Schizophrenia

By: Dianna Gomez

Schizophrenia is generally known to be a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Schizophrenic individuals most often have had a break with reality. When the average person hears the term ‘schizophrenia’ they immediately associate the illness with things such as hallucinations, hearing of voices, etc. Although these are accurate possibilities, there are several additional types of schizophrenia that many people aren’t aware of that people suffer from all around the globe. There are a total 5 subtypes of schizophrenia including: paranoid, disorganized, residual, catatonic and undifferentiated.

Paranoid: delusions (beliefs that may seem real to the person suffering but are not actually happening) such as believing the government is spying on them. Another symptom seen in this subtype is auditory hallucinations (hearing voices that are not real). Most often, these voices are not kind. They encourage the person to hurt others, hurt themselves, etc. These people may also see things that aren’t truly there (ex: seeing the devil).

Disorganized: in addition to having hallucinations and delusions, people with this type of schizophrenia have problems with disorganized speech (ex: speaking but not making any sense/word salad), disorganized thoughts (ex: quickly jumping from one topic to the next).

Residual: people with this type of schizophrenia mainly struggle with a lack of initiative, poor self-care/hygiene, poor social performance, underactivity, passivity, poor non-verbal communication (facial expressions, eye contact, etc). These people do not experience nearly as many hallucinations and delusions.

Catatonic: disturbances in a person’s movements and/or immobility. Catatonic individuals can maintain very unusual body positions/poses for extended periods of time. If someone were to try to move them, their limbs would be extremely resistant against efforts to be altered.

Undifferentiated: people with this type suffer from 2 or more types of symptoms listed above. They may have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior, etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from schizophrenia, 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 t0 set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.

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TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

By: Dianna Gomez

A “traumatizing” experience is one that is dangerous, scary or unexpected and can leave a person affected emotionally. There are many different kinds of experiences that can be considered traumatizing. Traumatic events can be caused by other people such as terror attacks, community violence (mugging, shooting, assault, bullying), or a very serious car accident. Traumatic experiences can also be natural. Examples of natural traumatic events include hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Regardless of what category of trauma an event falls under, each has the potential to leave a certain amount of impact on a person’s brain.

For most people, with time comes less feelings of trauma following an event. However, it is not unheard of for a traumatic experience to leave a person affected for the rest of their lives. In addition, everyone reacts and copes with trauma differently. A majority of people have similar symptoms following a traumatic event that include trouble sleeping or concentrating, constantly thinking about what occurred, and feeling anxious, sad or angry. These can last for several weeks or even months following a traumatic event. There are a few actions that a person can take that are known to be the healthiest ways to cope after experiencing something traumatic. These healthy coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs
  • Spending time around loved ones or supportive people in your life that you trust
  • Maintaining normal daily routines (eating, exercising, sleeping)
  • Staying active! The more you have to keep your mind preoccupied, the less time you have to be consumed by negative thoughts about the event

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

 

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

By: Gisela Serrano

Although Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most commonly diagnosed depressive disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as Dysthymia, is the second most common diagnosis. PDD is known to be mild and less severe than MDD, however, it is more chronic – that is, it is longer-lasting and recurring.

When diagnosing a patient with PDD, it must be ruled out that the symptoms the patient is experiencing cannot be better explained by a psychotic disorder or attributed to substance abuse. The symptoms must also cause distress to the patient and interfere or cause disturbances in their everyday life. Patients experience a “low” mood and feel down for most of the day, for a majority part of the time than not, for at least two years or more.  The patient cannot be without symptoms for more than two months; otherwise, he or she cannot be diagnosed with PDD.

As listed in the DSM-5, patients must experience two or more of the following symptoms, along with depressed symptoms, to receive a medical diagnosis of PDD:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Treatments for Persistent Depressive Disorder include talk therapy or medication such as antidepressants and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. If you feel like you might be suffering from Persistent Depressive Disorder, it is important that you seek professional help as this disorder is highly treatable. At Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy center, we have qualified professionals that may be able to help you. You can reach us at our office in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Anorexia and Amenorrhea: How Anorexia can be the Reason for Losing your Period

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Eating disorders are ruthless mental illnesses which severely impact on one’s mental and physical well-being. One such eating disorder is Anorexia Nervosa. This ailment is characterized by a severely distorted body image, a fear of gaining weight, extreme starvation and restriction of food intake, and a very low body weight. This deprivation of food and nutrients can have detrimental effects to the body. Anorexia Nervosa is primarily prevalent among younger females, although impacting males as well. One side effect of this eating disorder in females is amenorrhea, or losing one’s menstrual cycle.

Amenorrhea can be classified into two forms: primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea occurs when a female does not begin her menstrual cycle by sixteen years of age. Secondary amenorrhea, loss of the menstrual cycle after it has already begun, is prevalent in many females with anorexia nervosa. The loss of one’s period can be attributed to low body weight, extreme amounts of exercise, and greater stress levels. The loss of such a regulated bodily cycle in a female’s body is dangerous, and can indicate the severity of and impairment caused by anorexia nervosa.

