Psychopath vs. Sociopath

 By: Dianna Gomez

“You’re a psychopath!!”

How often do we ourselves use this term or hear others throw this term around? Some people may use this phrase when referring to a crazy ex-boyfriend, strict parent, or annoying sibling, when in reality; most people don’t truly understand its meaning. You may be asking yourself, so what is a psychopath? How can I know whether I am really encountering one or not? There are certain characteristics that have been found to be shared between people who are actually psychopathic or have psychopathic qualities. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulation
  • Total lack of remorse and/or empathy for others
  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of feelings of guilt
  • Grandiose sense-of-self
  • Failure to accept responsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Need for stimulation
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Parasitic lifestyle/willingness to feed off others to sustain their own lifestyle

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? A sociopath is a person diagnosed with “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” People with this diagnosis are generally very manipulative and violating of the rights of others, among other things. Sociopathy can be thought of as a less severe form of psychopathy. If a person is a psychopath then they are also a sociopath, but if a person is a sociopath they don’t necessarily need to be a psychopath. Sociopaths and psychopaths share the same basic characteristics, just at different levels of intensity.

If this personality description sounds like you or someone you know, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy 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. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

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Histrionic Personality Disorder

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Personality disorders are marked by patterns of experiences and behaviors that deviate from the norm of the individual. Such deviations impact a patient’s cognition, functioning, impulse control, and behavior in personal and social situations. Usually, such patterns of behavior link back to early adolescence or young adulthood, and have a long duration.

One such personality disorder is known as Histrionic Personality Disorder, or HPD. HPD is defined as a pattern of wanting attention and being highly emotional. People with the disorder desire to be at the center of attention, to the point that not being so makes them very uncomfortable. Individuals with HPD can occasionally be dramatic, and struggle to cope when people are not focusing on them. They are often seen as being shallow, and are also characterized as engaging in provocative behaviors in order to gain attention. Individuals with HPD show exaggerated expressions of emotion, engage in behaviors to draw in others, shift emotions easily, and often manipulate others with whom they have close relationships. They crave immediate satisfaction from situations around them and are extremely bothered when that cannot be achieved.

While personality disorders such as HPD could be mistaken for a person with certain character traits, it is important to watch for the symptoms of such disorders. People with HPD often damage their personal relationships with others, and must struggle with the discomfort of their thoughts and desires for attention. People with the disorder are commonly disregarded or thought of negatively, and, therefore, are unable to get the proper treatment they need. However, with the help of long-term psychotherapy as well as medications, HPD can be managed and the symptoms helped.

Do not disregard individuals who may show signs of a personality disorder. Reach out for help!

If you or someone you know is suffering from histrionic personality 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/.

Body Image: Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment

By Samantha Glosser

Body dysmorphic disorder, sometimes referred to as body dysmorphia or BDD, is a mental disorder characterized by preoccupation with imagined or markedly exaggerated imperfections or defects in one’s physical appearance. Those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder spend a significant amount of time every day obsessing over their appearance and engaging in repetitive compulsive behaviors in an attempt to avoid anxiety, distress, and hide their imperfections. Signs and symptoms include constantly checking one’s appearance, excessive grooming, over-exercising, picking skin, pulling hair, using makeup or clothing to camouflage one’s appearance, or even getting plastic surgery. Body dysmorphic disorder leads to significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life. However, there are treatment options available.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is short-term, goal-oriented therapy. In body dysmorphic disorder, CBT is used to decrease compulsive behaviors and the negative thoughts about one’s appearance. This is achieved through techniques such as cognitive restructuring and mind reading. Cognitive restructuring teaches the patient to challenge irrational thoughts about their bodies and replace them with more realistic and adaptive thoughts. In addition to their own negative thoughts, individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder also believe others hold the same negative thoughts about them. Mind reading allows patients to understand that other people do not share these thoughts about them and provides realistic alternatives. For example, that person staring at them at the mall was probably admiring their outfit. Another frequently used technique is exposure therapy. This requires patients to create a hierarchy of anxiety-provoking situations which they are then exposed to in order to overcome anxiety and distress.

