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

What Do Dreams Tell Us About Our Mental Health?

   By: Kassandra Lora

Have you ever wondered if dreams are a reflection of our subconscious trying to send a message or if they are just meaningless? What do these specific dreams tell us about our mental health?

    One type of dreaming, besides the occasional nightmares, is lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when the dreamer is aware they are dreaming but, without waking up, they can control what they do in the dream as well as the outcome of the dream. Some people lucid dream regularly while others rarely and some cannot lucid dream at all. So, what does lucid dreaming show us about our mental health? In an article written in the PsychologyToday magazine, they discussed an observation conducted with a group of undergraduate students who participated in a sleep study. The results stated how, “Intense lucid dreamers had, on average, lower levels of psychological distress.” It was explained that individuals who have more intense lucid dreams had less depression, stress, and anxiety than individuals who had less intense lucid dreams.  However, those who don’t lucid dream at all had no difference in psychological wellbeing when compared to those who have very intense lucid dreams.  It is interesting to see how something like lucid dreaming can have such a perspective on psychological health.

    Besides measuring psychological distress, according to the Psych Central website, dreams have many mental health benefits as well. Some benefits of dreams include:

  • Helping you learn: Dreams allow your brain to make sense of new information that has been learned.
  • Being therapeutic to a person: dreams can help a person heal real-life emotions through dreams.
  • Helping you overcome your fear: lucid dreaming can allow you to practice facing and overcoming what you are afraid to do in real life.

If you or someone you know needs help regarding sleep and dreams, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/201804/what-dreams-may-tell-you-about-your-mental-health

https://psychcentral.com/blog/brain-and-mental-health-benefits-of-dreaming#2

Image source: https://wallhere.com/en/wallpaper/781179

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

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

By: Kassandra Lora

Once the seasons change from fall to winter and the days become shorter, some individuals may notice a change in their moods. Some of these mood changes may be a slight feeling of being “down” but other times, these mood changes can be more severe and can have a significant effect on a person. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually affects a person once the seasons are changing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression.” It is not as common for someone to develop SAD symptoms during the spring and summer months, although it is still possible.

Some significant depression symptoms may include:

•           feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

•           losing interest in activities

•           changes in appetite or weight

•           having problems with sleep

•           having low energy

•           feeling worthless or hopeless

•           having difficulty concentrating

•           having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, to develop the diagnosis of having SAD, you must have the symptoms of major depression or must have some of the symptoms listed above. You must also have these depressive episodes occur to you during a specific season for a least two consecutive years.

Individuals who are more susceptible to developing SAD are more commonly those who live further north. Furthermore, according to the Nation Institute of Mental Health, “SAD is more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II disorder, which is associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes.” SAD is also more commonly found in women than men.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a severe condition, though scientists cannot understand what exactly causes SAD. Scientists have done the research and have suggested that people with SAD may have reduced serotonin activity, regulating mood. Researchers have also indicated how lack of sunlight in people with SAD can affect their serotonin levels, affecting their mood. Although these are all possible causes and effects which determined why individuals may have SAD it is still unclear if these are the exact reason. However, these causes and effects can be useful when focusing on treatment.Treatments that may help people with SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and vitamin D.

Speak to your health care provider about which treatment or combination is most suitable for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective 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.

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Image Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/03/how-i-learned-cope-seasonal-affective-disorder-grad-school

COVID-19 and Teletherapy

COVID-19 and Teletherapy
By Kaitlyn Choi

COVID-19 most certainly has impacted not only the mundane aspects of our everyday lives but also the essential delivery of health care services. This is a significant transition for all health care providers and patients. For those who had been receiving therapy or counseling, the pandemic caused a major increase in the shift from in-person to phone therapy.

Although teletherapy may seem out of the ordinary, there are many advantages to being able to access health care services through the internet or phone. First of all, by staying at home, patients can avoid health risks. It is crucial that we take caution of the virus; this is a perfect way to stay safe while receiving quality care. Furthermore, it is simply convenient. There is no need to physically come to the office or schedule an appointment according to travel availability. Thus there is increased flexibility with appointments, according to the patient’s needs and comfort. Patients can even have sessions while they are away from home or on vacation. This is great for individuals who are busy or unavailable for long periods of time.

Many might be wondering if the quality of therapy or health care services changes with the shift from in-person counseling to telehealth. In fact, it was proven that cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of treatment are equally effective when administered via telephone as it is when administered face-to-face. In other words, telehealth is both valuable and convenient.

This might be a great time to seek therapy if you have been hesitating. With teletherapy available for all individuals, you can receive quality mental health care in the comfort of your own home.

If you or someone you know needs help with anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, or lack of motivation, 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/social-instincts/202003/will-covid-19-make-teletherapy-the-rule-not-the-exception
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-well/202008/10-advantages-teletherapy

Image Source:
https://www.consumerreports.org/mental-health/how-to-find-affordable-mental-teletherapy/

OCD: Exposure Therapy and Medication

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a chronic, long-term disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors that take over and are constantly repeated. These repetitions can take over one’s life; all they can focus on are one’s obsessions and nothing else. Obsessions are defined as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety,” while compulsions are “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to their obsessions.” It’s a common disorder affecting about 1% of the U.S. on any given year, with a lifetime prevalence of OCD among U.S. adults falling at 2.3%. Symptoms can present themselves in a range of mild to serious, with about ½ of OCD cases falling under serious.

Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP therapy, is a common form of treatment for individuals with OCD, but it can be very harsh and relentless. In simple terms, ERP therapy takes the OCD patient and places them at the forefront of their fears so that they confront them head on, with no protection. However, when doing this they’re guided by a trained therapist to ensure they don’t resort to their compulsive behaviors. An example of this type of therapy would be having a patient who suffers from germaphobia stick their hands in dirty water without washing their hands after. Over time they’re usually able to adapt to and overcome their fears, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, this type of therapy doesn’t work for everyone and many individuals fighting OCD need medication instead, or a combination of both. Some common OCD medications are Zoloft, Prozac, and Luvox. These are all anti-depressants approved by the FDA to treat OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with obsessive compulsive 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/exposure-and-response-prevention

Depression: Social Depression

By: Nicolette Ferrante

Social Anxiety and Depression are two of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in the United States.  Social Anxiety Disorder is the fear of being rejected or embarrassing oneself in a social setting. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent, deep feeling of sadness and loss of interest in things someone once enjoyed.  Although these are two separate diagnoses, they can co-occur.

            Social symptoms of depression include avoiding any type of contact with friends/family, not wanting to attend activities involving social interaction and neglecting normal behavior and interests that were once enjoyed. People with social anxiety disorder are six times more likely to develop a mood disorder such as depression. Social Phobias prevent people from making friends, applying for jobs, pursuing relationships and being a part of any social setting at all.

            Avoidance is the only way to cope with social anxiety. They withdraw out of fear of embarrassing themselves or not fitting in. Those with Social Anxiety disorder want to socialize, but the fear is far too much to bring them to. The uncontrollable anxiety and inability to socialize often leads to the feelings of hopelessness, isolation and frustration. Neglecting themselves from social interactions, sometimes leads to depression, due to the loneliness. Not everyone with SAD will experience depression.

                 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:

Social Anxiety and Depression

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

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression
By: Isabelle Siegel

Depression can cause immense pain and suffering for more than just the individual diagnosed. The partners/spouses of individuals with depression commonly report feeling hopeless and helpless, unsure how to provide necessary support to their partner/spouse. Attempts to help may be met with apathy or even anger, further complicating a seemingly simple question: How can I support my partner/spouse with depression?

Develop an understanding of depression and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. It can be helpful to research depression, taking note of its symptoms and causes. Understand that depression is an illness and not a choice. You may want to create a list of your partner’s/spouse’s particular symptoms and triggers for depressive episodes in order to better understand his/her experiences.

As simple as it sounds, just be there. Depression may have your partner/spouse doubting that you love him/her and may make him/her feel as though he/she is a burden to you. Assure your partner that you are there for him/her and that you love him/her despite his/her illness.

Encourage him/her to get help. Depressive symptoms can interfere with one’s motivation and ability to get help, so continuously encourage treatment. Help your partner/spouse find a therapist and/or psychiatrist, bring him/her to appointments, and cheer him/her on as they undergo treatment.

Do things you both enjoy. One important treatment step for depression is known as “opposite action,” in which individuals with depression act opposite to how they feel. If they feel like laying in bed all day, for example, they should get up and out of the house. As a partner/spouse, you can help by encouraging your partner/spouse to act opposite to their depressive urges by engaging in activities that you both enjoy.

Understand the warning signs of suicide. Individuals with depression are more vulnerable to suicide, so it may be important to know signs that your partner is considering taking his/her life. These may include talking about suicide, social withdrawal, giving away belongings, or obtaining means of attempting suicide. If you believe that your partner is at risk for suicide, seek immediate help.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Research suggests that having a partner/spouse with depression increases one’s own risk of developing depressive symptoms. It is important to understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support. Never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs, and consider seeking therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health.

If you or a loved one needs support, the 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/supporting-partner-depression
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325523
https://www.psycom.net/help-partner-deal-with-depression/

Image Source: https://www.rewire.org/support-partner-depression/

Anger Management during COVID-19

By: Elyse Ganss

According to the New York Times, domestic violence rates have surged during the era of the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic and family violence rates typically increase when families have more time to spend with one another, a time that is usually reserved for holidays. However, with stay-at-home orders occurring nationally, families have been spending more time together and consequently, violence rates have increased worldwide.

Violence occurs as a result of out of control anger. Anger is an emotion that occurs on a spectrum from irritation to rage. Aggressive, out-of-control responses due to anger lead to abusive actions. Dealing with angry feelings in a positive way is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships. Expressing anger in a calm manner such as having a controlled conversation with whoever you may be angry with is a constructive way to address anger. However, if anger is not dealt with it can lead to passive-aggressive behavior or having a hostile personality.

The Mayo Clinic recommends various tips for keeping anger under control. These tips include thinking before you speak, expressing anger in a calm way, getting exercise to reduce stress, practicing relaxation techniques and receiving help from mental health professionals.

If your anger levels are out of control, feel unavoidable, or if you are often enraged, seeking help for anger management may be the best course of action.

A mental health professional, whether it be a licensed psychologist, psychotherapist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or psychiatrist, will work with the patient to develop a new way of thinking and behaving when faced with situations that induce anger. Although anger may currently feel overwhelming, a professional can help work with you to reduce your anger and to help heal and restore your relationships.

If you or someone you know is looking for 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/

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434

https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control

Image Source: https://www.mindful.org/feeling-angry-try-this/