If amenorrhea and the underlying causes of its occurrence are not addressed, women are at risk of becoming infertile. In addition, the levels of estrogen decrease in the female body, leading to the development of pre-menopausal symptoms including loss of sleep, night sweats, and irritable moods. Finally, amenorrhea and the resulting reduction in estrogen can deplete amounts of calcium, thus making bones brittle and more susceptible to breakage. This can even occur in younger women with anorexia who are struggling through amenorrhea.

It is imperative that one seeks treatment if they are struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, and especially if one is also experiencing amenorrhea. Therapy and medication can be of assistance in overcoming this disorder, and in restoring one’s menstrual and mental well-being.

If you or someone you know is dealing with Anorexia Nervosa and/or amenorrhea, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.

Tourette Syndrome

By: Dianna Gomez

Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder. A tic can be classified as an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Those diagnosed with this disorder will either suffer from vocal/phonic tics or motor tics. In general, vocal/phonic tics produce a sound. Examples of vocal/phonic tics include things such as sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, and shouting. Examples of more complex vocal/phonic tics include full words or phrases. These words or phrases are always out of context and may or may not be recognizable. In 10-15% of cases, words blurted out may be inappropriate such as curse words, ethnic slurs, or other words or phrases that are not viewed as socially acceptable.

Motor tics, generally, are movements. Examples of motor tics include eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking/bobbing, facial grimacing, etc. More complex motor tics include movements that involve multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of these movements are things such as hopping, jumping, twirling, etc.

While the exact cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, it has been confirmed that it is hereditary so genetics may play a role. There are, however, some treatment options that are available to help ease the symptoms. Medications for tics include Haloperidol, Pimozide, and Aripiprazole. Speech therapy is also another form of treatment for those with tics. Lastly, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is another method of treatment for tics. DBS is a relatively new procedure that utilizes an implantable electrode to alter the activity of brain circuitry.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Tourette Syndrome, 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-Harm

By Samantha Glosser

Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is becoming far more common than it used to be. Studies have shown that around two to three million Americans engage in self-harm every year. However, despite the growing number of people who inflict harm on themselves, self-harm is still a topic that many people do not want to talk about. It can be a scary and uncomfortable topic to discuss, but avoiding conversations about this topic creates a cycle of stereotypes and misinformation that will make people who harm themselves feel alone and that they cannot ask for help. In opening up the discussion about self-harm, there are a few important things to note.

What is self-harm? Self-harm can be defined as the act of inflicting deliberate injury onto oneself. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: cutting, burning, bruising, pulling hair, and breaking bones. Self-harm is not a sign of suicidality, it is a coping mechanism individuals have adapted to deal with various types of deep emotional distress.

Why do people self-harm? Like most mental health issues, the cause of self-harm cannot be attributed to one factor. There are numerous different reasons that someone might turn to self-harm as a coping mechanism. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the following: loss of control over emotions, feeling numb or empty, confusion about sexual or gender identity, bullying, and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Self-harm allows sufferers to turn emotional pain into physical pain, or it allows them to feel something when they are numb and empty.

Who engages in self-harm? Self-harm does not discriminate. It can affect you no matter your age, race, or gender. However, there are a few groups who are at a higher risk for self-harm according to recent research. These groups include the following: LGBTQ+ individuals, people aged 12-25, individuals battling addiction, and individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and eating disorders. Often times you will not even know that someone is struggling with self-harm, because those who harm themselves commonly go to great lengths to keep their behavior a secret.

Can self-harm be treated? Although self-harm is not considered a mental disorder, there are still treatment options available. Treatment consists of psychotherapy which helps the individual to identify what causes them to self-harm and teaches them coping mechanisms that do not rely on bodily harm.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from self-harm, 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/


Sources: Grohol, J. M. (n.d.). Cutting and Self-Injury [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/cutting-and-self-injury/

Lyons, N. (n.d.). Self-Harm: The Myths & the Facts [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/embracing-balance/2015/07/self-harm-the-myths-the-facts

What is Self Injury (SI)? (2016, July 17). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-self-injury-si/

College Stress

By: Charleene Polanco

Change is a natural part of life. Some people gladly welcome change and growth, while others tend to panic when the stability of what they are used to is gone. College is one of the biggest transitions a person can experience, because it is a time for independence. Leaving the safety of your house, parents, and friends is necessary to have new experiences and make connections. College introduces a change in lifestyle, greater workload, different responsibilities, and new relationships. With all of these changes, many students experience college stress because they are unable to effectively handle the different aspects of their lives. College stress is more common than we think, with six out of ten students experiencing stress to the point of it becoming detrimental to their college lives. The symptoms of college stress include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and an inability to cope.  The more serious symptoms of college stress are suicidal thoughts, drug/alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, physically violent outbursts, and uncontrollable crying.

Since stress is so prevalent among college students, there are many tips available to help reduce and cope with stress. It is recommended that college students seek out stress management resources. On college campuses, there are many resources available to students, which can help them manage their lives. Counseling services are one of the many resources designed to hear student’s problems and provide them with solutions. If a person is uncomfortable with contacting counseling services, they can start out by talking to a trusted friend, advisor, or family. However, if you are experiencing the more serious symptoms of college stress, it is highly encouraged that you seek out counseling services or other professional resources.

