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 for more information.

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


Eating Disorders: Overeating


Eating Disorders: Overeating

By: Daniela Chica

In past decades, eating disorders have been linked to not eating or to binging and then purging, but nowadays even overeating without the purge can be seen as an eating disorder. Not just anyone who eats a whole tub of ice cream can be diagnosed with this disorder. However, someone who is experiencing a constant need to eat in order to deal with their emotions may be diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or Compulsive Eating Disorder (COD). For this reason, BED and COD, are both disorders that deal with and are affected by one’s emotions.

Much like in drug and alcohol addiction, people with BED and COD experience “feel good” symptoms when engaged in their overeating, symptoms that are responsible for their psychological addiction. This is one reason why it can be difficult to treat because overeating rewires the brain’s neural pathways. Another reason it can be very difficult to treat BED and COD is that identifying the emotions that trigger the overeating is not an easy task. This is because overeating occurs subconsciously or without even thinking about it. Even after identifying what the emotional problem is, it can still be difficult to set up a treatment plan because the goal is to come up with healthier ways of coping with the problem. It is much easier to turn to something accessible like food rather than dealing with the problem in a more complex way.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of eating 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, 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


Binge Eating Disorder vs Bulimia

Binge-Eating Disorder vs. Bulimia

Author: Christina Mesa

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by recurrent consumption of unusually large amounts of food during which a person feels loss of control over his or her eating. People may experience guilt, shame or distress associated with their binge-eating, which could lead to more binge-eating.  Bulimia Nervosa however, consists of binge-eating as well as a compensation behavior for this overeating, such as purging, excessive exercise, and fasting or use of laxatives or diuretics.  People suffering from binge-eating disorder are often overweight or obese and are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure while people suffering from bulimia may maintain a relatively normal weight.

Symptoms of Binge-eating disorder include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating until uncomfortably full or when not hungry at all
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa include:

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Worn tooth enamel and decaying teeth due to exposure to stomach acid
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from binge-eating disorder or bulimia nervosa, 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


Breakups: High School Sweetheart not so Sweet

By: Emily Mulhaul

To all of the silent sufferers out there who feel as though they are being dramatic for grieving a loss of a relationship for over a year now, you are not alone and you are not dramatic. Breakups can take an emotional toll on us that sometimes prolong for a year or more. Often times, our past experiences shape our present situation, meaning the termination of one relationship may affect our future relationships. Not only may it shape our present relationships with others, but it shapes relationships with oneself as well. Breakups may deprive us of the self confidence and hope we once had because it seemed to have vanished alongside the memory of the relationship.

Whether your break up is affecting your relationship with others or your relationship with yourself, experienced 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.


Weight Gain/Loss: It’s All in Your Head

It seems as though there are always new weight loss ads, pills, and detoxes surfacing. Even with all of these new tips and tricks, people are continuing to complain that they cannot lose weight. Furthermore, even if people do lose weight, they regain that same weight soon after. How could this be? Perhaps this may happen because losing/gaining weight is more than just the food you consume, but actually is based upon how you perceive yourself and how you address your eating habits.

First and foremost, your perception of what your body is (or what you want it to be) should be realistic. To be beautiful you do not have to be tall and lengthy or curvy at every inch of your body.  A body mass index (BMI) calculator is a simple way to determine relatively how healthy/unhealthy you are. If you aren’t at your ideal weight, don’t fret! With some minor behavioral changes, you will start becoming a healthier version of yourself. A healthier lifestyle isn’t only made up of physical improvements, but mental ones as well.

Converting from a distracted eater to a mindful one is no easy task. Distracted eaters often have less satisfactory experiences when eating. Realistically, we’ve all eaten while distracted (walking, texting, or even driving), but how often do you really savor your food when doing so? A mindful eater is able to focus on what they are consuming, savoring every bite. They focus on their senses, analyzing the various textures, tastes, colors, and smells of their food. In turn, you may eat fewer calories and become full more quickly, whereas a distracted eater doesn’t focus on the amount of consumption ultimately increasing their caloric intake. So the next time you go to eat a meal or even a snack, remember to choose the healthy option and, most importantly take the time to sit down and enjoy your food.

If you believe that you or a loved one is struggling with weight gain/loss, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit for more information.

Source: Avena, Nicole, Ph.D. “Are Your Cognitive Behaviors Hurting Your Health?” Psychology Today, 2016 April 18. Web.

