Seasonal Affective Disorder: What is it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by: Jinal Kapadia

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a peculiar disorder. In fact in is not a disorder at all. It is actually a type of depression displayed in a recurring seasonal pattern. In order to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the patient must meet the full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years.

Some general symptoms include feeling depressed most of the day nearly every day, feeling hopeless or worthless, losing interest in activities that were once enjoyed, having difficulty concentrating, and/or having thoughts of death or suicide. There are also specific symptoms that vary based on either the winter or summer seasons. In the winter, a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder may experience low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, cravings for carbohydrates, and social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”). Although, summer seasonal affective disorder is less frequent, the specific symptoms for this season include poor appetite, weight loss, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, anxiety, and episodes of violent behavior. Forms of treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder include medication, Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral activation), and Vitamin D supplementation.

If you or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder or seems to have the symptoms of SAD, and needs 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

Source: Seasonal Affective Disorder. (2016, March). Retrieved January 09, 2018, from




Why Is Sleep So Important?

Why Is Sleep So Important?

By Daisy Lee

When we haven’t had a good night’s sleep, we often feel groggy and disoriented in the morning. Oftentimes, it feels like we haven’t slept at all. Getting enough sleep every night is essential to one’s health, both mental and physical, and contributes to one’s overall state of well-being.

Sleep has been proven time and time again to improve overall wellness and quality of life. Without it, humans and any other living, breathing creatures can’t survive. A good, sound night’s sleep ranging from around 7 to 9 hours is vital for maximum health and performance in life. A few benefits of sleep include:

  • Improved memory
  • Improved attention and concentration
  • Faster reaction time
  • Higher school performance
  • Decreased likelihood of accidents
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased risk of depression
  • Decreased likelihood of illness

Make sure to get your 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for your best physical and mental condition. If you or someone you know is having sleep issues, speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit



Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome


By Marilyn Wells


Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) occurs after alcohol or drug withdrawal, which presents fewer physical withdrawal symptoms, but is more disruptive to an individual emotionally and psychologically. PAWS occurs as a reaction to the individual’s brain returning to a normal state, which can often take up to two years.

Symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Rapid/extreme mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Variations in energy and concentration

Individuals with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome often experience these symptoms in episodes, which last for several days. During these episodes, individuals often struggle to fight the temptations to relapse.  However, with the help of a psychologist, individuals suffering from PAWS can better understand the process their bodies are going through, and learn how to practice methods of relaxation and self-care that will smooth the transition back to a normal life.


The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.


Sleep Paralysis: Waking Up Paralyzed

Waking Up Paralyzed

By: Kristine Dugay

Imagine waking up on any given day, you’re conscious, but you can’t move a muscle as if you’re paralyzed. If you find yourself unable to speak or move for a few seconds or minutes upon waking up or falling asleep, there is a great chance that you have sleep paralysis. On average, four out of every ten people may have sleep paralysis, and both men and women of any age can have it. Sleep paralysis occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. This condition occurs one of two times. If it happens as you are falling asleep, it is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. If it occurs as you are waking up, it is called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis. Though it may run in families, factors that may be linked to the condition include lack of sleep, sleep schedule changes, mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder, narcolepsy, certain medications, and substance abuse.

While being in this state of mind is extremely frightening, there is no need to treat this condition. Sleep paralysis is usually self-treatable and self-diagnosable. Although treatment depends on severity, the main way of treating sleep paralysis is improving your sleeping habits. However, treatment can also include treating any mental health problems that may contribute to sleep paralysis or using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles. Sleep paralysis is most commonly found in those who are narcoleptic or have sleep apnea, but unfortunately it can affect anyone. Common symptoms include anxiety, hallucinations, and paralysis.

If you feel your symptoms cause anxiety, leave you very tired throughout the day, or keep you up during the night, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and 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.


