The Empty Nest Syndrome

The Empty Nest Syndrome

By Erika Ortiz

            There comes a time when parents reach the end of raising their kids to become young adults that have to venture off into the real world. As they prepare to face all of life’s trials and experiences that await them, what’s going on with the parents? Many some parents experience the empty bird’s nest syndrome. It is not a mental disorder or illness of some sort; however, it is a deep and perpetuating feeling of sadness parents temporarily experience when their child finally leaves to create a life of their own. Why does this happen? Parents spend the majority of their time raising their children and investing an immense amount of love and care towards them as well. Mom would wake you up for school; Dad would pick you up from practice; Mom made dinner for the family; Dad made you help him with fixing up something in the house every morning on the weekend. Parents’ entire lives revolve around essentially taking care and nurturing the development of their children. Once the realization the child is now “leaving the nest” parents are left with the question; “What now?”

           A great way to cope with this feeling is to start a hobby or activity. Try taking up running again; try cooking that one meal you saw on the Food Network you always wanted to or read that book you saw in the bookstore. It’s important to now refocus on yourself as parents. Parents sometimes suffer an identity crisis or “mid-life crisis” where they feel they lose themselves individually. Of course, your children will always be your children, and you will always be there for them. But realize that it is also necessary to now invest time in you as well. Another way to cope is to try and rekindle your relationship with your spouse or, for single parents, go out and date. Of course, if this feeling becomes severe or you feel helpless, please consider getting professional help. The empty nest syndrome can easily slip into something serious.

If you or someone you know is experiencing severe loneliness or sadness, 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


Maternal Mental Health Month: Postpartum Depression

Maternal Mental Health Month: Postpartum Depression

By Fiona McDermut

As we come to the end of Maternal Mental Health Month, it is important to recognize postpartum depression which affects one in ten new mothers. Postpartum depression is characterized by significant depressive symptoms following child birth. This is caused by the dramatic drop of hormone levels in the mother. Unfortunately, nearly half of these women are never diagnosed and therefore, never properly treated.

It is crucial to be able to identify what is normal after child birth. It is completely normal to have occasional bouts of sadness due to fluctuation in hormones, also known as “baby blues”. Many women also experience anxious thoughts as a new mother. This is frequent because of the newfound responsibility of being a parent combined with excitement and restlessness. Although these symptoms are not pleasant, they are extremely common and can go away on their own or with simple self-help techniques. Some easy self-help techniques include exercise, listening to music, exposure to morning light, and even physical touch such as more frequent hugs!

On the other hand, worrisome results of childbirth include major depressive disorder (MDD) and psychosis. Although the symptoms of MDD (sadness, lack of pleasure, loss of interest, etc.) are similar to normal feelings after childbirth, if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is no longer something to brush off.

The two main treatments of postpartum depression include psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) have shown to be the most effective methods of psychotherapy treatment. Many find that the most effective results come from a combination of psychotherapy and medication. While there are many options for treatment, the best course of action is to get new mothers who are suffering from these symptoms in touch with a psychiatric professional as soon as possible, and to work with the doctor directly to select the most effective treatment plan for each individual.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, 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


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OCD: Perinatal/Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Perinatal/Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

By: Isabelle Siegel

Conversations about postpartum depression have recently become commonplace, leading many people to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of this condition. As a result, new mothers are much quicker to recognize and label their struggles and to seek help. However, the same attention has not been paid to a similar condition: Perinatal or Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

What is Perinatal/Maternal OCD?

Perinatal/Maternal OCD is essentially OCD with onset during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. In general, OCD involves the presence of obsessions (“unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind”) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or thought patterns performed to relieve anxiety caused by the obsessions).

Expecting and new mothers with Perinatal/Maternal OCD commonly experience obsessive thoughts about their infant’s safety, including intrusive thoughts about:

  • Unintentionally harming the infant
  • Sexually abusing the infant
  • Contaminating the infant
  • Making wrong or harmful parenting decisions

They may then engage in compulsive behaviors or thought patterns in order to relieve the resulting anxiety, including:

  • Repetitively calling the doctor or other health professionals
  • Repetitively checking on the infant
  • Total avoidance of the infant
  • Excessive washing of anything with which the infant might come in contact

Treatments for Perinatal OCD

Mothers experiencing Perinatal/Maternal OCD are not hopeless. As with other forms of OCD, Perinatal/Maternal OCD can be addressed with therapy and/or medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and, more specifically, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) can be used to target obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of Perinatal or Maternal OCD, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit


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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