Virtual Learning: Back to School…Online!

     Living through a global pandemic has put school districts, as well as family members, through an abundance of stress and anxiety as we begin to turn the corner into our not so typical “back to school” season. Parents are presented with the hard decision of whether to send their child into the classroom (if offered that option) or risk the possibility of having to cut their hours at work in order to be at home to help facilitate their child’s virtual learning experience. Some common signs of anxiety to look out for are feeling nervous, an impending sense of danger, trouble concentrating or thinking of anything other than the present worry, and having the urge to avoid things that trigger your anxiety. Here are some tips to help take care of your mental health this upcoming school year!  

Stay Involved With Decision Making                                                                     Going back to school always involved decision making, so going back to school with COVID-19 makes planning much more necessary. To help reduce anxiety, start early to ensure you have all the necessary resources to give your child to have a successful school year (especially if they will be experiencing the classroom from home). Always ask questions if you feel unsure.

You Can’t Manage Everything                                                                               Not everything is predictable. Remember to take everything on a day to day basis and remind yourself that you are doing everything you can for your child in these unforeseen times.                                                                            

Communicate                                                                                                           Continue to research resources if needed and to reach out to your child’s school if you have any questions. Reach out to other parents in the community who are in the same situation you are in for further support. They can be good to share ideas with, but also to talk to about any doubts or worries! Establish a support system that you can contact if you ever need help.

Self-care                                                                                                                           Always remember to take time for yourself for hobbies or spending time with family and friends. Take part in activities you enjoy and that take your mind off of current worries or stressors.

If you or someone you know needs support with anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy office 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: : https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-mentality/202008/back-school-in-pandemic-tips-foster-mental-health                                Image Source: https://www.theonlinemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/back-to-school.jpg

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their 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/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

COVID-19: How to Cope with Stress During COVID-19

COVID-19: How to Cope with Stress During COVID-19

By: Alexa Greenbaum

In crisis situations, it is normal to feel overwhelmed with emotions. The COVID-19 pandemic can feel threatening, as there are many unknowns. For example, published information from reputable sources, such as in the media, news, articles, journals, government officials, and specialists in relevant fields of work often contradict one another. It is important to note that everyone deals with stress differently, nonetheless, focusing on being resilient in response to COVID-19 will help minimize stressors and allow growth from traumatic experiences.

In this time of many uncertainties and conflicting information, it can be difficult to be calm. Feeling a lack of control, fears, and ruminating on stressors can escalate undesirable emotions. These stressors can feel or be traumatic and as a result, especially in isolation, cause people to consciously think about how COVID-19 is stressful.

It is difficult to stay calm but to subside unwanted stress, taking a step back and identifying your fears and putting emotions into perspective is a great way to start the process of becoming resilient to chaotic situations. It is important to understand and accept that there are a number of things that are out of control in life and emotions cannot prevent stressful situations. As a result, growth is associated with reflection and cognitive processing.

In effort to overcome stress about COVID-19, some pathways to resilience include focusing on positive relationships, positive emotions, and hardiness. Connecting and not isolating yourself by supporting loved-ones, focusing on what is in your control, and connecting with larger social networks such as your communities can provide emotional and instrumental support. Communicating with others can also elicit positive emotions such as laughter and optimism and can influence the belief that one can grow from negative events.

Taking care of yourself during a time of crisis is of upmost importance. To do so, take time to unwind and give yourself a break from looking at the news, create a routine, and take care of your body and mental health.

If you or someone you know is experiencing uncontrollable stress from COVID-19 or another crisis, 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:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://yalehealth.yale.edu/covid-19-managing-stress

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2017/05/13/6-ways-to-stop-stressing-about-things-you-cant-control/#7529342630db

Image Source:

https://www.nysut.org/news/2020/april/stress-management

Pain: Chronic Pain is a Fundamental Health Issue

By Gabriella Phillip

According to The International Association for the Study of Pain, pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. When someone is injured, pain sensors immediately send signals to the brain. Although regular pain, like cramps or a headache, can be relieved in a rather short period of time, chronic pain involves the brain receiving pain signals a while after the onset of pain or the original injury.

