Munchausen’s Syndrome

By Charlotte Arehart

Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder where the individual continuously pretends to have various ailments and illnesses to seek medical attention for them. There are several other versions of Munchausen’s syndrome, including Munchausen through proxy as well as Munchausen through the internet. Munchausen’s syndrome is a mental illness that often comes along with other mental difficulties such as depression and anxiety.

Since Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose sometimes. After all, the patient is likely to be lying about their symptoms and illnesses. There are a few things that may hint that a patient has Munchausen’s syndrome, such as inconsistent medical history, constantly changing or unclear symptoms, predictable relapses, extensive medical knowledge, new symptoms after a negative test or undesired test results, symptoms are only present when the patient is being watched or is near people, and seeking treatment in many different places.

Many times in the news we hear about cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, which is when a caregiver or parent pretends that their child is afflicted by ailments. There are many famous cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, such as the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. In cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by internet, the individual attends online support groups pretending to be afflicted with the struggle that those who are attending the meetings are actually experiencing. This could be either to mock those who are attending, or simply for attention.

It is important that medical staff keeps an eye out for those who may be experiencing Munchausen’s Syndrome, since it can be difficult to spot. Those who are suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome or Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy should seek mental health treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Munchausen’s syndrome, 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.webmd.com/mental-health/munchausen-syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554979/

https://10faq.com/health/munchausen-syndrome-symptoms/?utm_source=7017173049&utm_campaign=6449781305&utm_medium=78641056298&utm_content=78641056298&utm_term=munchausen%20syndrome&gclid=CjwKCAjwieuGBhAsEiwA1Ly_nQk9C1zizAwKaVlu7DhBKde8bnBOPK7v4QhwG7rYBc-ZZj3av-254BoCzqAQAvD_BwE

Image Source: https://healthproadvice.com/mental-health/An-Understanding-of-Munchausen-Syndrome

Depression and Humor

By Katie Weinstein

Humor is not only used as a way to get a good laugh with friends, but as a coping mechanism to defuse a situation. Using a positive humor style is associated with good health outcomes, but using a negative humor style, such as self-deprecation, is linked to depression.

It is important to know how to laugh at yourself, but it is also important to know when your self-deprecating has gone too far and is leading to depression. Some signs might be that you can’t take a compliment or that it is a reflex to use self-deprecating humor since this is indicative of low self-esteem. It is easy to justify self-deprecating humor as not wanting to sound too arrogant, but if you use it alone, this is a major warning sign since no one will be there to laugh at your jokes. Another sign might be that you start to actually believe what you’re saying. The point of self-deprecating humor is to make light of imperfections, not to validate insecurities. When you’ve gone too far with self-deprecating humor, the people around you might either tell you this or stop laughing at that type of humor since it makes other people uncomfortable.

The relationship between self-depreciative humor and depression remains unclear as to which causes the other or if there is a cyclical effect between the two. It is possible that people who are depressed choose a self-deprecating humor style because they are attempting to cope with low self-esteem or it is possible that repetitive negative humor causes low self-esteem and depression. A third possibility is that genetic and environmental factors affect depression and negative humor styles.

One way to stop using self-deprecating humor is to fight the urge to put yourself down when someone compliments you and just say thank you. Being cognizant of when you are using self-deprecating humor and the way the way that it makes you feel is important for helping you to stop using it.

If you or someone you know is experiencing low self-esteem and or depression 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/humor-sapiens/201911/the-relationship-between-humor-and-depression

