Emotional Support Animals: A Helping Paw for College Students

Emotional Support Animals: A Helping Paw for College Students

By: Liz Lynch

            Colleges have recognized that animals have an innate ability to reduce stress; this is why they organize campus events such as petting zoos and therapy dog visits around midterm and finals times. However, college students have taken a particular interest in Emotional Support Animals in recent years to help combat mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Unlike Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals do not have specific training; this is a very important distinction as Service Dogs have life saving jobs that they are trained and licensed to do.  Emotional Support Animals on the other hand could be considered a pet with a project; but don’t let the cute name fool you though, their project is very important to the student’s mental health as they provide companionship and comfort 24/7.   

           Students who are interested in having an Emotional Support Animal with them at college must go through a short process before the animal is permitted on campus. They must receive a letter of recommendation from their licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist explaining the circumstances that require them to have an ESA. The letter, vaccination forms, and a contract of responsibility must be signed and approved by the school before the arrival of the animal. Once the animal is approved and moved in their project begins!

ESA Benefits:

  • Reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Lowers feelings of loneliness/ isolation
  • Offers a feeling of security and familiarity
  • Provides mental and psychical stimulation
  • Creates a feeling of responsibility and purpose

           If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from a mental illness, 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/

Picture: https://iptc.org/

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Assertiveness and Anxiety: How Expressing Yourself Can Lead to a Happier Self

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

“Communication is key” is a phrase we are all familiar with, yet many struggle with actually acting on it. The most effective form of communication is through assertiveness, which involves expressing one’s views in a straightforward manner, and in standing up for one’s needs while still being considerate of others. This differs from aggressiveness in that it does not involve being outwardly emotional or insulting to others, and differs from passivity in that the individual clearly states their feelings and desires. Being assertive involves open communication, which can be difficult to engage in, especially for people struggling with anxiety. However, through practicing and learning assertiveness, people with anxiety can actually feel less worry and more confident in themselves.

Anxiety describes the uncomfortable feelings of turmoil and dread that one might have in anticipation that results in physical sensations such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and rumination. For many who struggle with anxiety, the thought of being assertive with others makes them anxious. They often worry that being assertive will come off as being mean, creating conflict, and being inconsiderate. Therefore, many choose passive communication, and never voice their views or feelings. This worsens their state of worry, as they are not properly understood by those around them and can easily be taken advantage of. They are often misunderstood which increases their worry. Others often take advantage of them because of their meek manner and visible anxiety.

Contrary to what those with anxiety believe, assertiveness can actually help them feel better. Often times, those with anxiety create situations in their mind about everything that will go wrong if they voice themselves to another person. However, such a form of open communication can create a better understanding between two people. It allows the person with anxiety to be properly understood, to dispel the fearful thoughts in their head, and become more confident in themselves and their views.

How can people with anxiety begin working towards being more assertive? By stating their views using “I,” individuals can avoid putting blame on others by expressing their own opinions. In addition, reminding themselves that their fears are not rational and that it is their anxiety talking to them can help them become increasingly comfortable with being assertive. Finally, practice makes perfect – keep trying and speak up!

If you or someone you know is suffering from 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/.

Anxiety: Social Anxiety Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being rejected by people. Many people feel some level of anxiety when they are placed into unknown social situations. However, those suffering from social anxiety disorder may avoid socializing altogether, because they cannot handle being judged or seen in a negative way by others. A person with social anxiety disorder, can experience anxiety during many different situations like; going on a date, eating in front of people, making eye contact, public speaking, or going to parties. Some of the symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Uneasy stomach/diarrhea
  • Muscle tension
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating

Social anxiety can cripple a person’s life, because normal everyday interactions are triggers of anxiety and discomfort. This is why many people who suffer from social anxiety disorder choose to isolate themselves from everyone. In order to reduce the fear of rejection, people with social anxiety disorder are encouraged to be exposed to social situations, not run away from them. Although being around others is what brings them distress, socializing is also what allows people with social anxiety to change the way they think about social engagements. Instead of having negative perceptions about the way people view them, the more they socialize and are accepted by others, the more socially anxious people see that those perceptions are not true.

If you or someone you know is suffering from 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:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder

Nordqvist, C. (2018, February 05). What’s to Know About Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176891.php

WebMD. (2018). What Is Social Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder#1

 

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By: Dianna Gomez

Panic. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why is my heart beating out of my chest? Am I dying? Why can’t I make it stop?!

For some of us, these emotions are all too familiar. Anxiety can be a scary thing, especially when you’re not totally up-to-date on what exactly it is. What are you to do when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Well, have no fear because I have a few helpful tips to share!