Breakups: High School Sweetheart not so Sweet

By: Emily Mulhaul

To all of the silent sufferers out there who feel as though they are being dramatic for grieving a loss of a relationship for over a year now, you are not alone and you are not dramatic. Breakups can take an emotional toll on us that sometimes prolong for a year or more. Often times, our past experiences shape our present situation, meaning the termination of one relationship may affect our future relationships. Not only may it shape our present relationships with others, but it shapes relationships with oneself as well. Breakups may deprive us of the self confidence and hope we once had because it seemed to have vanished alongside the memory of the relationship.

Whether your break up is affecting your relationship with others or your relationship with yourself, experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.



There may be times individuals experience bursts of energy and during this time they may have little to no sleep and still feel energized, speak at a faster pace than usual, or participate in high risk behaviors/goal directed behaviors. These symptoms can be found in someone diagnosed with mania. When one experiences these symptoms, they may experience a feeling of euphoria that gradually declines. Mania is usually associated with some form of mood disorder such as bipolar disorder and is not by itself a diagnosis. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Volume 5 (DSM-V), mania is characterized by a period of at least 1 week where an elevated, expansive or unusually irritable mood is present. A person experiencing a manic episode also is usually engaged in significant goal-directed activity beyond their normal activities.  This behavior is usually observable by others. When someone is experiencing a manic episode, it usually causes some level of impairment.  As mentioned previously, once a manic individual’s euphoric state starts to decline, they may end up in a state of depression. As individuals are switching from one state to another, they may cause great harm to themselves or others.

If you know anyone who has experienced this behavior, encourage them to seek professional help. With offices in Manhattan and New Jersey (Paramus and Englewood), Arista Counseling offers treatment for bipolar disorder, depression, personality disorders, and much more. Evaluations are also performed on site. Please feel free to contact us at or Manhattan location at (212) 996-3939 or at our New Jersey location at (201) 368-3700.

Written by: L Matthew

Effects of Sleep Deprivation: The Importance of Beauty Sleep


Regardless whether you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl, a good night’s rest is extremely important for everyone. With midterms around the corner, students often engage in all nighters to study and completely disregard their body’s need for sleep. When people get seven or less hours of sleep, the effects can be detrimental to both their body and mind. When you are sleep deprived, your overall cognitive abilities become impaired due to your brain becoming exhausted. When people become sleep deprived, they have a lot more difficulty learning new things and both their long and short term memory are negatively affected.

A common side effect of sleep deprivation is micro sleep—when a person falls asleep for a few seconds or minutes and does not realize it. Micro sleep is completely out of people’s control if they are sleep deprived, regardless of their caffeine consumption, and can result in life threatening outcomes when driving. If people’s sleep deprivation continues long enough they are at an increased risk of experiencing hallucinations. For those previously suffering from manic depression, sleep deprivation is also known to trigger mania. Other mental risks include depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts.

Sleep is also necessary for a person’s immune systems to properly function. When people are sleep deprived their body will become more susceptible to catching viruses, developing respiratory problems, and will take longer to recover from illness. If you are sleep deprived for a long enough time, you are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Some studies have found that sleep deprivation is also associated with weight gain, and a higher risk for obesity. So before you decide to pull an all nighter for that exam, remember that your health and safety needs to come first!

If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, 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


Interrupted Sleep: Why Your Child Might Have Night Terrors


night terror

When your body becomes tired your brain undergoes a series of changes in order to transition into sleep mode, also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Usually, this transition is unproblematic and unconscious. The brain activity involved in light REM sleep causes dreaming to occur. Nightmares are experienced in this state. However, night terrors are experienced in non-REM sleep and are often seen in children 4-12 years of age. Night terrors are similar to nightmares yet they are more dramatic, may involve physical activity, and are usually not recollected. The source of night terrors is an irregular transition from two different stages of sleep that normally occurs 2-3 hours into their rest. It is also the result of an over-aroused or immature central nervous system. Factors that can increase your child’s chances of a night terror include: lack of sleep, increased stress, illness, a start or change in medication, or being in an unfamiliar environment.