One in five people live with chronic pain and the frequency of chronic pain increases as we get older. Many elderly people are experiencing pain that oftentimes goes undiagnosed. In addition, research shows that patients with dementia are being severely untreated for their experience with pain. Even though it’s a fundamental human right to have proper access to pain management, most elderly people are receiving quite inadequate care from health facilities, making it harder for them to cope and go about their daily lives with severe chronic pain.

Chronic pain can strongly impact or contribute to the formation of serious mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Current research from Neuroscience Research Australia shows that patients living with chronic pain have lower levels of glutamate, a significant chemical messenger that aids emotional regulation. Therefore, it’s possible for people with chronic pain to undergo certain personality changes like being more tired than usual, feeling unmotivated, or worrying on a more frequent basis than before. Around half of people suffering from chronic pain also have mental health conditions. The daily demands of learning to live with chronic pain can help generate anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Chronic Pain and its mental health effects, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can 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/ .

Stress: Effects of Stress

Image result for stressed brain

Stress: Effects of Stress

By: Vanessa Munera

When people talk about stress, what exactly is it? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. With stress the body reacts to these changes with emotional, physical, and mental responses. Stress could either be presented as a positive or negative outcome in people’s daily lives.

According to Bernstein “Stress can occur in a variety of forms” (2016). Some stress can result in short events such as an argument with a loved one. Furthermore, other stress can manifest due to reoccurring conditions; for example, a demanding job, financial problems, and/ or long term illness. When reoccurring conditions cause stress to be both intense and sustained over a long period of time, it can be considered as “chronic” or “toxic” stress”. While all stress triggers physiological reactions, chronic stress is indeed to be considered a problematic issue that creates significant harm to the brain and the functioning of the body. In fact, “stress continues to be a major American health issue”.

If you have experienced a stressful event, a certain area of the brain called the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus functions as a command center in the brain, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that person has the energy to fight or flee”. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response because it provides the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. Some of the affects from the “fight or flight” response are increased heart rate, deeper intake of oxygen, heightened senses, and the rush of adrenaline – also known as epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Finally a hormone known as cortisol is released to help restore the energy that was lost during the response. When stress is no longer present, your cortisol levels to go back to normal as if nothing happened. In addition cortisol helps regulate metabolism and immune responses.

When dealing with chronic stress, cortisol levels are at a constant high, which eventually causes health problems. Although cortisol is a natural and healthy hormone in the body, constant high levels of it can be bad for your brain. High levels of this hormone can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. As stated in the article, “it can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others” (Bernstein, 2016). In addition, chronic stress can kill brain cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. It has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory and learning. Besides chronic stress having effects on the brain, it causes effects to the human body. This type of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, it can affect other systems in the body and cause them to stop working properly. This includes digestive, excretory and reproductive structures and exacerbates already existing illness. Fighting and managing chronic stress can be difficult; however it is not too late to learn how to manage it. Toxic stress can negatively affect the brain but the brain and body can recover from these effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, please do not hesitate to seek help by contacting  Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

By: Julia Keys

It is typical to feel a bit nervous before public speaking or maybe a little anxious before a performance, however, for those with Social Anxiety Disorder, or SAD, even the smallest interactions with others can provoke feelings of extreme anxiety. Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a strong and persistent fear of humiliation and embarrassment that could be caused by social situations. People with Social Anxiety Disorder struggle with feelings of self-consciousness that are produced by the possibility of judgement in social interactions. Oftentimes the distress caused by social situations can become so overwhelming for those with SAD that they begin to avoid everyday activities and responsibilities such as going to work, going to school, or picking up the phone.

Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder:

  • Anxiety about being with other people
  • Difficult time interacting with others, stuttering, trailing off, and reserved behavior are common
  • Self-consciousness in front of other people and feelings of embarrassment
  • Fear of being judged
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating or trembling around other people
  • Other physical symptoms such as disorientation, shallow breath, diarrhea, muscle tension and upset stomach

Social Anxiety Disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. A common affliction for those with SAD is the rumination that follows social interactions. New types of therapy are being developed to help those with SAD deal with this common symptom: post-event processing or PEP Mindfulness based therapies are aiming to target the feelings of shame, worry, and embarrassment that are caused by overanalyzing personal performance in social situations. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy helps people with SAD change unhealthy thought patterns that may be contributing to their anxiety. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds are often used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Social Anxiety Disorder affects over 19 million people across the US; however 35% of those suffering with social anxiety waited over ten years to seek treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out and get the help you need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with social anxiety, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.anxiety.org/social-anxiety-disorder-sad

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201904/the-one-dose-approach-help-social-anxiety-disorder

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Julia Keys

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been normalized and trivialized in society as a need for everything to be meticulously clean and organized when in reality it is a serious psychological disorder that can cause significant distress for those who have it. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by a pattern of uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts, known as obsessions, which can only be remedied by certain behaviors, known as compulsions. People with OCD are commonly depicted as being ultra-neat or afraid of germs, which is true for some people, but the way OCD expresses itself is unique to the individual.

There are several common themes that psychologists have determined when treating patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One common theme is contamination. This may take on the literal meaning in which an object or place can be perceived as dirty, but it can also mean that contact with a person, place, or object will cause great harm. Checking is another typical behavior. One may check if something is safe or turned off over and over again. Checking can also express itself in the need for constant verbal reassurance, so a person with OCD may ask the same question over and over. People with OCD may be worried that they will suddenly lose control and hurt themselves or someone else. In efforts to qualm these obsessions, one may avoid certain places or people or have plans set in place that could prevent them from acting out these thoughts.

Common obsessions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Common compulsions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

When reading these lists one might think that these behaviors are relatively typical, however people with OCD spend an excessive amount of time and effort thinking about obsessive thoughts and preforming rituals to control them. A person with OCD may feel brief relief after preforming a compulsion, but they do not feel pleasure from such acts. Obsessions and compulsions are very difficult to control and may result in significant problems in one’s daily life or relationships.

If you or someone you know is struggling OCD, 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:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-ocd/201107/the-many-flavors-ocd

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Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

By: Julia Keys

Anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome occurs when a person suddenly stops taking their anti-depressants. Sometimes individuals decide to go off of their medication because of side effects such as weight gain, nausea, or sexual dysfunction. Another common reason why individuals stop their medication “cold turkey” is because they may feel as if the medication has changed their personality. Anti-depressants are not meant to change one’s personality, but sometimes they can cause fogginess or fatigue which can make the patient feel “not like themselves” or “out of it”. However, abruptly going off medication can cause symptoms that are more painful and severe than the side effects one might feel on an anti-depressant that is not right for them.

The effects of anti-depressant discontinuation can be felt as early as a couple hours to as late as a couple days after missing a dose depending on the type of anti-depressant. Symptoms are typically ameliorated within six to twenty four hours after taking the missed dose.

Symptoms of Anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Problems with balance
  • “brain zaps” or “brain shocks”, the sensation of a jolt of electricity running through the head, neck or limbs
  • Anxiety

Unlike illegal drugs, phasing out of anti-depressants can be a painless process if done correctly. In order to go off of anti-depressants successfully, one must slowly wean themselves off the medication with the help of a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Tips to prevent or minimize anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome:

  • NEVER stop taking medication without talking to your doctor
  • Follow your doctor’s directions exactly when going off your meds. If you start to feel any of the symptoms of anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome contact your doctor as soon as possible
  • Set a reminder on your phone or computer to take your medication each day
  • Always keep your medication in the same place
  • Make sure to keep on top of your doctor’s appointments by putting them in a calendar so that you will never run out of medication by accident

