Siblings with Disabilities

By: Isabelle Siegel

People readily consider the struggles experienced by children with disabilities as well as by their parents, but siblings’ experiences and difficulties oftentimes go unnoticed. However, growing up with a sibling with a disability is not without consequences. Having a sibling with special needs is associated with numerous challenges, but also numerous opportunities.

Challenges

Growing up alongside a sibling with a disability can be associated with many negative emotions, some of which include anger, guilt, jealousy, embarrassment, and fear. Siblings of children with disabilities often report feeling neglected by their parents and feeling forced to hide their own problems for the sake of their family or brother/sister. They may also undergo “parentification,” meaning that they take on the role of a parent to themselves or even to their sibling. Although this parentification is associated with increased maturity, it is also associated with increased emotional vulnerability and distress. Taken together, these negative emotions and challenges render siblings of children with disabilities at higher risk for developing psychological adjustment difficulties: that is, they are more vulnerable than the average child to anxiety disorders, peer problems, academic struggles, and more.

Opportunities

People are quick to assume that having a sibling with a disability is a purely negative experience. However, growing up alongside a sibling with a disability is associated with many positive emotions and opportunities. Siblings of children with disabilities report feeling immense pride, gratitude, loyalty, and love. They tend to be more mature, responsible, empathetic, and tolerant than the average child. These positive experiences are equally as important as the negative ones, and must be acknowledged in order to fully comprehend what it is like to have a sibling with a disability.

What Parents Can Do

In order to best help the siblings of children with disabilities, parents can take several steps. These include:

  • Making sure to spend one-on-one time with each child
  • Keeping the siblings informed about their brother’s or sister’s disability and its implications
  • Understanding both the negative and positive emotions associated with being the sibling of a child with disabilities
  • Getting siblings involved in psychological services such as therapy

If you or a loved one is the sibling or parent of a child with a disability, 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/

Sources:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/band-brothers-and-sisters/201406/siblings-children-disabilities
https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/child-adolescent-psychiatry/emotional-problems-facing-siblings-of-children-with-disabilities/
Image Source: https://raisingchildren.net.au/disability/family-life/siblings/supporting-siblings

Co-Parenting During COVID-19

Co-Parenting During COVID-19

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Co-parenting is challenging even during normal times. The crisis of COVID-19 can add to the stress of co-parenting. There are many aspects that make co-parenting even more difficult now than before. Some parents may have to work longer hours during the pandemic, whereas others may have reduced hours and are therefore struggling with finances; these are just a few extra stressors that parents are facing during this pandemic. Adding to the difficulty, different states handle custody arrangements differently, which adds confusion to the process.

Regarding custody, parents have to work together to ensure the safety of their children. Unlike before the pandemic, if they do not see eye to eye, they now have limited means of settling the matter in the justice system. State Supreme Courts such as in California, Maryland, and Texas, have issued that parents should follow their court-ordered processioning schedule during COVID-19. However, there are some exceptions including the event of a “lockdown” or a “shelter in place.” In other states, such as New York, the administrative judge has ordered to “act reasonably.” This uncertainty can spark conflict between co-parents as well.

To accommodate in this challenging time, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts released a joint statement of guidelines on March 19 to help separated parents create a plan during the health crisis. The statement says, “Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take serious concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances.” Nonetheless, the major issue that co-parents are facing, concerning their children, is that many parents are losing the ability to have daily or normal interactions with their kids.

Healthy co-parenting through COVID-19 requires parents to put aside their differences and put their children first. Parents need to know that although this time is confusing for children, kids are generally resilient. Both parents should talk to their kids, whether it be in-person, from 6-feet apart, or virtually about the pandemic. Communication during this time is the best way for a child to have a sense of normality. Thus, this is a time for parents to embrace technology and do their best to work together as co-parents.

Kids are feeling overwhelmed too. Therefore, as a co-parent, focus on doing everything they can do to emotionally support their kids. Reassuring their child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, they are loved is the best way to be there for their child during this time.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-04-27/americans-struggle-with-co-parenting-during-covid-19

https://www.paleyrothman.com/legal-blog/co-parenting-during-covid-a-practical-guide

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Co-Parenting-through-COVID-19.aspx

https://www.thecenterforfamilylaw.com/afcc-aaml

Image Source:

https://nyulangone.org/news/divorce-co-parenting-covid-19-challenges-opportunities

COVID-19: Co-Parenting in a Stressful Time

COVID-19: Co-Parenting in a Stressful Time

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Co-parenting is challenging even during normal times. The crisis of COVID-19 can add to the stress of co-parenting. There are many aspects that make co-parenting even more difficult now than before. Some parents may have to work longer hours during the pandemic, whereas others may have reduced hours and are therefore struggling with finances; these are just a few extra stressors that parents are facing during this pandemic. Adding to the difficulty, different states handle custody arrangements differently, which adds confusion to the process.

