Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

By: Zoe Alekel

Have you been experiencing persistent sadness, anxiety, or feelings of emptiness? Even hopelessness, irritability, guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies—these are all symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). More commonly, MDD is known as depression. Dealing with this diagnosis is not easy because of how long these symptoms can last and how invasive they feel.

The Mayo Clinic defines MDD as “A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living” (Mayo Clinic). It is important to consider contacting a doctor or a therapist to discuss these symptoms, as they can become more severe and invasive with time.

Some ways you can reach help are:

  • Call a local counseling or psychological center.
  • Call a psychiatrist in your area that can help provide medication if needed.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one for support.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that the earlier the treatment begins with a therapist or a psychiatrist, the more effective it can be. Depression can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination. Additionally, meditation and mindfulness can help develop coping skills for those experiencing depression. If you are experiencing depression, it is important to remember that there is hope and there is a way out of the darkness you are experiencing.

If you or someone you know needs support with depression, please contact our psychotherapy office 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.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Image Source:
http://metamedianews.com/2018/06/mdd-major-depressive-disorder/

The Effect of Social Media and Eating Disorders

By: Sarah Cohen

Eating disorders are extremely serious and often deadly illnesses that include severe disturbances in eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. There have been numerous studies in which mass media consumption of the “thin ideal body” has been linked to eating disorders among women. Pressure from media has led to women and men internalizing the “thin ideal body” and led to extreme body dissatisfaction which can then lead to eating disorders. While the effect is smaller among men, they are still being subjected to pressure.

Studies have shown “significant change in the weight and size of female and male models portrayed throughout the media in western society and the concept of the ‘perfect or ideal body’.” This explains “why many adolescents are preoccupied with their bodies and dissatisfied with their body image and are willing to try a variety of dangerous weight-loss practices in their quest for the perfect body.”

Most people are usually not aware the amount of manipulation and digital editing done in the fashion industry to create ‘ideal’ female and male bodies. These false images encourage unrealistic and unhealthy standards that are impossible to attain. One study focused on body concerns in girls 16 years old and tried to understand the underlying motivations to be skinny. The element that exerted the largest pressure to be smaller was the media. Another study measured indicators of eating disorders in a population of young Fijian girls after the addition of Western television to their routine. The indicators of eating disorders were exceptionally more prevalent after extended television viewing, demonstrating a negative impact of media. A large component of the data recorded was the theme of subjects describing a new interest in weight loss as a method of modelling themselves after the television characters they viewed.

In order to prevent the effect of social media on disordered eating, here are three tips: choose what media you view and participate in carefully, limit the amount of exposure you have, and test each media’s message for body positivity by asking critical questions about what information they are attempting to spread.

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

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/media-eating-disorders

Tiggemann M, Gardiner M, Slater A. “I would rather be size 10 than have straight A’s”: A focus group study of adolescent girls’ wish to be thinner. J Adolesc. 2000;23:645–59.

Becker AE, Burwell RA, Gilman SE, Herzog DB, Hamburg P. Eating behaviours and attitudes following exposure to television among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls. Br J Psychiatry. 2002;180:509–14.

Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. 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.healthline.com/health/addiction/shopping

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200603/doped-shopping

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Gabriella Phillip

Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.

Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.

Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. 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/ .

 

Suicide: Suicidal Awareness, All Year and Every Year

By: Diana Bae

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Although today is the last day of the month, the awareness of suicide should not be limited to a single month. Instead, it is an issue that should be recognized every single day because in all cases, suicide is preventable.

2% of all deaths in the United States are due to suicide. The affected population is usually men of older age but as of recently, has also involved more teenagers and young adults (ages 15-24). The most common causes are due to feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, stress as well as the effects of psychological illnesses, like depression.

However, it is important to know that NO ONE IS ALONE WITH THIS STATE OF MIND. With the correct help, all of these difficulties can be helped when speaking with a psychologist. If you or someone you know has expressed these thoughts, including but not limited to: suicidal ideation, self-harm, extreme changes in behavior, and relying on substances, contact a therapist right away.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services will be there to help those who are feeling suicidal and are dedicated to be a comforting source for 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. For more information, please visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

For emergency situations: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/

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

https://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/signs

Image source: http://www.webgranth.com/alone-wallpapers-download-latest-hd-alonesad-wallpaper-free

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Julia Keys

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been normalized and trivialized in society as a need for everything to be meticulously clean and organized when in reality it is a serious psychological disorder that can cause significant distress for those who have it. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by a pattern of uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts, known as obsessions, which can only be remedied by certain behaviors, known as compulsions. People with OCD are commonly depicted as being ultra-neat or afraid of germs, which is true for some people, but the way OCD expresses itself is unique to the individual.

