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


By: Cassie Sieradzky

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the urge to pull out one’s hair. An individual with trichotillomania can pull hair from any part of their body, however the eyebrows and scalp are the most common places. If not treated, this disorder can come and go throughout an individual’s lifetime and persist for weeks, months, or years.

Trichotillomania is more common in females and is seen in 1%-2% of the population. The onset of this disorder is most commonly seen in preadolescents or young adults. The cause of this disorder in unknown, however it can be triggered by anxiety or stressful life events such as family conflict. Anxiety disorders, depression, and OCD are commonly associated with trichotillomania. Behavioral therapy and medication are often successful in treating this disorder.

Common Symptoms:

•Recurrent pulling out hair resulting in noticeable hair loss
•An increasing sense of tension before pulling out the hair or when resisting the behavior
•Pleasure, gratification, or relief when pulling out the hair
•The disturbance is not accounted for by another mental disorder and is not due to a general medical condition (dermatological condition)
•Repeated attempts have been made to decrease or stop hair pulling
•The behaviors cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (loss of control, embarrassment, or shame)
•Hair pulling may be accompanied by a range of behaviors or rituals involving hair (rolling hair between the fingers, pulling strands between one’s teeth, biting hair into pieces, or swallowing hair)

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from Trichotillomania, 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

Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling). (2017, March 29). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from