Sleep Difficulties? Here are 5 questions that will Help You Figure Out Why.

By Sally Santos

We all have gone through this. We have had a long day and we can’t wait to get in to bed to rest. But the moment you rest your head on the pillow you find yourself wide awake and staring at the ceiling. So then you ask yourself “why can’t I fall asleep?” Consider these 5 questions:

Do you take your phone to bed?

  • We spend all day with our phones tending to every notification that we receive. That can become a habit. So when you bring your phone to bed and you see your phones light up you are going to want to see what it is. So every night before you go to bed try to keep your phone away from your bed or at least set it on Do Not Disturb Mode. This ensures that your phone won’t ring for every notification

How much caffeine are you drinking?

  • If you are someone who consumes a lot of caffeine during the day and find yourself not being able to sleep at night consider consuming less caffeine or stop completely.

What do you do during the evening?

  • Avoid having a late meal. If you eat right before you go to bed that might keep you awake because your body is working on digesting your food.
  • If you are someone who works out try working out earlier because after you work out you may have increased energy and that may prevent you from sleeping at night.
  • If possible try avoiding difficult conversations before bed.

How are you using your bed?

  • If you are someone who works or studies in bed, you may be confusing your body. Instead of your body associating your bed as a place for rest it is associating it as a place of work.

Is there something specific that you are worried about?

  • Maybe you are going through a stressful situation and the thought of it is keeping you up at night. Try learning a relaxation method such as breathing gently or meditation.
  • If the situation is serious seek professional help you problem-solve the situation. You might be helped by relaxation techniques, hypnosis or sleep medication.

Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201901/how-calm-your-racing-mind-so-you-can-sleep

Image:

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/no-sleep

If you or someone you know is having sleep issues, speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

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Video Games – Advantages and Disadvantages

By Dara Kushnir

Ever since its creation, people have debated whether video games are a help, a hindrance, or useful in moderation. Below presents evidence from the most disputed aspects of this argument as well as additional factors to consider:

Content. Countless studies show that violence in video games diminishes empathy and exacerbates behavioral problems. After playing even 30 minutes, less activation was found in the prefrontal portion of the brain (involved in concentration, inhibition, and self-control) and more in the amygdala (emotional arousal)1. People who play violent video games may expect others to be hostile, influencing how aggressively they themselves react in the future2.
Conversely, prosocial, nonviolent video games can promote empathy and helpful behaviors, even teaching empathy3, asthma management, rehabilitating stroke patients, learning resiliency from failures4, and being a therapy tool in moderating certain phobias5. Preschool children have also shown improved motor development and cognitive behavior5.  Children who play cooperative video games display fewer emotional problems and problems with peers whereas those who play solitary games do well academically6.

Time. Despite the noteworthy benefits, it is crucial to understand that these benefits apply to those who play for less than or equal to an hour. Excessive time is linked with behavioral problems, poorer social skills, and peer conflicts. A recent study revealed that playing for less than an hour reduces ADHD symptoms, has a calming effect, and is not associated with delinquency7 8. Less than one hour of gaming strengthens motor skills and leads to higher achievement scores. However, playing more than one hour increases ADHD symptoms and lowers grades, which means the difference between a “B” and an “A” grade9.

Motivation. One . One study argues that people play video games to meet their motivational needs rather than for the content itself10. Those who are more aggressive play violent video games rather than cause aggression. Violent video games were not associated with aggressive behavior. Those who play for enjoyment or catharsis (releasing anger) play violent video games, although it is unclear if playing actually helps. The researchers suggested that people seek out video games to meet their motivational needs rather than the violent content itself. More research is still needed.

Personality. People with certain personality traits can be predisposed to aggression after playing violent video games. One study states that the “perfect storm” of personality traits using the Five-Factor Model is high neuroticism (easily upset and angry), low agreeableness (little concern for others and their feelings), and low conscientiousness (act without thinking)11. These traits make individuals more susceptible to violent games and media.

