Depression: Difference between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

By Gabriella Phillip

Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.

Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.

When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. 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.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/major-depressive-episode-it-bipolar-i-or-unipolar-depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850601/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/unipolar-and-bipolar-depression-different-or-the-same/AE364DFBFFBAF1F66A9294A55120C64E/core-reader

 

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Gabriella Phillip

Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.

Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.

Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. 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/ .

 

Pain: Chronic Pain is a Fundamental Health Issue

By Gabriella Phillip

According to The International Association for the Study of Pain, pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. When someone is injured, pain sensors immediately send signals to the brain. Although regular pain, like cramps or a headache, can be relieved in a rather short period of time, chronic pain involves the brain receiving pain signals a while after the onset of pain or the original injury.

One in five people live with chronic pain and the frequency of chronic pain increases as we get older. Many elderly people are experiencing pain that oftentimes goes undiagnosed. In addition, research shows that patients with dementia are being severely untreated for their experience with pain. Even though it’s a fundamental human right to have proper access to pain management, most elderly people are receiving quite inadequate care from health facilities, making it harder for them to cope and go about their daily lives with severe chronic pain.

Chronic pain can strongly impact or contribute to the formation of serious mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Current research from Neuroscience Research Australia shows that patients living with chronic pain have lower levels of glutamate, a significant chemical messenger that aids emotional regulation. Therefore, it’s possible for people with chronic pain to undergo certain personality changes like being more tired than usual, feeling unmotivated, or worrying on a more frequent basis than before. Around half of people suffering from chronic pain also have mental health conditions. The daily demands of learning to live with chronic pain can help generate anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Chronic Pain and its mental health effects, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. 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/ .

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

By: Julia Keys

It is typical to feel a bit nervous before public speaking or maybe a little anxious before a performance, however, for those with Social Anxiety Disorder, or SAD, even the smallest interactions with others can provoke feelings of extreme anxiety. Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a strong and persistent fear of humiliation and embarrassment that could be caused by social situations. People with Social Anxiety Disorder struggle with feelings of self-consciousness that are produced by the possibility of judgement in social interactions. Oftentimes the distress caused by social situations can become so overwhelming for those with SAD that they begin to avoid everyday activities and responsibilities such as going to work, going to school, or picking up the phone.

Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder:

  • Anxiety about being with other people
  • Difficult time interacting with others, stuttering, trailing off, and reserved behavior are common
  • Self-consciousness in front of other people and feelings of embarrassment
  • Fear of being judged
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating or trembling around other people
  • Other physical symptoms such as disorientation, shallow breath, diarrhea, muscle tension and upset stomach

Social Anxiety Disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. A common affliction for those with SAD is the rumination that follows social interactions. New types of therapy are being developed to help those with SAD deal with this common symptom: post-event processing or PEP Mindfulness based therapies are aiming to target the feelings of shame, worry, and embarrassment that are caused by overanalyzing personal performance in social situations. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy helps people with SAD change unhealthy thought patterns that may be contributing to their anxiety. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds are often used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Social Anxiety Disorder affects over 19 million people across the US; however 35% of those suffering with social anxiety waited over ten years to seek treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out and get the help you need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with social anxiety, 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.anxiety.org/social-anxiety-disorder-sad

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201904/the-one-dose-approach-help-social-anxiety-disorder

Source for Picture:

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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

Source for Picture:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=70C2902B0BC552C00A01D3254CDAA5F74916A647&thid=OIP.kRmbbAZz8C3wXx0wFCH7bAHaHb&exph=602&expw=600&q=semi+colon+tattoo&selectedindex=25&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6

 

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/

 

Source for Picture:

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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/

Source for Picture:

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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

Source for Picture:

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Mindfulness: What is it, and does it really work?

Mindfulness: What is it, and does it really work?

By: Lauren Hernandez

In this busy, technology filled day and age, it is difficult for people to remove themselves from the stress of work and money, family and friends, and to disconnect from the 24/7 social frenzy that is social media. Now more than ever it is imperative that people begin to step back from their phones and computer screens to take care of their mental health and general wellbeing. One fairly new and unique way is mindfulness meditation.

What is mindfulness you may ask? Mindfulness is a process in which you have full and total awareness of the present moment. It has been proven that mindfulness reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and improves one’s mental health.

Here are some simple tips to begin practicing mindfulness on your own:

  • Bring your attention to your breathing. Feel your breath filling your lungs and the warm exhale of air leaving your body.
  • Notice changes in your posture and maintain awareness of current bodily sensations
  • Allow yourself to disconnect from all forms of technology
  • Take time to listen and to observe what is happening around you
  • If you get distracted bring your attention back to your natural breathing patterns

If you feel as though you may need help practicing mindfulness or have questions about the way you are feeling, contact a mental health professional such as a psychologist who can offer some guidance.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking guidance in practicing mindfulness, 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/ .

 

Source:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/happiness/what-is-mindfulness-meditation-the-mental-health-trend-thats-changing-the-way-we-work-relax-and-sleep-%e2%80%93-explained-by-a-psychologist/ar-AABonMO

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