Depression: How Exercise can help Part 2: The Exercise Influence

Depression has a variety of causes and these causes are not easily eliminated despite their detrimental effects on a person’s life and relationships. Moderate to severe cases may only be manageable by pharmacology and therapy, which includes the therapy loved ones can also give by providing companionship, understanding, and love. For mild to slightly moderate cases, however, scientists have found through multiple research studies conducted on over 1 million patients, exercise alleviates some of the symptoms of depression in patients and also could potentially prevent depression developing from those not suffering yet. This means, to be clear, exercise is not a cure for depression, but it can help alleviate the symptoms.

Exercise is associated with endorphins. Endorphins are endogenous opioids naturally released by your body, which have a similar chemical structure and composition to morphine. Endorphins, like morphine, attach to opioid receptors within our body and block pain transmission while also producing euphoria. Euphoria is a rushing sensation of happiness, energy, and joy. This can be seen when runners experience the “runner’s high” after running for an extended period of time without feeling fatigued or pained. The bodies of those who exercise rigorously release these endorphins.

Not only are chemicals affected but so is the brain’s anatomy. Researchers at Harvard University contrasted patients with major depression before and after exercising. One major change researchers and doctors have found a noticeable size difference in the hippocampus of those with depression and those without. Patients with depression have a smaller hippocampus, which regulates mood. Dr. Michael Craig Miller has found that exercise helps increase nerve growth and connections within the hippocampus. This, he explains, has led to alleviation of some of the symptoms.

Another study done by conglomerating data on over 1,140,000 adults of different ethnicities and ages found that there was significant data indicating that there was a considerable link between mental health and exercise. The subjects were divided into 3 groups pertaining to their aerobic fitness. After studying depression diagnosis within these groups, the scientists found that those who were in the lowest tier (the least fit/active) were 75% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier. The second tier was 25% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those in the “fittest” tier.

Additionally, researchers found, from collecting data from 25 studies, that subjects who were forced to do some moderately strenuous exercise (ex. Brisk walking) benefitted mentally from it as opposed to the control group where they were did not exercise. Researchers believe that concentrating on the exercise allowed subjects to stop ruminating and thinking negatively during that time, improving their mental health. Blood samples, drawn from patients with major depression before and after their exercise regimen, showed that subjects who exercised had different concentrations of inflammatory agents and hormones. A recent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with nearly 800 six year old children over a span of four years found that children who exercised moderately showed fewer depressed symptoms than their counterparts.

Exercise can’t and won’t fix all problems that depressed patients endure; sometimes, it might not even help those who are suffering from severe depression and those with hormonal imbalance. However, if these studies show something, it is that exercise can help people not only physically but also mentally. So take a brisk walk one day when you’re feeling blue. It’s good for you!

 

If you find yourself depressed or becoming depressed or if you know someone who suffers from depression contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to speak with one of our therapists. Arista Counseling & Psychological Services  (201) 368-3700.

Advertisements

Alcohol Abuse: Binge Drinking

By Hannah Pierce

Binge drinking is the most common and deadly form of alcohol abuse in the U.S. but it is also preventable. It is defined as drinking to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This usually occurs when a woman consumes four drinks and a man consumes five drinks in two hours.

Binge drinking can happen across a lifespan but it is most common among people between the ages of 18 and 34. Many high school and college students below the age of 21 report binge drinking on occasion. It is a form of alcohol abuse that is “drinking to get drunk” rather than just having a couple drinks.

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems including:

• Alcohol poisoning
• Unintentional injuries (car accidents, falls, burns)
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Cancer (breast, mouth, liver, esophagus, colon)
• Memory and learning problems
• Poor pregnancy outcomes (miscarriage, stillborn, fetal alcohol syndrome)
• Alcohol dependence

Binge drinking can be prevented by:

• Increasing taxes on alcohol and other pricing strategies
• Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol
• Restricting the hours that alcohol can be sold
• Holding retailers responsible for harms caused by illegal distribution of alcohol to minors or customers who are inebriated
• Consultation and counseling for alcohol abuse

If you or someone you know may be binge drinking or abusing alcohol, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Good Grief: Part 5

By: Sam Reiner

And now we have come to the last part of my blogs on grief. So far we have gone over what you will be going through while grieving and how long grief should last. But now we must ask, how can you move on? Well that’s easy, you know you can move on when you’ve hit the acceptance stage and start feeling better. You may start to feel better in small ways at first. You could find it easier to get out of bed in the morning or you could have burst of energy. You will begin to feel like your old self again and you will start to reorganize your life to accommodate the loss. This may cause you to have a series of ups and downs. One day you may feel amazing but the next you feel absolutely terrible. You may feel guilty or disloyal for moving on and that this is a completely normal feeling. It is also normal to feel grief on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or other special times. However, it’s important to remember is that all these feelings are completely natural.

