Self-Harm

Self-Harm

Self-Harm

By: Julia Keys

        Self-harm is the act of intentionally injuring oneself without intending suicide. Self-harming behaviors may include, but are not limited to: cutting, scratching, burning, banging/bruising or interference with an injury so that it cannot heal. Self-harm has become a huge concern within the adolescent demographic. Research shows that girls are more likely than boys to self-harm. A recent study shows that up to 17% of teenagers self-harm. To many others who do not self-harm, the act of intentionally hurting oneself may be perplexing, however there are many reasons why people self-harm.

The root of self-harming behavior stems from a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. Oftentimes people turn to self-harm when they have overwhelming feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, or guilt that they do not know how to express. Some self-harm as an act of release, similar to crying or screaming. Once they self-harm, the body releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers, giving the individual feelings of relaxation or happiness. Sometimes people self-harm because they “feel numb”, and harming themselves makes them feel alive.

Here are some signs someone you love may be self-harming:

  • Unexplained cuts, bruises or marks
  • Patterns of parallel cuts or scars
  • Sudden change in mood
  • Wearing clothing inappropriate to the weather in an attempt to cover certain parts of the body
  • Secretive behavior
  • Self-isolating behavior

While self-harm is usually not an attempt at suicide, it is a very serious sign of emotional distress. If you are struggling with self-harm or know someone struggling with self-harm, here are some resources you may find helpful.

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DON’T-CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Self-Harm Text Hotline: Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States.

If you or a loved one is struggling with self-harm, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201805/why-do-youth-self-injure

https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Self-harm

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/cutting-self-harm-signs-treatment#3

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Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive

Am I Too Sensitive?

By Julia Keys

Has anyone ever said to you in passing, “you’re so sensitive”? Our society seems to shun sensitivity without truly understanding or appreciating it. Stereotypically, a “sensitive person” is portrayed as irrationally emotional or ready to cry at any moment. In reality, sensitivity is defined by psychologists as the amount someone reacts physically, emotionally, or mentally to external and internal stimuli. Researchers have actually coined a term for someone you may describe as “sensitive”: the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Highly Sensitive People, (HSP), process their external and internal environments with more attention than typical people. About 20% of the population are estimated to be a HSP. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that HSP evolved from people that needed to be hyper vigilant in their environments to survive. Nowadays, we do not need as much extra attention to survive, but HSP are still affected by their high level of sensitivity.

It is easy to think that HSP and introversion are interchangeable traits, however there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. HSP are not always introverts, they may like being around other people, but certain social environments can be overwhelming to their senses. Also, introversion refers to one’s preference for spending time alone versus spending time with others while sensitivity is how one processes sensory input. Although some HSP are introverted, there are definitely a fair amount that are extroverted as well.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby
  • Gets more anxious than typical people when there a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • Easily disturbed by violence or graphic images
  • Feels the need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where they can have relief from overstimulating environments
  • Makes it a high priority to arrange their life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  •  Notices or enjoys delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art
  • Has a rich and complex inner life
  • Was shy or sensitive as a small child

Being an HSP can sometimes cause distress. HSP can have feelings of anxiety or stress when they are in environments that are overstimulating. Certain environments that may be enjoyable for neurotypical people such as parties, outside markets, or concerts may present too much sensory input for an HSP to enjoy. As a result, some HSP may struggle with isolation or loneliness.

On the other hand, the Highly Sensitive Person can also benefit from their heightened sensitivities to stimuli. HSP tend to be observant and perceptive, picking up on small details that others would not. As a result, many HSP are highly creative and innovative. HSP are also naturally empathetic, making them sensitive to others’ emotions and needs. HSP that balance their attention between a healthy internal and external environment reach their highest potential.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress being a HSP may bring, and are seeking stress management, 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/blog/live-life-creatively/201906/the-creative-power-the-highly-sensitive-person

https://hsperson.com/

 

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Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

By: Julia Keys

The child brain grows and makes connections at a rapid rate and is extremely emotionally sensitive. Unfortunately, children that experience some sort of major trauma such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, war, poverty, or unsafe living conditions can be greatly negatively impacted later on in life.

