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 for more information.


PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Anna Straus

What is PTSD and why does it occur? Two people may experience the same event, such as a car accident. One person is shaken up but recovers in a day or two; the other is consistently plagued with anxiety and stress at even the thought of getting in a car. Psychology supposes that something in the brain can get ‘stuck’ when a person processes a traumatic event.

PTSD is characterized by high levels of distress, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks and bad dreams. As a result people may avoid anything that slightly reminds them of the traumatic event, become emotionally numb or depressed and withdraw from otherwise enjoyed activities.

People at high risk for PTSD are people who are likely victims or witnesses of traumatic scenes: war veterans and domestic violence victims being among the most prone, although people with otherwise happy lives can also experience PTSD. The type or nature of traumatic event does not necessarily determine whether someone will get PTSD, rather, PTSD happens because of a person’s way of reacting to and attempts to ‘get over’ the event.

When left untreated the symptoms of PTSD can cause a multitude of secondary psychological and behavioral symptoms. People may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms. They may experience severe depression because of the negative impact that their PTSD stress has on all other aspects of their life.

A variety of treatments have been shown to improve PTSD symptoms. The efficacy of the treatments depending on multiple factors. Some research shows that a chemical imbalance occurs in PTSD patients, and medication appears to stabilize this. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapies also show promising results. These therapies help a patient confront their traumatic experience in a safe setting and reprocess it in a more effective way.

If you believe that you or a loved one has PTSD, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.



Relationships: Abusive Relationships: Why We Repeat the Past

“Why didn’t you just walk away?” “How could you let this happen to yourself again?” These questions are not uncommon for survivors of domestic abuse to hear. When a person has numerous maladaptive relationships, it leaves them and others baffled. Why on earth would someone put themselves in an abusive situation again? The answer to this lies in a psychological phenomenon called “repetition compulsion.” In repetition compulsion, a person either puts themselves into a situation where abuse is likely to happen again, or they reenact the past situation with another partner. Below are some theorized reasons why people repeat the past in their relationships.

  1. Change can be a scary or anxiety-provoking thing. Most of us stick to what we know, even if it means regularly dating partners who are physically and/or emotionally abusive.
  2. Some think that by putting themselves in the same situation, they can change the outcome this time. They think that they will be able to master this relationship, and this will make up for the last bad one.
  3. We might believe that if we act in just the right way, our partner’s behavior will change and they will treat us right.
  4. We begin to internalize the beliefs that we are unlovable and deserve to be mistreated.
  5.  Unconsciously or consciously, we seek out abuse from others due to conditioning.
  6. “Winning” an argument with an abusive partner may lead us to believe that we are able to do this again and the abuse will stop.

Despite how terrible the situation may be, know that you are not alone, there is help available, and there are resources to begin the healing process.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling 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.

Visit for more information.

Further reading: “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Source: Esposito, Linda. “Why Do We Repeat the Past in Our Relationships?” Psychology Today. Sussex Pulishers, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016

By: Scout H

How to Recognize a Sociopath

Sociopaths: devious, controlling, cunning. If you ever come across someone with this toxic antisocial personality disorder, it is important to know how to recognize the signs for your own personal safety. These people repeatedly disregard the feelings of others while seeking only to please themselves. They are unable to have the ability to organize their emotions and therefore have no shame about their actions, regardless of how it makes those around them feel. Often, they find internal gratification from hurting others. Below are some warning signs to help you identify a sociopath:

  • A discrepancy between what the person says, and what the person does
  • Making excuses for themselves when they are caught in a lie
  • Changing the subject when they are caught in a lie
  • Beating around the bush when asked questions about the lie you caught them in or not answering them directly
  • Knowing others’ vulnerabilities and manipulating them for personal gain
  • Ability to understand laws and rules, but being unable to understand emotionally why those rules are in place
  • No feelings of shame when they know they have hurt other people
  • Repeatedly putting themselves in situations which could get them arrested
  • Disregarding the safety of themselves or others
  • Constant irritability, hostility, and antagonism
  • Performing cruel and gruesome acts on animals

If these warning signs sound like they apply to yourself or someone you know, it is very important to start therapy. With the help of a medical professional, the combination of medication and psychotherapy can help people with this personality disorder.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling 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.

