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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Conduct Disorder

Conduct Disorder

By: Leah Flanzman

Conduct disorder is a behavioral disorder seen in children who display behaviors that deviate from societal norms and violate a number of social rules. Conduct disorder will typically present itself before the age of 16, and can have both genetic and environmental influences. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV-TR), this disorder is being increasingly diagnosed in more and more children throughout the United States. In the past few years, prevalence rates of children exhibiting symptoms of conduct disorder skyrocketed to as high as 10%.

Conduct disorder is typically divided into two types, childhood onset and adolescent onset, which are distinguished from one another by the age at which symptoms begin appearing. Childhood onset conduct disorder is diagnosed before 10 years of age, and adolescent onset is diagnosed if the symptoms arise after 10 years of age. Childhood onset is believed to be the more serious condition between the two and more resistant to treatment

The symptoms of conduct disorder can be broken down into four main categories. A child or adolescent is likely to have conduct disorder if they consistently display aggressive conduct, deceitful behavior, destructive behavior, or a violation of rules. Examples of aggressive conduct can include intimidating or bullying other children, physically harming people or animals with malicious intentions, or using a weapon. Deceitful behavior can be seen through lying, stealing, or breaking and entering.   Individuals will display destructive behaviors by intentionally destroying or vandalizing properties, and individuals will violate rules by skipping school, running away, or prematurely abusing drugs and alcohol.

A distinction lies in how the symptoms of conduct disorder are manifested between the genders, as it is more frequently diagnosed in boys. Boys are more likely to fight, steal, vandalize school property, and break school rules, whereas girls are more likely to lie, run away from home, use drugs, and engage in early sexual activity. Conduct disorder is unique in the fact that it is not always recognized as a mental illness, so treatment is commonly neglected. Early intervention for Conduct Disorder yields the greatest possibility for an improved long-term outcome so if symptoms begin to arise, seeking help immediately can be extremely beneficial.

If you or a person you know is struggling with conduct disorder, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. 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.

Leaving an Abusive Relationship

By: Emily Ramos

Note: Abuse is not sex-linked. Just as men can abuse women, women can abuse males, and vice-versa. This article applies to everyone who is a victim of abuse.

Why do people stay in abusive relationships if they are unhappy? It is easy to put the blame on victims for choosing to remain with their abuser when you don’t know the extent of what they are going through.  Many times they worry their attacker will do one of the following if they end up leaving:

  • stalk and harass them
  • kill them
  • hold their children hostage
  • kill their pets
  • threaten to commit suicide

It would be easier for someone to leave if they were guaranteed protection from their assailant like a witness protection program. Luckily there are restraining orders that can be filed on behalf of the victim and their loved ones. Here are some helpful tips if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship:

  1. Make sure you have a strong support system. The more people you have to provide moral and emotional support the more likely you are to follow through with leaving.
  2. Pack your things. Actions speak louder than words, saying you plan to leave is not the same as actually leaving. If you continue to hold off, the situation will only get worse. Abusive relationships never get better and, in some instances, end in death. Taking steps now will improve your chances of being able to escape. If you don’t already have one, open a savings account in your name. Start to put together personal items and important documents that you can leave with a trusted friend and make sure these items won’t get noticed it’s missing.
  3. IF you decide to end the relationship in person, make sure it is done in a public setting. Let your friends know where you are meeting and have someone close by waiting to make sure it all goes according to plan. Also, bring your cellphone and have the number of a local domestic violence shelter on speed dial in case of an emergency.
  4. DO NOT STAY IN CONTACT. Any attempt on the part of your abuser to reach out to you is just their way of manipulating you into taking them back. Agreeing to meet in person is very dangerous.
  5. NEVER assume you’re safe just because you successfully left. Make sure you have a backup plan for every possible scenario that may arise. Avoid participating in the same routines as previously or going to places you previously frequented. Make sure you never do things alone and switch all your social media to private (tell your family and friends to do so as well).
  6. Instead of changing your number, get an alternate number and only give it out to people you trust. Keep your old one and let all calls go straight to voicemail; this will give your abuser the impression that it is still your current number. Save any threatening e-mails, texts, or letters as evidence in case you need to get a restraining order in the future.