Children who have parents that are for some reason unwilling or unable to provide the love and care they need oftentimes blame themselves for the lack of parental attention. In response to this lack of care, children may start to act in ways in which they feel would help the parents love them more. As the child grows up, they can become detached from their own needs because they are so focused on the love they receive from others.

Another effect of childhood trauma is victimhood thinking. Although a child may have been helpless when they were raised, self-victimization does not help an adult in the long run because it robs them of the self-empowerment they need to change their lives in the ways they desire.

Children growing up in environments where anger is expressed violently may begin to learn that anger is dangerous and therefore should be avoided. However, suppressing emotional expression is unhealthy and can cause individuals to be passive aggressive, which is an ineffective way to communicate. The most damaging effect of childhood trauma can have on an adult is the development of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the effects of childhood trauma, 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 and 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/. 

Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive? 

Am I Too Sensitive?

By: Julia Keys

Has anyone ever said to you in passing, “you’re so sensitive”? Our society seems to shun sensitivity without truly understanding or appreciating it. Stereotypically, a “sensitive person” is portrayed as irrationally emotional or ready to cry at any moment. In reality, sensitivity is defined by psychologists as the amount someone reacts physically, emotionally, or mentally to external and internal stimuli. Researchers have actually coined a term for someone you may describe as “sensitive”: the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Highly Sensitive People, (HSP), process their external and internal environments with more attention than typical people. About 20% of the population are estimated to be an HSP. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that HSP evolved from people that needed to be hyper vigilant in their environments to survive. Nowadays, we do not need as much extra attention to survive, but HSP are still affected by their high level of sensitivity.

It is easy to think that HSP and introversion are interchangeable traits, however there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. HSP are not always introverts, they may like being around other people, but certain social environments can be overwhelming to their senses. Also, introversion refers to one’s preference for spending time alone versus spending time with others while sensitivity is how one processes sensory input. Although some HSP are introverted, there are definitely a fair amount that are extroverted as well.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby
  • Gets more anxious than typical people when there a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • Easily disturbed by violence or graphic images
  • Feels the need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where they can have relief from overstimulating environments
  • Makes it a high priority to arrange their life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  •  Notices or enjoys delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art
  • Has a rich and complex inner life
  • Was shy or sensitive as a small child

Being an HSP can sometimes cause distress. HSP can have feelings of anxiety or stress when they are in environments that are overstimulating. Certain environments that may be enjoyable for neurotypical people such as parties, outside markets, or concerts may present too much sensory input for an HSP to enjoy. As a result, some HSP may struggle with isolation or loneliness.

On the other hand, the Highly Sensitive Person can also benefit from their heightened sensitivities to stimuli. HSP tend to be observant and perceptive, picking up on small details that others would not. As a result, many HSP are highly creative and innovative. HSP are also naturally empathetic, making them sensitive to others’ emotions and needs. HSP that balance their attention between a healthy internal and external environment reach their highest potential.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress being a HSP may bring, and are seeking stress management, 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/blog/live-life-creatively/201906/the-creative-power-the-highly-sensitive-person

https://hsperson.com/

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Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder

By: Julia Keys

Seasonal Depression, clinically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, affects about five percent of American adults annually. SAD is a type of depression where the weather and seasonal changes causes one to feel depressed. SAD symptoms most commonly flare up around the late fall to the early spring months. During this time of the year, the sun is out shorter and its rays are less intense. Psychologists hypothesize that the lack of sunlight contributes to SAD by affecting healthy hormonal balances. Although most cases of SAD occur during the late fall to early spring seasons, some people do have seasonal depression during the warmer spring and summer months. Studies show that alcohol consumption and depression go hand-in-hand, which can be particularly harmful when suffering from SAD.

