Social Anxiety; Going Back to Normalcy After the Pandemic 

By Jillian Hoff

As everyone starts to go back to their lives before the pandemic it is important to recognize that some individuals will feel uncomfortable after being in quarantine for so long. Some people will most likely feel some amount of social anxiety when going back out. It is important to recognize that most people are going to feel anxious when returning back to normalcy. Most people will just feel these emotions a different degree. Social anxiety is more than just feeling nervous. It could occur when a person feels as though they are being judged or being put down by the people around them when that isn’t the case. This will be normal as people go back to socializing in any type of setting. One major issue society might have would be to relearn social behaviors. Some things that we previously would not have thought about doing became common actions for us during the pandemic. Things like making facial expressions under our masks or talking during a meeting because that is what we got used to doing, is not going to be acceptable behavior when one’s in person.

It is important not to rush into socializing in person. Start by having in-person meetings or work once or twice a week and slowly add more days after you are comfortable. If you have an event that you need to go to, try planning a solution in advance that will make you most comfortable to be there. You can also practice mindfulness and deep breathing exercises as a way to gain some control over your anxiety. However, what is most important is to realize that everyone is getting back to normalcy and that others will feel the same way as you do.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for social anxiety, 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.mprnews.org/story/2021/06/21/the-19th-explains-how-to-manage-postpandemic-social-anxiety

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/managing-post-pandemic-social-anxiety/

https://tulsaworld.com/opinion/columnists/cartoon-post-pandemic-anxiety/article_453797b8-8804-11eb-a763-3371541a6ae8.html

Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Jaylyn Senise

Hypochondria, or the anxiety surrounding one’s health, is characterized by the fear of contracting a disease or illness. This anxiety is more common than one would expect, especially within these current times of COVID-19 where it has been heightened. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to MedicalNewsToday, approximately 4-6% of the world population deals with clinically significant hypochondria. Today, some people may begin to feel anxious given the highly contagious nature of the disease in addition to the lack of information regarding the future of the disease. Oftentimes, this may lead to physical symptoms that emerge due to the stress associated with being exposed to someone sick or contracting a disease.  With the coronavirus pandemic, hypochondria may be intensified because some of the most common symptoms such as coughing and sore throat are common and may be due to other more common colds other than COVID-19.

Some signs of hypochondria include worrying that you have serious illnesses given minor symptoms, being easily panicked regarding their health status, being preoccupied by one’s wellbeing, and avoiding people and activities in fear of risk. Proper treatment for hypochondria includes behavioral stress management programs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and visiting specialists for anxiety. The usage of antidepressants, for example Prozac and Luvox, and antianxiety medications are advised to control the effects of hypochondria.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hypochondria, 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.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypochondria-and-covid-19

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/worried-sick-help-for-hypochondria

https://www.nytimes.com/ 2018/06/18/well/a-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html

Image Source

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F06%2F18%2Fwell%2Fa-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html&psig=AOvVaw0M9bcHwiRGDUvI2RSlNcmG&ust=1625755773112000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAoQjRxqFwoTCIC39a6a0fECFQAAAAAdAAAAABAK

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

By: Hallie Katzman

Although going back to school can be very exciting for children, some kids experience high levels of stress and anxiety associated with the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. 7.1% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old have diagnosed anxiety. Anxiety disorders can be characterized by feelings of tension, intrusive or worried thoughts and physical symptoms such as sweating or a rapid heartbeat. These feelings can be heightened by stressful situations, such the transitional period of going back to school after summer vacation. Children can experience many types of anxiety related to going back to school such as separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder or social phobias and specific back to school anxiety.

These anxiety disorders can be treated through therapy plans to help manage or reduce the child’s symptoms through techniques such as rehearsing a school day. Additionally, mental health professionals can also advise the child’s parents of different techniques to help their child ease their back to school anxiety. Family, friends and teachers can help to create a supportive environment for the child when they go back to school to make the transition easier and less anxiety provoking. If the back to school anxiety persists longer than the first couple weeks of typical jitters and is causing distress to the child’s daily life, then meeting with a therapist would be beneficial to help them better manage symptoms.

               If you, your child or someone you know is experiencing back to school anxiety or other anxiety disorders or mental health issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively, at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Sources: https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/

https://nyulangone.org/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-children/types

https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20an%20emotion%20characterized,recurring%20intrusive%20thoughts%20or%20concerns.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html

Image source: https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/helping-your-child-cope-with-back-to-school-anxiety/

Discipline and the Effects of Yelling at a Child

By Katie Weinstein

When it comes to verbal abuse, many people disregard it as a form of abuse because it is not as concrete as physical or sexual abuse, and it is more difficult to draw the line between verbal abuse and scolding. However, the effects of yelling and verbal abuse are just as detrimental and intense as any other type of abuse and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Being yelled at frequently increases the activity of the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotions. This is because loud noises are signaled to the brain as a warning sign for danger. The amygdala increases stress hormones in the body, which increases muscular tension. These signals tell the body to fight, flight, or freeze, but none of these options are okay when a parent is yelling at a child since it isn’t acceptable to run away from a caregiver or fight them, which leaves the body to be in a stress condition with no purpose or function.  