Player abilities. Another study argues that regardless of video games’ content, frustration from failing sparks aggression12. When a person’s competency or ego is questioned, through a challenging game or failing to master the controls, they enjoy the game less and react with more aggression. This reaction is not limited to video games; people react with frustrated aggression playing sports and other activities, especially if they lose or play poorly.

 

Source:
(image) http://guides.library.ucla.edu/videogames
All articles are sourced in text.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from a video game addiction, 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/.

Depression in Children: What are the Signs?

By: Sally Santos

In children the most common mental health disorder is depression. When a child is going through depression it may affect their mental and physical health. As mentioned in a Psychology Today article the symptoms “must also interfere with the child’s functioning in normal daily activities.” Since children are still young they are not able to communicate their feelings well to others. Children with depression can be helped that’s why it is important for parents, caregivers and teachers to recognize the signs of depression. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Angry outburst
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased in energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Refusal to go to school

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health “Once a young person has experienced a major depression, he or she is at risk of developing another depression within the next five years.”

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/alphabet-kids/201009/20-signs-and-symptoms-childhoodteen-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/alphabet-kids/201009/depressing-news-about-childhood-and-adolescent-depression

Image:

https://www.anxietymedications.net/childhood-depression-symptoms-and-signs-to-diagnose-stress-on-kids/

If you are a parent and are concerned about your child having depression call 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/

Dementia: Early Signs

By Dara Kushnir

You may find it difficult determining whether you or someone you know is experiencing typical age-related changes or early symptoms of dementia. Dementia affects a person’s language and reasoning abilities, communication, and focus. Remembering where you last left your keys or forgetting an appointment once in a while does happen and does not necessarily mean you have dementia.

Being aware of early signs of dementia can help you figure out if you would need to schedule an appointment with a neurologist for further testing. A person may experience:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Individuals with dementia may be able to remember an event twenty years ago, but have trouble remembering what they did earlier in the day or important dates. They repeatedly ask for the same information and begin to rely on electronic devices or family members for reminders. While those who are going through typical age-changes do forget things, they are later able to remember them or retrace their steps.
  2. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. As individuals with dementia get older, they occasionally need help with tasks such as working a microwave. Those with dementia often have difficulty with daily tasks such as driving to a familiar place or remembering how to do a favorite craft.
  3. Confusion with time and place. Individuals with dementia may not recognize landmarks or places that were familiar. Individuals in the later stages of dementia can understand what is happening currently, but not tomorrow or yesterday. Individuals with early stages of dementia may have difficulty remembering what day, date, or even year it is.
  4. Poor judgement. Everyone makes a bad decision once in a while. Those with dementia can experience changes in decision-making, which can lead to bad financial decisions such as spending an excessive amount of money on clothing or food. They may also pay less attention to hygiene.
  5. Changes in mood and personality. Individuals with dementia can become confused, suspicious, frustrated, or angry in situations where they are out of their comfort zone or even at familiar places, at home, or with friends. These changes go beyond feeling annoyed toward a disruption in routine.
  6. Problems with speaking or writing. Individuals may find it hard to follow conversations or storylines, struggle to find the right words, or even say the same thing in a short timespan.
  7. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Due to the changes individuals start to experience, they may withdraw themselves from social activities, work, or hobbies. They may find it difficult to remember how to interact in social settings or complete tasks.

Source:
https://homecareassistance.com/blog/5-early-signs-of-dementia-that-may-surprise-you
https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs
https://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/early-warning-signs
(image) https://www.jeffreysterlingmd.com/tag/dementia/

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from dementia, 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/.

Advice for Dementia: Support for Caregivers

By Dara Kushnir

Caring for someone with dementia can be demanding and mentally exhausting, but it is also important to maintain and strengthen your relationship. Individuals with dementia experience memory problems, impaired judgment, difficulty communicating, and confused thinking more severe than normal aging. In the most severe stage, they are completely dependent on others for even their basic needs, such as hygiene and food. Therefore, finding ways to handle the challenges caregivers often face is essential so both you as a caregiver and the person who has dementia enjoy spending time together.

  1. Know your limits – As much as you want to be able to manage everything, you are only one person. Remember to focus on what’s important and don’t be too hard on yourself about things you can’t manage. Taking breaks allows you to reflect and relax.
  2. Coping with changes – It can be difficult to see the person you care for struggling with things they used to be able to do. It is important to focus on what they can do and support these things rather than what they can’t do.
  3. Address difficult emotions – you may feel isolated, angry, frustrated, or even guilty with your situation. These are very common reactions when caring for someone with dementia and should not make you feel shame. Figuring out how to deal with these feelings is vital though, because they can have a negative impact on your wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the recipient of your care. Just being there and caring for your loved one helps them immensely.
  4. Be in the moment – Acceptance is a reoccurring, crucial part of caring for a person with dementia. Those with significant memory loss may not be able to discuss things they used to do or participate in certain activities. They can still enjoy things directly in front of them such as looking at photographs and playing simple games, and your company.
  5. Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. Involving family and friends or voluntary organizations can provide you with support and reduce your stress. It may also help to talk about dementia to others to help them understand what you are doing and suggest ways others can help.

Source: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/help-dementia-care/caring-for-person-dementia
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/managing-your-memory/201812/seek-joy-when-caring-those-dementia
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/managing-your-memory/201811/8-principles-communicating-people-dementia
(image) https://www.insights.uca.org.au/features/changing-the-way-we-talk-about-dementia

If you or someone you know needs help coping with the dementia of a family member, 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/.

Schizophrenia

By: Dianna Gomez

Schizophrenia is generally known to be a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Schizophrenic individuals most often have had a break with reality. When the average person hears the term ‘schizophrenia’ they immediately associate the illness with things such as hallucinations, hearing of voices, etc. Although these are accurate possibilities, there are several additional types of schizophrenia that many people aren’t aware of that people suffer from all around the globe. There are a total 5 subtypes of schizophrenia including: paranoid, disorganized, residual, catatonic and undifferentiated.

Paranoid: delusions (beliefs that may seem real to the person suffering but are not actually happening) such as believing the government is spying on them. Another symptom seen in this subtype is auditory hallucinations (hearing voices that are not real). Most often, these voices are not kind. They encourage the person to hurt others, hurt themselves, etc. These people may also see things that aren’t truly there (ex: seeing the devil).

Disorganized: in addition to having hallucinations and delusions, people with this type of schizophrenia have problems with disorganized speech (ex: speaking but not making any sense/word salad), disorganized thoughts (ex: quickly jumping from one topic to the next).

Residual: people with this type of schizophrenia mainly struggle with a lack of initiative, poor self-care/hygiene, poor social performance, underactivity, passivity, poor non-verbal communication (facial expressions, eye contact, etc). These people do not experience nearly as many hallucinations and delusions.

Catatonic: disturbances in a person’s movements and/or immobility. Catatonic individuals can maintain very unusual body positions/poses for extended periods of time. If someone were to try to move them, their limbs would be extremely resistant against efforts to be altered.

Undifferentiated: people with this type suffer from 2 or more types of symptoms listed above. They may have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior, etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from schizophrenia, 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 t0 set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.

TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

By: Dianna Gomez

A “traumatizing” experience is one that is dangerous, scary or unexpected and can leave a person affected emotionally. There are many different kinds of experiences that can be considered traumatizing. Traumatic events can be caused by other people such as terror attacks, community violence (mugging, shooting, assault, bullying), or a very serious car accident. Traumatic experiences can also be natural. Examples of natural traumatic events include hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Regardless of what category of trauma an event falls under, each has the potential to leave a certain amount of impact on a person’s brain.

For most people, with time comes less feelings of trauma following an event. However, it is not unheard of for a traumatic experience to leave a person affected for the rest of their lives. In addition, everyone reacts and copes with trauma differently. A majority of people have similar symptoms following a traumatic event that include trouble sleeping or concentrating, constantly thinking about what occurred, and feeling anxious, sad or angry. These can last for several weeks or even months following a traumatic event. There are a few actions that a person can take that are known to be the healthiest ways to cope after experiencing something traumatic. These healthy coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs
  • Spending time around loved ones or supportive people in your life that you trust
  • Maintaining normal daily routines (eating, exercising, sleeping)
  • Staying active! The more you have to keep your mind preoccupied, the less time you have to be consumed by negative thoughts about the event

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

 

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

By: Gisela Serrano

Bing Eating Disorder is a relatively new disorder that was only recently added to the DSM-5 in 2013. So, what exactly is Binge Eating Disorder? According to the American Psychiatric Association, Binge Eating Disorder is “characterized by recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry.” BED is one of the most common eating disorders and research shows that over 50% of people who suffer from BED do not seek or receive treatment. Binge eating disorder can affect just about anyone regardless of race, sex, or age. Most of those who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder are overweight or obese, but not all. Some sufferers actually appear perfectly healthy with regard to their weight. Those who suffer from BED experience extreme shame and guilt for the amount that they eat in such short periods of time. They understand that it is not healthy, but they feel it is almost impossible to change their ways. This is why those who suffer from BED prefer to eat alone rather than feeling ashamed and embarrassed in front of others. Someone who is not well informed on the disorder may not understand and, therefore, is quick to judge and disapprove or make nasty and unnecessary comments to the sufferer. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Binge Eating Disorder is a serious disorder that affects normal, everyday people. If you feel as though you or a loved one might be suffering from this disorder, seeking treatment would be best as it is not always easy to do on one’s own. You can contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy at our office in Paramus, NJ at (201) 368-3700 or our Manhattan location at (212) 722-1920 to see how our services and approaches can help you or a loved one treat your disorder. You can also visit our website http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Resources:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/new-dsm-5-binge-eating-disorder

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/ResourceHandouts/InfographicRGB.pdf

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

By: Gisela Serrano

Although Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most commonly diagnosed depressive disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as Dysthymia, is the second most common diagnosis. PDD is known to be mild and less severe than MDD, however, it is more chronic – that is, it is longer-lasting and recurring.

When diagnosing a patient with PDD, it must be ruled out that the symptoms the patient is experiencing cannot be better explained by a psychotic disorder or attributed to substance abuse. The symptoms must also cause distress to the patient and interfere or cause disturbances in their everyday life. Patients experience a “low” mood and feel down for most of the day, for a majority part of the time than not, for at least two years or more.  The patient cannot be without symptoms for more than two months; otherwise, he or she cannot be diagnosed with PDD.

As listed in the DSM-5, patients must experience two or more of the following symptoms, along with depressed symptoms, to receive a medical diagnosis of PDD:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Treatments for Persistent Depressive Disorder include talk therapy or medication such as antidepressants and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. If you feel like you might be suffering from Persistent Depressive Disorder, it is important that you seek professional help as this disorder is highly treatable. At Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy center, we have qualified professionals that may be able to help you. You can reach us at our office in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Tourette Syndrome

By: Dianna Gomez

Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder. A tic can be classified as an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Those diagnosed with this disorder will either suffer from vocal/phonic tics or motor tics. In general, vocal/phonic tics produce a sound. Examples of vocal/phonic tics include things such as sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, and shouting. Examples of more complex vocal/phonic tics include full words or phrases. These words or phrases are always out of context and may or may not be recognizable. In 10-15% of cases, words blurted out may be inappropriate such as curse words, ethnic slurs, or other words or phrases that are not viewed as socially acceptable.

Motor tics, generally, are movements. Examples of motor tics include eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking/bobbing, facial grimacing, etc. More complex motor tics include movements that involve multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of these movements are things such as hopping, jumping, twirling, etc.

While the exact cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, it has been confirmed that it is hereditary so genetics may play a role. There are, however, some treatment options that are available to help ease the symptoms. Medications for tics include Haloperidol, Pimozide, and Aripiprazole. Speech therapy is also another form of treatment for those with tics. Lastly, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is another method of treatment for tics. DBS is a relatively new procedure that utilizes an implantable electrode to alter the activity of brain circuitry.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Tourette Syndrome, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy 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. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.