Psychiatric medications. Research has also shown that antidepressant medications are an effective treatment for body dysmorphic disorder, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s that are commonly used for the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder include Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, among others. SSRI’s help to reduce obsessional thinking, compulsive behaviors, and depression, a common comorbid disorder among individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, or other problems associated with negative body image, 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Source: Tartakovsky, M. (2016, July 17). Demystifying treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/demystifying-treatment-for-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

By: Dianna Gomez

Ask yourself this question: “Do I eat to live or do I live to eat?”

If you answered with the first option, good news you’re in the clear! However, if you answered with the second option, you may have an unhealthy relationship with food on your hands.

Approximately 2.8 million adults in the United States suffer from an eating disorder commonly known as Binge Eating Disorder (BED). As if that doesn’t sound bad enough, Binge Eating Disorder is also the most common eating disorder among adults in the United States as well. In fact, it is more common than anorexia and bulimia combined. In regards to the lifetime prevalence of this disease, 1.4% of sufferers are non-Latino white, 2.1% are Latino, 1.2% Asian, and 1.5% African American. There are various types of symptoms that can be experienced by a person suffering from BED and in order to be officially diagnosed, it has to be by a health care professional and overeating must occur more frequently than just “once in a while.”

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling a loss of control over your eating during a binge.
  • Feelings of extreme sadness following a binge.
  • There is no attempt to undo actions taken by throwing up or over-exercising.
  • Eating alone to hide how much is being eaten.
  • Eating large amounts of food when not hungry.
  • Eating extremely fast.
  • Eating well beyond feeling full.

Although the cause of this disorder is unknown, it can be managed. If you or someone you know may be suffering from BED, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy 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. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Self-Esteem and Shaming Parents

By Stephanie Osuba

We have all felt, in one way or another, like we weren’t good enough or even felt embarrassed after making a mistake at work. This is healthy in that we are expressing sadness or just reflecting on a situation that could have been handled differently, but we move on and eventually feel valued and confident again. However, for some, that feeling of shame and guilt never goes away. Some believe they are inherently flawed, worthless, and inferior to everyone else. These negative emotions and lack of self-esteem are largely rooted in repeated childhood and adolescence trauma that is often left unprocessed. Internalization of this emotional abuse leads to a conditioning of sort, usually by the primary caregiver, that the negative emotions constantly felt reflect who one is as a person. This person comes to genuinely believe that he or she is a bad person, unlovable, never good enough, and deserves to be treated with disrespect.

The constant shame is also accompanied by a constant feeling of guilt. Everything is his or her fault, regardless of the context. There is a sense of unjust responsibility for other people’s emotions and the outcome of all situations. Its no wonder why low self-esteem can manifest itself in anxiety, self-harm or poor self-care, or on the other extreme, narcissism and antisocial tendencies. Here are some behaviors that can be a manifestation of low self-esteem:

  • Lack of healthy self-love: poor self-care, self-harm, lack of empathy, and inadequate social skills
  • Emptiness: loneliness, lack of motivation, and finding distractions from emotions
  • Perfectionism: this is often a behavior that manifests as adults because of the unrealistic standards these children were held to by their parents and were punished for not meeting
  • Narcissism: grandiose fantasies of who they want others to perceive them to be; even if they do succeed however, this protective personality doesn’t numb the negative emotions they truly feel.
  • Unhealthy relationships: people with low self-esteem are incapable of building and maintaining a relationship with others, largely because they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like. Both parties are usually extremely dependent.
  • Susceptibility to manipulation: the constant self-doubt, shame and guilt make it too easy to bend a person with low self-esteem to an experienced manipulator’s will.

Source: Cikanavicius, D. (2018, September 03). A Brief Guide to Unprocessed Childhood Toxic Shame. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-self/2018/09/childhood-toxic-shame/ 

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-esteem, 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Self-esteem

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt that, “you weren’t good enough?” If you have, self-esteem is at the core of this feeling, because it involves perceptions one has of oneself. These perceptions eventually become beliefs about self-worth and value. That is why self-esteem is so important in a person’s life, because how people think of themselves, is what drives them towards or away from certain actions. High self-esteem is often associated with multiple accomplishments in life. This is because people with high self-esteem, believe that they are worthy of the opportunities they get, and, therefore, make the most out of them. One the other hand, those with low self-esteem, constantly believe that they are not good enough. When an opportunity presents itself to them, people with low self-esteem feel like they do not deserve it, and do not perform their best. This is why low self-esteem is associated with depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from low self-esteem, here are a couple of tips available to raise self-esteem:

