Anger Management during COVID-19

By: Elyse Ganss

According to the New York Times, domestic violence rates have surged during the era of the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic and family violence rates typically increase when families have more time to spend with one another, a time that is usually reserved for holidays. However, with stay-at-home orders occurring nationally, families have been spending more time together and consequently, violence rates have increased worldwide.

Violence occurs as a result of out of control anger. Anger is an emotion that occurs on a spectrum from irritation to rage. Aggressive, out-of-control responses due to anger lead to abusive actions. Dealing with angry feelings in a positive way is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships. Expressing anger in a calm manner such as having a controlled conversation with whoever you may be angry with is a constructive way to address anger. However, if anger is not dealt with it can lead to passive-aggressive behavior or having a hostile personality.

The Mayo Clinic recommends various tips for keeping anger under control. These tips include thinking before you speak, expressing anger in a calm way, getting exercise to reduce stress, practicing relaxation techniques and receiving help from mental health professionals.

If your anger levels are out of control, feel unavoidable, or if you are often enraged, seeking help for anger management may be the best course of action.

A mental health professional, whether it be a licensed psychologist, psychotherapist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychiatrist, will work with the patient to develop a new way of thinking and behaving when faced with situations that induce anger. Although anger may currently feel overwhelming, a professional can help work with you to reduce your anger and to help heal and restore your relationships.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, 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.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434

https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control

Image Source: https://www.mindful.org/feeling-angry-try-this/

The Less Talked-About Side of OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Isabelle Siegel

When thinking about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), most people instinctively think of those who care about cleanliness and tidiness. In fact, it is not uncommon to use the phrase “I’m so OCD” to imply that one agonizes over neatness and order. This perception of OCD is not without reason, as many people with OCD do obsess over germs, contamination, and order and engage in excessive hand washing, cleaning, and ordering.

However, it is important to note that this is not the reality for many other sufferers of OCD. OCD is a wide-ranging disorder involving the presence of obsessions—“repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety”—and compulsions—repetitive behaviors performed to relieve the anxiety. These obsessions can take nearly any form, with contamination and order being only two of them. Some other common obsessions include thoughts about: losing control or going insane, harming oneself or others, unwanted sexual ideas or images, and/or religion. For example, it is well-documented that people with OCD may experience intrusive thoughts about homosexuality, pedophilia, violence and aggression, and/or suicide.

Many people with these less talked-about OCD “themes” take longer to realize that they have OCD because their symptoms are not in line with the stereotypical hand washing and tidying. These individuals often engage in different compulsive behaviors to alleviate anxiety. These behaviors may include mental compulsions such as repeated checking and rumination (that is, repetitively reviewing and evaluating one’s thoughts and their meanings). For example, the individual who obsesses about violence and aggression may repeatedly check that he/she has not unintentionally harmed those around him/her.

It is ultimately important to acknowledge this less talked-about side of OCD in order to encourage sufferers to acknowledge their symptoms and to guide them to get the treatment and help that they need. 

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/201002/rumination-problem-solving-gone-wrong
Image Source:
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm

Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/shopping

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200603/doped-shopping

PTSD in Refugee and Unaccompanied Children:

By: Luz Melendez

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can occur to someone after being exposed to one or more traumatic events. These traumatic events can vary from a natural disaster, war/combat, serious injury, sexual violence, and/or exposure to death threats. After experiencing a trauma there can be an emotional reaction to these events which can include fear, helplessness, and even horror. There may also be distressing memories of the traumatic event which can be recurrent and involuntary. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms have to last for more than a month and be persistent. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

One population that is less talked about when it comes to PTSD is children, but more specifically refugee or asylum seeking children. The current population of children with PTSD in the U.S. is about 5% and among refugee children in the U.S. it’s about 54%. These children are experiencing hunger, extreme poverty, bombings, abductions, sexual assault, and even witnessing deaths. These stressors can often co-occur making everyday life very difficult for them. The effects of these events are causing developmental regression, clinginess, repetitive play of the trauma/s, anxiety, depression, ACES, and mood changes. One effect that is very important is how the brain is being affected by these traumas. PTSD is developed in two key regions of the brain, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala reacts too strongly while the prefrontal cortex impedes the ability to regulate a threat response. It’s the perfect storm that leads to hyperarousal, hyper vigilance, and sleep deprivation which are big issues when it comes to children. Children’s brains are growing and developing and these traumas are stunting the global developmental growth of these children’s brains.

Often PTSD in refugee or asylum seeking children, if left untreated/undiagnosed, can and will lead to life long-lasting effects. In the situation these children are in, it’s difficult to not only diagnose them but to properly treat them. Many if not all have witnessed one or more of the stressors mentioned above and these children are out in the world not only having their lives completely change but having their mental health deteriorate. Thankfully some host countries who take in refugees, screen them and try to help them adjust to their now new lives and overcome barriers that come with accessing physical and mental health care. This also includes overcoming the stigma that refugees have of seeking mental health care. Like mentioned before only some host countries do this, others are still fixing their processing of refugees.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, 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/ .

