Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Being Shy

By: Gabriella Phillip

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition involving an intense, persistent fear of being watched or judged by others. The fear that people with social anxiety experience in social situations is so strong that they often feel as though it is beyond their control. Social Anxiety Disorder affects around 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia.

Common symptoms for people with social phobia include

  • being extremely anxious around other people,
  • being self-conscious in front of others,
  • being very afraid of being embarrassed in front of other people
  • being the focus of other people’s judgment
  • worrying for days or weeks before a social event
  • having a difficult time cultivating friendships
  • avoiding places where other people will be present

Bodily symptoms for people with social anxiety include

  • heavy sweating
  • trembling
  • nausea
  • blushing
  • having difficulty speaking

Social phobia sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it, while others don’t. When chemicals in the brain are not at a certain level it can cause a person to have social phobia. Social anxiety usually begins during childhood/ teenage years, typically around age 13. A doctor can tell if the person has this disorder if symptoms are present for at least 6 months. This disorder should be treated in a timely manner to help spare those diagnosed from years of unpleasant feelings and anxiety.

Treatment can help people with social phobia feel less anxious and fearful. Two types of treatments used for Social Anxiety Disorder are psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and medication that’s safe and effective, often used in combination. Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective type of psychotherapy used for anxiety related disorders. Medication used to treat Social phobia include selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, and beta blockers. It’s important to choose a method of treatment that is best suited towards your individual needs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Social Anxiety 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. 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/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml

https://www.verywellmind.com/difference-between-shyness-and-social-anxiety-disorder-3024431

 

Depression: Difference between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

By Gabriella Phillip

Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.

Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.

When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, 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/ .

Sources

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/major-depressive-episode-it-bipolar-i-or-unipolar-depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850601/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/unipolar-and-bipolar-depression-different-or-the-same/AE364DFBFFBAF1F66A9294A55120C64E/core-reader

 

 

Pain: Chronic Pain is a Fundamental Health Issue

By Gabriella Phillip

According to The International Association for the Study of Pain, pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. When someone is injured, pain sensors immediately send signals to the brain. Although regular pain, like cramps or a headache, can be relieved in a rather short period of time, chronic pain involves the brain receiving pain signals a while after the onset of pain or the original injury.

One in five people live with chronic pain and the frequency of chronic pain increases as we get older. Many elderly people are experiencing pain that oftentimes goes undiagnosed. In addition, research shows that patients with dementia are being severely untreated for their experience with pain. Even though it’s a fundamental human right to have proper access to pain management, most elderly people are receiving quite inadequate care from health facilities, making it harder for them to cope and go about their daily lives with severe chronic pain.

Chronic pain can strongly impact or contribute to the formation of serious mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Current research from Neuroscience Research Australia shows that patients living with chronic pain have lower levels of glutamate, a significant chemical messenger that aids emotional regulation. Therefore, it’s possible for people with chronic pain to undergo certain personality changes like being more tired than usual, feeling unmotivated, or worrying on a more frequent basis than before. Around half of people suffering from chronic pain also have mental health conditions. The daily demands of learning to live with chronic pain can help generate anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Chronic Pain and its mental health effects, 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/ .