If you are struggling with mental health issues and are in need of treatment, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

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Low Self Esteem: Imposter Syndrome

Low Self Esteem: Imposter Syndrome

Low Self Esteem: Imposter Syndrome

By: Julia Keys

        Do you ever feel like no matter how much you accomplish, you still are inadequate compared to others around you? Feeling fraudulent about one’s achievements is so common that psychologists have given it a name: Impostor Syndrome.  People with Impostor syndrome doubt their own accomplishments and have a fear of being exposed as a fraud among their colleagues.  Despite the fact that people with Impostor Syndrome have great external evidence for their accolades, they still cannot be convinced that they deserve what they have accomplished.Those with Impostor Syndrome often attribute their success to external factors such as luck or good timing.

Impostor Syndrome can be caused by perfectionism and fear of failure. However, if you are afraid you won’t be perfect or that you will fail, then you will be discouraged from going after new goals! The constant pressure found in those with Impostor Syndrome can cause feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and at its worst, depression and anxiety.

One group of people that are especially prone to Impostor Syndrome are highly successful women.  The discrepancy between external achievement and internalization of achievement within successful women may be caused by our society’s standards. Gender roles have greatly shaped what it looks like to be a successful man versus what it looks like to be a successful woman. Successful men are stereotypically in positions of power while successful women are stereotypically in caretaker’s positions.  The type of achievements that constitute success in our culture, such as obtaining a high degree, being financially successful, or being promoted to a leadership position are more aligned with the stereotypes of male achievement, which may explain why when women achieve such goals, they feel like frauds.

No one should have to feel like a fraud, especially if they prove to be very high achieving. If you or someone you know can relate to the information above, 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:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200912/why-do-so-many-women-experience-the-imposter-syndrome?collection=59879

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200912/why-do-so-many-women-experience-the-imposter-syndrome?collection=59879

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Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

By: Julia Keys

        It is normal to experience a certain degree of stress throughout the day, but when this stress becomes extreme, and with no discernible cause, it can start to become a problem.  It is important to distinguish the difference between everyday stress and clinical anxiety.

Although stress can be temporarily uncomfortable, it can motivate humans to get things done. There are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is beneficial to humans functioning. While it is not pleasurable in the moment, eustress contributes to a beneficial outcome. An example of eustress would be jitters before an exam or a particularly challenging workout. Eustress can enhance one’s performance. Distress, on the other hand, is a negative form of stress that is not usually beneficial to the experiencer. Some examples of distress could be legal problems or conflicts with a spouse.  Distress tends to negatively impact performance and can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression.

People with clinical anxiety such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), experience levels of distress and worrying that are more intense than everyday stress.  Whereas stress feels caused by external factors, anxiety tends to be generated internally. Oftentimes, people with anxiety will feel stress and anticipate negative outcomes before the anticipated event even happens.

Here are some key differences between stress and anxiety:

  • Stressor
    • Normal stress occurs in response to external stressors such as a fight with a friend or a job interview
    • People with anxiety oftentimes cannot find the source of their stress and therefore just getting through the day can be immensely stressful
  • Intensity
    • Stress is fleeting
    • Anxiety is ongoing and can last weeks, months, or even years
  • Symptoms
    • Stress is oftentimes accompanied by worrying, which subsides quickly
    • Anxiety can cause troubling symptoms such as dizziness, trembling, headaches and nausea
  • Impairment
    • Anxiety can be overwhelming and debilitating to the point where one may start to avoid necessary everyday activities that make them anxious

If you are struggling with anxiety, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting  Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hack-your-anxiety/201903/curious-about-the-difference-between-stress-and-anxiety

http://www.ulifeline.org/articles/439-anxiety-vs-anxiety-disorders

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