There are long term effects of yelling at a child frequently since the brain develops neuronal pathways according to our experiences. If the child is conditioned to frequently respond to stressful situations, the child will develop pathways that activate a stress response quickly. Since negative interactions impact a person more than positive interactions, it affects our expectations and self-esteem drastically, especially if the yelling involves name calling, as well as behavior. One might think that yelling would get a child not engage in a specific behavior, but in reality yelling increases bad behavior due to stress and increased aggression as a result of a hyperactive amygdala, which may cause the parent to yell more. Since the child is constantly stressed, they are at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, since yelling is not an effective communication style, the child may not learn to properly communicate, which can affect the child’s relationships in the future, leading to more problems down the road.

If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma from verbal abuse 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://optimistminds.com/psychological-effects-of-being-yelled-at/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2018/The-Problem-with-Yelling#:~:text=Being%20frequently%20yelled%20at%20changes,increasing%20muscular%20tension%20and%20more.

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/effects-of-yelling-at-kids

Neurotic Perfectionism and Dance

By Katie Weinstein

Dancing is proven to lower rates of anxiety and depression as well as increase self-confidence and provide opportunities for social interaction. However, the competitive dance field creates an environment that promotes neurotic perfectionism, causing dancers to lose their love for dance. While perfectionism is what enables dancers to strive towards meeting their goals and working hard, neurotic perfectionism is when people set unreasonable expectations for themselves and feel shame when they do not achieve their goal. Neurotic perfectionism can lead to disordered eating, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.

Dancers feel that there is no excuse for not landing the part or not getting attention from their teacher besides lack of effort, so dancers spend hours perfecting their mistakes and comparing themselves to others in the mirror, fostering an incredibly competitive environment and causing dancers to become overly critical of their bodies and skills. Instead of focusing on the positive and creating opportunities from mistakes, dancers expect every movement to be perfect and are overly self-critical when this isn’t the case. Additionally, dancers compete with other people for their next paycheck, so they end up setting super high expectations that are nearly impossible to achieve, wishing they could get their leg up higher or look thinner than everyone else in the room. They often think that if they are not casted, they might not be able to afford to pay rent or buy groceries. Dancers end up pushing themselves too far, and often end up with insomnia from nervousness and injured because of burnout. This can even lead dancers to self-medicate so that their injuries are off the record, leading to substance abuse.

Some signs of neurotic perfectionism include setting unrealistic expectations, feeling shame or guilt and overemphasizing the final product, but underemphasizing the process. It is important to change your thought patterns so that you are not overly critical and can set realistic goals for yourself.

If you or someone you know is experiencing neurotic perfectionism, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-trauma/202101/competitive-dancers-risk-neurotic-perfectionism

https://www.dancespirit.com/perfectionism_101-2326036484.html

Anxiety and Depression: Rumination

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Rumination is the cognitive process of repeating negative thoughts without completion, much to one’s distress. In the mind, the thoughts play like a broken record. Rumination can involve negative thoughts about the past or present, and the self. This form of cognition plays a key role in many psychological conditions, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, alcohol abuse, OCD, PTSD, and eating disorders. Rumination is a passive process. One feels as if one cannot control repetitive, dominating thoughts. These distracting thought circles can last for long periods of time and disrupt work, school, and social life. Rumination is different than worry in that rumination involves negative thought content rather than thought content related to uncertainty. Worry usually is tied to the future, while ruminative thoughts are usually tied to the past or present. Rumination can impact physical health by increasing stress levels.In the context of depression, rumination usually involves negative self-assessments, such as feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. These feelings can lead to anxious responses and further worsen one’s emotional state.

There are some intervention strategies to disrupt rumination. One way is to distract oneself with other activities, such as socializing or exercising. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a therapy approach that aims to change negative thought patterns. Patients learn to recognize their distortions, irrational thoughts, and negative thoughts. Once they recognize these thoughts, patients reframe negative thoughts and assess the irrationality of their thoughts. Patients also learn methods to calm their mind and body through breathing exercises and thinking of things they associate with feeling calm and peaceful. Patients are also encouraged to think of action plans to address their negative thoughts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, or is seeking Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for rumination, 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:

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2012). Rumination: relationships with physical health. Innovations in clinical neuroscience9(2), 29–34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312901/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/201604/rumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression

https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral

Image Source:

https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/editlab/2018/10/12/r-is-for-rumination/

Trichotillomania: A Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Trichotillomania, also known hair-pulling disorder, is a chronic psychological condition in which one feels the urge to pull out pieces of hair from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body areas.  Hair pulling can be an intentional or an unconscious behavior. Some people purposely pull their hair because it produces a pleasurable feeling. Hair pulling relieves stress, anxiety, sadness, and tension for people with trichotillomania. A motivation for pulling hair may simply be to relieve the urge to pull hair. Others may unconsciously pull their hair when they are relaxed or distracted. Hair-pulling causes the formation of bald spots and the thinning of hair, which induces anxiety and distress in people with trichotillomania. People with trichotillomania may feel ashamed and embarrassed about their appearance, which may lead to low self-esteem and the avoidance of certain social activities in which they must expose their head.