There are several common themes that psychologists have determined when treating patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One common theme is contamination. This may take on the literal meaning in which an object or place can be perceived as dirty, but it can also mean that contact with a person, place, or object will cause great harm. Checking is another typical behavior. One may check if something is safe or turned off over and over again. Checking can also express itself in the need for constant verbal reassurance, so a person with OCD may ask the same question over and over. People with OCD may be worried that they will suddenly lose control and hurt themselves or someone else. In efforts to qualm these obsessions, one may avoid certain places or people or have plans set in place that could prevent them from acting out these thoughts.

Common obsessions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Common compulsions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

When reading these lists one might think that these behaviors are relatively typical, however people with OCD spend an excessive amount of time and effort thinking about obsessive thoughts and preforming rituals to control them. A person with OCD may feel brief relief after preforming a compulsion, but they do not feel pleasure from such acts. Obsessions and compulsions are very difficult to control and may result in significant problems in one’s daily life or relationships.

If you or someone you know is struggling OCD, 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/blog/living-ocd/201107/the-many-flavors-ocd

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Personality Psychology: The Big Five O.C.E.A.N.

Personality Psychology: The Big Five O.C.E.A.N.

By Crystal Tsui

You may have seen quizzes online that can help determine your personality. Most of the quizzes online revolve around the basis of five core personality traits. Fiske, Norman, Smith, Goldberg, and McCrae & Costa were the leading researchers that brought evidence of the big five traits. The five traits are scaled on a spectrum, for example if a person was rated low in Neuroticism; they were rated high in Emotional Stability. The five traits are categorized as:

  • Openness: high levels of imagination, insight, tend to be adventurous, creative
  • Conscientiousness: high levels of thoughtfulness, goal-directed behaviors, good impulse controls, and organized
  • Extroversion: high levels of excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.
  • Agreeableness: high levels of trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors
  • Neuroticism: high levels of sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability. They tend not to handle stress well.

These five traits have been found to be universal. One study showed that people in more than 50 different cultures found that the five dimensions could be accurately used to describe personality. Also, the five dimensions have biological and environmental origins that can influence the change of personality.

Another study showed that our five factors change over time. It showed that agreeableness and conscientiousness increased, but extroversion, neuroticism, and openness generally decrease as a person ages. Sex also contributes to the five factors as well. Women tend to score higher in both agreeableness and neuroticism. Even though sex differences have been found, it does not, by itself, demonstrate that the sexes are innately different in personality, although that is a possibility.

Frank Sulloway, a psychologist who focused on birth order, found that personality traits correlate with the order of individuals’ birth. He found that firstborns are statistically more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to those born later. This could be due to firstborns caring for their younger siblings at a young age.

The Big Five is not based on any underlying theory; it is merely an empirical finding, meaning that the underlying causes behind them are unknown.

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

Sources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-big-five-personality-dimensions-2795422

https://www.mentalhelp.net/psychological-testing/big-five-personality-traits/

https://blog.adioma.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/big-five-personality-traits-infographic.png

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

By: Julia Keys

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to others so often that they rarely even notice it. A social psychologist named Leon Festinger first proposed the social comparison theory in 1954 stating that humans look to others in order to evaluate their own self-image. Comparison is a necessary part of human cognition. We need to compare things in order to make choices. For example, imagine you are choosing between two different new cars to buy. One must compare the different traits of each car in order to make a well-rounded decision. Unlike cars, humans have unique and complex sets of experiences and genes, so comparing yourself to others isn’t logical. Unfairly comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy habit that can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of anxiety, and feelings of depression. Everyone has compared themselves to someone else at some point, but some people seem unusually preoccupied with it.

Here are some reasons why certain people tend to compare themselves to others frequently:

  • They feel like they have a lack of control over their life
  • Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, or low self-worth
  • History of being compared to a family member
  • Lack of self-knowledge/self-reflective skills

Ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

  • Limit social media use and when using, seek connection, not comparison
  • Take note of how often you compare yourself to others and mentally tell yourself to stop
  • Keep a journal with your own goals, aspirations, and self-reflections. Many times, people become so attached to certain ideals that they adopt from others that they forget to develop their own ideals. For example, if a child was told by his mother all his life that he must pursue a certain profession, they may be ignoring other career paths that they want to pursue. It is important to self-reflect so one can align their goals and behaviors to the wants and needs of their true selves.
  • If you do compare yourself, try to compare yourself to someone/something that is just slightly out of reach and well defined. When comparisons are general, one can get stuck in a rut of constant unfair comparisons instead of taking action and being able to achieve specific goals. Additionally, comparing yourself to something that is so out of reach can be discouraging. For example, if a woman compares body to an Olympic athlete, she is not setting a defined goal in order to be more like the athlete. In this case, it would be more helpful for the woman to aspire to be like her active friend who walks every day and schedule daily walks so she can exercise more.
  • Practice gratitude for your mind, body, spirit, and relationships
  • Only compare yourself to yourself, which is also known as internal validation. Internal validation is beneficial to your well-being and self-esteem.