Symptoms of SAD:

  • Feeling of sadness or depressed mood
  • Lack of motivation
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates
  • Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
  • Increase in restless activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide

Fortunately, there are many different treatments to help those with SAD reduce their symptoms. Psychotherapy and medication are helpful for those suffering from SAD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT helps patients change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to their symptoms. Psychiatrists most often prescribe antidepressants such as Lexapro or Prozac to help those with SAD. A new type of therapy, light therapy, has proven to help those with SAD by exposing them to artificial light which takes the place of the light they are missing on short fall or winter days. One usually sits in front of the light box for about twenty minutes each morning. Patients usually start feeling better after two to three weeks of light therapy. In addition to the services professionals can provide to help, there are lifestyle choices that one can make to lessen the effects of SAD such as avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting regular exercise, getting a healthy amount of sleep and eating a healthy diet.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, please contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to a licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199809/here-comes-the-sun

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Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

Image result for disordered eating habits

Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

By: Julia Keys

Our culture is obsessed with weight, thinness, exercise, and beauty. Studies show that women under the age of 19 are particularly vulnerable to the problematic effects of social media; about 60% of girls have a desire to lose weight even though they are within the healthy weight range ( Morris & Katzman, 2003). As a result, many people have developed unhealthy ways of eating and exercising for dealing with the pressure to look a certain way. These habits can seem minor at first, but can quickly develop into an eating disorder. While disordered eating habits do not meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder, they are still unhealthy and potentially damaging.

Signs of Disordered Eating Habits:

  • Self-worth or self-esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
  • A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range, but continues to feel that they are overweight
  • Excessive or rigid exercise routine
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
  • A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home

It is important to recognize the signs of disordered eating and try to eradicate them before they become potentially harmful. Clinicians advise to quit fad diets because they are extremely restrictive and often result in binge eating. Obsessive exercise focused on “fat-burning” or “calorie-burning” should also be avoided and replaced with physical activity that is more focused on enjoyment. Another tip psychologists give is to avoid weighing yourself every single day. Weight can fluctuate about 2-5 lbs. a day, so fixating on a specific number in order to be healthy isn’t helpful. If disordered eating habits suddenly get worse, or start to impact one’s daily functioning, one should seek help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, 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/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201402/disordered-eating-or-eating-disorder-what-s-the

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

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The Benefits of Yoga on the Mind and Body

Stress Reduction: The Benefits of Yoga     Stress Reduction: The Benefits of Yoga

       By: Julia Keys

        Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. Yoga became popular in the United States in the 1960’s as a way to feel a natural “high” without the use of substances. Today, yoga is practiced in the U.S. as a way to relieve stress, exercise, practice spirituality, and to heal the mind and body.

Researchers have found a myriad of benefits of yoga on mental health. Studies show that practicing yoga helps people reduce anger and anxiety, improves sleep, decreases Post Traumatic Stress, and improves daily mood. Yoga’s benefits can all be traced back to its physiological effects on the heart and the nervous system. Yoga incorporates various breathing and meditation exercises alongside physical movement. Yogic or meditative breathing has been shown to increase heart rate variability, or HRV. HRV is simply the distance between each heartbeat. The goal of yogic breathing is to increase the time between each heartbeat. Slower heartbeats can relieve stress and anxiety. Faster heartbeats are correlated with poor emotional regulation.

There are many different types of yoga from which one can choose from. For those seeking yoga that focuses on meditation and breathing, Ananda and Hatha classes would be a good choice. Those seeking more rigorous and physical forms of yoga may want to take Ashtanga or Kundalini classes.

