Hoarding Disorder: The Psychology of Hoarding

By: Heather Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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Gambling Addiction

By: Heather Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Gambling larger amounts to try to recoup previous losses

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

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

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

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the eight behaviors listed above, you may be at risk for developing a gambling addiction. The licensed psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Good Grief: Part 5

By: Sam Reiner

And now we have come to the last part of my blogs on grief. So far we have gone over what you will be going through while grieving and how long grief should last. But now we must ask, how can you move on? Well that’s easy, you know you can move on when you’ve hit the acceptance stage and start feeling better. You may start to feel better in small ways at first. You could find it easier to get out of bed in the morning or you could have burst of energy. You will begin to feel like your old self again and you will start to reorganize your life to accommodate the loss. This may cause you to have a series of ups and downs. One day you may feel amazing but the next you feel absolutely terrible. You may feel guilty or disloyal for moving on and that this is a completely normal feeling. It is also normal to feel grief on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or other special times. However, it’s important to remember is that all these feelings are completely natural.

And just like that, we have reached the end. At the beginning of part 1 I hoped to answer 3 questions about grief. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? If I did my job correctly, I have been able to answer all these questions so you are better prepared to face the hardship that is grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Codependent Relationships

Codependent Relationships

By Marilyn Wells

 

If you are in a relationship that feels one sided, consistently emotionally draining, or one that you constantly feel responsible for your loved one’s actions, you may be in a codependent relationship. A codependent relationship is characterized as a dysfunctional relationship where one person is responsible for maintaining the other’s needs, but counterintuitively enabling that person to continue their irresponsible behaviors.  Codependent relationships can occur in intimate relationships as well as non-intimate relationships.  The term “codependent” was originally used to describe family members of alcoholics.

Some Symptoms of a Codependent Relationship include:

  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Caretaking
  • Lack of personal boundaries between the couple
  • Having a hard time saying “no” to your loved one
  • Need to control the “irresponsible” individual
  • Ineffective Communication
  • Dependency on others to avoid feeling lonely
  • Denial of Codependency
  • Trust Issues in Intimate Relationships

These symptoms are actually deeply imbedded habits in codependents. Codependents’ actions are meant to help their loved ones but are often counterintuitive and come at the emotional price of the codependent. However, with the right support system, codependents can learn to abandon these habits and how to maintain a healthy relationship.

If you or anyone you know is or may be in a codependent relationship, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-codependency/

Hoarding Disorder: It’s More Than Just Throwing Things Away

By: Emily Mulhaul

“You’re a mess!” “Just throw it away!” “How do you live like this?” These are some of the phrases individuals diagnosed with Hoarding Disorder receive one too many times. Meanwhile, their indecision to throw things away is more internal than most can understand. As proposed in the DSM-5, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) characterizes Hoarding Disorder as an avoidance of decision making about possessions. Although the mess created by the perceived hoarder is tangible and visible, it can be understood that the avoidant behavior may result from the emotional attachment linked to these items. During an interview with an individual recovering from hoarding disorder she made a comment stating, “If I throw away these items, it’s as if I’m throwing away my memories, my childhood, and my mother.” She metaphorically relates throwing things away to ridding herself of her most cherished moments. This commonly occurs in individuals who have suffered the trauma of losing a family member. When the collection of items becomes excessive or interruptive to the progression of one’s life it may be possible this individual has developed a hoarding disorder. The grieving process is different for everyone and in the case of a hoarding disorder it is far more complex than merely throwing things away. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counselors understand the depth of an emotional attachment and are compassionate towards helping those suffering or at risk of hoarding disorder.

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

Comments Welcome

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

 

What to Do When you need to tell your Child you’re Getting Divorced

By: Caroline Leary

In this day and age, divorce is no longer something that is frowned upon by society. Even so, one very difficult aspect of divorce is discussing it with your children. Communicating with your child throughout divorce is imperative to making sure they understand that the divorce is not a result of their actions or behaviors.