CBT & DBT

Image result for cbt and dbt therapy

CBT & DBT

By: Vanessa Munera

When it comes to psychotherapy, there are different types. Psychotherapy is also known as “talk therapy”. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Psychotherapy is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties”. This is when an individual speaks with a therapist or psychologist in a safe and confidential environment. During these talk sessions, you are able to explore and understand your feelings and behaviors, and develop coping skills. In fact, research studies have found that individual psychotherapy can be effective at improving symptoms in a wide array of mental illnesses, making it both popular and versatile treatment. There are different types of psychotherapy that can assist people. The most common types of psychotherapy are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, is a form of therapy that consists of focusing on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. This type of therapy helps patients gain control over and accept unwanted thoughts and feelings so that they can better manage harmful or unwanted behaviors. CBT is usually used to treat conditions related to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and social skills. As a matter of fact, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for these conditions, as well as improving brain functioning. CBT can benefit people at any age, such as a child, adolescent, and adult.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy that was originally designed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over time, this type of therapy has been adapted to help treat people with multiple different mental illnesses, but it is mostly used to treat patients who have BPD as a primary diagnosis. Although DBT is a form of CBT, it has one big exception: it emphasizes validation and accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors instead of struggling with them. DBT allows patients to come in terms with their troubling thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that they have been struggling with. Studies of Dialectical Behavior Therapy have shown effective long-term improvements for those suffering from mental illness. DBT also helps lower the frequency and severity of dangerous behaviors, utilizes positive reinforcement to promote change, and helps individuals translate what they learned in therapy to everyday life.

 

References:

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/psychotherapy

https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/difference-dbt-cbt-therapies/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy

Vape and E-Cigarette Addiction

By: Maryellen Van Atter

    

E-cigarette devices, such as the Juul, are more prevalent than ever. These devices were originally created to help established smokers stop smoking traditional cigarettes. However, because of their ease of use, portability, and sweet taste/smell, they have become popular with a generation of teens who have never smoked traditional cigarettes. This is concerning because of the plethora of health concerns surrounding the devices. They still contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine is shown to raise blood pressure and spike adrenaline and heartrate, which can lead to increased risk of heart attack. Vaping has been linked to severe respiratory illnesses, and it may be related to pulmonary disease. It can worsen asthma, cause nausea, and irritate the mouth and throat.

While these physical health effects are often discussed, there is less discussion about the mental effects of nicotine addiction. Those who smoke have a lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder which is more than double the prevalence in those who do not smoke. Some research has gone even farther and said that smoking may change neurotransmitter activity in the brain, leading to increased risk of depression. Despite this, the devices are still popular. While it is possible to vape something that does not contain nicotine, it is uncommon and teens often are not entirely aware of what is in what they are inhaling.

The percentage of teens that vape is increasing. Studies have found that 42.5% of high school seniors report vaping in their lifetime; this is dangerous behavior. However, it is important to remember that blame is unhelpful in helping a teen to kick their vaping habit. Similarly, reminding a teen about the risk of cancer and family addiction histories is not an effective way to get them to quit. Teens will respond best to calm conversations and discussions about how their vaping may be affecting them and the things that they consider important, such as school, extracurriculars, and sleep. Helping someone stop smoking is no easy job and it is not something that has to be done alone.

Addiction is a serious mental health concern and the sooner addiction can be treated, the better. There are both psychological and physical symptoms associated with addiction. There are many effective, FDA approved treatments for smoking cessation. These treatments include hypnotherapy, which uses guided relaxation and focused attention to change behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to discover the root of behaviors and works to change attitudes surrounding the behavior, psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and motivational interviewing, which aims to illuminate differences between a patient’s goals and their behaviors. There is no shame in seeking out therapy to assist in quitting smoking or helping a loved one quit smoking, and it is best to seek help as soon as the problem is recognized. The longer one waits, the more established addictive behaviors become.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a vaping addiction, 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/print/17921-number-of-teens-vaping-hits-record-high-survey-shows

https://www.psycom.net/mental-health-wellbeing/juuling-teenagers-vaping/

https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/teen-vaping/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes/what-are-treatments-tobacco-dependence

https://www.medscape.com/answers/287555-158503/what-is-the-association-between-nicotine-addiction-and-depression

https://psychcentral.com/lib/can-smoking-cause-depression/

 

Anxiety and Bullying

Image result for anxiety and bullying

 

