School Shootings: How to Help Your Child’s Anxiety Following Tragedy

School Shootings: How to Help Your Child’s Anxiety Following Tragedy

By Kim Simone

In times of uncertainty and fear, children will often turn to those who bring them certainty and calm. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a school shooting, parents may not be able to give their children the answers they need to alleviate their anxiety. Even when a child is far removed from the setting of a school shooting, being in a school setting can induce anxiety. It is important that parents recognize signs of distress and anxiety exhibited by their child following a tragedy.

Elementary school students will likely have questions that have no definitive answers, such as the motives behind a school shooting. Parents need to be prepared to answer their child with caution as children may not be emotionally prepared to hear explicit details. Furthermore, children may be concerned with how the shooting may have impacted them, or rather, how a shooting may impact them in the future. Questions such as “Could this happen to me?” or “Could this happen at my school?” show how uncertainty can lead to excessive levels of anxiety in a child. 

Symptoms of anxiety in children can include unexplained stomachaches, headaches, and changes in sleeping and eating behaviors. It is also important to note any changes in academic and social behavior in school, as anxiety may be heightened in this environment.

If your child is experiencing excessive worry and anxiety as a result of tragedy, consider having them speak to a child psychologist. Prolonged anxiety can harm a student academically, socially, and emotionally. Building a support system for children who are overcome by distress and anxiety is crucial in bringing a sense of calm to their environment in a time of uncertainty.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety after a tragedy, 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://childmind.org/article/anxiety-school-shooting/

https://www.usnews.com/education/k12/articles/school-shootings-how-to-help-kids-cope

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Aftermath of a School Shooting

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Aftermath of a School Shooting

By Fiona McDermut

            After yet another school shooting in the United States left 19 children dead, many parents in grief, and a multitude of survivors in agony, it is time we recognize the impact that is left on the survivors of such devastating events. Although children are known to be particularly resilient, such impactful experiences may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

            In children, PTSD symptoms are often overlooked or confused with other psychiatric disorders. These symptoms may include restlessness, fidgety behavior, trouble focusing or staying organized, reliving traumatic events through thought or play, nightmares, inconsistent sleep patterns, intense fear or sadness, angry outbursts, avoiding topics associated with the traumatic event, and feelings of denial. These emotions may be triggered by something that reminds the child of the event.

            Such devastating events are hard for anyone to understand, especially a child. If your child has experienced trauma, the symptoms can be best treated if they get in contact with a mental healthcare provider as soon as possible. Even if the child is not ready to talk about the events, many psychologists and psychotherapists can understand the situation by observing the child’s behaviors. Multi modal psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy is frequently used in these situations. In certain situations, your child’s therapist may recommend the addition of safe and helpful medication.

            School should be a safe space for children, but after recent events, apprehensiveness in regard to attending school is understandable. If you or your child is experiencing extreme persistent fear following the recent events, your child will benefit from meeting with a mental health professional to get necessary treatment for his or her symptoms.

            If you or someone you know is struggling with post-traumatic stress 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://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/ptsd.html

Image Source:

https://www.unicef.org/parenting/how-talk-your-children-about-conflict-and-war

Body Image: The Role of Body Dissatisfaction on Self-Esteem

Body Image: The Role of Body Dissatisfaction on Self-Esteem

By Kim Simone

Body dissatisfaction is characterized by an individual’s persistent negative thoughts and feelings about his or her body. It is commonly influenced by external factors such as societal norms and perceived pressure from other individuals. High levels of body dissatisfaction can lead to low self-esteem and ultimately lead to harmful eating and exercising behaviors.

On the contrary, having a positive body image is associated with self-acceptance, higher self-esteem, and having healthier practices in regards to eating and exercising.

The Four Primary Elements of Body Image:

  1. Perceptual body image:  the way you see your body
  2. Cognitive body image:  the way you think about your body
  3. Affective body image: the way you feel about your body (often characterized by satisfaction or dissatisfaction)
  4. Behavioral body image: the behaviors you engage in as a result of your body image (may include unhealthy eating behaviors and exercising habits)