By taking the right precautionary steps, you can safely leave your relationship and live a better life.

If you or a person you know is struggling with an abusive relationship, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. 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.

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.

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What is it?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Body dysmorphic disorder is an intense and distressing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in body appearance. Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder ruminate on their perceived defect for an excessive amount of time. Some body dysmorphic disorder sufferers may have a minor physical abnormality, but the preoccupation with it is out of proportion.

A common feature among those with body dysmorphic disorder is the tendency to engage in a compulsive or repetitive behavior. Common compulsive or repetitive behaviors include, checking of mirrors, excessive grooming and make-up application, excessive exercise, repeatedly asking other people how they look, compulsive buying of beauty products, and persistent seeking of cosmetic surgery. Sufferers often feel they are unable to control the behaviors. This can be detrimental to daily functioning and cause significant distress.

Although body dysmorphic disorder is seen in both men and women, the disorder is often manifested differently between the genders. Men with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to demonstrate a preoccupation with their genitals, muscles, and thinning hair. Women with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to have a co-morbid eating disorder, and have a greater preoccupation with weight, hips, breasts, legs, and excessive body hair. They are also more likely to hide perceived defects with make-up, check mirrors, or pick at their skin.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Griffiths, M. D. (2015, August 13). Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201508/body-dysmorphic-disorder

Hoarding Disorder: The Psychology of Hoarding

By: Heather Kaplan

Hoarding is defined as the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. This behavior brings about detrimental emotional, physical, social, financial and legal effects for the hoarder and their loved ones. Commonly hoarded items may be newspapers, magazines, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, food and clothing – items of little value to most but have extreme value to the hoarder. Even the mere thought of throwing these items away causes a hoarder extreme anxiety and distress. Hoarding ranges from mild to severe – often the hoarding can become so extreme that the home of the hoarder becomes almost inhabitable which results in increased risk of getting evicted.

There are various reasons why hoarders exhibit the behavior they do. People hoard because they believe that an item will become useful or valuable in the future. They also may feel that the item has sentimental value or is too big of a bargain to throw away. Hoarders try to justify reasoning for keeping each possession that they own. It is still unclear what causes the disorder; genetics, brain functioning and stressful life events are being studied as possible causes. Studies show that there is hyperactivity in the area of a hoarder’s brain that involves decision-making, which explains the stress associated with discarding their possessions.

Those who suffer from hoarding disorder experience a diminished quality of life. As stated before, a lack of functional living space is common amog hoarders. These living conditions can be so severe that they put the health of the person at risk. Hoarders also often live with broken appliances and without heat or other necessary comforts. They cope with these issues because of the shame they would feel if a person was the enter their home. Hoarding also causes anger, resentment and depression among family members and can affect the social development of children. Unlivable conditions may lead to separation or divorce, eviction and loss of child custody if applicable.

It is important to distinguish the difference between hoarding and collecting. Collectors have a sense of pride about their possessions and experience joy in displaying and talking about them. Their collections are often well-organized and well-budgeted. A hoarder collects a multitude of items and organizes them in a cluttered way. They are ashamed of their accumulations and do not feel a sense of pride when showing their belongings to others.

If you or a loved one suspects a hoarding disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social works and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ and Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Sources:

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/hoarding-basics

https:/www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056

Gambling Addiction

By: Heather Kaplan

Gambling is defined as playing games for a chance to either win or lose money. One who is a compulsive gambler is someone who is unable to resist their impulses to gamble. This leads to severe disturbances in their personal and social lives. The urge to gamble becomes so great that this tension can only be relieved by more gambling. One who exhibit such behavior can be classified to have a gambling addiction. Unfortunately, many gambling addicts are not aware that they have a problem. They only begin to realize the severity of the issue when they hit ‘rock bottom’.

