Bipolar Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

Bipolar Disorder, also known as “Manic-Depressive,” is a disorder of the brain that causes a person to experience sudden shifts in mood, energy/activity levels, and disrupts their ability to function fully each day. The changes in mood range from a person feeling extremely “up” and energized which are known as manic episodes to feeling extremely “down” and sad which is known as depressive episodes. There are multiple forms of Bipolar Disorder, however, the two main types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Regardless of the type a person has, he or she still suffers from very similar symptoms. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes/symptoms that are either so severe the individual needs to be hospitalized immediately or the episode itself has lasted for at least 7 days. Depressive episodes occur in people with this type of Bipolar as well and these episodes can last up to at least 2 weeks at a time. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a certain pattern of depressive episodes followed by some hypo-manic episodes. The only difference between manic and hypo-manic is that hypo-manic episodes are not as intense as full on manic ones. More specifically, when a person is having a manic episode they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Racing thoughts
  • Participating in risky behaviors (ex: spending all your money)

On the other hand, when a person is going through a depressive episode, he or she can experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thinking about death and/or suicide

Luckily, there are several forms of treatment that a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can seek out to help them live a more normal and stable lifestyle. Methods of treatment include: medications (mood stabilizers, sleep medications, antidepressants, and atypical anti-psychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy), or a combination of both. Even while taking medications some mood swings may still occur. This makes it especially important that there is a close and honest patient-doctor relationship in order to manage the disorder in the most efficient way possible. In addition to these, there is also electroconvulsive therapy or “ECT,” and keeping a lifestyle chart. When keeping the lifestyle chart, the patient records their daily symptoms, sleep patterns, and other important life events.

 

If you or anyone you know may suffer from either Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

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Alcohol Use Disorder

By Samantha Glosser

Alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism, is a pattern of alcohol use that results in impairment and distress in your daily life. Short term effects of alcohol use disorder include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. However, the long term effects are much more serious and include the following: stomach ailments, heart problems, brain damage, memory loss, liver cirrhosis, and cancer. Alcohol use disorder is also linked to increased chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide and suicide, as well as increased rates of unemployment, domestic violence, and legal problems.

Cravings for alcohol, drinking in spite of it causing personal problems, an inability to stop drinking, and building up a tolerance to alcohol are common symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed if two or more of the following are present in a twelve-month period (the severity of addiction is based on how many symptoms are present):

  • Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
  • Feeling the need or trying to cut back on drinking.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking and recovering from the short-term effects of drinking.
  • Craving the use of alcohol.
  • Failing to perform responsibilities due to drinking.
  • Continuing to use alcohol even though it is creating relationship problems.
  • Ceasing participation in important activities to drink more.
  • Drinking before or during potentially dangerous activities (such as driving).
  • Continuing drinking despite its relation to physical and mental health conditions.
  • Developing a tolerance for alcohol.
  • Experiencing withdraw symptoms when reducing or stopping alcohol intake.

There are numerous treatment options available to individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder, such as detoxification, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), inpatient/outpatient treatment programs, and medication. There are also different methods to recovery, such as abstinence (completely quitting) or just cutting down on alcohol intake. Finding the right treatment options depends on the individual, which is why it is recommended to seek guidance from a trained professional.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from alcohol use 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/

Source: Alcohol Use Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/alcohol-use-disorder

Anxiety: Social Anxiety Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being rejected by people. Many people feel some level of anxiety when they are placed into unknown social situations. However, those suffering from social anxiety disorder may avoid socializing altogether, because they cannot handle being judged or seen in a negative way by others. A person with social anxiety disorder, can experience anxiety during many different situations like; going on a date, eating in front of people, making eye contact, public speaking, or going to parties. Some of the symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Uneasy stomach/diarrhea
  • Muscle tension
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating

Social anxiety can cripple a person’s life, because normal everyday interactions are triggers of anxiety and discomfort. This is why many people who suffer from social anxiety disorder choose to isolate themselves from everyone. In order to reduce the fear of rejection, people with social anxiety disorder are encouraged to be exposed to social situations, not run away from them. Although being around others is what brings them distress, socializing is also what allows people with social anxiety to change the way they think about social engagements. Instead of having negative perceptions about the way people view them, the more they socialize and are accepted by others, the more socially anxious people see that those perceptions are not true.