If you or someone you know is struggling with low self-esteem or confidence issues, 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://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2019/05/5-reasons-you-compare-yourself-to-others-and-how-to-stop-it/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201711/the-comparison-trap

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Relationships: The Impact of Attachment Styles

Relationships: The Impact of Attachment Styles

Relationships: The Impact of Attachment Styles

By: Julia Keys

Did you know that the way one develops an attachment to their mother as an infant has a profound effect on their adult relationships? Attachment styles were first studied in detail by the developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in her experiment called “the strange situation”. In the strange situation, Ainsworth had a mother and a child play together for about three minutes and then the mother left the room. Next, a stranger would enter the room and play with the child for about three minutes and then they would leave. Finally, the child’s mother would re-enter the room and resume playing with their child. Ainsworth was most interested in observing the child’s behavior when their mother re-entered the room.

Upon careful examination, Ainsworth found three distinct patterns of behavior in infants when their mothers re-entered the room. If the child was upset, but then easily soothed by their mother upon re-entry, Ainsworth deemed them as having a secure attachment style. If the child was indifferent to their mother upon re-entry, Ainsworth would label them with an insecure avoidant attachment style. Finally, if the infant shows conflicting behavior upon the mother’s re-entry such as clinginess and then subsequent rejections of affection, Ainsworth would say they had an insecure ambivalent attachment style. Insecure ambivalent children are unpredictable in terms of their parental reactivity.

Ainsworth hypothesized that children’s reactions were a result of how their parents responded to their needs. Hypothetically, infants with secure attachment styles have their basic needs met consistently by their parents. This leads the secure infant to show a healthy dependence on their parents. Infants with an insecure avoidant attachment have their needs minimally met by their parents, which leads them to be independent and self-soothing. Infants with insecure ambivalent attachment styles have their needs met inconsistently from their caregivers, which results in confusion and conflicting behaviors.

So how does this “strange situation” relate to people later on in life? Researchers have found that attachment styles follow infants into adulthood and impact their behavior in relationships. While the behavior infants exhibited in the experiment relied on whether or not basic needs such as food, water, or comfort were met, attachments styles in adults tend to manifest themselves in more complicated ways.  Secure adults tend to have healthy and satisfying relationships where they can receive and offer support as needed.  Avoidant adults seek independence in relationships and oftentimes can appear a bit callous to their own emotions. Avoidant adults aren’t likely to offer support to their partners because they rarely depend on it themselves. Finally, ambivalent adults fear being either too close or too far from their partner, causing them to feel confused by their feelings and act in unpredictable ways in the relationship.

Although attachment styles are habits that people have probably been practicing subconsciously for all their lives, they are not permanent. Individual or couples therapy can help those struggling with their own emotions or communication skills.

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

Sources:

https://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201307/how-your-attachment-style-impacts-your-relationship

Source for Picture:

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Low Self Esteem: Imposter Syndrome

Low Self Esteem: Imposter Syndrome

Low Self Esteem: Imposter Syndrome

By: Julia Keys

        Do you ever feel like no matter how much you accomplish, you still are inadequate compared to others around you? Feeling fraudulent about one’s achievements is so common that psychologists have given it a name: Impostor Syndrome.  People with Impostor syndrome doubt their own accomplishments and have a fear of being exposed as a fraud among their colleagues.  Despite the fact that people with Impostor Syndrome have great external evidence for their accolades, they still cannot be convinced that they deserve what they have accomplished.Those with Impostor Syndrome often attribute their success to external factors such as luck or good timing.

Impostor Syndrome can be caused by perfectionism and fear of failure. However, if you are afraid you won’t be perfect or that you will fail, then you will be discouraged from going after new goals! The constant pressure found in those with Impostor Syndrome can cause feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and at its worst, depression and anxiety.

One group of people that are especially prone to Impostor Syndrome are highly successful women.  The discrepancy between external achievement and internalization of achievement within successful women may be caused by our society’s standards. Gender roles have greatly shaped what it looks like to be a successful man versus what it looks like to be a successful woman. Successful men are stereotypically in positions of power while successful women are stereotypically in caretaker’s positions.  The type of achievements that constitute success in our culture, such as obtaining a high degree, being financially successful, or being promoted to a leadership position are more aligned with the stereotypes of male achievement, which may explain why when women achieve such goals, they feel like frauds.

No one should have to feel like a fraud, especially if they prove to be very high achieving. If you or someone you know can relate to the information above, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200912/why-do-so-many-women-experience-the-imposter-syndrome?collection=59879

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200912/why-do-so-many-women-experience-the-imposter-syndrome?collection=59879

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