Regarding custody, parents have to work together to ensure the safety of their children. Unlike before the pandemic, if they do not see eye to eye, they now have limited means of settling the matter in the justice system. State Supreme Courts such as in California, Maryland, and Texas, have issued that parents should follow their court-ordered processioning schedule during COVID-19. However, there are some exceptions including the event of a “lockdown” or a “shelter in place.” In other states, such as New York, the administrative judge has ordered to “act reasonably.” This uncertainty can spark conflict between co-parents as well.

To accommodate in this challenging time, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts released a joint statement of guidelines on March 19 to help separated parents create a plan during the health crisis. The statement says, “Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take serious concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances.” Nonetheless, the major issue that co-parents are facing, concerning their children, is that many parents are losing the ability to have daily or normal interactions with their kids.

Healthy co-parenting through COVID-19 requires parents to put aside their differences and put their children first. Parents need to know that although this time is confusing for children, kids are generally resilient. Both parents should talk to their kids, whether it be in-person, from 6-feet apart, or virtually about the pandemic. Communication during this time is the best way for a child to have a sense of normality. Thus, this is a time for parents to embrace technology and do their best to work together as co-parents.

Kids are feeling overwhelmed too. Therefore, as a co-parent, focus on doing everything they can do to emotionally support their kids. Reassuring their child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, they are loved is the best way to be there for their child during this time.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-04-27/americans-struggle-with-co-parenting-during-covid-19

https://www.paleyrothman.com/legal-blog/co-parenting-during-covid-a-practical-guide

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Co-Parenting-through-COVID-19.aspx

https://www.thecenterforfamilylaw.com/afcc-aaml

Image Source:

https://nyulangone.org/news/divorce-co-parenting-covid-19-challenges-opportunities

COVID-19: Parenting in a Stressful Time

COVID-19: Parenting in a Stressful Time

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Parenting in confinement during COVID-19 has many challenges. For many, the home has become the office and the classroom, making it more difficult to be productive and motivated. During this stressful time in isolation, it can be very difficult to keep children occupied while also working remotely, dealing with finances, and navigating the danger of the coronavirus. However, by creating structure, setting boundaries, and encouraging open communication, parents can improve their family dynamic.

Parents are having to take on more responsibilities than ever before. Especially in a very uncertain time, it is normal for children and parents to feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. As a result, many parents and children are reacting to today’s stressors by acting out or regressing to behaviors long outgrown. Due to the additional stressors that come with COVID-19, parents are taking on too much which is causing parents to feel stressed, frustrated, and resentful. According to the APA’s Stress in America survey, “73% of parents report family responsibilities as a significant source of stress.” This can erode the feeling of mutual support and respect that is crucial to a healthy relationship.

To help, creating some structure in your life, such as a routine and designating a workspace for children to do their schoolwork and homework can be an effective way to set boundaries and help a family cope with stress. Thanking your child for allowing you to do your work, is an effective tool as it positively reinforces your child to continue giving you the space you need to be productive.

Sharing and designating daily responsibilities can improve the quality of a parent’s relationship with their children. Working together as a family and designating different tasks is something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.

To help parents create a healthy family dynamic in the climate of COVID-19, the way parents talk to their kids may need to be readjusted as well. Initiating regular open conversations with their kids. Giving your children your undivided attention can help a family work together to better understand, acknowledge, and address any stressors children are experiencing. Calming your children’s fears is important.

Take advantage of this time together, it can be an opportunity for your relationship with your kids to grow, but don’t forget to take care of yourself! For support, discussing experiences with friends, relatives, or a telehealth mental health professional can be helpful. At Arista Counseling, we have a multitude of different therapists that can help you.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/parenting-during-pandemic

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/little-house-calls/202003/parenting-during-covid-19

Image Source:

https://www.parkview.com/community/dashboard/dealing-with-parenting-stress-during-covid-19

COVID-19 and Suicide

By: Isabelle Siegel

The COVID-19 epidemic quickly became an international crisis, impacting each and every one of us to varying degrees. Even for those of us who do not personally know someone affected with COVID-19, the mental health toll that the virus is taking is pervasive. In fact, calls to one national mental health hotline have increased by 1000% in April alone. 

One unfortunate secondary consequence of COVID-19 and its effects on public mental health is increased suicide risk: It is predicted that the suicide rate will drastically increase in the coming months. This is likely the result of the anxiety surrounding COVID-19, coupled with resulting economic stress and social distancing.

National Anxiety

The threat of COVID-19 serves as an immense stressor, having the potential to increase the rates of onset of mental health conditions and/or to exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions. According to the Washington Post, nearly half of Americans cited COVID-19 as being harmful to their mental health.