And just like that, we have reached the end. At the beginning of part 1 I hoped to answer 3 questions about grief. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? If I did my job correctly, I have been able to answer all these questions so you are better prepared to face the hardship that is grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Good Grief: Part 4

By: Sam Reiner

Over the last few parts we have been discussing the 5 stages of grief, using Zelda to further explain each stage. Now that we are done with the stages and Zelda we must now move on to the next topic, “How long does grief usually last?” Seems simple, but really this is an extremely difficult question to answer for the simple fact that people experience grief in different ways. Some people are able to feel better after 6 weeks while others can take up to 4 years to really get over a loss. In reality, the only one that really knows when you should be done with grieving is you. It is a process whose time table only you can decide. That being said there are ways to help you get through the grieving process a bit quicker. Some ways include:

  • Talk about how you’re feeling with others.
  • Try to keep up with your daily tasks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can make you feel more depressed.
  • Get back into your normal routine as soon as you can.
  • Avoid making major decisions right away.
  • Allow yourself to cry, to feel numb, to be angry, or to feel however you’re feeling.
  • Ask for help if you need it

Now before I wrap this part up I have to mention that it is important to tell the difference between normal grieving and depression. Although they share very similar symptoms, the feelings associated with grief should be temporary. If you don’t start to feel better over time, it is very likely you have depression. But how long is too long? Again, that’s up to you as when you are grieving it is important to be self-aware of your emotions. The only way to know it’s been to long is when you feel that it’s been too long.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Good Grief: Part 3

By: Sam Reiner

(once again to understand what I am talking about read the first 2 parts)

Despite all your bargaining, you eventually realize that there is nothing you can do to stop or reverse what happened. With the realization that there is no escaping fate comes the desire to disconnect and retreat inward, which leads to stage 4: Depression. The sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and realize its effect on your life. This is when you will feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely and in the game, this can be seen at the Great Bay. It is here that you me Lulu, a Zora who has lost her egg, simply standing in silence gazing out to the sea. The loss of her eggs has caused her to retreat inward and become depressed, which is very common for people who have just lost a loved one.

However, as the old saying goes “This too shall pass.” Stage 5: Acceptance. This is when you finally accept the reality of your loss, and although you may still feel sad you can now begin to move forward with your life. In game, this is signified by the Land of the Dead, Ikana Valley. It is here that you meet Sharp, a ghost you help reach acceptance with his mistreatment of his brother. A very literal representation of acceptance, but a more symbolic example is the Stone Tower, where you climb up towards the heavens. As you climb you will also need to create 4 twin statues (one for each town) with the 4 being symbolic of the past 4 stages of grief. Much like these statues, during the stages of grief you feel dull and lifeless but they are essential in order for you to go through the grieving process. This is even shown in game as you must leave the statue behind when you go up to the next floor, symbolizing passing though the stages of grief. By leaving them behind you can make your way to the top in order to obtain enlightenment and then flip the tower putting the heavens at your feet, solidifying your acceptance. You even have to fight the Garo Masters, beings literally described as “Emptiness cloaked in darkness.” These are clear symbols to the internal battle between light and darkness on the road to acceptance and also shows your victory over the empty feelings that come with grief. By overcoming the darkness and emptiness inside you and reaching the top, you show that you have accepted the past and are ready to face the future.

