Why Do We Dream?

By: Stephanie Osuba

Dreams are one of the phenomena of the human experience in that we are still not sure why they happen. One proposed explanation is that is how the brain is able to process all the emotions, information, and memories that happened throughout the day; day-residue. In fact, there are numerous researches that indicate that most of our dream content is heavily influenced by our conscious state. Most of the characters in dreams are recognizable by name and autobiographical memories such as dreaming of pregnancy and birth while pregnant are just a few examples. However, this doesn’t always immediately happen. Sometimes there is a dream lag where something that happened a week prior comes up in a dream. This could be an important aspect of memory consolidation.

Dreams also allow us to confront things that are beyond our capability when awake. Cases in which people that are born paralyzed dream of running and swimming, deaf people reporting hearing, and other phenomena further prove that dreams can be a sort of virtual reality that promotes survival and growth. Dreaming can also be an outlet in which people who have experienced trauma and grief can come to terms with and process their emotions. These experiences are often replayed in dreams and manifest in a number of different ways (e.g. nightmares with PTSD and receiving messages from a dead family member with the bereaved).

Some common dream subjects include:

  • School (studying or test taking)
  • Flying
  • Falling
  • Being chased
  • Sexual fantasies
  • Being late
  • Dreaming of someone dead being alive and vice versa
  • Being physically attacked

Source: Breus, M. J., Ph.D. (n.d.). Why We Dream What We Dream. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201501/why-we-dream-what-we-dream 

If you or someone you know needs help regarding sleep and dreams, 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/.

Advertisements

Nightmares: Normal or Disorder?

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We all know the horrible sensation of waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare, a terrifying dream that occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. These dreams are a normal response to stressors in our life, and occur both during childhood and in adulthood. However, when nightmares occur regularly and lead to impairment of one’s cognitive and social functioning, they can develop into Nightmare disorder.

Nightmare disorder is characterized by frequent occurrences of fearful dreams which can interfere with development, functioning, and sleep. People with the disorder are constantly woken up with the detailed recall of dreams that feel like a threat to their survival or security. In addition, such individuals tend to awaken very easily, and have difficulty functioning throughout the day. They are not taking any substances which could lead to the increase in nightmares and, therefore, show signs of the disorder.

Many of the likely causes of Nightmare disorder include mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, which cause people to stress throughout the day which can interfere with their sleep. In addition, any major life trauma can result in this growing distress. Finally, any sleeping disorder, such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or sleep terror, can cause increased nightmares.

If you are experiencing extreme, recurrent nightmares, do not hesitate to reach out for help and seek treatment. You can speak to a psychologist or take anti-depressant medication to address the issues behind these dreams and to better reduce the unpleasant symptoms. Aside from this, setting a routine during bedtime, making oneself comfortable, exercising during the day, doing meditation before bed, and sleeping until sunrise are ways to better relax and try to prevent nightmares. It is important to take care of yourself and your health, both when you are awake and alert AND when you are asleep.

If you or someone you know is suffering from nightmares, 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/.

Insomnia

By: Dianna Gomez

Insomnia is a condition that makes it very difficult for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, or for psychological reasons such as anxiety, depression or intrusive thoughts. In addition to these possibilities, the type of lifestyle an individual chooses to live can also be responsible for creating symptoms of insomnia. There are a few things that people who experience insomnia tend to do that may be worsening their symptoms without them even knowing. Some examples of these lifestyle habits include:

  1. Taking Mid-Day Naps
  • Whether it is short or long, sleeping in the middle of the day can increase a person’s chances of having difficulty sleeping through the night. If you can, try to avoid taking naps all together.
  1. Sleeping In Late
  • When a person is lacking sleep, it isn’t uncommon for them to attempt to fix the problem by sleeping in later the next morning to make up for their “lost hours.” However, by doing so, you are confusing your body clock which then makes it difficult to fall asleep at a regular time again the following night. This can quickly create a vicious cycle that is even harder to break.
  1. Taking Your Work Home With You
  • Regardless of what your occupation is, almost everybody has hectic daily schedules. When people are feeling behind on their work, they often decide to put in a little “over-time” by bringing their work home with them. By doing this, you make the process of “winding down” at night harder as your mind is kept wide awake and pre-occupied when it shouldn’t be.
  1. Using Electronics
  • Especially in today’s generation, it is extremely common for people to use their phones or laptops while lying in bed right before they intend to fall sleep. The problem with this, however, is that bright screens like those on our electronics actually stimulate the brain more and cause you to stay awake. This then makes it more difficult to fall asleep for the night.
  1. Working Irregular Hours
  • If you have a job that has you on various different “shifts,” sleeping may become a problem for you. If a person doesn’t stay on a regimented time schedule, their body clock cannot decipher when it should be waking up to take on a new day or winding down to get ready for bed.

 

If you have already tried reversing these lifestyle habits and still regularly experience symptoms of insomnia, 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/.

 

 

Stress: The Endless Pressures on the Brain

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

A common factor that unites all people is experiencing stress. Stress is the way that our bodies react to various situations including pressure, threats, challenges, or barriers. All individuals experience this in some form in their work, home, or school settings, some to a greater degree than others. We live in a world where we often encourage those around us to do more, work harder and longer, and essentially take on more stressors. This is a very dangerous situation, as stress can be very harmful to our brains.