  • Identify triggers of low self-esteem: if you are able to recognize the places or people that lower your self-esteem, you are able to avoid or prepare for them. This way, learning experiences come from each event.
  • Avoid negative self-talk: if you do not think negatively about yourself, you are able to feel better and attempt things you would normally avoid.
  • Connect with loved ones: family members and friends can be great emotional support because people who care about you, will also make you feel loved and wanted. Nurture these feelings so that eventually you are able to see yourself as they do, and will slowly learn how to love yourself a little more each day.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, 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:

Gross, S. J. (2016, July 17). How To Raise Your Self-Esteem. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-raise-your-self-esteem/

Mind for Better Mental Health. (2013). How to increase your Self-esteem. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/#.W9cKgY2WyM8

 

Isolation vs. Loneliness: How They Both Affect Your Mental Health

By Stephanie Osuba

People are constantly throwing around the terms introvert or extrovert to describe their personalities. For example, a common thing for an introvert to do would be to cancel plans and spend the night alone, and chalk it up to being an introvert. Not that there is anything wrong with some people thriving without the company of others or needing some time to recharge alone. However, when does isolation become dangerous for your mental health? How often is it okay? And how is it related to feelings of loneliness?

The difference between isolation and loneliness is a physical one. To isolate yourself would be to physically separate yourself from the company of other people, intentionally or not. Loneliness is the internal feeling of being alone. That’s why when people are isolated, they don’t necessarily feel alone and in the same way, people who are constantly surrounded by others, like celebrities, can feel incredibly lonely. A recent study in the journal Health Psychology has found a relationship between isolation and loneliness: when one is more physically isolated, it produces more feelings of loneliness and vice versa. Both of these finding have been related to a higher risk of depression and mortality.

Tips on how to enjoy your “me time,” and also protect your mental health:

  • Set a Time Frame: How many times do you want to socialize a week? Or a month? Everyone’s answer to this is different, but try to stick to your number. It’s important to know what your social boundaries are, but also not to fall into a pattern of isolation.
  • Talk to Your Closest Friends: Your friends can often be the people who help you navigate social situations and hold you to social commitments. They are also the people that won’t overstep your social boundaries and to whom you can talk about anything with.
  • Volunteer or Join Clubs: Get out in the community and get to know the people in your neighborhood. Volunteer for a cause you believe in or join a local club that tailors to your interests. It’s a great way to meet new people and can help fill your “social quota” for the month.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues due to isolation or loneliness, 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/.

Source: Plata, M., Psy D. (2018, August 29). When Isolating Yourself Becomes Dangerous. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-gen-y-psy/201808/when-isolating-yourself-becomes-dangerous.

Perfectionism: How Striving to be the Best can Leave us at our Worst

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We are commonly told that no one in the world is “perfect”, and that there is no such thing as “perfection”. Or so they say. Then why do so many people around the world still try to aim for this standard of “perfect” in what they do in life?

Perfectionists are individuals who strive for flawlessness. They set very high standards and expectations for themselves, have a set way of wanting to do things, and take time to be truly satisfied with their work. Aiming for perfectionism definitely has benefits. We all know that one person from school or work who would be the “perfectionist”: they would be the most successful, put out high quality work, and constantly keep pushing boundaries so that their final products are amazing.

However, being a perfectionist has its disadvantages and dangers. Individuals who seek to be “perfect” set extremely high standards for themselves, which results in their being very critical of themselves. Perfectionists tend to notice and fixate on all of their flaws, as they wish to not only produce “perfect” work but also to be “perfect” people. Whenever a perfectionist make mistakes, as does everyone in the world, he or she is unable to look past the “failure” and thus feel extreme guilt, shame, and sadness.

Perfectionistic thinking underlies several mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders. It can even lead to suicidal thoughts. Perfectionists’ inability to accept failure, constant self-criticism, and desire to act, be, and look perfect, drives them towards unhealthy behaviors and thinking. They are constantly hard on themselves for not achieving “perfect,” which is inevitable because there is no such thing as perfect! These patterns of thinking and negative behaviors need to be monitored for the risks they present in causing mental illness.