Visit for more information.


“Sociopath X – ALL ABOUT SOCIOPATHS – Sociopathic Personality Disorder and Types.” D for Depression Depressive Psychological Disorders. Depression D, 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

By: Scout H

Emotional Abuse: The 10 Common Signs


When a person is being emotionally abused in a relationship, it is not always easy to tell. In some ways emotional abuse can be more devastating than physical abuse due to the victims’ tendency to blame him or herself. In an emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser systematically controls their partner by undermining their confidence, worthiness, growth, trust, or emotions by provoking feelings of fear, shame, or humiliation. There are 10 primary signs that distinguish an emotionally abusive relationship which are as follows:

  1. You feel as if you are walking on eggshells around your partner
    • You never know how your partner will react, so you have to be careful with anything you do or say
  2. Arguments tend to escalate quickly and have no end point
  3. There are intense moments of feeling good about the relationship, when your partner makes overly sincere apologies or attempts to make up for bad behavior.
    • The victim clings to hope for the relationship when these moments occur
  4. Your partner will let his/her anger out at you for something that is no fault of yours
  5. Your partner is possessive and jealous, and will speak badly about your friends—especially the ones who are of the opposite sex
    • Your partner tries to isolate you from friends and family.
  6. Your partner cripples your self-esteem through humiliation about anything you try to do or accomplish
  7. Your partner has a two-faced personality
    • Your partner’s personality confuses you by alternating between acting very caring and loving, and/or very hurtful and mean.
  8. Your partner emotionally manipulates you into sexual activities that you do not like.
  9. Your partner will bring up past mistakes as a reminder of all that you have done wrong in the relationship
  10. Your achievements are minimized, while his/her achievements are glorified

If you believe that you or a loved one is in an emotionally abusive relationship, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit for more information.


By: Margalit I. Herzfeld



Relationships: Emotional Abuse


Relationships: Emotional Abuse

By: Catherine Ferreira

The typical image of an abusive partnership is often one of violence. It is one of bruises and broken bones; of random angry outbursts and bloodied hands. While not far from the truth, this portrayal can more often than not be greatly misleading.

There is a much deadlier, more sinister form of abuse that is not often talked about. It is not always noticeable, either. It takes the form of emotional abuse, or “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish one’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth”1. Emotionally abusive relationships do not simply consist of dramatic emotional outbursts or random fits of anger. It is so deadly exactly because it is so subtle: something as simple as “You’ve been gaining a lot of weight lately” can be an act of violence because it implies your partner has a degree of control over you.

It can come out in more overt ways, too: manipulation and ultimatums; threatening to kill oneself; unfounded jealousy and a sense of entitlement; constant begging, badgering, stalking—all of these and more constitute what it means to be in an abusive relationship. Worst of all, they are symptoms of a toxic cycle that is hard to acknowledge and harder still to break.

Fortunately, however, guidance from a professional therapist can help you learn how to break out of this cycle. If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are in need of therapy or relationship counseling, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit for more information.


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Abuse & Neglect: Lifelong Effects of Childhood Abuse or Neglect – Bergen County, NJ

By: Samantha Santo


Childhood is the foundation of everything.  The events that occur during childhood will have an everlasting effect on a person’s future.  There are four different types of abuse that will affect a child well into adulthood.

  1. If a child is emotionally abused, he or she is more likely to become depressed in adulthood.  They are also more likely to consume alcohol during the week which will affect their work schedule and relationships.
  2. If a child experiences emotional neglect, he or she may not necessarily become depressed during adulthood, but will become very negative and will not have a positive outlook on life.
  3. When a child is physically abused he or she is more likely to be impulsive and self-destructive as an adult.  This will lead to harmful weekend drinking and difficulty achieving abstinence.
  4. Children who experience physical neglect tend to be antisocial in adulthood and develop addictions to drugs and alcohol.  As adults they tend to drink during the week and over the weekends and develop alcohol-related problems.