 If you or someone you know is having trouble with stress, anxiety or regulating emotions, 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/blog/silencing-your-inner-bully/201901/5-ways-yoga-can-benefit-your-mental-health

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201002/addiction-exercise-recovery-yoga-practice-and-mindfulness-in

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Addictions in College

By: Julia Keys

     Ever hear the old saying “work hard, play hard”? Unfortunately, this saying is taken to the extreme across many college campuses in America.  Unhealthy behaviors like binge drinking and drug use are normalized due to the party culture that pervades college life.  According  to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 50% of college students binge drink (drinking three or more drinks in one sitting) and about two thirds of those with a valid prescription for an ADHD medication such as Adderall or Ritalin, share their pills with their friends.  Other drugs that are common on college campuses include benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Klonopin, which are prescription medications and helpful when used properly, but are often abused, and illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

What causes college students to participate in these behaviors?

  • Greek Life
  • Independence/living on one’s own for the first time
  • Peer pressure
  • Pressure to do well in school

Signs of Addiction

  • Abnormally red, glassy, or dilated pupils
  • Red, irritated nostrils
  • Needle or track marks
  • Weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Sudden increase in irritability, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, recovering from an addiction, or suspect  you are developing an addiction, please contact your college’s counseling center or Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to a licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.clearviewtreatment.com/blog/signs-drinking-drug-student/

https://addictionresource.com/addiction/college/

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Bipolar Disorder: Signs of Mania and Depression

By: Julia Keys

      Bipolar Disorder is a psychological diagnosis that is characterized by the cycling of states of mania and depression. Mania can be described as an extreme elevation in mood while depression is an extremely low mood.

     There are two main diagnoses for people with bipolar disorder: Bipolar I and Bipolar II. People with Bipolar I experience the extremes of both mania and depression. Bipolar II involves milder and shorter manic episodes than Bipolar I, but still includes severe depressive episodes.

     There are two other lesser known types of bipolar disorder; cyclothymic disorder and bipolar disorder with mixed features. Cyclothymic disorder is a milder version of bipolar disorder where mood swings are still present, but are less severe. Bipolar disorder with mixed features is when a person experiences features of manic and depressive episodes at the same time.

Common features of a manic episode includes:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Little concern for the consequences of actions
  • Racing thoughts
  • Fast speech
  • Impulsivity
  • Sleeping very little
  • Sometimes delusions and hallucinations

Common features of a depressive episode includes:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Eating too much or eating too little
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of pleasure in activities that were previously pleasurable
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, please contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to a licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Source:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/phases-of-bipolar-disorder/

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Sleep Difficulties? Here are 5 questions that will Help You Figure Out Why.

By Sally Santos

We all have gone through this. We have had a long day and we can’t wait to get in to bed to rest. But the moment you rest your head on the pillow you find yourself wide awake and staring at the ceiling. So then you ask yourself “why can’t I fall asleep?” Consider these 5 questions:

Do you take your phone to bed?

  • We spend all day with our phones tending to every notification that we receive. That can become a habit. So when you bring your phone to bed and you see your phones light up you are going to want to see what it is. So every night before you go to bed try to keep your phone away from your bed or at least set it on Do Not Disturb Mode. This ensures that your phone won’t ring for every notification

How much caffeine are you drinking?

  • If you are someone who consumes a lot of caffeine during the day and find yourself not being able to sleep at night consider consuming less caffeine or stop completely.

What do you do during the evening?

  • Avoid having a late meal. If you eat right before you go to bed that might keep you awake because your body is working on digesting your food.
  • If you are someone who works out try working out earlier because after you work out you may have increased energy and that may prevent you from sleeping at night.
  • If possible try avoiding difficult conversations before bed.

How are you using your bed?

  • If you are someone who works or studies in bed, you may be confusing your body. Instead of your body associating your bed as a place for rest it is associating it as a place of work.

Is there something specific that you are worried about?

  • Maybe you are going through a stressful situation and the thought of it is keeping you up at night. Try learning a relaxation method such as breathing gently or meditation.
  • If the situation is serious seek professional help you problem-solve the situation. You might be helped by relaxation techniques, hypnosis or sleep medication.

Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201901/how-calm-your-racing-mind-so-you-can-sleep

Image:

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/no-sleep

If you or someone you know is having sleep issues, speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.