising your suicide note, he recommends asking the suicide hotline to do it for you as they “deal with dozens of suicides every day and they know a good note when they hear one,” (very funny Wong). Honestly, I want to go into so much more detail on this article, especially the 50% Rule, but I feel as though the only way to truly see why I love this article so much is to read it. So, I’m going to put the link at the end and I really suggest you read it. I guarantee it will have you thinking differently.

http://www.cracked.com/article_15658_the-ten-minute-suicide-guide.html

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.