During a night terror, a child can become frightened or negatively hyperactive. Common actions during an episode includes: sitting upright, crying, screaming in distress, flailing of arms, and kicking of legs. It is to be noted that the child has no idea that this is happening, making it difficult for the parent to sooth him or her. As a parent, it is normal to be nervous and distraught during an episode. The best thing to do is to remain calm, make sure the child is in a secure place, and patiently wait until the episode ceases. This can take up to about 10 minutes. It is important for the parent to know not to wake the child, for this can cause more traumas during the episode. It is easy to worry about the progression of your child’s night terrors; however, these episodes disappear in time.

If you believe a loved one has or may experience a child with night terrors, 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: Jennifer Oscherician


Insomnia: 5 Tips to Help You Get the Sleep You Need

InsomniaFeeling tired? Can’t fall asleep? Is sleep deprivation starting to affect your daily life? You may be struggling with insomnia.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. For instance, you may find yourself frequently waking up and being unable to fall back asleep. Because sleep is crucial to human functioning, it is important to take the proper steps to get the sleep you need. There are different degrees of insomnia, but here are a few quick and easy reminders that might help.

  • Set a sleep schedule. Go to bed the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Our bodies are made to function on a 24-hour cycle, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm or “body clock.” Sleeping and waking at different times each day will disrupt the body’s rhythm, which can cause physical, mental, and behavioral changes.
  • Set up the right environment. Some people are more sensitive than others when it comes to falling asleep. If light bothers you, minimize the light in your room or utilize an eye mask. If noise bothers you, consider earplugs. Make sure your room is the right temperature. Creating the perfect sleep environment for yourself is the first step to falling asleep and getting a good rest.
  • Watch when you exercise. Exercising is great, but exercising too close to bed time may cause extra stimulation and adrenaline, which can keep you from falling asleep.
  • Watch when and what you eat. Don’t eat a heavy or spicy meal close to bedtime. Consider a light snack instead. Dairy products are also shown to increase the amino acid tryptophan, which can lower the time people need to fall asleep.
  • Get up instead of tossing and turning. If you find that you can’t fall asleep, it is better to get up than to roll around thinking about how you can’t sleep. Get up, read a book, watch TV, or listen to music until you feel tired.

If you still are having trouble sleeping, your insomnia may be caused by something on a deeper level—for example, excessive stress or anxiety. In this case, you should consider seeking professional help. A lack of sleep can significantly impact your daily routine and cause you to function less than optimality.

If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are suffering from sleep-deprivation or insomnia, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and 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.

Written by Kassandra C.


By: Tiffany Moore


What is postpartum depression? Many mothers will feel anxious, restless, irritated and sad for the first few weeks after giving birth. However, when those symptoms do not go away it becomes postpartum depression, “Postpartum depression will usually occur within four to twelve weeks after giving birth, although it can take up to a year to develop.” This disorder can go untreated because of how fast or slow it can develop. Some women do not even realize that they are depressed still because they assume it is just their hormones.

Recent studies have shown that women, who have had previous disorders, are more likely to develop postpartum depression, “Two-thirds of women with postpartum depression had a comorbid psychiatric disorder. In more than 80% of these cases, the women also had an anxiety disorder.” Some women may develop postpartum depression if they have a disorder before having a child, will increase their likely hood of developing postpartum depression. Women who do have postpartum depression will have all the symptoms of depression, which include fatigue, isolation and even thoughts of suicide. Some have even attempted to commit suicide.

If you feel that you are experiencing any symptoms of depression after having your child, tell your doctor. Also, if you do have any disorder ranging from anxiety to bipolar disorder, tell your doctor. Therapy and the right medication can help with postpartum depression once it has been diagnosed.


Joannides, P. (2013, March 22). Postpartum Depression Is Common and Often Untreated. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from