By: Alexis Ferguson

Barbie’s New Proportions: Will They Measure Up?

     Only recently did Mattel release a statement that declared they would be coming out with a line of three new Barbie dolls. For the first time in 57 years, the dolls would be getting new body shapes: curvy, tall, and petite. At first glance, one might be excited that Mattel is finally recognizing that 5’9” and 110 lbs. (original Barbie’s estimated proportions if she were real) reflects an extremely low percentage of women’s figures. While this may indeed reflect a response to feminism and/or a cultural shift, are these changes enough or are they merely superficial?

     The “curvy” Barbie doll by far has the most changes compared to the original Barbie. To start, her face is visibly fuller which actually looks more like what the average person has. Her stomach and backside are wider, but her empire waist top clearly accentuates an hourglass shape. “Naked”, curvy Barbie displays wider calves, thighs, and hips. Mattel notes that she will not be able to fit in many of the original clothes and will therefore have a “special” clothing line to herself. Another change in appearance includes larger feet, though they hardly look that way from the “sneak-peak” pictures Mattel released. Lastly, and perhaps the most striking, is the fact that this doll possesses long blue locks of hair.

     Mattel has come a long way with the marketing of the dolls since Barbie’s “birth” in 1959. In 1963, the Barbie Baby-Sits doll came equipped with a booklet with the title “How to Lose Weight.” It’s advice inside? “Don’t eat.” Just ten years later, the first surgeon Barbie was released- a time when only 9% of all doctors were female. In 1980, multicultural versions were released… with “Caucasian features”, critics voiced. Later during 1992, Mattel got themselves in hot water again after a doll was released that uttered the phrase “Math class is tough!” Lastly in 2015, a huge expansion of the line included 23 new dolls with a variety of skin tones, hair colors and styles, eye colors, and facial features.

While some are excited about what seems to be Mattel embracing diversity, others wonder if this is a means to capitalize off of empowerment and the expansion of their product line (which now includes four times the accessories and clothes). In 2012, Barbie sales across the world dropped 3%, another 6% in 2013, and 16% in 2014. In addition, the Disney Princess line which the company lost in 2015 took away another half a billion dollars per year.

Do these three new Barbie dolls do enough to address the problems of body image and self-empowerment consumers have been worried about, or are these changes only superficial?

If you believe that yourself or a loved one has or may have issues with body image, self-esteem, or an eating disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling 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.

Visit for more information.

Sources: Dockterman, Eliana. “A Barbie for Every Body.” Time 8 Feb. 2016: 44-51. Print.

By: Scout H

“Depression and Obesity: The Double Epidemic”

By: Chana Kaufman

Depression and obesity seem to be phenomena that occur together, however, akin to the case of the chicken and the egg, it is unclear which precedes or causes the other. Studies have established that there definitely is a link between the two, and many patients within these spectrums often exhibit symptoms for both. According to Marina Williams, LMHC, “In fact, the two conditions are so intertwined that some are calling obesity and depression a double epidemic.” Furthermore, Williams establishes that, “Studies have found that 66 percent of those seeking bariatric, (weight loss) surgery have had a history of at least one mental health disorder.”

The question begs, why do depression and obesity fit so neatly and often occur simultaneously? In her article on this topic, Williams offers a simple explanation for the correlation between the two. Depression makes one lose willpower in life, resulting in decisions such as healthy eating or exercise to be sidelined or eliminated completely. Additionally, certain foods, mostly unhealthy choices, are what we associate with as comfort food and often resort to when feeling kind of blue. According to Williams, “Eating something unhealthy is much easier than fixing the problem or dealing with what’s causing us to feel unhappy”. Williams emphasizes that seeking help and learning how to deal with issues such as depression and sadness will oftentimes lead to an overall healthier lifestyle, and positively affect the issue of obesity as well.

If you believe that you or a loved one has or may have depression, 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 for more information.