Body dissatisfaction fluctuates throughout the lifespan and is correlated with lower levels of self-esteem. These concerns are linked with poor self-concept, which not only affects physical and mental health, but also impacts individuals socially and academically. Since body dissatisfaction often leads to low self-esteem, individuals may be at risk for developing more serious disorders. A poor self-concept, and consequently a poor body image, may influence eating behaviors, making individuals more at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Given that the chance for recovery from an eating disorder increases the earlier it is detected, diagnosed, and treated, it is important to seek help as soon as warning signs appear. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a commonly used psychotherapeutic approach for eating disorder treatment. The approach emphasizes having the individual understand the interaction and inter relatedness between his or her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This therapy focuses on shifting negative thoughts and behaviors to more positive thoughts and healthier alternatives. Furthermore, a mental health care provider can screen and treat for other underlying issues, such as anxiety and depression, as these can influence treatment outcomes.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dissatisfaction, self-esteem, and/or eating disorders, 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://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/body-image/

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-14627-021

https://www.waldenu.edu/online-masters-programs/ms-in-clinical-mental-health-counseling/resource/what-is-body-dissatisfaction-and-how-does-it-lead-to-eating-disorders

Image Source:

https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5bb5f917210000d501c88483.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale&format=webp

Depression: Identifying Signs of Depression in Someone Close to You

Identifying Signs of Depression in Someone Close to You

By Fiona McDermut

            Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental illness is not a simple task, especially when it comes to someone you care about. Even when the signs of mental illness are identified, it is difficult to decide what to do next. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a 25% increase in cases of depression in the world. In a time of great distress for many, it is vital to look out for the people we love.

            If you suspect that someone you know may be struggling with depression, it is crucial to look out for the following signs:

  • Loss of interest
  • Extreme loss or increase in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and sexual dysfunction

            Some of these signs may seem obvious, but many who struggle with depression may cut themselves off from the social world. This makes it difficult to detect the warning signs of mental illness. Therefore, it is important to check in on the people you care about, especially during a time in which the majority of social interactions have been cut off, limited, or turned to strictly virtual contact. If someone you know is struggling with symptoms of depression, it may be necessary to seek medical help. There are many causes of depression, many types of depression, and many treatment methods. A mental health care professional will be able to identify the key factors that go into developing a treatment plan that works best for each individual in need.

The following methods are used to treat people with depression:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Antidepressant medication
  • Brain stimulation therapy

            Admitting that one needs help is not an easy task. Therefore, providing support, comfort, and assistance for a loved one can make a tremendous difference in one’s mental health outcomes. Simply having one strong social connection has been shown to have multiple health benefits. Most people are not trained in the treatment of depression, but everyone is capable of spending time with those they love and guiding them through the process of recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with 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/

Sources:

https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide#:~:text=COVID%2D19%20pandemic%20triggers%2025,of%20anxiety%20and%20depression%20worldwide

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/recognizing-symptoms#lostinterest

Image Source: https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/uploads/How_Friends_Help_You_Regulate_Your_Emotions.jpg

Anxiety in Elementary School Students

Anxiety in Elementary School Students

By Kim Simone

Symptoms of Anxiety

Elementary school students may present with different symptoms of anxiety each day before, during, and after school. Physical manifestations of anxiety may include stomachaches, restlessness, heart palpitations, and complaints of not feeling well enough to attend school. These children often have difficulty falling and staying asleep and may refuse to attend school in the morning. While in the classroom, these students may show difficulty concentrating, show excessive preoccupation with performance, or may perform poorly as a result of excess worry.

Types of Anxiety Presented

Separation anxiety is characterized by excessive worry about being separated from caregivers and commonly affects students of young ages. Social anxiety is another disorder that can be found in children, impacting their ability to participate in the classroom and socialize with their classmates. Another disorder is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) which affects students who worry about a wide variety of school issues. For instance, students with GAD may struggle with academic perfectionism. Although typically harder to identify in a school setting at a young age, young students may present with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Students with this disorder may perform compulsive rituals or behaviors to ease their anxiety. Other anxiety disorders that may affect a student are selective mutism and specific phobias. These often impact academic and social performance.

Treatment Options

Psychotherapy can help children struggling with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used treatment option. This therapy focuses on negative patterns of thoughts and addresses how thoughts affect the way the child feels. Parents of children with anxiety disorders can benefit from speaking to a child psychologist about how they can help. Medications may also be used to ease symptoms for a wide-variety of anxiety disorders. Treatment for anxiety disorders can be done through in-person services and virtual options, which can provide the necessary help to improve daily functioning.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, 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://childmind.org/article/classroom-anxiety-in-children/

Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anxiety/children-and-anxiety#:~:text=They%20may%20be%20overly%20or,enough%20to%20go%20to%20school.

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month

Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month

By Fiona McDermut

            In light of the start of “beautiful in your own skin” month, it is important to recognize that many struggle with body image satisfaction. Not all people look in the mirror and feel content with what they see. Even if those around you do not understand your body-related concerns, your feelings are totally valid and can be helped with treatment.