Economic Stress

COVID-19 has brought about an unprecedented economic crisis, with unemployment rates skyrocketing. Previous research has documented that suicide rates tend to increase by 1.6% for each percentage point increase in the unemployment rate. This means that with current unemployment rates estimated at around 15%, we may see a 24% increase in suicide rates.

Social Distancing

Increased suicide rates may also be an unintended consequence of social distancing measures. Ironically, what is keeping us physically safe and healthy may be putting our mental health at risk. Humans require connection to survive, especially in times of duress. In times of forced isolation, it is only natural that the risk of suicide will increase. Social distancing measures are also limiting access to community and religious support systems, as well as to mental health care—all of which have been demonstrated to lower suicide risk. 

How can suicide risk be addressed in the era of COVID-19?

Despite the stress associated with the COVID-19 crisis, measures can still be taken to lower suicide risk through awareness of risk factors, increased access to teletherapy, and maintaining social connections (via Zoom, FaceTime, etc.).

If you or a loved one appears to be at risk for anxiety, depression, or suicide, 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/

Child Abuse and Its Effects

Image result for child abuse

 

Child Abuse and Its Effects

By: Vanessa Munera

 

Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, acts upon or fails to act, causing injury, death, emotional harm, or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many different forms of child maltreatment which include physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse. In fact, many research studies have demonstrated over and over again that child abuse and neglect can result in permanent changes to the developing brain of a child. These changes in the brain structure can appear to be significant enough to potentially cause psychological and emotional problems later in adulthood. Changes can even result in physiological disorders and/or substance abuse.

The negative effects in the brain structure due to abuse and neglect are:

  1. Size in hippocampus is decreased. This is very important for learning and memory.

2. Size of the corpus callosum is decreased. This affects for emotion, impulses, and arousal, as well as communicating between the right and left hemispheres.

3. Size of the cerebellum is decreased. This can affect motor skills and coordination.

4.Decreased volume in the prefrontal cortex. This can affect behavior, balancing emotions and perception.

5. Too much activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions and determining reactions to potentially stressful or dangerous situations.

6. Cortisol levels are either too high or too low, which can harm and cause negative effects to the body.

Child abuse can affect brain structure and disrupt chemical functions. However, child maltreatment can also affect the way a child behaves, socially interacts, and emotion regulation. These effects include:

  1. Feeling fearful most or all of the time
  2. Learning Deficits
  3. Unable to relax and constantly on alert, no matter the situation
  4. Can develop depression or an anxiety disorder, and/or both
  5. Social situations are more challenging
  6. Weak ability to process positive feedback
  7. Delay of developmental milestones in a timely fashion

 

If you or someone you love is struggling with the effects of child 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 and Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/. 

References:

 

https://www.verywellmind.com/childhood-abuse-changes-the-brain-2330401

 

 

 

Postpartum Depression

By: Maryellen Van Atter

          Postpartum depression is the experience of depressive symptoms (such as fatigue, changes in eating habits, and a loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable) after giving birth. Though commonly known as postpartum depression, it is now often referred to by the new name of peripartum depression. This name change indicates that the depression can onset during pregnancy or after childbirth. In addition to symptoms of depression, parents may also suffer from feelings that they are a bad parent, fear of harming the child, or a lack of interest in the child. It is also important to note that both men and women can suffer from peripartum depression; fathers may struggle with the changes that come along with a new child, and the symptoms of peripartum depression are not contingent on giving physical birth to a child. It is estimated that 4% of fathers experience peripartum depression in the first year after their child’s birth and that one in seven women will experience peripartum depression.

            Peripartum depression is different from the ‘baby blues’. Many new mothers will feel despondent, anxious, or restless in the first week or two after giving birth; this is due to the variety of biological, financial, and emotional changes which occur after having a child. This is called the baby blues. However, these feelings will not interfere with daily activities and will pass within ten days. If these symptoms persist, or if they do interfere with daily activities and functioning, it is likely that the problem is something more serious such as peripartum depression. It’s important to seek treatment for these symptoms as soon as you’re aware of them. Many parents feel a stigma against reporting these feelings, but this should not be the case: experiencing peripartum depression does not mean that you are a bad parent or that you do not love your child. It is a psychological condition which many people experience and it can be resolved with proper treatment.