About 2% of people experience trichotillomania in their lifetime. Trichotillomania is categorized under “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.” Symptoms and signs of trichotillomania include:

  • Repeatedly pulling out hair
  • Tension before pulling or when resisting the urge to pull
  • Pleasure or relief after pulling out hair
  • Hair loss, hair thinning, balding
  • Rituals for hair-pulling, such as a preferred spot to pull from
  • Biting, chewing, or eating pulled out hair
  • Inability to stop pulling out hair
  • Social distress related to hair-pulling

A possible pharmacological treatment for trichotillomania is N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an amino acid which targets glutamate levels in the nucleus accumbens, which is the reward center of the brain. The nucleus accumbens also houses neural circuits involved in aversion. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means that it activates these pathways in nucleus accumbens. Altering glutamate levels may alter the strength of reward responses to certain behaviors, which may allow patients to decrease unwanted behaviors. In a study, researchers found that 56% of subjects reported improvement to their trichotillomania after 9 weeks of taking NAC. NAC can be bought at nutrition and health stores. This was a relatively small study, so more research must be done to determine the clinical effectiveness of NAC.

If you or someone you know is struggling with trichotillomania or skin-picking, 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.bfrb.org/learn-about-bfrbs/treatment/self-help/123-n-acetylcysteine-for-trichotillomania-skin-picking-and-nail-biting

https://www.bfrb.org/learn-about-bfrbs/trichotillomania

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichotillomania/symptoms-causes/syc-20355188

Image Source:

https://youngwomenshealth.org/2019/02/06/trichotillomania-hair-pulling/

Anxiety: Drinking Large Quantities of Alcohol Can Increase Anxiety

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Binge-drinking dominates many young social scenes, especially those of high school students, college students, and young adults. Besides harming the liver, binge-drinking has negative effects on one’s mental state. What seems like a harmless night of fun can cause increased feelings of anxiety the next day, especially for individuals who already struggle with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is an emotional state defined by feelings of unease, stress, and nervousness. Anxiety is also characterized by worried thoughts and changes in physiological states, such as increased heart rate. People with anxiety disorders experience anxiety regularly for prolonged periods or short, intense periods. These periods are characterized by repetitive, obsessive, or intrusive thoughts; panic attacks; and physiological symptoms such as sweating and increased blood pressure. Heavy drinking can induce feelings of anxiety and heighten pre-existing anxiety, especially the next day when the effects of alcohol have worn off.

Alcohol is a depressant and a sedative. It alters the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. When the body metabolizes alcohol, the brain’s neurotransmitter levels readjust, and this change may cause one to feel anxious. Also, the physical symptoms of a hangover, such as headache, dehydration, and dizziness, may increase anxiety. Mental and emotional states are linked to physical states, so if one is not feeling well physically, one’s mental state may also worsen. Additionally, people with social anxiety may feel anxious about their actions or words from the night before, as alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions. They may worry that they said something they would not have said in a sober state, which can cause anxiety.

If you find that heavy drinking causes you to feel anxious or increases your anxiety, it may be best to adjust your drinking behavior.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or alcohol abuse, 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.apa.org/topics/anxiety

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcohol-and-anxiety

https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-and-anxiety#consequences

Image Source:

https://www.cnet.com/a/img/Jh55LlQZsT04K-qgcvoBsQes-ZU=/1200×675/2020/07/21/6094c226-5b00-49c8-a802-e0f36614255d/gettyimages-1193256860.jpg

Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You

By Eleanor Kim

Pets have brought joy and comfort to pet owners for hundreds of years. The sheer presence of a happy-go-lucky dog or cat is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The benefits of pet ownership can go beyond mere companionship or responsibility, in fact, emotional support animals are able to, as their name indicates, provide emotional support and other mental health benefits.

Common ways in which emotional support animals could support their owners are:

  • Fostering emotional connectivity
  • Helping people during times of crisis
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Offering trauma support
  • Improving physical health (Lower blood pressure, decrease respiration rates, improve ability to cope with pain, etc.)
  • Lowering feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Reciprocating feelings of love and care

It is important to indicate the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals also provide emotional support to their owners; however, service animals undergo intensive training to perform specific tasks necessary to aid their owners’ needs. In contrast, emotional support animals do not need formal training and simply need to receive a certification from the state registry. In order to qualify for an emotional service animal, individuals must acquire a prescription from a licensed mental health professional indicating that the presence of an emotional support animal is necessary for the mental health of the patient.

In a time when all of us are at home and may be in need of more emotional support, emotional support animals may provide the help you need. If you are interested in receiving emotional support, whether that be through a support animal or through a mental health professional, we here at Arista Counseling are here to assist you.

If you or someone you know is looking for emotional 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/.

References:

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479#definition

Picture Source:

https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/can-cats-dogs-live-together-peacefully

Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, 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/ .

References:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg