Depression: How Exercise can help Part 2: The Exercise Influence

Depression has a variety of causes and these causes are not easily eliminated despite their detrimental effects on a person’s life and relationships. Moderate to severe cases may only be manageable by pharmacology and therapy, which includes the therapy loved ones can also give by providing companionship, understanding, and love. For mild to slightly moderate cases, however, scientists have found through multiple research studies conducted on over 1 million patients, exercise alleviates some of the symptoms of depression in patients and also could potentially prevent depression developing from those not suffering yet. This means, to be clear, exercise is not a cure for depression, but it can help alleviate the symptoms.

Exercise is associated with endorphins. Endorphins are endogenous opioids naturally released by your body, which have a similar chemical structure and composition to morphine. Endorphins, like morphine, attach to opioid receptors within our body and block pain transmission while also producing euphoria. Euphoria is a rushing sensation of happiness, energy, and joy. This can be seen when runners experience the “runner’s high” after running for an extended period of time without feeling fatigued or pained. The bodies of those who exercise rigorously release these endorphins.

Not only are chemicals affected but so is the brain’s anatomy. Researchers at Harvard University contrasted patients with major depression before and after exercising. One major change researchers and doctors have found a noticeable size difference in the hippocampus of those with depression and those without. Patients with depression have a smaller hippocampus, which regulates mood. Dr. Michael Craig Miller has found that exercise helps increase nerve growth and connections within the hippocampus. This, he explains, has led to alleviation of some of the symptoms.

Another study done by conglomerating data on over 1,140,000 adults of different ethnicities and ages found that there was significant data indicating that there was a considerable link between mental health and exercise. The subjects were divided into 3 groups pertaining to their aerobic fitness. After studying depression diagnosis within these groups, the scientists found that those who were in the lowest tier (the least fit/active) were 75% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier. The second tier was 25% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier.

Additionally, researchers found, from collecting data from 25 studies, that subjects who were forced to do some moderately strenuous exercise (ex. Brisk walking) benefitted mentally from it as opposed to the control group where they were did not exercise. Researchers believe that concentrating on the exercise allowed subjects to stop ruminating and thinking negatively during that time, improving their mental health. Blood samples, drawn from patients with major depression before and after their exercise regimen, showed that subjects who exercised had different concentrations of inflammatory agents and hormones. A recent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with nearly 800 six year old children over a span of four years found that children who exercised moderately showed fewer depressed symptoms than their counterparts.

Exercise can’t and won’t fix all problems that depressed patients endure; sometimes, it might not even help those who are suffering from severe depression and those with hormonal imbalance. However, if these studies show something, it is that exercise can help people not only physically but also mentally. So take a brisk walk one day when you’re feeling blue. It’s good for you!

 

If you find yourself depressed or becoming depressed or if you know someone who suffers from depression contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to speak with one of our therapists. Arista Counseling & Psychological Services  (201) 368-3700.

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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

The Neurological Benefit of Having Friends

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By: Ellie Robbins

There are many reasons why it is important for people to have friends. These benefits can be both physical and mental. In a study about endorphins, researchers found that people with more friends have a higher pain tolerance. The researchers monitored endorphin activity by tracking pain tolerance. They were able to do this due to the brain opioid theory of social attachment. This theory claims that “social interactions trigger positive emotions when endorphin binds to opioid receptors in the brain”. This is one explanation of why people are happy to be around their friends, and those with larger social networks have more endorphins, so they have a higher pain tolerance. Friends are a better painkiller than morphine!

It is interesting to note that the endorphin system can be disrupted in some disorders such as depression, which may explain why those who struggle with depression may be socially withdrawn. Another interesting note is that people who are more fit are shown to have smaller social networkers. The researchers theorized that since exercise gives an “endorphin rush”, those who work out frequently do not need to rely on friends to get their endorphins.

Research on social networks and friendships is important to learn more about our health. The many benefits of having friendships have been verified through various studies. Having many friends can even lead to a longer life! Currently, the focus of social networks in psychology has to do with combatting the use of technology that impairs sociality. Hopefully, as more studies published on the importance of being social, people will make more of an effort to be with one another instead of sending texts. So put down your cell phone and go see some friends! It may help ease some pain and extend your life.

Comments are welcome

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160428094448.htm

Logotherapy: The Search for Meaning

 

4ca1c28dce143e607ec4f0768683ea1e[1].jpgLogotherapy is a form of psychotherapy formed by Dr. Victor Frankl. It is based on the belief that the primary force of motivation in humans is our need to see meaning in our lives. Frankl believed that even in the darkest situations, humans will strive to create meaning out of their experience. Frankel developed this theory after he spent years in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. There was no freedom in the physical sense, but Frankel realized that he still had the freedom to choose how he existed mentally in such a difficult situation. Frankl and some of his fellow inmates found that by making it their mission to help fellow prisoners in need, they found meaning in what seemed like a helpless position and a hopeless situation.

Frankl survived the camps, citing the meaning he had found as a key factor contributing to his survival. He went on to apply his theory to his own system of existentially based psychotherapy. With depressed clients especially, who were struggling with both inner demons and tough situations like divorce or the death of a loved one, he encouraged them to search for something in their lives that could provide meaning. He introduced clients to the idea of inner freedom: their freedom to choose the stance they took in even the most destitute situations and the freedom they had to search for meaning in whatever they experienced.

If you are having difficulty finding meaning in your life, 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.

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

Relationship & Dating Tips

First dates can be exciting, enjoyable, and can open up a wide range of possibilities. If you’re about to spend time with someone new, make sure you keep your eyes open for some red flags that may predict the fate of your relationship down the road.

  • If they pay more attention to electronics than to you during the first date, you can easily tell where their priorities are.
  • If they spend the majority of the time talking about themselves during the date, it is possible you might end up with a narcissist.
  • Disclosing how much they hate their job or friend or relative, especially on a first date, should make you apprehensive. This shows that they have a history of tumultuous relationships.
  • Talking about an ex or comparing you to an ex is a huge indicator that your date is still hanging on to the past.
  • Asking if someone is enjoying the restaurant/music/movie is fine. You might find yourself becoming uncomfortable with how many times you need to reassure them. However, asking many times throughout the night how things are going may be a sign of low self-esteem.
  • If during the date they disclose a view that is fundamentally different from yours, don’t ignore it! Having different opinions is fine, but if your core beliefs are too different, this could make for some serious clashing in a relationship.
  • Being unnecessarily rude towards the waiter, a parking attendant, or other person in front of you is never a good sign. If they blow up on people for small things, imagine how they’d treat you if they thought you did something wrong!

If you learn to recognize the red flags, you will be able to know when to call a first date your last date!

If you’re dealing with relationship problems, 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: Degges-White, Suzanne. “13 First Date Red Flags.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.

By: Scout H

Dealing With Anxiety from Current Events

terrorism-fear-anxietyDealing with Anxiety from Current Events

In today’s always-connected world, information is constantly at our fingertips. Watching the news, it almost seems like tragedy and terror have become the new norm, and it is only natural to feel uneasy when faced with near constant images of terrorism, ISIS, mass shootings, environmental disasters, and more. We Americans are lucky to live in a country where freedom of the press makes this information available, and being informed is essential to staying aware and safe. Nevertheless, there comes a point where healthy concern becomes unhealthy anxiety. With the seemingly constant barrage of “bad news,” media hype has become a great source of anxiety in peoples’ lives.

Although people watch the news with good intentions, too much of a good thing can have negative effects on mental health. A 2014 Harvard study found that people who experienced a great deal of stress in their lives listed the news as one of their biggest daily stressors. Another study from UC Irvine found that people who exposed themselves to six or more hours of media coverage which dealt with the Boston Marathon bombings actually reported more acute stress symptoms than the people who were there when the bombs went off. This study suggests that in some cases, watching a tragedy unfold on the news and being subjected to the repetitive traumatic images might actually be more traumatic than experiencing it firsthand.

Humans are hard-wired to pay attention to potential threats, so it is understandable that people are tempted to binge watch the news and try to absorb every detail of every tragedy. However, it is important to realize that knowing every gruesome detail does not help survival, it just leads to stress.  To help avoid the stress of bad news overload, experts suggest tuning out as much as possible, especially in the wake of a major tragedy like September 11th or the attacks in Paris. Instead of focusing on the tragedy, focus on the positives in life, including family and friends.

If you or a loved one is struggling with stress or anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

By: Evagelia Stavrakis

sources: www.npr.org , www.anxiety.org

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

Depression: Social Isolation Increased by Social Media

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Depression: Social Isolation Increased by Social Media

While most adults today grew up before cell phones and the internet existed, the younger generations are learning about the world from behind a screen. Adolescence has always been an important time for developing key social skills, but as today’s youth does more interacting online than face-to-face, they are experiencing a new kind of socialization with different consequences, such as depression. With 75% of teens having cell phones and 20% of teens experiencing depression, it is important to know the role of social media usage.

The internet’s over-sharing culture easily creates an environment for inaccurate social comparison, which can create low self esteem. Social media users emphasize the positive while hiding the negative, creating an illusion that their lives are “perfect.” While a teen sees every good and bad detail of her own life, she is being bombarded by positive details from her friends’ lives. She is essentially comparing her behind-the-scenes footage with everyone else’s highlight reel. It can be difficult for adults to realize that these comparisons are unfair, so teens fall victim to the illusion because they don’t realize they aren’t getting the full picture. A teen obsessing over her friend’s “perfect” profile could start to feel that her own life is inadequate. Multiply this by the hundreds of friends’ profiles she accesses, and low self-esteem and depression become a concern.

Texting provides users with a sense of security because it lacks the personal aspects of face-to-face communication, resulting in more negative social interactions. When arguing in person, teens experience nonverbal cues that guide them as they try to express their feelings without damaging their relationships. Texting is much less personal, so it is much easier for teens to be cruel without regard for the consequences. As a result, teens end up texting things they would never say in person, causing irreparable damage in the process. If a teen says something cruel in a face-to-face interaction, it would be near impossible not to deal with his friend’s reaction – he can’t just walk away after making his friend cry. Since digital communication is so impersonal, even if his friend does express his reaction to the cruel words, it is extremely easy for the teen to simply ignore the messages and stop responding. For the victim of the cruelty, this can be devastating. The lack of communication can lead to confusion regarding the appropriateness of their reaction and their relationship with the sender, leaving them wondering if the sender really meant the words and whether or not they are still friends. Negative social interactions and loss of friends are both major contributors to the development of depression in adolescents, and these can both be facilitated by social media and texting.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

By: Evagelia Stavrakis

Sources: www.childmind.org, www.parenting.com

4 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Have Known About

4 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Have Known About

Catherine Ferreira

We all have heard or read about narcissistic people by now. We know what they’re like: entitled, self-important, exploitative, charming, etc. But here are some features of narcissists you may not have known about, if only because narcissists mask their flaws so well:

  1. They have a surprisingly fragile self-esteem
  2. They are very sensitive to criticism
  3. They get very defensive when contradicted
  4. They tend to project unfavorable qualities of themselves onto others.

They are, furthermore, superficial and toxic people who are difficult to be around. If you or a loved one are being hurt by a narcissist, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201311/6-signs-narcissism-you-may-not-know-about