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

Impostor Syndrome

By Veronica Oquendo

Imagine a scenario, you have gained a promotion at your job, and you are now Vice President of your company. Furthermore, your bosses want to congratulate you with an office party, and plaque for your outstanding achievement that earned your promotion. When you are at your office party you have an overwhelming feeling that you do not deserve this promotion and recognition. You think that you are not intelligent enough to hold this new position. You put a lot of effort into your work, but not anymore than anyone else would, even though others recognize your high work ethic. Worst of all, you feel that the other employees will find out you are do not deserve it, be scrutinized for it, and eventually fail. This scenario is not an uncommon occurrence, where 25-30% of high achievers currently suffer the feelings of imposter syndrome, and 70% of adults have experienced it at one point in their lifetime. The highest populations that feel imposter syndrome are women of color. 

Reasons for imposter syndrome: 

  • High pressure to succeed
  • Perfectionism 
  • Mental Health Issues 

It is important to note that imposter syndrome is not an official diagnosis in the DSM, but is a feeling an often associated with success, even more so among those suffering from anxiety and depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with imposter syndrome, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/imposter-syndrome

https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud

Addiction: Supporting My Adult Child Through Addiction

Addiction: Supporting My Adult Child Through Addiction
By Emma Yasukawa

Being a parent means that your children always come first and from a young age, you teach them to make good decisions because children form plenty of life decisions on their own. For example, there are plenty of adult children who make the decision on whether or not they will try drugs or alcohol; even after hearing all of the possible side-effects and risks of addiction. This decision ultimately has an effect on parents and may leave them second-guessing their parenting skills and whether or not they did something wrong as parents.

If you are a parent of an adult child who is not making good decisions and their future seems uncertain, this can be a heavy burden on you. You must take a deep breath and remind yourself that your child is no longer your responsibility legally, and that they inevitably chose this path. Though, there are a few ways that a parent can help their adult child dealing with addiction:

1. Adult children who are addicted to a substance tend to feel as if the whole world is against them and that they feel as if they ‘had no other choice.’ As a parent it is important to remind your child that it was their conscious decision that leads them to where they are. Ultimately, this can remind them that they always have a choice and that it is not too late to seek help.

2. As a parent, you will always want to support your child emotionally and financially if needed. It is a parent’s heart to want to always help, but sometimes you are causing more harm than good. It is important to offer assistance and support but only to the degree that you are able to, and knowing that it is actually bettering your child’s future.

3. Love your child. Love comes in many different forms and sometimes integrating tough love is the best kind of love. This means holding him/her accountable for their behavior, and possibly setting up an intervention if needed.

4. While it is easy for the addicted child to become the center of attention, it is important to not allow this to affect the rest of your family. Of course it will be on everyone’s mind but, it should not get to the point where it will split up a family.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, 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

Resources: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/201410/7-tips-mothers-adult-addicts

Image Source: https://vertavahealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Addictioncampuses.com-Getting-Help-For-An-Adult-Child-Addicted-To-Drugs-And-Alcohol.jpg
 

Anxiety: Feeling Anxious Returning to Work During a Pandemic?

Feeling Anxious Returning to Work During a Pandemic?
By Emma Yasukawa

As the state reopens, many workers can finally return back to their jobs. With that being said, there are many people who are dreading the thought of having to return back to their job after working remotely for months. Adapting to any sort of change takes a little bit of getting used to, but when you add the risk of possibly contracting COVID-19, anxiety levels are heightened.

If you are feeling anxious about returning to work after a mandatory quarantine, you should not feel alone, and there are ways to overcome your anxieties. Talking about your feelings is important, whether or not it is to your colleagues or manager, because chances are you are not the only one who is feeling anxious. See if you can come up with a solution with your boss. Maybe they can suggest only coming in a few days a week for the first couple of weeks to help ease your anxiety. It is important to keep in mind that businesses are also following the new COVID-19 guidelines in order to protect the safety of their workers.

Getting into a routine is another way to help reduce anxiety levels significantly. Due to the COVID lockdown, it has thrown off many individuals daily routines. It is important to give yourself a week, or even a few, to get back into a healthy sleep schedule, exercising and eating correctly. Doing all of this will improve your anxiety levels and help you feel more prepared for what is to come.

Be kind to yourself. It is hard transitioning from doing nothing all day and having zero responsibilities, to working a full 9-5 schedule, Monday through Friday. Remember to take time for yourself before and after work. Do things that make you happy and relaxed.

If you or someone you know needs support with their 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.stylist.co.uk/life/coronavirus-anxiety-return-to-work-offices-reopen-covid-secure/401175

Image Source: https://tandemhr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/tandem-hr-going-back-to-work-after-covid-19-blog.jpg

Anxiety and Gastrointestinal Problems

By Kaitlyn Choi

Anxiety can manifest itself in many distinctive ways, including physical, mental, and emotional indications. It is often debilitating for individuals who experience anxiety; consequently, anxiety disorders impact quality of life and functioning in everyday activities. They are commonly associated with gastrointestinal problems.

The digestive tract is hypersensitive to change within and outside of the body. There are many ways in which stress and anxiety can create adverse effects in one’s digestive system. Anxiety causes high levels of arousal; the body can send signals to the stomach to stimulate the fight or flight response. Activation of the fight or flight response slows down processes that are unnecessary for escaping danger, one of them being the digestive system.

This response can alter the way that the stomach processes and digests food, which, in turn, causes nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. As anxiety is a long-term, chronic issue, these problems may accumulate and negatively affect the digestive tract over long periods of time. Although many individuals experience nausea and digestive problems, not all vomit. Vomiting usually occurs in cases of extreme anxiety. On the other hand, throwing up may be a conscious process because nausea creates a compelled regurgitation response, encouraging the body to vomit.

It is important that we debunk the myth that anxiety consists of just emotional and mental symptoms. In fact, many individuals experience both physical and mental discomfort.

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/.

Sources:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anxiety https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/digestive-problems https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/vomiting

Image Source:
https://www.almrsal.com/post/866965



Social Anxiety: What Is It and How Does One Cope?

By Emma Yasukawa

Everyone has been put in an uncomfortable social situation; whether it was meeting someone new, going on a first date, or briefly meeting a stranger on the streets. Though these feelings are not pleasant, most people can power through and get over them quickly. However, if a person has social anxiety, these feelings are so severe that they can sometimes be too much to handle. Eventually, that individual will try to isolate themselves and avoid any uncomfortable social situation. This may provide a great form of relief but overall, it is a temporary solution to a greater problem.

Social anxiety disorder (formerly known as social phobia) is characterized by the persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or judgement by others. The feelings that stem from social anxiety are usually based upon the fear that the individual will act in a certain way, or show anxiety symptoms, that will be embarrassing and humiliating. Common physical symptoms that a person may experience are:
• Flushing of the skin
• Rapid heartbeat
• Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
• Upset stomach and nausea
• Trembling

Social anxiety can be treated successfully through psychotherapy and/or medications. Exposure therapy is a key element in the use of therapy and usually involves three stages: The first stage of exposure therapy is to introduce the individual to the feared situation. The second stage is to increase the risk of displeasure for the goal that the individual can build self-confidence and be able to handle any rejection or criticism. The third stage involves working out different coping mechanisms involving disapproval. In this final stage, the therapist may ask the patient to imagine their worst-case scenario in order to develop correct constructive responses.

If you or someone you know is struggling with 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.shtml
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anxiety


Image Source:
https://hypnosis.ahcenter.com/our-programs/overcoming-social-anxiety/


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