Instead of striving for “perfection,” we should be encouraging others and ourselves to be the best versions of who we are. Remind people that there is in fact a beauty in accepting yourself and your positive attributes, and in being kind to yourself. Encourage people to accept themselves, make mistakes, and to strive to not look perfect. We should truly appreciate ourselves and accept BOTH the good and the imperfect. By addressing and changing the perfectionist way of thinking, we can better prevent, understand, and heal many mental illnesses.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, 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/.

The Power of Optimism

Isabelle Kreydin

When you go through a traumatic experience, the time it takes to recover is immeasurable and flooded with uncertainty. It could be anything between a breakup, abuse, a car accident, a loved one’s death, or even your entire childhood. When you acquire a mental illness, or know someone who has, it truly does affect every aspect of your life. Even stress, can alter brain chemistry and one’s way of life. But brokenness is not beautiful because of the way you are, but the way you will be when you are finally free.

You might feel alone. But you are alone because you feel as though are burdening others with your pain, and now are trying to reassemble yourself on your own and trying to fight the mental illnesses from becoming you. You’re trying but right now you are physically and mentally exhausted. It’s a tiring work of progress, but the only way out of the tunnel is through, and we know better than to turn around or take steps backwards.

It is easy for the brain to resort to the cloud that a trauma or illness might have installed in you, falling into despair or numbness, and there is truly nothing worse. Isolation is not the key, though it is most commonly a side effect of any of these negative experiences. Despite contrary belief, this leads you to an opportunity to get help. To find help within friends, family, and professionals. They can only help you understand that although you may not always be able to feel it, there is so much love and beauty to this world. There will ALWAYS be people there for your support. If you don’t feel this way, go out and make new friends, talk to your therapist, reach out to adults you may trust, or even kind strangers. The world has more love to offer than it seems.

Optimism is tough. You can be fighting for your body and thoughts to be positive, and have an outlook on life that shows light. However, your brain and body may be inflicting darkness, or feelings of nothingness, completely out of your control.

Optimism is also a savior. The more you put this fight into your brain, the more you convince yourself that you are going to make it, that everything will be okay, the more likely it is for your body to start behaving this way. Get up and force yourself to make plans, to do anything you once enjoyed or might find joy in.

The world may be falling a part in many aspects, and so are some humans that occupy it. However, everybody is still on this earth giving their full efforts to find the ultimate goal, happiness. It should not be overthought; it should not become the only purpose one strives for. It should be a feeling that comes through every day activities, thoughts, conversations. Positivity can help motivate the brain to feel that happiness, to appreciate the times it is felt, to hope for more positive outcomes and experiences. These can come from setting goals, making friends, loving, giving, being active, showing compassion, pursuing passions, treating oneself, or even physically seeing the beauty this world has to offer.
Life is too short to not love with everything you are. Giving with little return is tough, but you are tougher and have years to be given what you give.

Together, with optimism, have those around you help you rewrite your story and your future, and remember that it is okay to not be okay. There are billions that have struggled, there are millions that are fighting to overcome, and there are millions that have overcome and become a light and inspiration to us all.

You are never alone, and it will be worth it when you reach the end of that tunnel or even when you begin to see the light.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

Nicotine Addictions

Isabelle Kreydin

People living with mental illness have a high rate of tobacco addiction. In America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. What’s it mean to be addicted? You might have problems paying attention, trouble sleeping, appetite change, and/or powerful cravings for tobacco at least once a day.

The nicotine in any tobacco product absorbs into ones blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Nicotine increases levels of the chemical dopamine, which affects parts of the brain that control reward and pleasure. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. commonly lack a consistent flow of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters), and the nicotine can therefore be a sort of temporary enhancer and mood booster.

The addiction itself however, is more about the lies one feeds to himself, the subconscious thought that the cigarettes, e-cigarette or other drug will truly fill a void in the addict’s mind or body. Those struggling with addiction have something in common: an ache that they believe can be dimmed. Whether it’s simply a drug to relieve temptation, or tension in the mind or of thoughts, it’s still an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Like most drug addictions, nicotine only provides one with temporary relief or a brief time away from reality. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Please do not be one of those statistics.

Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs) cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important that individuals living with mental illness quit smoking. Like an e-cigarette, smokeless tobacco products contain 3 to 4 times more nicotine than cigarettes and contain substances that increase risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. If you ever wanted to quit your addiction in the future, it would only be more difficult, as your body becomes dependent on the chemicals and drugs you chose to feed it. Recovery is a long process, however very possible.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.