            Body dysmorphic disorder (body dysmorphia) is a mental illness characterized by a hyper fixation on perceived defects in one’s appearance. This interferes with day-to-day life because one may spend a large amount of time worrying or attempting to adjust the perceived flaw. These behaviors usually result in obsessive body comparison to others, avoidance of social interaction, and frequent negative body-checking (looking in the mirror repeatedly at disliked body parts). Unfortunately, many have associated their own happiness with how closely their bodies align with current beauty standards portrayed in the media. As one lets these thoughts progress, they can worsen, and possibly be a precursor to an eating disorder or other disorders associated with body dissatisfaction such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

            While many believe that cosmetic surgery will fix their perceived flaws, research has shown that such surgeries do not improve psychological symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. The first step to resolving the issue is recognizing that you have a warped view of what you look like. If you or someone you know experiences this, it can be very beneficial to seek psychological/psychiatric assistance. Professionals in the field will be able to decide the best way to treat these disordered thoughts. The most common treatment for body dysmorphia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Other possible treatments include hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and the prescription of antidepressant medication in order to decrease the feelings of dissatisfaction.

            Working with a professional is important in situations like these, but it is still important to remind yourself that your perceived flaws are only noticed by you, and likely not those around you. Nobody is perfect, but with the constant pressure of modern media to be thin, our flaws often appear to be more apparent to ourselves than they are to others. The practice of mindfulness exercises may also help to focus your mind on what you have learned to love about yourself, and of course, do not be afraid to seek help when necessary.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphic 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://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201507/whats-the-best-way-deal-negative-body-image

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shrink/201409/how-stop-hating-your-body

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144507000988

Image source: https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-related-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Trauma: The Impact of Inter-generational Trauma

The concept of intergenerational trauma was first recognized in 1966, by Canadian psychiatrist Vivian M. Rakoff, MD, when she discovered high rates of psychological distress among children of Holocaust survivors. Intergenerational trauma is trauma that isn’t just experienced by one person but extends from one generation to the next. Some of the examples are domestic violence, alcohol and drug, refugees, and survivors of combat/war trauma.

Trauma affects genetic processes, possibly by   epigenetic mechanisms affecting DNA function or gene transcription. Furthermore, microglia is the brain’s immune system. When in a constant trauma reactive state, microglia can eat away at the nerve instead of enhancing growth, which then can lead to genetic changes. Researchers have much to discover about its impact and how it looks within certain populations.  

Everyone is susceptible to intergenerational trauma, but there are specific populations that are vulnerable due to their histories. For instance, populations that have been systematically exploited endured continuous abuse, racism, and poverty. Like survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Asia or African Americans in the United States

A wide range of behaviors were observed in the offspring of Holocaust survivors: feelings of over‐identification and fused identity with parents, impaired self‐esteem stemming from minimization of offspring’s own life experiences in comparison to the parental trauma, tendency towards catastrophizing, worry that parental traumas would be repeated, a sense of a shorten future, mistrust and behavioral disturbances such as experiencing anxiety, traumatic nightmares, dysphoria, guilt, hypervigilance and difficulties in interpersonal functioning. Trauma can mask itself through learned beliefs, behaviors, and patterns that can become engrained.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for intergenerational trauma, 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.health.com/condition/ptsd/generational-trauma

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127768/

Illustration by therapist Ayan Mukherjee

Laziness: The Harmful Effects of the Term “Lazy” on Mental Health

By: Rebecca Fernandez

               “Lazy” is a common uncomplimentary term in modern vocabulary for when someone is unproductive. Think back to a time a group member failed to pull their weight in a group project, or a time someone procrastinated severely, leaving everything for the last minute and creating a poor final product. Consider even a time where you witnessed someone who, by early afternoon, was seemingly unable to bring themselves to get out of bed to start the day.

Whether it was yourself or someone else that you imagined, it’s easy to write off everyone in those examples as lazy. However, there’s a major issue with doing that – “laziness” is often not the cause of these situations. Rather, many mental health conditions can create issues that simulate behaviors identical to laziness.

Take, for example, disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and other mood disorders, insomnia and other sleep disorders, and anxiety disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Each of these conditions can negatively impact a person’s ability to be productive, making them appear lazy. People with ADHD can often find themselves imagining all of the tasks they could be engaging in at once and becoming so overwhelmed they feel almost paralyzed. People with depression and other mood disorders often lack the mental energy to accomplish anything. Similarly, people with insomnia and other sleep disorders often lack the physical energy to accomplish anything. People with GAD may have a crippling fear that they won’t be good enough at something, preventing them from attempting to do the task in question. People with OCD may have a crippling (rational or irrational) fear that something bad will happen if they do specific things, preventing them from doing those things.