Many parents who are getting divorced choose to have a therapist present when telling their children they are getting divorce. The purpose of the therapist’s presence is to listen to how the child reacts to the unfortunate news and mediate the conversation in a way that both the parents and the child are able to express what they need to say in the best way possible. Having a therapist present may alleviate the anxiety the parents have when telling their children about the divorce.

If the child does not take the news well, it may be best to continue seeing a therapist. Family therapy can be beneficial for children going through divorce because it is good for children to see their parents cooperating with each other. Family Therapy also shows your child that although the marriage has not worked out in the best way, both parents still love the child and want him or her to be happy. It also may be beneficial for the children to see a therapist alone so they will not worry about hurting the parent’s feelings.

Overall, talking through issues as a family is a great way to understanding how everyone perceives situations differently while also promoting communication within the family.

If you are having difficulty in discussing divorce with your child, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Comments are welcome

Relationships: Abusive Relationships: Why We Repeat the Past

“Why didn’t you just walk away?” “How could you let this happen to yourself again?” These questions are not uncommon for survivors of domestic abuse to hear. When a person has numerous maladaptive relationships, it leaves them and others baffled. Why on earth would someone put themselves in an abusive situation again? The answer to this lies in a psychological phenomenon called “repetition compulsion.” In repetition compulsion, a person either puts themselves into a situation where abuse is likely to happen again, or they reenact the past situation with another partner. Below are some theorized reasons why people repeat the past in their relationships.

  1. Change can be a scary or anxiety-provoking thing. Most of us stick to what we know, even if it means regularly dating partners who are physically and/or emotionally abusive.
  2. Some think that by putting themselves in the same situation, they can change the outcome this time. They think that they will be able to master this relationship, and this will make up for the last bad one.
  3. We might believe that if we act in just the right way, our partner’s behavior will change and they will treat us right.
  4. We begin to internalize the beliefs that we are unlovable and deserve to be mistreated.
  5.  Unconsciously or consciously, we seek out abuse from others due to conditioning.
  6. “Winning” an argument with an abusive partner may lead us to believe that we are able to do this again and the abuse will stop.

Despite how terrible the situation may be, know that you are not alone, there is help available, and there are resources to begin the healing process.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling 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.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Further reading: “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Source: Esposito, Linda. “Why Do We Repeat the Past in Our Relationships?” Psychology Today. Sussex Pulishers, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016

By: Scout H

Self-Sabotage: Getting In Our Own Way

Does it ever seem as if you’re working against yourself? Do you feel like your own actions are counterproductive? If so, you may be self-sabotaging without even realizing it. Below are 6 things you might believe or say which could be causing detriment to your everyday life.

  1. Diminishing your accomplishments and feeling that you are “beneath” others: This includes feeling like your successes are more from luck than personal accomplishment, and feeling inferior and incompetent in comparison to others.
  2. Constantly beating yourself up: Repetitively focusing on your weaknesses (no matter how trivial your shortcomings are) and wondering why anyone would truly like you as a person are red flags for self-sabotage.
  3. Believing that you don’t have the right to ask for what you want or need: Not standing up for yourself and/or denying gifts or help because you don’t feel worthy of them are only pernicious to yourself.
  4. Seeing yourself as an outcast: You might feel as if you don’t belong anywhere and that you are unable to fit in with any group. Though it’s true that you may not fit into your current environment, people with true self-sabotaging beliefs think of themselves as “abnormal” in any setting.
  5. Not being able to trust yourself: This includes thinking that your own perceptions and judgments cannot be trusted. You might tell others that your opinions don’t count.
  6. Believing that others’ wellbeing comes before your own: Catering to someone else’s needs and feeling responsible for their welfare more so than for your own is not a healthy way of living.