 

Here are 5 things that you can do to calm yourself down when suffering from an anxiety attack:

  • Take Deep Breathes

Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that although it may not feel like it right now, everything will be okay.

  •  Talk Yourself Down

Repeat a calming/kind phrase to yourself OUT LOUD. Remind yourself that you are safe, loved, and never alone.

  • Seek Help

Sometimes we tend to insist that we can get through tough times all on our own, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a neutral professional, a loved one or someone you trust, find someone with whom you can talk out your troubles.

  • Use Music and Visuals

Never underestimate the power of calming music and visuals. Whether it be classical music, peaceful nature videos/sounds, or your favorite John Mayer song – let the music play and your worries float away!

  • Put Your Anxiety on Ice

Create sensory stimulation by gently sticking both of your hands into a bowl of very cold water with ice. The more ice the better.

 

If either you or anybody you know suffers from anxiety, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

 

 

GAD: Symptoms and Treatment

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Written by: Cassie Sieradzky

General Anxiety Disorder is a psychological disorder that is characterized by extreme worry over every day experiences that is hard to control and interferes with daily functioning. The excessive worry happens more days than not for at least 6 months. The disorder often starts in the teen years or young adulthood, but can be seen from childhood throughout adulthood. Individuals with GAD may have trouble concentrating, they struggle to control their worries, feel easily tired, and may be irritable or on edge. These are some commonalities of the disorder, however children and adults diagnosed with GAD do have some differences regarding their worries.

Children with GAD tend to worry excessively about their performance in school or sports and catastrophes like war and hurricanes. Adults with GAD tend to have anxiety over health, finances, job security, being late, and everyday responsibilities. Children and adults may also suffer from physical symptoms like headaches and other unexplained pains. About 2.7% of adults have had GAD in the past year and about 5.7% of all U.S adults will experience GAD at some point in their lives.

GAD can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly successful in treating GAD. CBT teaches the patient how to think, behave, and react differently in situations that result in anxiety or worried. The goal is to curve the maladaptive thinking patterns associated with the disorder. Medications such as SSRIs and other medications that regulate serotonin help alleviate the symptoms of GAD.

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

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control. (n.d.). Retrieved January  29, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml

Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/generalized-anxiety-disorder.shtml

 

Sleep Paralysis: Waking Up Paralyzed

Waking Up Paralyzed

By: Kristine Dugay

Imagine waking up on any given day, you’re conscious, but you can’t move a muscle as if you’re paralyzed. If you find yourself unable to speak or move for a few seconds or minutes upon waking up or falling asleep, there is a great chance that you have sleep paralysis. On average, four out of every ten people may have sleep paralysis, and both men and women of any age can have it. Sleep paralysis occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. This condition occurs one of two times. If it happens as you are falling asleep, it is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. If it occurs as you are waking up, it is called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis. Though it may run in families, factors that may be linked to the condition include lack of sleep, sleep schedule changes, mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder, narcolepsy, certain medications, and substance abuse.

While being in this state of mind is extremely frightening, there is no need to treat this condition. Sleep paralysis is usually self-treatable and self-diagnosable. Although treatment depends on severity, the main way of treating sleep paralysis is improving your sleeping habits. However, treatment can also include treating any mental health problems that may contribute to sleep paralysis or using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles. Sleep paralysis is most commonly found in those who are narcoleptic or have sleep apnea, but unfortunately it can affect anyone. Common symptoms include anxiety, hallucinations, and paralysis.

If you feel your symptoms cause anxiety, leave you very tired throughout the day, or keep you up during the night, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-paralysis#2 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcolepsy/basics/symptoms/con-20027429

Snapchat Culture

By: Emily Mulhaul

Lights flashing, music blasting, society Snapchatting.

Unbeknownst to many, an external appearance doesn’t always match up with an internal experience. To further explain, just because on the outside someone seems they are having fun, does not always mean internally they are having fun. This knowledge can act as a relaxant to combat the initial jealousy of binge watching other’s Snapchat stories; However, if you find yourself “doing it for the Snapchat” (we all have) and are sensing incongruity with the way you appear on Snapchat and feel in reality, it may be time to look inside yourself. If “the struggle is becoming too real” and you’re at the point where you want to feel the way you appear on Snapchat, or experience the perceived feelings of other’s but have absolutely no idea where to start, talking it through with a licensed professional could guide you towards genuinely feeling these positive emotions.

