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.

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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.

 

Nicotine Addictions

Isabelle Kreydin

People living with mental illness have a high rate of tobacco addiction. In America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. What’s it mean to be addicted? You might have problems paying attention, trouble sleeping, appetite change, and/or powerful cravings for tobacco at least once a day.

The nicotine in any tobacco product absorbs into ones blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Nicotine increases levels of the chemical dopamine, which affects parts of the brain that control reward and pleasure. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. commonly lack a consistent flow of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters), and the nicotine can therefore be a sort of temporary enhancer and mood booster.

The addiction itself however, is more about the lies one feeds to himself, the subconscious thought that the cigarettes, e-cigarette or other drug will truly fill a void in the addict’s mind or body. Those struggling with addiction have something in common: an ache that they believe can be dimmed. Whether it’s simply a drug to relieve temptation, or tension in the mind or of thoughts, it’s still an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Like most drug addictions, nicotine only provides one with temporary relief or a brief time away from reality. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Please do not be one of those statistics.

Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs) cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important that individuals living with mental illness quit smoking. Like an e-cigarette, smokeless tobacco products contain 3 to 4 times more nicotine than cigarettes and contain substances that increase risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. If you ever wanted to quit your addiction in the future, it would only be more difficult, as your body becomes dependent on the chemicals and drugs you chose to feed it. Recovery is a long process, however very possible.

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.

 

Postpartum Depression: Psychosocial Risk Factors

Postpartum Depression: Psychosocial Risk Factors

Written by: Jinal Kapadia

Postpartum depression, is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression generally experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that can make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others. (Nimh.nih.gov, 2018)

There are multiple risk factors that make some women more susceptible to postpartum depression than others. A first-time mother is at a higher risk for depression. Fatigue, which can be caused by the actual process of giving birth, the energy spent on caring for the baby, and tending to other responsibilities can also lead to depression. Women who are single mothers with less social support are also more susceptible. A woman’s feelings towards her pregnancy, such as negativity or ambivalence, increases her chances for depression. (Psychology Today, 2018)

Another risk factor is a woman’s past, such as the loss of her mother or a poor mother-daughter relationship. This can cause a woman to feel unsure about her newly developing relationship with her baby. Women who have babies by cesarean birth take longer to recover and are, therefore, more likely to be stressed, have lower self-esteem, and feel more depressed. Women who have premature babies often become depressed because the early birth results in unexpected changes in routine and is an added stressor. Lastly, a baby with a birth defect or other challenges (e.g. infantile colic) can make adjustment even more difficult for parents. (Psychology Today, 2018)

If you or someone you know has postpartum depression or seems to have the symptoms of postpartum depression, 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:

Psychology Today. (2018). Postpartum Disorder | Psychology Today. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/postpartum-disorder [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].

Nimh.nih.gov. (2018). Postpartum Depression Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What is it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by: Jinal Kapadia

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a peculiar disorder. In fact in is not a disorder at all. It is actually a type of depression displayed in a recurring seasonal pattern. In order to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the patient must meet the full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years.

Some general symptoms include feeling depressed most of the day nearly every day, feeling hopeless or worthless, losing interest in activities that were once enjoyed, having difficulty concentrating, and/or having thoughts of death or suicide. There are also specific symptoms that vary based on either the winter or summer seasons. In the winter, a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder may experience low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, cravings for carbohydrates, and social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”). Although, summer seasonal affective disorder is less frequent, the specific symptoms for this season include poor appetite, weight loss, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, anxiety, and episodes of violent behavior. Forms of treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder include medication, Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral activation), and Vitamin D supplementation.

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/.

Source: Seasonal Affective Disorder. (2016, March). Retrieved January 09, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

 

 

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

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.

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

Depression: Signs and Symptoms

Depression: Signs and Symptoms

By Daisy Lee

One of the most common mental health or mood disorders is one known as major depressive disorder, or more simply, depression. Although depression is not rare in the general population and awareness of it has been increasing, many people still struggle to spot depression. A lot of times, people can mistake depression for simply being tired or sad.

Depression can encompass many different characteristics, not all of which may manifest in a single person. For example, one person who is clinically depressed may have significant weight loss without intention while another person who is clinically depressed may have significant weight gain. The symptoms of depression are not always clear-cut. Here are a few common symptoms of depression:

  • Diminished interest or pleasure in activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain; increase or decrease in appetite
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep or stay asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation (slowed down movements)
  • Fatigue, lethargy, or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive/inappropriate guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation

As mentioned before, depression can be difficult to spot, even if you are familiar with the symptoms and what depression encompasses. If you or someone you know might be struggling with depression, speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: https://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/depression-symptoms-major-depressive-disorder/

Photo: https://themighty.com/2015/12/video-for-anyone-who-doesnt-believe-depression-is-a-medical-condition/

Anxiety, Depression, Isolation

By: Emily Mulhaul

Are you struggling to maintain relationships with a family member, friend or significant other? Does the idea of being connected to or trusting another person make you anxious or scared? Did something in your past cause you to have this reaction to others? Sometimes we find it easier to avoid a situation, opposed to acting upon a situation. After running a half marathon, I can attest that the effort and maintenance necessary for a meaningful relationship, is just that of training for a half marathon. Depending on your personality, the previous statement could have been viewed rewardingly because you compare the euphoric feeling of crossing the finish line of the half marathon to that of laughter with friends on a Saturday. The alternative reaction could have been that neither relationships nor half marathons are worth the effort, so you proceed with simply going through the motions of your work or school day, followed by isolating yourself in front of the TV at night. If the second scenario reminds you of yourself or someone you know, the avoidant behavior may potentially be a catalyst for anxiety and depression. People do not want to be alone all the time, but they may lack the motivation to continue otherwise due to an experience with a past relationship, lack of confidence, etc. As opposed to avoiding relationships, at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy we want you or a loved one to avoid anxiety, depression, and isolation.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression, or isolation and are experiencing difficulty with the following:

Presence (both mentally and physically; may be feeling lethargic)

Maintaining or seeking relationships

Sleep (insomnia)

Motivation

Daily Energy

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.