Mental Health during Pride Month

By Charlotte Arehart

With June finally starting, this means that it is officially Pride Month! Pride Month is celebrated in June in the USA and many other countries. During Pride Month, we celebrate and recognize the impact that  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer LGBTQ+ individuals have on their communities. We celebrate their history, whether it be locally, nationally, or internationally. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health. There are a plethora of statistics about LGBTQ+ individuals and mental health, including the fact that members of the community are less likely to seek treatment for mental health, substance abuse, and eating disorders. This is largely due to fear of being discriminated against because of their sexuality. Pride Month is the perfect opportunity to prioritize and learn more about mental health for LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are many barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals face when it comes to finding mental health treatment. Many mental health centers lack culturally-competent or diverse staff and/or treatment. It was not very long ago that homosexuality and bisexuality were themselves considered mental illnesses. This was thought to be true until the 1960’s. Gay men and lesbian women were frequently forced to undergo “treatment” for their sexuality against their will, such as aversion, conversion, and even shock therapies. Also damaging to mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for bullying, and sometimes even hateful violent crimes. The best way to help the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health efforts is to support the community not only through words but through actions. By reducing the stigma around mental health and making LGBTQ+ individuals feel as comfortable as possible, hopefully we can make mental health treatment more accessible for everyone. Luckily, the vast majority of mental health professionals today are accepting and positive towards the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone deserves to have efficient, effective, and professional mental health no matter how they identify as individuals.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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/

Sources:

Image Source: https://lgbt-speakers.com/news/top-10-lists/10-lgbt-speakers-for-pride-month-2021

Social Media: Self-Diagnosing

By Charlotte Arehart

For many people, it has become a habit to turn to the internet with any questions that one might have. While it is great to have the answers to the world at our fingertips, we have to keep in mind that just because we find an answer on the internet does not mean it is the correct one. Googling the answers to everything can be particularly harmful when it comes to physical and mental health. Searching a simple symptom such as a stomach ache may lead to answers that suggest the individual has appendicitis, when in reality they may only be having indigestion. With the internet becoming more powerful than ever, more people have been self-diagnosing with physical and mental health issues without seeking help from a professional.

Social media has played a huge role in the increase of self-diagnosing. Many influential social media users with a large platform use their platform to speak and educate viewers about mental illnesses. While this is great in terms of normalizing and reducing the stigma around mental health issues, it becomes harmful when viewers use this information to self-diagnose. I personally have seen many videos on platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok where the creator lists several widely general and common “symptoms,” such as sleeping in too much or having a short attention span, then follow up with something along the lines of “if you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have ADHD!” In the comments section, I see floods of viewers who are now concerned that they may have a mental disorder simply because they experience a few of the general symptoms listed. It seems that these videos create a lot of stress in people who do not actually need to be worried, since the symptoms listed are often so generalized. However, I do think that it is very beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues to receive support and a sense of community through social media. It can be very comforting to know that you are not alone going through something. If creators wish to speak about mental health issues on social media, it should be done in a very careful way. Addressing mental health on social media does present a wide variety of benefits, however it becomes an issue when people are self-diagnosing and becoming worried without speaking to a professional.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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/

Sources:

https://etactics.com/blog/problems-with-self-diagnosis

Image Source: https://dailytitan.com/opinion/column-self-diagnosing-mental-health-disorders-is-hazardous/article_d953ca7f-0eae-57d2-81fb-d0d339734788.html

The Importance of Mental Health

By Charlotte Arehart

When thinking about their health, most people only consider the physical state of their bodies. However, it is important that we take our mental health into consideration as well. Not only are these two aspects equally important, but they are actually very closely related. People who have poor mental health are at greater risk of having poor physical health. For example, people who experience depression are at a 50% increased risk of dying from cancer and a 67% increase for heart disease. Stress and anxiety also have a huge impact on the body, affecting the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, as well as the gastrointestinal system.

Since mental health is so important, why do people usually disregard it? Many people are afraid of the stigma that surrounds mental health. Since you cannot always “see” mental health problems, some people view them as “not real.” Many people fear that others will look at them differently if they seek mental help. They do not want to be seen as emotionally weak. People are especially worried that seeking mental help with affect their careers, however this is not true. In fact, taking proactive steps to help mental health will reduce possible repercussions for the future. It is better to address the issue sooner rather than later, since unchecked mental health symptoms usually worsen over time. If you are experiencing mental health troubles, by no means are you alone. Many mental health issues are actually more prevalent than one would expect. By realizing that there are tons people who are experiencing something similar to them, people may feel better about reaching out for mental health.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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/