               All of these explanations are generalized and therefore may not apply to everyone with each listed disorder, or be the only applicable factor for each disorder’s effect on laziness. However, if you or someone you know has been consistently labeled as lazy, remember that “laziness” is often more than how it appears on the surface, and that actively struggling with mental health does not make a person a failure.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of “laziness” as described above that are getting in the way of day-to-day life, 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/hide-and-seek/201410/the-psychology-laziness

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Understanding BPD and how to Appropriately Respond to Provocations as a Loved One

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) not only affects the individual, but those with whom they have formed a relationship. Relationships are present and strong, but experience more turbulence due to key symptoms of BPD such as: intense reactions, self- doubt, extreme idolization or devaluation, fear of abandonment, mood swings, risky behaviors, etc. There is no one “cause” of a personality disorder like BPD, but studies show that patients with BPD come from families of severe pathology leading to their provocative behavior patterns.

People with BPD engage in provocative behaviors like making wild accusations, over- the- top demands, threatening suicide, etc., all with the intention of being invalidated by their counterparts as they have been their whole life. They feel invalidated (which fuels self- doubts) when they evoke one of three reactions from their counterpart: anxious helplessness, anxious guilt, or overt hostility. If these reactions are displayed, their poor behavior is rewarded and will continue, and feelings of self- doubt are reaffirmed.

When someone with BPD makes a wild accusation, resist invalidating them while disagreeing with the accusation. If they say, for example, “I can tell you hate me,” you can reply with, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I wish there was something I could do that would convince you I love you.” Here, you are disagreeing with the accusation while validating their feelings, and not showing one of the craved reactions. Their poor behaviors are thus not rewarded and feelings of self- doubt are not reaffirmed. Further, simply listen and be attentive. People with BPD most likely grew up being invalidated so they want to feel cared about. When talking to someone with BPD, incorporate the counseling technique “reflection of feelings”. This is defined by interpreting one’s feelings based on their verbal and nonverbal cues. When you’re able to interpret someone’s feelings, it demonstrates that you are paying attention and care, which is of utmost importance to someone with BPD.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for a codependent relationship, 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.nami.org/Personal-Stories/What-Is-BPD

https://www.psycom.net/personality-disorders/bpd-and-relationships/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/matter-personality/201401/responding-borderline-provocations-part-iii

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/matter-personality/201403/responding-borderline-provocations-part-iv

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/matter-personality/201403/responding-borderline-provocations-part-v

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/matter-personality/201405/responding-borderline-provocations-part-vi

Discipline and the Effects of Yelling at a Child

By Katie Weinstein

When it comes to verbal abuse, many people disregard it as a form of abuse because it is not as concrete as physical or sexual abuse, and it is more difficult to draw the line between verbal abuse and scolding. However, the effects of yelling and verbal abuse are just as detrimental and intense as any other type of abuse and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Being yelled at frequently increases the activity of the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotions. This is because loud noises are signaled to the brain as a warning sign for danger. The amygdala increases stress hormones in the body, which increases muscular tension. These signals tell the body to fight, flight, or freeze, but none of these options are okay when a parent is yelling at a child since it isn’t acceptable to run away from a caregiver or fight them, which leaves the body to be in a stress condition with no purpose or function.  

There are long term effects of yelling at a child frequently since the brain develops neuronal pathways according to our experiences. If the child is conditioned to frequently respond to stressful situations, the child will develop pathways that activate a stress response quickly. Since negative interactions impact a person more than positive interactions, it affects our expectations and self-esteem drastically, especially if the yelling involves name calling, as well as behavior. One might think that yelling would get a child not engage in a specific behavior, but in reality yelling increases bad behavior due to stress and increased aggression as a result of a hyperactive amygdala, which may cause the parent to yell more. Since the child is constantly stressed, they are at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, since yelling is not an effective communication style, the child may not learn to properly communicate, which can affect the child’s relationships in the future, leading to more problems down the road.

If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma from verbal abuse 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://optimistminds.com/psychological-effects-of-being-yelled-at/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2018/The-Problem-with-Yelling#:~:text=Being%20frequently%20yelled%20at%20changes,increasing%20muscular%20tension%20and%20more.

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/effects-of-yelling-at-kids