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/.

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Video Games – Advantages and Disadvantages

By Dara Kushnir

Ever since its creation, people have debated whether video games are a help, a hindrance, or useful in moderation. Below presents evidence from the most disputed aspects of this argument as well as additional factors to consider:

Content. Countless studies show that violence in video games diminishes empathy and exacerbates behavioral problems. After playing even 30 minutes, less activation was found in the prefrontal portion of the brain (involved in concentration, inhibition, and self-control) and more in the amygdala (emotional arousal)1. People who play violent video games may expect others to be hostile, influencing how aggressively they themselves react in the future2.
Conversely, prosocial, nonviolent video games can promote empathy and helpful behaviors, even teaching empathy3, asthma management, rehabilitating stroke patients, learning resiliency from failures4, and being a therapy tool in moderating certain phobias5. Preschool children have also shown improved motor development and cognitive behavior5.  Children who play cooperative video games display fewer emotional problems and problems with peers whereas those who play solitary games do well academically6.

Time. Despite the noteworthy benefits, it is crucial to understand that these benefits apply to those who play for less than or equal to an hour. Excessive time is linked with behavioral problems, poorer social skills, and peer conflicts. A recent study revealed that playing for less than an hour reduces ADHD symptoms, has a calming effect, and is not associated with delinquency7 8. Less than one hour of gaming strengthens motor skills and leads to higher achievement scores. However, playing more than one hour increases ADHD symptoms and lowers grades, which means the difference between a “B” and an “A” grade9.

Motivation. One . One study argues that people play video games to meet their motivational needs rather than for the content itself10. Those who are more aggressive play violent video games rather than cause aggression. Violent video games were not associated with aggressive behavior. Those who play for enjoyment or catharsis (releasing anger) play violent video games, although it is unclear if playing actually helps. The researchers suggested that people seek out video games to meet their motivational needs rather than the violent content itself. More research is still needed.

Personality. People with certain personality traits can be predisposed to aggression after playing violent video games. One study states that the “perfect storm” of personality traits using the Five-Factor Model is high neuroticism (easily upset and angry), low agreeableness (little concern for others and their feelings), and low conscientiousness (act without thinking)11. These traits make individuals more susceptible to violent games and media.

Player abilities. Another study argues that regardless of video games’ content, frustration from failing sparks aggression12. When a person’s competency or ego is questioned, through a challenging game or failing to master the controls, they enjoy the game less and react with more aggression. This reaction is not limited to video games; people react with frustrated aggression playing sports and other activities, especially if they lose or play poorly.

 

Source:
(image) http://guides.library.ucla.edu/videogames
All articles are sourced in text.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from a video game 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/.

Psychopath vs. Sociopath

 By: Dianna Gomez

“You’re a psychopath!!”

How often do we ourselves use this term or hear others throw this term around? Some people may use this phrase when referring to a crazy ex-boyfriend, strict parent, or annoying sibling, when in reality; most people don’t truly understand its meaning. You may be asking yourself, so what is a psychopath? How can I know whether I am really encountering one or not? There are certain characteristics that have been found to be shared between people who are actually psychopathic or have psychopathic qualities. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulation
  • Total lack of remorse and/or empathy for others
  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of feelings of guilt
  • Grandiose sense-of-self
  • Failure to accept responsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Need for stimulation
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Parasitic lifestyle/willingness to feed off others to sustain their own lifestyle

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? A sociopath is a person diagnosed with “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” People with this diagnosis are generally very manipulative and violating of the rights of others, among other things. Sociopathy can be thought of as a less severe form of psychopathy. If a person is a psychopath then they are also a sociopath, but if a person is a sociopath they don’t necessarily need to be a psychopath. Sociopaths and psychopaths share the same basic characteristics, just at different levels of intensity.

If this personality description sounds like you or someone you know, 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/.

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/.

 

 

 

 

Stress: The Detrimental Effects of Stress on the Body

By: Charleene Polanco

Stress is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension, and whether it is about taking a final exam for class, going off to college for the first time, or work-related, stress can affect the way we perform. If gone unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of negative consequences on the body, which will be discussed. Stress has been linked to a number of physical and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, heart attacks and stroke. A constant high level of stress, can lead to immune system disturbances, which can cause an increase in your body’s susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have direct effects on the skin leading to rashes and hives.

Unlike rashes and hives, which are visible, stress can affect various systems, organs, and tissues within the body, signs that are not seen, and are, therefore, much harder to notice. Some parts of the body affected by stress are the nervous and cardiovascular systems. When stressed, the nervous system signals the body’s adrenal glands to secrete adrenalin and cortisol. Since both of these hormones cause high blood pressure, a person who is under constant stress, also has elevated blood pressure which can lead to heart problems in the future. Even if a stress episode is considered to be minor, repeated minor stress episodes can negatively impact a person’s cardiovascular system by causing inflammations in the coronary arteries. This can eventually cause heart attacks. In order to prevent the negative consequences of untreated high levels of stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. There are multiple symptoms of stress, some of which include, frequent headaches, cold hands/feet, dry mouth, heartburn, depression, forgetfulness, and rapid or mumbled speech.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress, 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:

“Stress Effects.” Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017.

Depression

By: Dianna Gomez

Similar to most mental health illnesses, depression does not discriminate. Depression doesn’t take into consideration what age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or religion a person is. In fact, not only does depression affect both men AND women, it may be experienced differently by each group as well. In general, depression is more commonly found in women then it is found in men. When it comes to women specifically, the higher rates of depression have been linked to biological, hormonal, life cycle, and psychosocial factors. It has been shown that hormones directly affect emotions and mood through brain chemistry. A time when women are especially at risk is after giving birth when physical and hormonal changes, as well as new responsibilities for their new born baby can be overwhelming. Postpartum Depression can also occur in new mothers and must be attended to immediately. When speaking about their depression, women are more likely to describe their experiences as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and/or guilt.

When men are depressed, they are more likely to describe their experiences as having feelings of fatigue, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, irritability, sleep issues, etc. In attempt to relieve themselves of their depression, men are more likely to bury themselves in their work and find ways to keep themselves preoccupied so they aren’t forced to confront their feelings head on. They may also participate in risky or reckless behaviors. Alcohol and substance use is another coping mechanism that men usually turn to. This is usually followed by episodes of anger and aggression.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Despite this, there is still no known cause for this debilitating illness. That is why it is absolutely crucial that professional help is sought out.

If either you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, 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/.

Coping With Stress

By: Dianna Gomez

 

Whether you are a prestigious lawyer or currently unemployed, one thing that all people have in common is that, at one point or another, we have all felt what it’s like to be stressed. The stress may be caused by totally different situations, but at the end of the day those feelings have been felt by us all. You may be asking yourself, “So what simple steps can I take to help myself next time I do feel overwhelmed with stress?” Whether you are a busy college student with 4 exams to study for, an overworked single mom with 2 jobs trying to put food on the table, or a very successful business person with tons of responsibilities, stress can be an issue in anyone’s life.

Here are 5 things you can do to decrease the amount of stress in your life:

#1. Determine Where the Stress is Coming From

  • Is your stress work-related? Is it constantly being caused by the same people in your life? Finding the root of the problem gives you better direction when aiming to correct it.

#2. Eat Healthy

  • For some people, a typical reaction to stress is to “eat your feelings” and turn to comfort foods that are more often than not foods that are processed and high in fat, sugar, or carbs. Although doing this may help you feel better for the short term, it definitely doesn’t help you in the long term which is more important. In fact, it can create problems in the long term that not only don’t help your stress, but add to it as well.

#3. Exercise

  • Go for a walk in the park, take a kick-boxing class, do a few laps in the pool. Get those endorphins flowing!

#4. Make Time for Yourself

  • We all have busy lives – places to be, people to see but nothing is more important than how you feel mentally. Whether it is 10 short minutes or an hour each day, take the time you have to do something you love and to be away from the chaos.

#5. You Can’t Fix What You Can’t Control

  • While you can’t control how your boss acts, what your mother-in-law says, or the current state of the economy, you can control things that you do. If you can’t control it, don’t let it control you!

 

If either you or anybody you know may be suffering from excessive amount of stress, 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/.

 

Marijuana: Negative Effects in Teens

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Marijuana: Negative Effects in Teens

By: Daniela Chica

Most people fall under the misconception that marijuana use is not harmful to the body. However, current studies show that due to the increasing concentration of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, people have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms which are the possible sign of a physical dependence. Studies also show that there are increasing signs of psychological dependence in teens that use marijuana to cope with their adolescent fears and emotions. Rather than turning towards effective coping methods, they turn to the drug to give them comfort.

Marijuana also has negative effects on the heart and lungs of adolescents who use it. Although most marijuana smokers believe they’re not under the same risks as cigarette smokers, studies show that those who are regular marijuana smokers develop the same lung infections and other respiratory problems as cigarette smokers do. The hearts of regular marijuana smokers are also at risk. Studies show that smokers have a 4.8% increase in the risk of heart attack within the first hour of smoking marijuana.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with addiction of any sort, the psychologists and psychiatrists at Arista Counseling can help you. For more information about our center and our services please contact our Paramus, NJ office at 201-368-3700 or our Manhattan, NY office at 212-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/face-it/201302/latest-news-about-teen-marijuana-use

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

Drugs on College Campuses

Substance Abuse

It’s that time of year when everyone is anticipating the upcoming academic school year. With students returning to campus, parties will be on the rise. Welcome back parties are anticipated events on college campuses. Whether one is aware or not, these parties run rampant with various types of drugs. Some students are willing participants whereas others are unknowingly participating in the use of substances. Use of these drugs or substances may lead to risky behavior than can later have effects on the user and others in close proximity.

Some strategies to avoid being under the influence whether knowingly or unknowingly are listed below.

  1. Know your limits.
  2. If you’re going to drink alcohol, know what number of drinks will cause impairment. It’s not advisable to take other substances because of the effects they may cause alone or combined.
  3. Have a buddy system established.
  4. Even though you are college student, have someone that will be responsible for you and vice versa. If you intend on consuming or using any substances, have a designated driver. Have that person ensure your safety throughout the night.
  5. Be careful.
  6. Do not take drinks from random individuals. If you did not see the drink being opened or poured into a glass, kindly reject it. Likewise, be aware of anything that you consume.
  7. Have fun.
  8. So you’ve established a safety plan, great! Go out and enjoy yourself!

 

Written by:  L. Matthew