Sources: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health

https://www.pdhealth.mil/news/blog/reducing-self-stigma-mental-health-important-physical-health

Image Source: https://www.hrcsb.org/may-mental-health-awareness-month/

Physician Burnout during a Global Pandemic

By Eleanor Kim

Physicians and nurses around the world have been at the front lines fighting the coronavirus and saving the lives of those infected. Now more than ever, citizens are coming to realize the importance of those within the medical field and the bravery that comes with entering medicine. That being said, there has been an immense amount of pressure placed upon healthcare workers, often causing stress, anxiety, and depression. At the end of the day, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are humans and can feel the effects of burnout during such a heightened and high stakes moment in medical history.

Burnout is when someone becomes overwhelmed by the demands of their daily life, becoming emotionally and physically exhausted and creating a sense of depersonalization and weakened personal accomplishments. Burnout is a common occurrence among physicians and nurses given the great amount of pressure that comes with saving lives. That being said, these feelings of burnout have skyrocketed given the additionally taxing nature of current frontline medical work such as the stress of isolating from friends and family, the extended hours of work, the tragic lack of medical supplies, and the fear of contracting or spreading the virus, to name a few. Physicians are also left to deal with the other struggles and anxieties that the past year has brought upon the general population regarding economic, political, racial, and other personal effects of the pandemic.

During these elongated periods where healthcare workers are left sleep deprived, improperly fed, and overall anxious about the current status of the pandemic, they are exposed to both mentally and physically long lasting effects. In 2020, there have been a record number of physicians who have reported feelings of burnout and other mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic. Should these issues go untreated, there is an increased risk for depression, self-medication, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Burnout is more than just stress; it is a mental health crisis and should be treated as such.

If you or someone you know is feeling the effects of physician and healthcare worker burnout, 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/.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/05/17/doctor-heal-thyself-physician-burnout-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/

Image Source:

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/04/14/more-than-a-third-of-medical-staff-suffered-insomnia-during-the-covid-19-epidemic-in-china/

Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, 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:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

By: Kassandra Lora

Once the seasons change from fall to winter and the days become shorter, some individuals may notice a change in their moods. Some of these mood changes may be a slight feeling of being “down” but other times, these mood changes can be more severe and can have a significant effect on a person. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually affects a person once the seasons are changing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression.” It is not as common for someone to develop SAD symptoms during the spring and summer months, although it is still possible.

Some significant depression symptoms may include:

•           feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

•           losing interest in activities

•           changes in appetite or weight

•           having problems with sleep

•           having low energy

•           feeling worthless or hopeless

•           having difficulty concentrating

•           having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, to develop the diagnosis of having SAD, you must have the symptoms of major depression or must have some of the symptoms listed above. You must also have these depressive episodes occur to you during a specific season for a least two consecutive years.

Individuals who are more susceptible to developing SAD are more commonly those who live further north. Furthermore, according to the Nation Institute of Mental Health, “SAD is more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II disorder, which is associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes.” SAD is also more commonly found in women than men.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a severe condition, though scientists cannot understand what exactly causes SAD. Scientists have done the research and have suggested that people with SAD may have reduced serotonin activity, regulating mood. Researchers have also indicated how lack of sunlight in people with SAD can affect their serotonin levels, affecting their mood. Although these are all possible causes and effects which determined why individuals may have SAD it is still unclear if these are the exact reason. However, these causes and effects can be useful when focusing on treatment.Treatments that may help people with SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and vitamin D.

Speak to your health care provider about which treatment or combination is most suitable for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective 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.