Bulimia Nervosa: What to Look for and How to Get Help

Bulimia Nervosa: What to Look for and How to Get Help

Bulimia nervosa, which is simply known as bulimia, is a type of eating disorder in which the person affected has episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by some sort of compensatory behavior such as purging, excessive exercising or fasting. Someone with bulimia, or any type of eating disorder for that matter, usually has an unrealistic body image of him/herself, which results in unhealthy eating habits. People who are bulimic, just like those who are anorexic, fear gaining weight, want to lose weight and are extremely unhappy with their body. However, what sets bulimics apart is that they usually end up maintaining a healthy/normal body weight for their size. This makes it harder for others to notice that they have an eating disorder. But unlike healthy people, people with bulimia have physical symptoms that are present as a result of their disorder. This includes worn tooth enamels, acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems, a chronically inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands, severe dehydration, intestinal distress and irritation and lastly, electrolyte imbalance. However, before these symptoms worsen, you can look out for these warning signs of bulimia: evidence of binge eating (disappearance of large amounts of food in a short period of time and finding large amounts of wrappers and containers), an excessive and rigid exercise regimen even if they have an injury, illness or feel fatigued, evidence of purging behaviors such as frequent bathroom trips after meals, finding wrappers for laxatives or diuretics, smells of vomit, withdrawal from usual friends/activities, and the discoloration/staining of teeth, swelling of cheeks and jaw areas and calluses on hands/knuckles from inducing vomiting.

By looking out for these symptoms and warning signs, you may be able to figure out whether someone you know and love may have bulimia nervosa and thus get them the proper help they need. However, before the psychological and cognitive aspects of bulimia are treated –just like any other eating disorder- the body must first be treated physically. The first step is to restore adequate nutrition and bring the person back to a healthy weight. After one’s body has become stabilized, they can then move onto other treatment options that deal with the cognitive aspects of the disorder. The most effective treatment is psychotherapy which is often used in conjunction with medication. Psychotherapy helps the person understand their thoughts and cognitions, allowing them to rethink how they see themselves. It helps them fix their distorted self-body image.

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have seasonal affective disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit for more information.


By: Shivani J. Patel

Anorexia Nervosa: How New Health Trends Can Make Eating Disorders Thrive


anorexia nervosa blog photo With all of the new trends regarding fitness, clean and organic eating, and juicing, it’s hard not to get caught up in society’s idea of what it means to be fit or skinny. For women, it’s always been about being thin and young looking, while men struggle to gain muscle and have six pack abs. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to exercise and eat healthier, there are still those who expect immediate results and, when they don’t get them, turn to extreme methods. So it’s no wonder that we also see an increase in eating disorders every time a new health craze hits.

There are several different varieties of eating disorders, but this blog will be primarily discussing Anorexia Nervosa and its effects on the youth of today. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to eat and, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it has the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder and frequently coexists with other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Here are some symptoms to be on the lookout for in case you or a loved one may be suffering from Anorexia:

  • Extremely low body weight
  • Severe food restrictions
  • Relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal/ healthy body weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image and self-esteem that is influenced by perceptions of body weight or shape
  • Amenorrhea, or the absence of at least 3 menstrual cycles

Anorexia is a serious disease and could lead to other medical complications such as osteoporosis, low blood pressure, brittle hair and nails, mild anemia, and multi-organ failure, just to name a few. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from Anorexia, the licensed counselors and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you.  Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit for more information.

Holiday Depression

downloadHoliday Depression

by Fabienne Turenne

As we are in the midst of the holiday season, there are many festivities occurring. We see Christmas decorations, tree lightings, holiday sale commercials, and Christmas music playing on the radio in almost every store we enter. These are all meant to promote the common themes of the holidays such as joy, cheer, happiness and giving. While for most people the holiday season is a time of joy and happiness, many suffer from holiday depression, stress, anxiety, and overeating.

About 10% percent of the population suffers from holiday depression due to many different factors.  The holidays tend to remind us of a happier time in our lives such as memories of past holidays with a loved one who is no longer with us. It may also depress us to see others sharing the season with their loved ones while we feel alone and isolated.

Stress is also increased during the holiday season. We often reunite with family members we haven’t seen in a while which can cause old arguments to reignite. As holiday sales start and everyone starts to go shopping for presents, shopping lines increase tremendously and parking spaces become impossible to find. More money is spent during this season which can also be stressful for many. Those who suffer from holiday depression and stress may use overeating as a way of coping due to the abundance of food available at family gatherings.

Holiday depression, anxiety, stress, and overeating may be due to any one of the factors listed above however, it could also be a combination of these things as well as an ongoing depression or anxiety. A mental disorder such as depression or anxiety can be worsened by holiday stresses. If you find yourself becoming depressed during this season or if you are someone who already suffers from a mental disorder that is becoming worse due to the holiday season, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our therapists. Arista Counseling & Psychological Services (212) 722–1920 or (201) 368-3700.