If any of these thought patterns, beliefs, or tendencies sound like ones you or a loved one do, it is important to break free of them so you are able to live a healthier and happier life. Consider reaching out to the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source: Seltzer, Leon F. “9 Ways Your Old Programming May Be Holding You Hostage.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 22 Jan. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

By: Scout H

 

 

How to Recognize a Sociopath

Sociopaths: devious, controlling, cunning. If you ever come across someone with this toxic antisocial personality disorder, it is important to know how to recognize the signs for your own personal safety. These people repeatedly disregard the feelings of others while seeking only to please themselves. They are unable to have the ability to organize their emotions and therefore have no shame about their actions, regardless of how it makes those around them feel. Often, they find internal gratification from hurting others. Below are some warning signs to help you identify a sociopath:

  • A discrepancy between what the person says, and what the person does
  • Making excuses for themselves when they are caught in a lie
  • Changing the subject when they are caught in a lie
  • Beating around the bush when asked questions about the lie you caught them in or not answering them directly
  • Knowing others’ vulnerabilities and manipulating them for personal gain
  • Ability to understand laws and rules, but being unable to understand emotionally why those rules are in place
  • No feelings of shame when they know they have hurt other people
  • Repeatedly putting themselves in situations which could get them arrested
  • Disregarding the safety of themselves or others
  • Constant irritability, hostility, and antagonism
  • Performing cruel and gruesome acts on animals

If these warning signs sound like they apply to yourself or someone you know, it is very important to start therapy. With the help of a medical professional, the combination of medication and psychotherapy can help people with this personality disorder.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling 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.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources:

“Sociopath X – ALL ABOUT SOCIOPATHS – Sociopathic Personality Disorder and Types.” D for Depression Depressive Psychological Disorders. Depression D, 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

By: Scout H

Barbie’s New Proportions: Will They Measure Up?

     Only recently did Mattel release a statement that declared they would be coming out with a line of three new Barbie dolls. For the first time in 57 years, the dolls would be getting new body shapes: curvy, tall, and petite. At first glance, one might be excited that Mattel is finally recognizing that 5’9” and 110 lbs. (original Barbie’s estimated proportions if she were real) reflects an extremely low percentage of women’s figures. While this may indeed reflect a response to feminism and/or a cultural shift, are these changes enough or are they merely superficial?

     The “curvy” Barbie doll by far has the most changes compared to the original Barbie. To start, her face is visibly fuller which actually looks more like what the average person has. Her stomach and backside are wider, but her empire waist top clearly accentuates an hourglass shape. “Naked”, curvy Barbie displays wider calves, thighs, and hips. Mattel notes that she will not be able to fit in many of the original clothes and will therefore have a “special” clothing line to herself. Another change in appearance includes larger feet, though they hardly look that way from the “sneak-peak” pictures Mattel released. Lastly, and perhaps the most striking, is the fact that this doll possesses long blue locks of hair.

     Mattel has come a long way with the marketing of the dolls since Barbie’s “birth” in 1959. In 1963, the Barbie Baby-Sits doll came equipped with a booklet with the title “How to Lose Weight.” It’s advice inside? “Don’t eat.” Just ten years later, the first surgeon Barbie was released- a time when only 9% of all doctors were female. In 1980, multicultural versions were released… with “Caucasian features”, critics voiced. Later during 1992, Mattel got themselves in hot water again after a doll was released that uttered the phrase “Math class is tough!” Lastly in 2015, a huge expansion of the line included 23 new dolls with a variety of skin tones, hair colors and styles, eye colors, and facial features.

While some are excited about what seems to be Mattel embracing diversity, others wonder if this is a means to capitalize off of empowerment and the expansion of their product line (which now includes four times the accessories and clothes). In 2012, Barbie sales across the world dropped 3%, another 6% in 2013, and 16% in 2014. In addition, the Disney Princess line which the company lost in 2015 took away another half a billion dollars per year.

Do these three new Barbie dolls do enough to address the problems of body image and self-empowerment consumers have been worried about, or are these changes only superficial?

If you believe that yourself or a loved one has or may have issues with body image, self-esteem, or an eating disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling 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.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: Dockterman, Eliana. “A Barbie for Every Body.” Time 8 Feb. 2016: 44-51. Print.

By: Scout H