If you or anyone you know has experienced any type of abuse or neglect during their childhood, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy.  If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey call 201-368-3700 to make an appointment with a highly qualified licensed therapist, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist who can help.

For more information on therapy, visit

Cannabis- The Disadvantages of Marijuana Use- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna

Disadvantages of Marijuana Use

Disadvantages of Marijuana Use

Continued from post below:

Aside from the hype and popularity that Marijuana has today in our society, for medicinal purposes and recreational reasons, it has been found that cannabis is capable of causing one’s physical health to suffer if consumed by smoking-which usually it is. Marijuana can damage the respiratory system and can lead to problems such as chronic bronchitis and lung issues. Anything that is inhaled that’s not pure will cause damage to the respiratory system; smoking definitely is not recommended for people suffering from severe or chronic health issues. Cannabis can also alter the mind with the main component THC in negative ways as well.

THC can cause short term side effects that include:

  • Changes in appetite.
  • Dependency issues.

*“9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among people who use marijuana daily ( 25-50 percent).” {}

  • Heightened Paranoia if stress is present; or if an individual is more prone to paranoid/ anxious thoughts.
  • Short term memory loss.
  • Some say Marijuana is a “gateway” drug that leads to using more serious drugs.
  • Less motivation and Drive in an individual’s behavior.

 Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite, anxiety.
  • Long term memory loss
  • Drug cravings, all of which can make it hard to stop.

 “Research shows marijuana may cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. Heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to non-marijuana-using peers.”

  • For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.” {.gov}

If you or a loved one happens to be experiencing some negative consequences from smoking marijuana or possible addiction, then it is important to recognize this, and refrain from smoking cannabis; especially if it is illegal and compromising your mental and physical abilities. If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey, feel free to call our Paramus office at 201-368-3700 to make an appointment with one of our own therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists to receive help.


“DrugFacts: Marijuana.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2014.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cannabis Use- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna

Medicinal Marijuana: Advantages & Disadvantages

Medicinal Marijuana: Advantages & Disadvantages

Marijuana consists of dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which contains the psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as other similar compounds. Marijuana is currently the most widely used illegal drug in the United States.  Its use for medicinal and recreational purposes has been hotly debated. Starting with California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, several state governments have been approving the use of marijuana if recommended by a physician. Recently, the state of Colorado became the first to legalize recreational marijuana use, and more states are joining including New Jersey; where cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes. In order to get cannabis for medicinal treatment one must be approved by a doctor and follow strict regulations implemented by the law of the state. As cannabis becomes more prominent issue in our society, it is important to consider the potential effects its use could have on one’s health. With the legalization marijuana spreading through the states it’s easy to see that there might be major advantages of Marijuana use:

Some Advantages of Marijuana use:

  • Cancer patients suffering terrible symptoms from chemotherapy use marijuana to relieve the pain and nausea that the chemotherapy creates. It also helps with loss of appetite.
  • MS patients may experience reductions in pain and spasticity as a result of Marijuana use (National MS Society)
  • Marijuana may have anti-seizure properties and is used for relief by some patients suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders. (Jones
  • Certain strains of the cannabis plant have anxiety-reducing effects and may improve for some patients suffering from insomnia.
  • Marijuana can cause reduction in depressed mood and encourage positive affect in patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (Spiegel), Some doctors recommend the use of it to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). (Ellison)
  •  Marijuana has been shown to help pain relief in patients suffering from Fiber Myalgia
  • Cannabis can lower intraocular pressure to treat glaucoma if  traditional medicines do not work (Glaucoma Research Foundation)

There are many mixed opinions when it comes to the topic of cannabis, and whether it actually benefit people overall or if it’s just as dangerous as other drugs in its class. If you or someone you know is experiencing medical issues and feels that cannabis could be a solution, and live in a state where it’s medicinally legal and distributed, Discuss your diagnosis with a doctor. Discuss whether it complies with the rules of your state and whether you can be prescribed medical marijuana. Speak with a therapist or doctor to see if it could potentially be the answer for you or a loved one.