If you or someone you know is suffering from college stress, 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:

NYU. “Stress.” Stress, NYU, www.nyu.edu/life/safety-health-wellness/live-well-nyu/priority-areas/stress.html

“Student Guide to Balancing Stress.” Best Colleges, Best Colleges , 28 June 2018, www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/.

 

Alcoholism: A Life Altering Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

According to Mayo Clinic, alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is defined as an alcohol use pattern that involves the inability to control ones drinking. For many who are on track to become an alcoholic, it seems pretty easy to keep convincing themselves that they have the ability to quit whenever they want. However, when he or she realizes their alcohol tolerance has increased, and that he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, an alcohol use disorder has developed. The common symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Uncontrolled alcohol consumption
  • Using alcohol in unsafe situations, such as driving
  • Failure to fulfill major school or work obligations because of repeated alcohol use
  • Craving/ urges to drink alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, and shaking
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down on the amount of alcohol consumed

Alcoholism is an important issue, because it affects a huge number of the American population. As many as 18 million Americans suffer from alcoholism, and about 100,000 die as a result. Alcoholism is also associated with other social and domestic problems, like job absenteeism and spousal/child abuse. With such a significant portion of the U.S. population suffering from this terrible disorder, and its effects on the individual and loved ones, it is imperative that a person seek help when afflicted with alcohol use disorder.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol use 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/.

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. (2018, July 11). Alcohol use disorder. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243

WebMD. (2018). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder — the Basics. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/understanding-alcohol-abuse-basics#1

 

Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Don’t Come Forward Sooner

By Samantha Glosser

If you watch the news or are an avid social media consumer, you have probably heard about various claims of sexual assault against public and political figures, where the victim did not immediately come forward. We recently saw this with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager. Situations like Dr. Ford’s have opened up a discussion about one important question: why do survivors wait so long to report an assault? Research shows that it is a normal response for survivors of sexual assault to take time before reporting the assault, if they report at all. This may not make sense to you, as you are probably wondering why they wouldn’t want justice or revenge on their abuser. However, there are numerous reasons that compel survivors to prolong or withhold disclosing that they were sexually abused.

  1. Fear of being victimized a second time. Reporting a sexual assault often leads to new and added traumas from peers, family members, police officers, lawyers, etc. This feeling often comes from having to relive the experience or from people indicating that the victim caused the sexual assault by asking questions like, “What were you wearing at the time of the attack?”
  2. Lack of support. Lack of support is a multi-faceted issue. Survivors find it hard to report if they are not surrounded by loved ones who support them. However, even with this support, individuals still refrain from reporting because they know that our society has a tendency to blame the victim for the sexual assault. A lack of support can even come from other survivors of sexual assault. Typically, other survivors are seen as a source of comfort. However, some will dismiss another person’s assault with statements like, “What’s the big deal? It happens to all of us. Get over it.”
  3. Decline in functioning after the assault. Survivors of sexual assault experience intense feelings of shame, worthlessness, and self-loathing which can quickly bring on depression and anxiety. It is difficult for survivors to contemplate a course of action after the assault when they can barely figure out how to make it through the day. In the midst of these emotions, survivors want to forget and pretend that the assault did not occur.
  4. Vague memories of the attack. In some cases, victims of sexual assault were drugged by their abuser or previously inebriated. Both of these situations can lead to victims only having a vague memory of the attack. In addition, the trauma endured by some victims is so severe it causes them to dissociate, which also leads to vague memories. When individuals do not have a vivid recollection of the event, they may be scared to come forward because they fear others will not believe them, or in some cases because they do not believe their own memories.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, 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: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-women/2018/10/6-big-reasons-women-dont-report-sexual-abuse-right-away/

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

In order to better understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD,” you must first understand the difference between an obsession and a compulsion. Obsessions are repeated thoughts or urges that cause an individual anxiety in their day to day lives. Compulsions are repetitve actions that a person feels the need to take due to their obsessive thoughts. Some common examples of obsessions are: feeling the need to have things perfectly symmetrical/in order or having an excessive fear of germs. Some examples of compulsions are: excessive cleaning or handwashing, repeatedly checking to make sure that the oven is turned off, repeatedly switching lights on and off to make sure they are completely off before leaving the room, etc. OCD is an uncontrollable, long-lasting disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults all around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common age to be diagnosed with this disorder is 19, however, it is possible to be diagnosed earlier or later in life as well. Boys tend to have an earlier age of onset than girls when it comes to OCD. Genetically speaking, a person is at higher risk for developing the disorder if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has it too. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily guarentee a diagnosis. In terms of brain structure, the two sections of the brain known to play the most prominent role in the development of OCD are the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain such as the hypothalamus, thalamus, or cerebellum, in addition to several others. The direct connection between the disorder and these parts of the brain is not fully understood yet. There are some ways that a person with OCD can manage their symptoms to obtain a better, easier way of life. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), 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/.