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

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By: Elyse Ganss

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by worries/fears about everyday activities as well as excessive anxiety. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include the inability to stop worrying about money, work, family, or daily life in general. Common physical symptoms include headaches, sweating, trembling, nausea, and tiredness. Frequently, those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder become consumed with worry, which impedes their daily functioning.

Environmental and biological factors are responsible for GAD. It seems as though genetics may play a role in GAD as it is sometimes passed down through a family. Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with brain chemistry and abnormal functioning of nerve cell pathways. These abnormalities cause changes in the emotion regions of the brain that lead to increased anxiety. Environmental factors that contribute to GAD may include traumatic events, divorce, substance abuse, stressful life events, changing jobs, or the death of a loved one.

GAD afflicts around 4 million adults in the United States every year. A mental health professional like a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, psychologist, or licensed social worker can diagnose and create a treatment plan for those who are suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. Medication can be helpful for those whose anxiety levels are debilitating and will help return the person to previous, normal functioning.

If you or someone you know needs support for generalized anxiety disorder, 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.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/generalized-anxiety-disorder#2

Image Source: https://www.psychologistpanel.com/wp-content/uploads

Anxiety during COVID-19

Anxiety during COVID-19

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Reported rates of anxiety have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people reporting anxiety and fear symptoms is well above historical norms. Polls have found that nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health. Hotlines have seen consistent results. During April alone, a month in which most Americans were in quarantine, the federal government’s distress hotline increased text rates more than 1,000 percent. In addition, dozens of states and locally run distress hotlines have reported sizeable increases in call volume as well. If you are experiencing anxiety during this time, you are not alone.

Americans who are in quarantine and sheltering in place are suffering. Outbreaks are stressful and symptoms of anxiety can include:

•    Fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones.

•    Changes in sleep or eating patterns.

•    Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

•    Worsening of chronic health problems.

•    Worsening of mental health conditions.

•    Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. 

In particular, those who have reported high rates of fear and anxiety include:

•    Minorities

•    Women

•    Older people and people with preexisting health conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as well as people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance abuse

•    Adults under the age of 34 (children and teens)

•    People who are helping with the response to COVID-19 (doctors, health care providers, and first responders

During this time, it is more important than ever to take care of your mental health. Asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength. Call your health care provider if you are experiencing stress or anxiety. Health care providers can help you by providing a procedure and referrals.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety 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://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-mental-health

Image Source:

https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/4/16/21219693/coronavirus-anxiety-depression-mental-health-ptsd-covid

COVID-19: Anxiety

COVID-19: Anxiety

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Reported rates of anxiety have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people reporting anxiety and fear symptoms is well above historical norms. Polls have found that nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health. Hotlines have seen consistent results. During April alone, a month in which most Americans were in quarantine, the federal government’s distress hotline increased text rates more than 1,000 percent. In addition, dozens of states and locally run distress hotlines have reported sizeable increases in call volume as well. If you are experiencing anxiety during this time, you are not alone.

Americans who are in quarantine and sheltering in place are suffering. Outbreaks are stressful and symptoms of anxiety can include:

•    Fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones.

•    Changes in sleep or eating patterns.

•    Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

•    Worsening of chronic health problems.

•    Worsening of mental health conditions.

•    Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. 

In particular, those who have reported high rates of fear and anxiety include:

•    Minorities

•    Women

•    Older people and people with preexisting health conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as well as people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance abuse

•    Adults under the age of 34 (children and teens)

•    People who are helping with the response to COVID-19 (doctors, health care providers, and first responders

During this time, it is more important than ever to take care of your mental health. Asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength. Call your health care provider if you are experiencing stress or anxiety. Health care providers can help you by providing a procedure and referrals.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety  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://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-mental-health

Image Source:

https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/4/16/21219693/coronavirus-anxiety-depression-mental-health-ptsd-covid

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/ .