There are various symptoms that indicate that someone is a compulsive gambler. One who has a gambling addiction usually progresses form occasional to habitual gambling. He begins to risk more and more money, which can lead to both financial and personal instability. Someone is said to have a gambling addiction if four (or more) of the following have been demonstrated in the last twelve months:

1. Needing to gamble progressively larger amounts of money to feel the same (or more) excitement

2. Having made many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling

3. Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling

4. Preoccupation or excessive thoughts (planning next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get more money to gamble with)

5. If the person is using gambling to escape problems of distress, sadness or anxiety

6. Gambling larger amounts to try to recoup previous losses

7. Lying about the amount of time and money spent gambling

8. Relying on others to borrow money due to significant gambling losses

Gambling addiction is a significant problem in the United States, impacting 1-3% of adults, men more often than women. Various complications can arise from having a gambling addiction. Those with such gambling behavior often have problems with alcohol and other substances. These people also tend to have financial, social, and legal problems. Those with gambling addictions are also at higher risk for considering or attempting suicide.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the eight behaviors listed above, you may be at risk for developing a gambling addiction. The licensed psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy 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. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

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].

Eating Disorders & OCD: Is There a Relationship?

Is There A Relationship between OCD & Eating Disorders?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Eating disorders and OCD are highly comorbid. Statistics estimate that about two-thirds of those diagnosed with an eating disorder have also been diagnosed with another type of anxiety disorder, specifically, 41% of individuals with an eating disorder also meet criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and unwanted. Individuals with OCD attempt to ignore or suppress their thoughts, urges, or images by performing some behavior (compulsion).

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors are also frequently seen in eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Some of the behaviors characterized by eating disorders can be considered compulsive and ritualistic, especially those performed in an attempt to remove the anxiety or discomfort associated with eating. Obsessions that could lead to compulsive behaviors include thoughts related to weight, eating, food, or body image.

Examples of compulsive behaviors commonly associated with eating disorders include excessive exercise, constant body checking, counting calories, frequent weighing, use of laxatives to reduce weight, and following particular “rules” or “rituals” when eating a meal.

Psychotherapy, medication, or both are typically successful in treating these disorders.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD or an eating disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Ekern, J., & Karges, C. (2014, March 31). OCD and Eating Disorders Often Occur Together. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/co-occurring-dual-diagnosis/ocd-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/ocd-and-eating-disorders-often-occur-together

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Isabelle Kreydin

You’ve heard about bipolar personality obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia disorder, and probably a handful of other ones. One of the less uncommon and less discussed one is narcissistic personality disorder. This is a mental condition in which a person has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

What lies behind the disorder? Behind the mask of extreme confidence, arrogance and/or pompousness there is a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism, insult, or contempt. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them when they feel the persons need for superiority which can lead to actions and words of disrespect.

Why does this disorder get diagnosed? Most believe that the causes are due to genetics as well as social factors, and the person’s early development such as family, personal temperament, school system, and learned coping skills to deal with stress.

What are some more possible symptoms? It’s their way or the highway, they won’t ever be wrong in situations, and if they admit to be wrong, they will put another down just in order to convince themselves that they are in the right, they can have ease lying; they can charm, falsely accuse, mooch, betray, mirror, compete, destroy, and manipulate easily. They are known also to commonly abuse drugs, alcohol or nicotine.

What problems does this disorder cause? It causes unstable and trouble in relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy, and may take this out on another human and gain the personality trait that is sadistic.

How can we help the issue? After acceptance, treatment of this personality disorder typically involves long-term therapy, possible medication, and continuing to relate better with others in relationships, working towards empathy, understanding the cause of ones emotions and what drives one to compete and distrust, practicing tolerance, and trying to release ones desire for unattainable goals and ideal conditions.If you or a person you know is struggling with a narcissistic personality disorder, or any personality disorder, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. 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.

To find out more information, visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662