If you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety, 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:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder

Nordqvist, C. (2018, February 05). What’s to Know About Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176891.php

WebMD. (2018). What Is Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder#1

 

Depression in Children

By Samantha Glosser

Depressive symptoms in children are often not apparent to parents and teachers. In fact, a new study at the University of Missouri demonstrated that although 30% of 643 children reported feelings of mild to severe depression, parents and teachers often failed to notice symptoms in these children. This could be detrimental to children, because not noticing depressive symptoms can lead to long-term problems caused by depression. In addition, children with depressive symptoms, and depression, can be up to six times more likely to have deficits in social and academic areas.

If parents and teachers identify depressive symptoms as early as possible, it allows the child to work through their academic and social difficulties and prevent further development of depression. To better help our children, it’s important to first understand why symptoms often go unnoticed. This could be because depression in children can appear as irritability, rather than the typical sad mood most people associate with depression. Another reason is that parents and teachers see children in different settings, thus they often come to different conclusions about the presence of depressive symptoms (could be present in school, but not at home). Next, it’s important to become familiar with symptoms of depression. Parents and teachers should be looking for the following signs: feelings of sadness or loneliness, feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy, loss of pleasure and interest in activities, difficulties eating or sleeping, difficulties concentrating, feelings of guilt/worthlessness, and even thoughts of death or suicide.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from depression, 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: Pedersen, Traci. “Depressed Kids Far More Likely to Have Social, Academic Deficits.” Psych Central, 30 Aug. 2018, psychcentral.com/news/2018/08/30/depressed-kids-far-more-likely-to-have-social-academic-deficits/138292.html.

Psychopaths and Sociopaths

By Stephanie Osuba

People often tend to use the terms psychopath and sociopath interchangeably while both disorders are listed under the category of antisocial personality disorders in the DSM-5, there are some distinctions. Shared traits between the two include: a disregard for the law, morality, and human rights; not feeling any remorse; and having violent tendencies.

The first major distinction is that psychopaths are born, while sociopaths are made. Psychopaths are a product of genetics and, from research, they have a physiological defect that leads to an underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotion (the amygdala). Sociopaths, on the other hand, are a result of a history of repeated childhood trauma and physical or emotional abuse. Because of this distinction, sociopaths are capable of forming attachments and feeling empathy in very restricted situations. They are more emotional in that they are nervous and easily agitated. They are prone to emotional outbursts and exhibit fits of rage. Crimes committed by sociopaths are often spontaneous, messy, and unorganized.

Psychopaths are exceptionally dangerous. They are completely incapable of forming attachments to anything and have absolutely no remorse for the things they do. They simply do not feel. Psychopaths are excellent manipulators who mimic emotion to get people to trust them. They are often very successful, smart, and charismatic which leads others to believe that they are normal. Some psychopaths even have families and other long-term relationships with people who are unaware of their diagnosis. Crimes committed by psychopaths are meticulous, premeditated, and often have a contingency in place. Even the violent ones. Psychopaths make up at least 40% of all serial killers.

Source: Bonn, S. A., Ph. D. (2014, January 22). How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wicked-deeds/201401/how-tell-sociopath-psychopath 

If you or someone you know appears to be exhibiting signs of psychopathy or sociopathy, 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/.

Postpartum Depression

By Samantha Glosser

“I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child. But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure.” -Gwyneth Paltrow

Postpartum depression can begin as early as a few weeks after giving birth, and it affects one in seven women. Symptoms of postpartum depression include the following: depressed mood or mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal from loved ones, loss of appetite or an increased appetite, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, fatigue or loss of energy, anxiety, fear of not being a good mother, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. These symptoms typically interfere with your life and your ability to raise and connect with your child. Although it is not certain what causes postpartum depression, it is most likely due to a combination of hormones and emotional processing deep in the brain.

As noted by Gwyneth Paltrow, an actress using her fame to shed light on the severity of this disorder, postpartum depression is not one size fits all; every woman experiences it differently and experiences symptoms at different severities. This is why it is important for women to be open and honest about their experiences with postpartum depression. Women often feel a lot of shame when they have postpartum depression, because they do not understand why they are feeling this way or what they are feeling. They feel like they are alone in these feelings. However, this is not the case. Other famous mothers such as Brooke Shields and Marie Osmond, like Paltrow, are using their platforms to share their struggles with postpartum depression and let women know that they are not alone and that they should not feel ashamed, which is opening up the doorway to treatment for all women. Postpartum depression can be effectively treated with psychotherapy, support groups, and psychiatric medication if needed. These treatments are the most efficient way for you to feel better and connect with your child.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from postpartum depression, 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: Layton, M. J. (2016, January 26). Task force urges doctors to screen new moms for depression. Retrieved from http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2016/01/26/task-force-urges-doctors-to-screen-new-moms-for-depression/94422958/

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By: Dianna Gomez

Panic. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why is my heart beating out of my chest? Am I dying? Why can’t I make it stop?!