There are numerous impacts that prolonged stress can have on our brains. When a stressor is present, the body has several physical reactions, including increased heart rate, sweating, raised levels of epinephrine, and constricted blood vessels. In our brains, a signaling pathway is activated involving the hippocampus and pituitary gland which results in the release of the hormone glucocorticoid, a stress hormone. This hormone is generally regulated by the body, released in fixed amounts when we wake up and is necessary for our body to operate. However, when stress is chronic and the brain pathway is activated excessively, glucocorticoids can inhibit growth, bone formation, and the immune response. They are linked to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, destroying neurons, impairing memory, and slowing down cognitive function.

As stress is faced recurrently, the brain learns to acclimate to the body being in constant states of elevated tension and anxiety. The circuitry of neurons and connections of synapses changes to adapt to the higher levels of glucocorticoids. Additionally, people exposed to more stress noted to have a larger amygdala in the brain, which is the region responsible for processing threatening and emotional situations. A larger amygdala indicates that the individual is more susceptible to stressors and is unable to recover from them well. Finally, such individuals were also seen to have a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both responsible for decision making and rational thinking.

It is evident that the stressful lifestyles that many of us live can have a severe adverse impact on our brains and health, most invisible to the eye but nevertheless perilous. Instead of endorsing demanding lives and tiring jobs, which can have negative consequences, we should be inspiring people to learn how to relax and take time for themselves. People should be urged to engage in activities such as meditation, pursue hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and give their brains a break from the stressors and anxiety that are continuously causing pressure.

If you or someone you know is suffering from excessive stress and/or mental illness, 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/.

Depression

By: Dianna Gomez

Similar to most mental health illnesses, depression does not discriminate. Depression doesn’t take into consideration what age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or religion a person is. In fact, not only does depression affect both men AND women, it may be experienced differently by each group as well. In general, depression is more commonly found in women then it is found in men. When it comes to women specifically, the higher rates of depression have been linked to biological, hormonal, life cycle, and psychosocial factors. It has been shown that hormones directly affect emotions and mood through brain chemistry. A time when women are especially at risk is after giving birth when physical and hormonal changes, as well as new responsibilities for their new born baby can be overwhelming. Postpartum Depression can also occur in new mothers and must be attended to immediately. When speaking about their depression, women are more likely to describe their experiences as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and/or guilt.

When men are depressed, they are more likely to describe their experiences as having feelings of fatigue, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, irritability, sleep issues, etc. In attempt to relieve themselves of their depression, men are more likely to bury themselves in their work and find ways to keep themselves preoccupied so they aren’t forced to confront their feelings head on. They may also participate in risky or reckless behaviors. Alcohol and substance use is another coping mechanism that men usually turn to. This is usually followed by episodes of anger and aggression.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Despite this, there is still no known cause for this debilitating illness. That is why it is absolutely crucial that professional help is sought out.

If either you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, 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/.

Insomnia

insomnia.jpgInsomnia

Sonya Cheema

A typical adult gets between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, but it varies from person to person. Those who struggle to get this amount of sleep may suffer from the sleep disorder, insomnia. Some people may experience acute insomnia, which lasts for a few days or weeks. Others may suffer from chronic insomnia, which can last a month or more. If you suspect you or a loved one has insomnia, look for these symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Ongoing worries about sleep

If you or a loved one experience many of these symptoms, it may be wise to seek professional help. If serious enough, insomnia can drastically affect your everyday life. In the meantime, some tips that may help alleviate your insomnia are:

  • Keeping your bed time and wake time consistent day to day
  • Avoid or limit naps
  • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex
  • Create a relaxing night time ritual, such as taking a bath, reading, listening to music, etc.

If you or a person you know is struggling with insomnia, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

Source used:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167

Postpartum Depression: Psychosocial Risk Factors

Postpartum Depression: Psychosocial Risk Factors

Written by: Jinal Kapadia

Postpartum depression, is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression generally experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that can make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others. (Nimh.nih.gov, 2018)

There are multiple risk factors that make some women more susceptible to postpartum depression than others. A first-time mother is at a higher risk for depression. Fatigue, which can be caused by the actual process of giving birth, the energy spent on caring for the baby, and tending to other responsibilities can also lead to depression. Women who are single mothers with less social support are also more susceptible. A woman’s feelings towards her pregnancy, such as negativity or ambivalence, increases her chances for depression. (Psychology Today, 2018)

Another risk factor is a woman’s past, such as the loss of her mother or a poor mother-daughter relationship. This can cause a woman to feel unsure about her newly developing relationship with her baby. Women who have babies by cesarean birth take longer to recover and are, therefore, more likely to be stressed, have lower self-esteem, and feel more depressed. Women who have premature babies often become depressed because the early birth results in unexpected changes in routine and is an added stressor. Lastly, a baby with a birth defect or other challenges (e.g. infantile colic) can make adjustment even more difficult for parents. (Psychology Today, 2018)

If you or someone you know has postpartum depression or seems to have the symptoms of postpartum depression, 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

Psychology Today. (2018). Postpartum Disorder | Psychology Today. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/postpartum-disorder [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].

Nimh.nih.gov. (2018). Postpartum Depression Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].

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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: Seasonal Affective Disorder. (2016, March). Retrieved January 09, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

 

 

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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-teenage-mind/201202/why-sleep-is-important

Photo: http://www.consciouslivingtv.com

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

PAWS

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.

Source: addictionsandrecovery.org