Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You

By Eleanor Kim

Pets have brought joy and comfort to pet owners for hundreds of years. The sheer presence of a happy-go-lucky dog or cat is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The benefits of pet ownership can go beyond mere companionship or responsibility, in fact, emotional support animals are able to, as their name indicates, provide emotional support and other mental health benefits.

Common ways in which emotional support animals could support their owners are:

  • Fostering emotional connectivity
  • Helping people during times of crisis
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Offering trauma support
  • Improving physical health (Lower blood pressure, decrease respiration rates, improve ability to cope with pain, etc.)
  • Lowering feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Reciprocating feelings of love and care

It is important to indicate the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals also provide emotional support to their owners; however, service animals undergo intensive training to perform specific tasks necessary to aid their owners’ needs. In contrast, emotional support animals do not need formal training and simply need to receive a certification from the state registry. In order to qualify for an emotional service animal, individuals must acquire a prescription from a licensed mental health professional indicating that the presence of an emotional support animal is necessary for the mental health of the patient.

In a time when all of us are at home and may be in need of more emotional support, emotional support animals may provide the help you need. If you are interested in receiving emotional support, whether that be through a support animal or through a mental health professional, we here at Arista Counseling are here to assist you.

If you or someone you know is looking for emotional 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/.

References:

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479#definition

Picture Source:

https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/can-cats-dogs-live-together-peacefully

Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, 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/ .

References:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg

OCD: Exposure Therapy and Medication

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a chronic, long-term disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors that take over and are constantly repeated. These repetitions can take over one’s life; all they can focus on are one’s obsessions and nothing else. Obsessions are defined as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety,” while compulsions are “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to their obsessions.” It’s a common disorder affecting about 1% of the U.S. on any given year, with a lifetime prevalence of OCD among U.S. adults falling at 2.3%. Symptoms can present themselves in a range of mild to serious, with about ½ of OCD cases falling under serious.

Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP therapy, is a common form of treatment for individuals with OCD, but it can be very harsh and relentless. In simple terms, ERP therapy takes the OCD patient and places them at the forefront of their fears so that they confront them head on, with no protection. However, when doing this they’re guided by a trained therapist to ensure they don’t resort to their compulsive behaviors. An example of this type of therapy would be having a patient who suffers from germaphobia stick their hands in dirty water without washing their hands after. Over time they’re usually able to adapt to and overcome their fears, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, this type of therapy doesn’t work for everyone and many individuals fighting OCD need medication instead, or a combination of both. Some common OCD medications are Zoloft, Prozac, and Luvox. These are all anti-depressants approved by the FDA to treat OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with obsessive compulsive 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/exposure-and-response-prevention

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

PTSD Researcher Finds Link between Stress and Trauma

By Diana Bae

Rachel Yehuda, PhD, is a distinguished researcher and Director of Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Icahn School of Medicine of Mount Sinai. She has conducted numerous prominent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) studies and treatment. One of her most well-known studies researched Vietnam War combat veterans with PTSD and found that they had significantly lower cortisol levels than veterans without PTSD. Cortisol is a hormone that controls stress and although it is thought that more cortisol resulted in more stress, Dr. Yehuda showed that that is not the case. Thus, there needs to be a sufficient amount of cortisol to handle stress and reduce the risk of developing trauma. Now, Dr. Yehuda plans to test a drug, oral hydrocortisone, to see whether it can replicate the cortisol naturally produced in the body. If this drug is successful, it may prevent PTSD and other similar disorders.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the problems caused by PTSD and are dedicated to provide proper attention and treatment. If you or someone you know would like to set up an appointment for our counseling services, contact us at our offices in Paramus, NJ (201) 368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY (212) 996-3939. For more information, please visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Source: Inside, a publication of the Mount Sinai Health System, Issue: November 25 – December 15, 2019;  Picture Source: http:// www. thesuburban.com/life/lifestyles/can-trauma-be-transmitted-intergenerationally-oct-dawson-college-peace-centre/article_ea2d7bb0-b063-11e7-aee3-5b0d013065f7.html, https:// askopinion.com/how-to-deal-with-ptsd-aka-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

When Fears Become Extreme

By Diana Bae

With Halloween coming next month, spooky decorations and fake spider webs begin to appear and spark a little bit of fear in all of us, as we prepare for the scares to come. Feeling afraid or scared is normal because fear allows us to be alert and safe in case of possible danger. However, when the fear persists and starts intruding our lives, it may be a phobia.

Phobias are severe fears that cause persistent anxiety over certain circumstances or objects. They can come at small to large intensities and cause distress. Some common phobias include animals (spiders), social situations (public speaking), and even the natural environment (heights).

However, there is a chance that these phobias will develop into a harsher anxiety disorder and cause distressing panic attacks. Trying to handle phobias without assistance can backfire and produce stress and anxiety due to avoidance. Thus, with the proper treatment, a person can learn how to face the phobias and reduce their feelings of panic and fear.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the difficulty of overcoming phobias alone and, thus, are dedicated to help those seeking for treatment. If you or someone you know would like to set up an appointment for our counseling services, contact us at our offices in Paramus, NJ (201) 368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY (212) 996-3939. Also, please visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/anxiety

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/fear

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201603/where-do-fears-and-phobias-come

Image Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/well/live/fear-anxiety-therapy.html

Groupthink and Conformity

Groupthink and Conformity

By Crystal Tsui

Have you ever been in a group and did not agree with the group’s decision, but had to agree because they would reject your idea?  Irving Janis, a social psychologist, first coined the term groupthink to describe this situation. His main aim was to understand how a group of individuals collectively come up with excellent decisions one time and fail at other times. Groupthink happens when a group of people with good intentions, but they make irrational decisions that are spurred by the urge to conform. Group members value harmony and coherence above rational thinking and refrain from expressing doubts and judgements or disagreeing with the consensus.