For some of us, these emotions are all too familiar. Anxiety can be a scary thing, especially when you’re not totally up-to-date on what exactly it is. What are you to do when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Well, have no fear because I have a few helpful tips to share!

 

Here are 5 things that you can do to calm yourself down when suffering from an anxiety attack:

  • Take Deep Breathes

Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that although it may not feel like it right now, everything will be okay.

  •  Talk Yourself Down

Repeat a calming/kind phrase to yourself OUT LOUD. Remind yourself that you are safe, loved, and never alone.

  • Seek Help

Sometimes we tend to insist that we can get through tough times all on our own, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a neutral professional, a loved one or someone you trust, find someone with whom you can talk out your troubles.

  • Use Music and Visuals

Never underestimate the power of calming music and visuals. Whether it be classical music, peaceful nature videos/sounds, or your favorite John Mayer song – let the music play and your worries float away!

  • Put Your Anxiety on Ice

Create sensory stimulation by gently sticking both of your hands into a bowl of very cold water with ice. The more ice the better.

 

If either you or anybody you know suffers from anxiety, 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/.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety: Test Anxiety

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever had a moment of extreme panic, right before the beginning of a test? How about feeling like you are about to faint, or excessive sweat during an exam? If these symptoms describe your test-taking experience, then you might be suffering from test anxiety.

Test anxiety is defined as a psychological condition where people experience severe distress and anxiety during exams. Some causes of test anxiety are fear of failure and lack of preparation. A fear of failure can result from wanting to perform well. One who associates their self-worth with a test’s outcome, can feel devastated when the grade is not what he or she expected. This creates a vicious cycle, where because the person is afraid of feeling worthless, when they fail, they become anxious while taking the exam.  As a result, their performance level on tests drops. Lack of preparation is another cause of test anxiety, which occurs when students do not study properly for an exam. For those who like to wait until the night before an exam, to cram five chapters worth of information into their brain, tests are a constant source of anxiety and stress.

Symptoms of test anxiety can be split up into three categories; physical, emotional, and behavioral/cognitive symptoms. Some physical symptoms include headaches, nausea, excessive sweating, and rapid heartbeat. Emotional symptoms can be expressed as feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, and disappointment.  Behavioral/cognitive symptoms are difficulty concentrating and negative thinking.

To help manage test anxiety, here are some tips;

  • Properly prepare for exams
  • Develop good test-taking skills
  • Engage in relaxation techniques, like taking deep slow breaths
  • Keep a positive mindset

If you or someone you know is suffering from test anxiety, 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:

“Test Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America , 2018, adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety

Depression: Can it be Effectively Treated in Adolescents without Medication?

By Samantha Glosser

Although antidepressant medications are typically seen as the first course of treatment for adolescents diagnosed with depression, many families do not want their kids to begin taking medication. This could be because of personal values and beliefs or because they cannot afford medication. In addition, almost half of all adolescents who begin treatment with medications eventually discontinue use due to the side effects or because they feel that it is not benefiting them enough. If you decide that medication isn’t right for your child, there are other options that are effective. One clinically proven method used to treat depression in adolescents is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a short-term, goal-orientated therapy that focuses on changing patterns of thinking and behaviors that contribute to the patient’s issues. For example, your teenager may feel depressed because they are distorting the importance of certain events. This could start as simply getting a D on their final. However, their thoughts soon begin to spiral, and they begin to think that with this D on their transcript they will never be able to get into college or get a good job. CBT works by challenging this maladaptive thought pattern and teaches patients to replace these thoughts and consider alternative viewpoints. Recent studies have shown that CBT can be just as effective in treating depression as antidepressant medications and will lead to increased moods in adolescents. If you and your child have come to the decision that medication is not right for them, cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective treatment plan that just might be the right fit for your needs.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Martin, B. (2018, April 04). In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/?li_source=LI&li_medium=popular17.

Wood, J. (2018, January 21). For Teens, CBT in Primary Care Can Be Cost-Effective Versus Meds. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/01/20/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-cost-effective-for-teens-who-decline-antidepressants/131463.html.

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.