 

Reference:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Depression: Have a Case of the Winter Blues? Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

By: Keely Fell

Can’t seem to shake the winter blues? Nearly five percent of adults are experiencing symptoms that align with major depressive disorder with recurring seasonal pattern, which is more commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), an individual who is experiencing “two major depressive episodes in the last two years” that show relations to the time of year, and experience full remissions at other times they may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

It is also important to understand what is happening in the body and why an individual is experiencing such symptoms. When an individual is experiencing these symptoms, often it can be as a result of the lack of natural light due to the shorter periods of daylight during the winter season. With the lack of light, the human brain slows down the production of serotonin, and increases the production of melatonin which leaves individuals feeling drowsy. Melatonin production increase is caused by darkness, which is why we get sleepy when the sun goes down. The regulation of these chemicals is what helps create your body’s specific circadian rhythm. When this system is affected it can cause a feeling of lethargy and or restlessness.

Here are some tips and tricks to shaking those winter blues:

  1. Take a few minutes during your day to get outside Whether that’s during your lunch break or walking to pick up the mail, going outside during daylight will increase the serotonin production in your brain.
  2. Light Therapy During the dark winter months, if these symptoms are taking over you can try light therapy. Light therapy allows for the brain to think it’s being exposed to sunlight. People who use light therapy typically invest in a light box (if interested Harvard Health has many they recommend) which delivers around 10,000 lux, compared to a standard sunny day that ranges 50,000 lux or above. They recommend that, you sit in front of the light box for no more than 30 minutes a day. This allows for the brain to regulate its circadian rhythms by allowing the retinas to be stimulated. Light therapy does not work for everyone.
  3. Talk Therapy If these symptoms persist and are affecting your day talk therapy is also affective. Reaching out to a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychotherapist to come up with symptom relief is another big way to combat these symptoms. Symptom relief may include the use of antidepressants, or various therapeutic methods.

 

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/ .

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/seasonal-affective-disorder-bring-on-the-light-201212215663

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Gabriella Phillip

Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.

Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.

Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, 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/ .

 

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/ .

Anxiety and Bullying

Image result for anxiety and bullying

 

Anxiety and Bullying

By: Vanessa Munera

Being bullied is not an easy thing to handle. It can be a traumatic experience for teens that are being targeted. Those who are bullied experience impacts in their lives such as feeling lonely, anxious, isolated, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, when a bully moves on to the next target, these consequences of bullying linger longer for the victim. After prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse effects. These victims will experience depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide. In addition, victims of bullying can develop some sort of anxiety disorder. The top four major anxiety disorders victims of bullying can experience are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and social anxiety disorder.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this occurs after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can develop due to events such as a car accidents or losing a close relative. This disorder can also show up after repeated abuse or even bullying. Children who are bullied may experience nightmares, flashbacks, withdraw from others, or are easily startled. Kids, who undergo long term and abusive bullying, have increased chances of developing PTSD.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Kids with GAD are often tormented with worries and fear that distract them for their daily life activities. Those with generalized anxiety have a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is not uncommon with victims of bullying. With GAD, physical symptoms may appear such as insomnia, stomachaches, fatigue, and restlessness.

3. Panic Attacks: Those who suffer from panic disorders must deal with unpredictable and repeated attacks. When suffering from a panic attack, the attack is usually with no warning and can cause physically symptoms. These symptoms include sweating, chest pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In fact, a part of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in panic attacks. When left untreated, the sufferer will begin to avoid going out or things they once enjoyed, in order to prevent another panic attack.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder: People who suffer from social anxiety fear being humiliated or seen negatively by others. Those with this disorder often worry that the way they look or act cause others to mock them. This can cause sufferers to avoid social gatherings to avoid being humiliated. In fact victims of bullying often develop social anxiety due to the repeated shame and public humiliation they experienced.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

References:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/bullying-and-anxiety-connection-460631

https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog

 

 

Changes to the Brain

 By: Katie Connell

                For a long time, scientists believed that changes to brain structure only occurred during infancy and childhood. By the time one became an adult, it was thought that brain structure would remain largely permanent and that no more changes could occur. However, in the 1960’s, scientists discovered that changes to the adult brain were indeed possible. One thing that verified this were brain changes that occurred to patient’s brains that were damaged in injuries and accidents. Damage that occurred in certain parts of one’s brain resulted in healthier parts taking over. With this discovery came insight into other ways that the brain could be changed, specifically in the realm of psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great example of a type of psychotherapy that can lead to long lasting changes to the brain. During a process called synaptic pruning, extra neurons (which transmit information) and synaptic connections (which permit neurons to transmit info) are eliminated to increase the efficiency of neural transmissions. One way this happens is by neurons being used more frequently. Those that aren’t used as much get eliminated, which improves the transmission of information. By repeated exposure and engagement in CBT (including thought shifting techniques and cognitive restructuring), neurons become strengthened, meaning less synapses and better transmission of neurons. Through the use of routine CBT, critical neural networks are able to change how we think and feel.

If you or a person you know is seeking CBT or other forms of therapy, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Please contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. 

Source:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886

 

 

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

Source for Picture:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=47C5DD3F1D65AD247FE6091E7A61190FA00E0683&thid=OIP.X50wPNnUfEvJHrY8IH6VyQHaFj&mediaurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.belmarrahealth.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F01%2FObsessive-compulsive-disorder-OCD-questionnaire-can-also-help-determine-the-risk-of-depression-and-anxiety.jpg&exph=2475&expw=3300&q=ocd&selectedindex=57&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6