Anxiety and Bullying

By: Vanessa Munera

Being bullied is not an easy thing to handle. It can be a traumatic experience for teens that are being targeted. Those who are bullied experience impacts in their lives such as feeling lonely, anxious, isolated, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, when a bully moves on to the next target, these consequences of bullying linger longer for the victim. After prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse effects. These victims will experience depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide. In addition, victims of bullying can develop some sort of anxiety disorder. The top four major anxiety disorders victims of bullying can experience are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and social anxiety disorder.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this occurs after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can develop due to events such as a car accidents or losing a close relative. This disorder can also show up after repeated abuse or even bullying. Children who are bullied may experience nightmares, flashbacks, withdraw from others, or are easily startled. Kids, who undergo long term and abusive bullying, have increased chances of developing PTSD.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Kids with GAD are often tormented with worries and fear that distract them for their daily life activities. Those with generalized anxiety have a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is not uncommon with victims of bullying. With GAD, physical symptoms may appear such as insomnia, stomachaches, fatigue, and restlessness.

3. Panic Attacks: Those who suffer from panic disorders must deal with unpredictable and repeated attacks. When suffering from a panic attack, the attack is usually with no warning and can cause physically symptoms. These symptoms include sweating, chest pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In fact, a part of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in panic attacks. When left untreated, the sufferer will begin to avoid going out or things they once enjoyed, in order to prevent another panic attack.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder: People who suffer from social anxiety fear being humiliated or seen negatively by others. Those with this disorder often worry that the way they look or act cause others to mock them. This can cause sufferers to avoid social gatherings to avoid being humiliated. In fact victims of bullying often develop social anxiety due to the repeated shame and public humiliation they experienced.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, 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/

 

References:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/bullying-and-anxiety-connection-460631

https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog

 

 

PTSD Researcher Finds Link between Stress and Trauma

By Diana Bae

Rachel Yehuda, PhD, is a distinguished researcher and Director of Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Icahn School of Medicine of Mount Sinai. She has conducted numerous prominent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) studies and treatment. One of her most well-known studies researched Vietnam War combat veterans with PTSD and found that they had significantly lower cortisol levels than veterans without PTSD. Cortisol is a hormone that controls stress and although it is thought that more cortisol resulted in more stress, Dr. Yehuda showed that that is not the case. Thus, there needs to be a sufficient amount of cortisol to handle stress and reduce the risk of developing trauma. Now, Dr. Yehuda plans to test a drug, oral hydrocortisone, to see whether it can replicate the cortisol naturally produced in the body. If this drug is successful, it may prevent PTSD and other similar disorders.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the problems caused by PTSD and are dedicated to provide proper attention and 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/

Source: Inside, a publication of the Mount Sinai Health System, Issue: November 25 – December 15, 2019;  Picture Source: http:// www. thesuburban.com/life/lifestyles/can-trauma-be-transmitted-intergenerationally-oct-dawson-college-peace-centre/article_ea2d7bb0-b063-11e7-aee3-5b0d013065f7.html, https:// askopinion.com/how-to-deal-with-ptsd-aka-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Family Therapy: How to Maximize Your Experience

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Being a family member is a full time job, and sometimes it has the stress to match. Managing a family can be difficult and it is normal to sometimes feel lost and unsure of how to move forward. The goal of marriage and family counseling is to resolve these feelings and give family members the tools to communicate effectively with one another. It is not only a way to resolve problems, but an investment in the future wellbeing of your family.

A common reason for many to seek family therapy is behavioral problems of youth in the family. Research has shown that youth psychosocial problems are linked to the youth’s social systems, such as the family. By addressing concerns and miscommunications, youth often function better and learn healthy coping skills. Family therapy provides a safe space for all individuals to express their feelings with a trained professional who can mediate, interpret, and give plans for long term family success, rather than only resolving a specific problem.