The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

 

 

 

Anxiety, Depression, Isolation

By: Emily Mulhaul

Are you struggling to maintain relationships with a family member, friend or significant other? Does the idea of being connected to or trusting another person make you anxious or scared? Did something in your past cause you to have this reaction to others? Sometimes we find it easier to avoid a situation, opposed to acting upon a situation. After running a half marathon, I can attest that the effort and maintenance necessary for a meaningful relationship, is just that of training for a half marathon. Depending on your personality, the previous statement could have been viewed rewardingly because you compare the euphoric feeling of crossing the finish line of the half marathon to that of laughter with friends on a Saturday. The alternative reaction could have been that neither relationships nor half marathons are worth the effort, so you proceed with simply going through the motions of your work or school day, followed by isolating yourself in front of the TV at night. If the second scenario reminds you of yourself or someone you know, the avoidant behavior may potentially be a catalyst for anxiety and depression. People do not want to be alone all the time, but they may lack the motivation to continue otherwise due to an experience with a past relationship, lack of confidence, etc. As opposed to avoiding relationships, at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy we want you or a loved one to avoid anxiety, depression, and isolation.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression, or isolation and are experiencing difficulty with the following:

Presence (both mentally and physically; may be feeling lethargic)

Maintaining or seeking relationships

Sleep (insomnia)

Motivation

Daily Energy

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Trauma Turned Positive

How My Most Traumatic Experience Became My Most Humbling

By: Emily Mulhaul

When you go through a traumatic experience, the time it takes to recover is immeasurable and flooded with uncertainty. Overtime, everything around you begins to fade and you find yourself zoning in on your bedroom wall, for a leave of absence from reality. The previous night was spent in a pillow soaked with tears and the following night is expected to be the same. You are alone because you feel as though are burdening others with your pain, and now are trying to reassemble yourself on your own. You’re trying but right now you are physically and mentally exhausted. A couple of days pass by and maybe you’ve gotten up for something to eat or to take a shower, but in the end you always find your way right back to your bedroom. What you may be feeling now is numbness, opposed to the pain you initially felt.

Remember the pain that wasn’t ever going to go away? Although feelings inconveniently come and go as they please, they are only temporary. Happiness is not forever, but neither is pain and sadness. In the moment though, forever is exactly what it feels like.

Now that the initial, emotional pain has subsided you are left to feel nothing. Nothingness provides you with opportunity. This is the time to rewrite your story. The numb feeling is a blank slate and a new beginning; let’s celebrate this new beginning with an empty journal. It may be interesting to begin by writing where this emotional journey has taken you and where you would like to go. Write what you learned about life, about yourself, and about your emotions. You can even describe in detail the undeniable comfort your quilted blanket has provided you with throughout this emotional journey.

We’d love to help you rewrite your story and make this your most humbling experience.

The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

 

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Making Sense of the Present

By: Emily Mulhaul

As an outsider, sometimes it’s difficult to understand what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is and who gets to experience it and who doesn’t. To put simply, although we take in life’s moments with others around us, the emotional process is an individual experience, therefore anyone and everyone can at some point in their life experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder even if others around them are not experiencing it. The variation in emotional experiences is so fascinating that it is the primary interest of social psychologists who study the way we process, store, and apply information to diverse situations. That being said, multiple individuals can be in the same place, at the same time, identifying the same series of events, but will interpret the situation completely differently. Individual interpretations may fall anywhere under the seven universal facial emotions noted by the American Psychological Association (APA): disgust, anger, fear, joy, happiness, surprise, and contempt. Diversity in emotional reactions to situations is normal, but there are times where it becomes an area of concern. For example, imagine it’s around the fourth of July, you’re at the beach and unexpectedly fireworks commence. One individual (twelve year old) may express the utmost joy, surprise, happiness or some combination of the three, whilst another individual (war veteran) darts to hide behind a bush in a trembling state, fearing for his life. The discrepancy between the reactions of these two individuals, the twelve year old kid and the war veteran, are not reactions one must brush off as varying personalities. Due to the war veteran’s time spent at war, he may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events. His reaction (anxiety) may have been triggered by an association of the loud bang of the fireworks with that of a loud bang of a gunshot (traumatic event) he heard in the past.

Although the presence of PTSD in war veterans is the most commonly talked about, it is one form of PTSD, not the only. Other instances that have concluded with the diagnosis of PTSD include individuals who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, car accidents, crime, natural disasters, bullying, breakups, loss of a loved one, etc. Considering the following experiences do not necessarily mean that PTSD will be present, the APA highlights some recognizable signs in either yourself or others who may be at risk or experiencing PTSD: “reliving the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares; avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma; and have anxious feelings they didn’t have before.” If these signs sound familiar, it is to the benefit of the individual to seek therapy with a licensed professional because there is hope to diminish negative emotions for a resurgence of positive emotions!

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Sources:

http://apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/05/facial-expressions.aspx http://www.apa.org/topics/ptsd/index.aspx