Irving Janis observed the following eight patterns of groupthink:

  1. Illusions of Invulnerability: when the group displays excessive optimism and takes big risks, the members of the group feel that anything they do will turn out to be successful.
  2. Collective Rationalization: when the group rationalizes thoughts or suggestions that challenge what the majority is thinking
  3. Belief in Inherent Morality of the Group: the belief that whatever the group does will be right. This causes the group members to overlook the consequences of what they decide.
  4. Out Group stereotypes: is the belief that those who disagree are opposing just to oppose the group
  5. Direct Pressure on Dissenters: the majority directly threatens the opposing group member by telling them that they can always leave the group if they don’t agree.
  6. Self-Censorship: the opposing individual believes that if they are the only odd one out then they must be the one who is wrong.
  7. Illusions of Unanimity: Silence from some is considered acceptance of the majority’s decision
  8. Self-Appointed Mind Guards: Members of the group who take it upon themselves to discourage alternative ideas from being expressed in the group.

There are numerous studies supporting the fundamentals of groupthink and conformity. One famous study was the Asch Conformity experiment. Solomon Asch gathered his participants to take a vision test where three lines at varied lengths were compared to one other; which was longer. The participants were asked to identify the lines with matching lengths. Ninety-five percent of participants answered every question correctly. Then Asch placed actors in the groups, who confidently volunteered the same incorrect answer. The accuracy dropped to 25 percent, indicating that 75 percent of the participants went along with the group’s incorrect answer for at least one question.

An Emory University neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, found that when we take a stance different from the group, we activate the amygdala, a small region in the brain associated with the fear. We don’t like to be rejected so we refrain from speaking up against the group, which supports Janis’ pattern of groupthink: Direct Pressure on Dissenters. Professor Berns defined this situation as “the pain of independence.” Many government decisions are cited as a result of groupthink, such as the Vietnam War or the invasion of Iraq.

Groupthink also fosters a strong “us vs. them” mentality that prompts members to accept group perspectives in the heat of the moment, where there is also a strong pressure from the outside to make a good decision. An example in literature is George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the animals make a nonunanimous decision to rid the farm of humans. There were animals there that quite adored being loved and owned by a human, however, those animals had to agree because the leader of the animals would punish them otherwise.

After periodically experiencing groupthink, an individual may become shy and become more introverted. They may be afraid to speak and include their own ideas in fear of the group rejecting their idea.

If you or someone you know have social anxiety and fear of speaking up, 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/basics/groupthink

https://www.communicationtheory.org/groupthink/

https://www.capitalideasonline.com/wordpress/the-pain-of-independence/

https://counselingrx.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/f74c8-1d9gxs1dxyteswk7e7zgd2q.jpeg

Passive Aggressiveness: Origins and How to Respond

Passive Aggressiveness: Origins and How to Respond

By Crystal Tsui

At one point or another, we have all seen or engaged in passive aggressive behaviors, whether it’s giving the silent treatment, making subtle insults, or sending one of those “as per my last email” emails. We do this because we are suppressing our anger or frustration from someone or something. Fear and anger are controlled by a region in the brain called the amygdala. Passive aggressiveness stems from that basic emotion of anger.

Anger is neither good nor bad. It is a basic, spontaneous, neurophysiological part of human emotion. As children, we were often scolded or punished for expressing anger. For example, throwing a temper tantrum is considered unacceptable. So at a young age, we started to perceive anger as taboo. As a result, we learned to suppress our feelings and engage in an indirect expression of hostility through subtle acts.

Children are most likely to act in a passive aggressive manner. Nonetheless, children are the most susceptible to change. Teaching our children that anger is just like every other emotion and directing their anger towards a positive, productive activity will help the child grow into an adult knowing how to manage their emotions properly. Some positive activities may include writing, exercising, drawing, meditating, and listening to music. These activities provide a form of distraction that can alleviate one’s mood, by stimulating another part of the brain that is not associated with the amygdala.

However, adults act this way as well because it’s easier to be passive than to be assertive and emotionally open. When children are taught to suppress their anger and they mature into an adult, it’s harder for them to stand up for themselves and to confront their source of anger.

It is best to avoid raising your voice, lecturing, or knee-jerk consequences that can exacerbate the situation. If an individual is trying to express their anger through communication, it is best to listen instead of reprimanding them for being angry.

When someone is passive-aggressive towards you, fight the urge to mirror their behavior. Instead confront the behavior because when passive-aggressive behavior is confronted directly and assertively, the hidden anger is weakened. Assertive communication and being emotionally open, no matter how hard it is, is the most effective way to acknowledge and accept anger. This builds a foundation for lifelong emotional intelligence and strong, secure relationships.

If you or someone you know has difficulty managing their anger, 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/passive-aggressive-diaries/201712/the-angry-smile-responding-passive-aggressive-behavior

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201709/how-respond-effectively-young-persons-anger

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-passive-aggressive-behavior-2795481

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/pixar/images/7/7a/Io_Anger_standard2.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/2000?cb=20150425021210