Nightmares: Normal or Disorder?

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We all know the horrible sensation of waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare, a terrifying dream that occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. These dreams are a normal response to stressors in our life, and occur both during childhood and in adulthood. However, when nightmares occur regularly and lead to impairment of one’s cognitive and social functioning, they can develop into Nightmare disorder.

Nightmare disorder is characterized by frequent occurrences of fearful dreams which can interfere with development, functioning, and sleep. People with the disorder are constantly woken up with the detailed recall of dreams that feel like a threat to their survival or security. In addition, such individuals tend to awaken very easily, and have difficulty functioning throughout the day. They are not taking any substances which could lead to the increase in nightmares and, therefore, show signs of the disorder.

Many of the likely causes of Nightmare disorder include mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, which cause people to stress throughout the day which can interfere with their sleep. In addition, any major life trauma can result in this growing distress. Finally, any sleeping disorder, such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or sleep terror, can cause increased nightmares.

If you are experiencing extreme, recurrent nightmares, do not hesitate to reach out for help and seek treatment. You can speak to a psychologist or take anti-depressant medication to address the issues behind these dreams and to better reduce the unpleasant symptoms. Aside from this, setting a routine during bedtime, making oneself comfortable, exercising during the day, doing meditation before bed, and sleeping until sunrise are ways to better relax and try to prevent nightmares. It is important to take care of yourself and your health, both when you are awake and alert AND when you are asleep.

If you or someone you know is suffering from nightmares, 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

Social Anxiety Disorder

Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by severe anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. An individual with social anxiety disorder may have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, which can interfere with their daily functioning. Social anxiety disorder can be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking or performing in public, or whenever an individual is around other people. The feared situation is avoided or endured with extreme anxiety and distress. In addition, they often experience low self-esteem and depression and have a hard time making or keeping friends.

Physical symptoms such as blushing, profuse sweating, upset stomach, and trembling often accompany the intense stress of social anxiety disorder. These visible symptoms intensify the fear of disapproval and often become an additional focus of fear. As people with social anxiety disorder worry about experiencing the physical symptoms, the greater their chances are of developing them.

About seven percent of the U.S. population is estimated to have social anxiety disorder within a 12-month period. Social anxiety disorder occurs twice as often in women than men and typically begins in childhood or early adolescence. Social anxiety disorder often runs in families and may be comorbid with depression or other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is not uncommon for individuals with social anxiety disorder to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs, which can lead to addiction.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is very effective in treating social anxiety. CBT and behavioral therapy are used to reduce anxiety by managing negative beliefs or behaviors that help maintain the disorder. Medications, in conjunction with psychotherapy, can also play a role in treatment.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from social anxiety disorder, 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

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2018, from