Feel free to contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists for an evaluation to see if you should move forward with meeting someone who specializes in Marijuana cases in the state you currently live in or if there are other alternatives.

To see the Disadvantages of Cannabis use continue reading the post above!


1.Ellison, Katherine.”Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 22 May>.

2.”DrugFacts: Marijuana.”National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.>. – Spiegel

4..Dobman & Kleiman. “Journal of Clinical Oncology.” Marijuana as Antiemetic Medicine: A Survey of Oncologists’ Experiences and Attitudes. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.>.

The Rise of Suicidal Thoughts in Adolescents; and the impact of Cyber-Bullying:

By: Michelle Dierna

The rise in suicidal thoughts in Adolescents

The Rise in Suicidal Thoughts in Adolescents

With suicide being one of the leading causes of death for young people, it is important to recognize the patterns of behavior that might indicate suicide. People experiencing suicidal thoughts usually have feelings of despair, hopelessness and no self- worth; they feel there is no purpose or meaning in their life. Usually people suffering with suicidal thoughts are suffering with a psychiatric disorder whether known or unknown.

The explanation for the current rise in suicide is not yet known precisely, but suicide rates have been rising historically. One can say that people have been committing suicide more often today because of tough economic times; unemployment is much higher then it was years ago.

Statistics show that nine out of ten people who commit or attempt suicide have at least one major psychiatric illness and in half of these cases two or more such illnesses are present. Most common of these psychiatric conditions are mood disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, and behavior disorders. This is an attempt to explain the role of mental illness in youth suicide using the theoretical perspectives of abnormal behavior and the V Axes Diagnosis system.”{Sarason, B.R; theoriesofsucidalbehavior}”

 Suicide is one of the biggest causes of death in adolescents worldwide:

*“In the US, about 20% of adolescents seriously consider suicide and between 5% and 8% of adolescents attempt suicide each year.“Some estimates suggest that – depending on the country of origin – between 5% and 20% of children are victims of physical, verbal or exclusion-based bullying. Previous studies have also confirmed that bullying is a strong risk factor for adolescent suicide.” {Kim; Psychologytoday}

The rise in technology and social media websites make bullying easier because the bully is not face to face with the victim or victims. It is easier to bully through social media websites than in a face-to-face conversation. This makes it very easy for bullies to freely comment about people, who then become victims and have little to no control over the situation. Social media sites are for the most part public, and when an individual is being bullied and can’t control what the person on the other side of the computer is doing, the victim can only feel the pain of the words expressed about him/her. Cyber bullying attacks can result in a build up of strong negative emotional issues- especially in adolescents.

Cyber bullying is more strongly related to suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents than traditional bullying, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics.”{Geel; JAMAPediatrics}

Changes in an individual’s behavior such as the following may be signs of suicidal thoughts:

  • having abnormal obsessions with violence, dying and/or death
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless
  • being in an elevated state of anxiety & depression
  • Change in personality (more moody and impulsive) with daily routines
  • Change of sleep patterns
  • consuming (more) drugs &alcohol
  • engaging in risky behavior

 If you or a loved one might be struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression, and are concerned, feel free to contact our Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan, New York offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists, we have successfully helped many with similar concerns.

Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920

More detailed information can be found at

 * Emergency:

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



1.Relationship Between Peer Victimization, Cyber bullying, and Suicide in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-analysis. Mitch van Geel, et al., JAMA Pediatrics, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4143, published online 10 March 2014.Additional source: JAMA news release accessed 10 March 2014.

2. Kim, Jen. “Suicidal Thoughts.” Psychology Today, n.d.>.

  1. Nordqvist, Christian. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 09 June>.

4.Sarason, B. R., & Sarason, I. G. (2005). Abnormal psychology: The problem of
maladaptive behavior (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson
Education, Inc..