Family is not limited to those who are genetically linked to you; it is often defined as anyone who plays a long term supportive role in one’s life. The support that family provides has an important role in keeping good mental health. Like many good things, family therapy is not always easy. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make it as beneficial as possible:

  • Give it a chance and be open to its success
  • Find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable
  • Have each family member prepare some questions or talking points prior to the session to ensure everyone gets to communicate

If you feel your family could benefit from family therapy, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. We have a wide network of professional help and experience. 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx?hkey=1c77b71c-0331-417b-b59b-34358d32b909

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4490859/

https://healthypsych.com/family-therapy/

 

Drug Abuse: Preventing Teen Drug Abuse

By: Toni Wright

Many teens are curious and experiment with drugs, whether due to peer pressure, stress at home, or just curiosity. According to Drugrehab.com in 2016 about 1.9 million youths ages 12 to 17 used an illicit drug in the past month. In addition to that, in 2016 1.4 million teens needed treatment for an illicit drug abuse problem. What many young teens don’t know in hindsight, or thoroughly think about, is that trying those drugs can have lasting long term effects that can change their lives forever.

Warning Signs:

  1. Changes in choice of dress
  2. Loss of interest in what they enjoyed (hobbies or activities)
  3. Decline in academic performance (failing classes, poor grades, skipping class, etc.)
  4. Recurring arguments, unexpected mood changes, and unspecified violent actions.

Family Influence

Parents, prevention can start within the household:

  1. Ask your teens perspective on drugs – Don’t lecture. Actively listen to your teens views on drugs. Reassure them that they can be open and honest with you.
  2. Discuss the negative impact drugs use can have – Emphasize how drugs can impact the things your teen cares about. For instance, health, appearance, school performance, etc.
  3. Go over ways to not give into peer pressure – Come up with different ways your teen can say “no” to drugs.

Overall, parents, you play a crucial role in your teen’s life. Provide support for your teen. Having a solid foundation between you and your teen may make them less likely to use drugs.

If you or a teen you know abuses drugs, 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.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-prevention/teenage-addiction

https://www.drugrehab.com/teens/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-drug-abuse/art-20045921

Image Source:

https://www.palmerlakerecovery.com/blog/signs-of-drug-abuse-in-teenagers/

A Substance Abuse Guide for Parents

 

 

Stress: Effects of Stress

Image result for stressed brain

Stress: Effects of Stress

By: Vanessa Munera

When people talk about stress, what exactly is it? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. With stress the body reacts to these changes with emotional, physical, and mental responses. Stress could either be presented as a positive or negative outcome in people’s daily lives.

According to Bernstein “Stress can occur in a variety of forms” (2016). Some stress can result in short events such as an argument with a loved one. Furthermore, other stress can manifest due to reoccurring conditions; for example, a demanding job, financial problems, and/ or long term illness. When reoccurring conditions cause stress to be both intense and sustained over a long period of time, it can be considered as “chronic” or “toxic” stress”. While all stress triggers physiological reactions, chronic stress is indeed to be considered a problematic issue that creates significant harm to the brain and the functioning of the body. In fact, “stress continues to be a major American health issue”.

If you have experienced a stressful event, a certain area of the brain called the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus functions as a command center in the brain, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that person has the energy to fight or flee”. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response because it provides the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. Some of the affects from the “fight or flight” response are increased heart rate, deeper intake of oxygen, heightened senses, and the rush of adrenaline – also known as epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Finally a hormone known as cortisol is released to help restore the energy that was lost during the response. When stress is no longer present, your cortisol levels to go back to normal as if nothing happened. In addition cortisol helps regulate metabolism and immune responses.

When dealing with chronic stress, cortisol levels are at a constant high, which eventually causes health problems. Although cortisol is a natural and healthy hormone in the body, constant high levels of it can be bad for your brain. High levels of this hormone can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. As stated in the article, “it can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others” (Bernstein, 2016). In addition, chronic stress can kill brain cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. It has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory and learning. Besides chronic stress having effects on the brain, it causes effects to the human body. This type of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, it can affect other systems in the body and cause them to stop working properly. This includes digestive, excretory and reproductive structures and exacerbates already existing illness. Fighting and managing chronic stress can be difficult; however it is not too late to learn how to manage it. Toxic stress can negatively affect the brain but the brain and body can recover from these effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, please do not hesitate to seek help by contacting  Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/