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Image Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/03/how-i-learned-cope-seasonal-affective-disorder-grad-school

World Kindness Day: How to stay positive in dark times

World Kindness Day: How to stay positive in dark times

By: Zoe Alekel

As Friday November 13, 2020 is World Kindness Day, it only felt right to talk about the impact that positivity and kindness have on our mental health. Keeping a positive mindset and attitude is seemingly easy when life is smooth-sailing. However, when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road that life comes with, it is a lot easier said than done. Maintaining optimism in difficult times can often seem impossible—at the least, it seems like a lot of work. If you are struggling to stay positive during a difficult time, especially during a pandemic like COVID-19, you can try to focus on the following:

  • Focus on what you can control: Remember there are things in life we can’t control, but the things we can control like how we decide to seize the day and how we treat others.
  • Limit your media intake: Social media and news media can put us in a rut when we are already feeling negative about the world. Make sure you don’t spend too much time on media and give yourself a break from negative news stories.
  • Invest in uplifting others: Acts of kindness can not only uplift others and change someone’s day, but it can also help keep you in a more optimistic mindset.
  • Set personal schedules and goals: By setting small daily goals for yourself, such as making your bed and brushing your teeth in the morning. You can start the day off accomplishing something and setting a productive mindset for the rest of the day.

Keeping these pointers in mind is important when trying to stay optimistic during a difficult time. Some additional ideas of ways to cope with a difficult time are:

  • Find a therapist or mental health professional: This can become an outlet to help you process the difficult time you are having and to get professional recommendations for keeping a positive mindset.
  • Find a hobby or a group to join with people that have similar interests as yours.
  • Invest in self-care: Make sure you are taking care of you! Do things that bring you joy, even if it is as simple as taking a warm shower, eating a meal you enjoy, listening to music, or calling a loved one or friend.
  • Take a few minutes every day to write down the positive events that happened during that day, or things for which you are grateful.

If you or someone you know is struggling with keeping positive or with 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/

 

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stronger-fear/202003/how-stay-positive-during-the-pandemic?collection=1151836

Image Source: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/bb/e7/2c/bbe72cda72203d29a2f24459962c6f7a.jpg

Borderline Personality Disorder: Misdiagnosed

Borderline Personality Disorder: Misdiagnosed

By Zoe Alekel

When struggling with your mental health, the last thing you want to hear from a doctor or therapist is that they don’t think anything is wrong. It can leave you confused, lost, hopeless, and alone. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because of the disorder’s symptoms and stigma. According to the Mayo Clinic symptoms of borderline personality disorder include:

  • Intense fear of abandonment—including real or imagined separation/ rejection
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness
  • Unstable relationships—idealizing someone one moment, then suddenly believing they don’t care or that they are cruel
  • Distorted view of self and self-image—including dissociation (feeling as if you don’t exist at all or if the moment in time isn’t real)
  • Impulsive and risky behavior—including rebellion, drug abuse, reckless driving, sudden decision making, unsafe sex and promiscuity, and sabotaging success or personal relationships
  • Suicidal thoughts, threats, or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
  • Mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days— including intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Inappropriate, intense anger—losing temper easily, acting out, intense irritability

The symptoms for BPD often look like other mental health conditions—contributing to misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis. Sometimes BPD has similar patterns and symptoms as bipolar disorder, which can also include severe mood swings. One study shows that 40% of people, who only met the criteria for BPD, were still misdiagnosed with Bipolar Type 2; which is likely due to the overlapping and similar symptoms of each disorder.

Another reason why BPD can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed is because of the myth that teens can’t have BPD. Many of the symptoms of BPD can be seen as “typical teenage behavior” as this is a crucial time in an adolescent’s life when they are developing personality and identity. Diagnosing younger adolescents with BPD is often avoided because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis. Some clinicians may fear that the client’s symptoms may only worsen with a BPD diagnosis. This can be very dangerous and harmful to the client who is not accurately being diagnosed, especially because it limits the resources they can receive for help.

BPD does not only appear in a specific age group or gender, and sometime can mirror other diagnoses or the experience of a typical adolescent. Health professionals and advocates must continue to educate and understand the reality of BPD, and know when to properly diagnose so their client can receive the help they need.

If you or someone you know is struggling with borderline personality 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/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2017/Why-Borderline-Personality-Disorder-is-Misdiagnose

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

Image source: https://wakeup-world.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Genie-in-a-Bottle-The-Spiritual-Gift-of-Borderline-Personality-Disorder-1.jpg