And with that, we have reached the end of the 5 stages of grief. Now that you know what to expect when faced with grief, it now becomes a question of how long with it last? Unfortunately this is getting pretty long so I’m going to have to save that for next time.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Divorce: Trust in Children

child

Divorce: Trust in Children

By: Daniela Chica

Although only 1/3 of marriages experience marital issues and end in divorce, the toll that it takes on all members of the family is undeniable. Children in particular bear the brunt of the issues as they are often left feeling hopeless and untrusting. When going through a divorce, children can often lose confidence in their parents as well as pick up various deceitful or contradictory behaviors. While they can lose trust in their parents, they can also experience problems forming bonds or intimate relationships in the future. There are various things you can do to ensure that your children continue to experience a loving, caring and trusting environment after or during a divorce:

  • Do not make promises you can’t keep
  • Speak with your kids about age appropriate topics regarding the divorce
  • Allow your kids to express their feelings and aid them in the process
  • Connect with your kids using entertaining activities
  • Be physically and emotionally involved
  • Show your kids lots of unconditional love

Growing up with divorced parents can be difficult, but it’s not impossible for children to learn how to trust others and themselves again if they experience positive environments. It’s never too late to ensure that your children feel trust and confidence in their parents.

If you and your spouse are experiencing marital difficulties or your child is experiencing depression or 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, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/age-un-innocence/201610/trust-children-divorce

Good Grief: Part 2

By: Sam Reiner

(Read part 1 first to learn why I am talking about Zelda)

The 1st stage of grief is Denial. When you first learn of a loss it’s normal to think that it isn’t real or that it can’t be happening. It’s a way for you to deal with the torrent of overwhelming emotions. This is exactly what you experience in Clock Town, the 1st town in Majora’s Mask. In this game, you have 3 days to stop a giant moon from crashing down and destroying everything. However, even with this moon clearly inching closer every minute, no one seems to care. In fact, they are actually planning a carnival, openly laughing at the idea that the moon will fall. One person even goes as far to say that he’ll simply cut the moon to pieces with his sword.

Denial can only be temporary however, and when it is no longer possible you get angry. Stage 2: Anger. When reality starts to set in you may feel frustrated and helpless which later turn to anger, causing you to lash out at anything whether they deserve it or not. This is extremely prevalent in the game’s second location, Woodfall. Here you discover that the swamp has been poisoned, the Deku princess is missing, and the king is dead set on punishing a monkey who he believes kidnapped her. The problem is, the monkey is innocent. The king is just angry because of the poisoned swamp and his missing daughter and is lashing out at anyone.

Once the anger settles you then start to feel desperate which leads to stage 3: Bargaining. It’s during this stage you attempt to do anything that can either postpone or reverse the loss. In the case of Majora’s Mask, bargaining is on full display at Snowhead. Here is where the player encounters the Gorons, who are in the middle of mourning the recent loss of their chief, Darmani. Eventually you actually meet his ghost who then literally begs you to bring him back to life with your magic. This is a textbook example of bargaining as he is trying everything to delay the inevitability that is death. This can also be seen in the area itself. The paralyzing cold of Snowhead is basically a metaphor to how in this stage of grief you feel unable to move on, emotionally frozen. And for now, I’ll stop there, so for the next part we will be discussing the last two stages of grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Good Grief: Part 1

By: Sam Reiner

Grief is something that is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is an emotion that can come from the loss of a loved one, moving to a new home, suffering a chronic illness, or even the end of a relationship. It is a feeling that hits hard and can make you feel completely empty inside. Although we all must face grief at one point or another, no one knows what to expect when they are actually faced with it. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? Over the next few blogs I will try my best to answer these questions.

So, let’s go down the list and start with what exactly will you feel when you are face with grief. Although the process is different for everyone, doctors have identified 5 common stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance (DABDA). Now in order to explain it further I’m going to once again use a video game, this time Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I swear I didn’t even plan this but when it comes to examples of the 5 stages of grief this is probably the best example of it in pop culture as you actually play through all 5 stages of grief via the 5 locations. But I’m going to have so go into more detail on it another day. This is going to take a while to explain and deserves its own blog. In the next part I will be discussing the first three stages of grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Suicide Prevention the Right Way

By: Sam Reiner

DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog may be seen as insensitive or may make me seem psychotic. So, before I begin I must say that I AM IN NO WAY SUPPORTING THE ACT OF SUICIDE. DO NOT KILL YOURSELF.

(never thought I’d have to say that but here we are)

Today I want to talk about suicide prevention articles and how people go about writing them. From what I have seen while searching the web, most of them are very generic and dull. They all pretty much say the same thing, “don’t kill yourself, you have so much to live for.” Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with saying that, it’s just that the reasons why someone would want to commit suicide are too complicated to be summed up so simply. So, if taking a simple approach isn’t the best choice then what should you do? Enter David Wong, the author of what I believe to be the greatest and most moving article I have ever read. He decided to write an article like no other called The Ten-Minute Suicide Guide. Now you are probably thinking how is this a suicide prevention article, and to be fair I thought the same thing. But after reading it, I have so much more appreciation for life. I’m going to briefly summarize the article and next time I will go into more detail on why this “suicide guide” works so well as a suicide prevention article.

The article starts with the story of a girl Wong knew in high school who committed suicide and what happened afterwards as a result of a botched suicide note. This is what he uses to segway into his main point of the paper, be careful in the steps you take to commit suicide. From here, Wong talks about 3 things to think about: where you will end up, how you will do it, and if it is the right time. By, “where you will end up,” Wong is talking about the afterlife and what happens to your soul. He says that there are only two real possibilities in that regard. Either the Christians were right and you’re going to hell, because under the Christian scheme suicide technically qualifies as murder, or that the atheists are right and nothing happens. He also mentions a kid who was born with a rare skin disease. More on that later.

Next, he talks about how you would actually commit suicide. Not much I really want to say about this because of obvious reasons. One thing I will mention though is that he lists the drawbacks of each method. Again, more on this later. The last thing Wong asks the reader to think about is if the timing is right. This is part is also exactly what it sounds like as it is all about picking the right time to do it and as a bonus talks about revising your suicide note and even gives you the number of a group of people that could help. That’s basically the whole article and after reading this you’re probably thinking “why would I ever show this to someone who is thinking of suicide?” Well I’m going to answer that in the next blog which should be already posted. I really did want this to be just one blog because stopping here is actually terrible but unfortunately, I have too. Next time, why is this a suicide prevention article.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Fighting Out-Group Bias

Fighting Out-Group Bias

By Sam Reiner

I want to talk about a game that came out around 2 years ago and I think it is one of the most important things in recent memory. I want to talk about Undertale. In order to understand why exactly it is so important I have to explain how our brains work at identifying people. When interacting with people we are usually dealing with the Social Anthropological Principle of Out-Group Homogeneity Bias, which is that we tend to view people of other groups as more similar than those in our own group. To simplify, we generalize or stereotype groups of people we are not familiar with. This is a big reason why stereotypes and prejudices exist but why would we do this to ourselves? Well a prevailing anthropological theory states that this happens as a way to preserve our identity. Every single human is a complicated mix of likes, dislikes, fears, experiences, and beliefs which makes it difficult to actually describe what makes you “You.” Think about every time you’re asked to tell someone about yourself and you struggle to answer, it’s exactly the same thing. So instead of defining ourselves by what we are, the out-group bias leads us to identify by what we are not. We are not Them. We subconsciously draw a very clear line in the sand to say this is who I am and I would never be one of those people.

So how does this connect back to Undertale? Well this game is determined to force players to fight out-group homogeneity bias. It’s even the main premise of the game, Humans vs. Monsters, Us vs. Them. In any other game monsters are simply that, monsters. Just obstacles for the player to overcome in your quest to rescue the princess and save the world. In Undertale however, it’s a different story. Creator of Undertale, Toby Fox, went on record to say that he wanted every “enemy” in the game to have their own distinct personality. They range from grunts and bosses to characters like Sans, Alphys, Torial, Froggit, all with their own hopes dreams fears and insecurities. This is probably one of the most genius parts of the game’s design as even though they are labeled as “monsters,” they are so much more.

That is why this $10 game is so important, it’s message. The message that nothing should be judged or hated because of a label and that you should always try to find the peaceful resolution. In fact, Undertale is what taught millions of people the meaning of the word pacifism, which is no exaggeration. Global search trends on Google show a huge spike in the number of people who searched the word pacifism and pacifist around Undertale’s release. For the first time in what feels like forever, people were talking about peaceful resolutions to conflict all because of a video game. It’s also important to remember about Undertale is that people over funded it on Kickstarter, a game that pitched itself as “a game where no one has to get hurt.” During a time where people are actively talking about building walls, it is important and comforting to know that there is a great number who care about bringing people together despite their differences.

If you or someone you know feels depressed or alone contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/out-group_homogeneity.htm