Peripartum depression can be treated through therapy and through medication. Common treatments include psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, and antidepressant medication. Medication should always be managed by a professional, especially if being administered to a mother who may be breastfeeding. These treatments have been proven effective in many studies and are able to help with symptoms of peripartum, or postpartum, depression.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with peripartum depression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0515/p852.html

https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.post-partum.html

https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/news/20190320/fda-approves-first-drug-for-postpartum-depression#2

https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/understanding-postpartum-depression-treatment#3

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039003/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression

Anxiety and Bullying

Image result for anxiety and bullying

 

Anxiety and Bullying

By: Vanessa Munera

Being bullied is not an easy thing to handle. It can be a traumatic experience for teens that are being targeted. Those who are bullied experience impacts in their lives such as feeling lonely, anxious, isolated, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, when a bully moves on to the next target, these consequences of bullying linger longer for the victim. After prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse effects. These victims will experience depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide. In addition, victims of bullying can develop some sort of anxiety disorder. The top four major anxiety disorders victims of bullying can experience are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and social anxiety disorder.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this occurs after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can develop due to events such as a car accidents or losing a close relative. This disorder can also show up after repeated abuse or even bullying. Children who are bullied may experience nightmares, flashbacks, withdraw from others, or are easily startled. Kids, who undergo long term and abusive bullying, have increased chances of developing PTSD.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Kids with GAD are often tormented with worries and fear that distract them for their daily life activities. Those with generalized anxiety have a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is not uncommon with victims of bullying. With GAD, physical symptoms may appear such as insomnia, stomachaches, fatigue, and restlessness.

3. Panic Attacks: Those who suffer from panic disorders must deal with unpredictable and repeated attacks. When suffering from a panic attack, the attack is usually with no warning and can cause physically symptoms. These symptoms include sweating, chest pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In fact, a part of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in panic attacks. When left untreated, the sufferer will begin to avoid going out or things they once enjoyed, in order to prevent another panic attack.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder: People who suffer from social anxiety fear being humiliated or seen negatively by others. Those with this disorder often worry that the way they look or act cause others to mock them. This can cause sufferers to avoid social gatherings to avoid being humiliated. In fact victims of bullying often develop social anxiety due to the repeated shame and public humiliation they experienced.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an Anxiety 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/

 

References:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/bullying-and-anxiety-connection-460631

https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog

 

 

Anger in Children

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Children experience anger. This is an expected part of growing up and learning how to navigate life’s situations. However, when anger becomes overwhelming and distressing for your child and for your family it may be indicative of a greater issue. If your child has trouble controlling their tantrums or frequently experiences anger, you may consider addressing the emotion and helping your child control their anger.

Though every child is different, there are some warning signs that your child’s anger is out of control. These include the child displaying behavior that is dangerous to themselves or others, the child’s teachers reporting that the behavior is out of control, the behavior alienating the child from their peers at school and preventing social interaction (birthday party attendance, etc.), and the behavior disrupting home life. Additionally, parents should observe if their child feels badly about him or herself as a result of their inability to control their anger. This illustrates that the child is experiencing distress because of the lack of control over their emotions, and is a sign that their anger is beyond what is normal or expected for a child their age.

There are many different causes for this behavior. These causes may include anxiety, learning disabilities, trauma, sensory processing issues, or general distress. Triggers are also an important thing for parents to recognize if they are worried about their child’s anger. Identifying triggers or situations which result in anger can help discern the cause of the anger and ways in which it can be effectively managed. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are two treatment methods which professionals use to help a child manage their anger and teach the child coping mechanisms and emotional regulation.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a child’s anger expression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/anger-issues-in-children-and-teens/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/growing-friendships/201806/children-s-anger-management-strategies-work

https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/anger-overload/

https://childmind.org/article/is-my-childs-anger-normal/

Family Therapy: How to Maximize Your Experience

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Being a family member is a full time job, and sometimes it has the stress to match. Managing a family can be difficult and it is normal to sometimes feel lost and unsure of how to move forward. The goal of marriage and family counseling is to resolve these feelings and give family members the tools to communicate effectively with one another. It is not only a way to resolve problems, but an investment in the future wellbeing of your family.

A common reason for many to seek family therapy is behavioral problems of youth in the family. Research has shown that youth psychosocial problems are linked to the youth’s social systems, such as the family. By addressing concerns and miscommunications, youth often function better and learn healthy coping skills. Family therapy provides a safe space for all individuals to express their feelings with a trained professional who can mediate, interpret, and give plans for long term family success, rather than only resolving a specific problem.

Family is not limited to those who are genetically linked to you; it is often defined as anyone who plays a long term supportive role in one’s life. The support that family provides has an important role in keeping good mental health. Like many good things, family therapy is not always easy. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make it as beneficial as possible:

  • Give it a chance and be open to its success
  • Find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable
  • Have each family member prepare some questions or talking points prior to the session to ensure everyone gets to communicate

If you feel your family could benefit from family therapy, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. We have a wide network of professional help and experience. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx?hkey=1c77b71c-0331-417b-b59b-34358d32b909

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4490859/

https://healthypsych.com/family-therapy/