Body Dysmorphia: Symptoms and Treatment

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder where one intensely focuses on appearance and body image, and cannot stop thinking about perceived defects and flaws. These flaws are minor and cannot be seen by others. The individual may feel so ashamed, anxious, and embarrassed that social interactions are avoided. These symptoms can cause extreme distress, be extremely time consuming, be disruptive, and cause serious problems in one’s work, school, and social life. Some may experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Both men and women can struggle with body dysmorphic disorder.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia can include:

  • A strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that causes you to feel deformed and ugly
  • Engagement of behaviors that are difficult to resist or control such as frequently checking the mirror, skin picking, and grooming
  • Seeking cosmetic procedures but gaining little satisfaction
  • Constantly comparing your appearance to others
  • Often seeking reassurance from others about your appearance

Body dysmorphic disorder affects both males and females and typically starts in the early teenage years.

Risk factors include:

  • Societal pressure and expectations of beauty
  • Negative life experiences such as abuse
  • Having another mental health disorder

Shame and embarrassment are often associated with body dysmorphia and that may keep one from seeking treatment. Body dysmorphic disorder can last for years or be lifelong. If left untreated, it can get worse over time, so it is important that the disorder is identified and treated.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353938

https://www.healthshots.com/mind/mental-health/everything-you-need-to-know-about-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Image Source

https://www.healthshots.com/mind/mental-health/everything-you-need-to-know-about-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Emotional Support Animals and Controversy

Emotional Support Animals and Controversy

By: Valeria Dubon

Emotional support animals (ESA’s) provide a comforting and consoling figure for individuals who suffer from some sort of mental illness. Although they can be in the form of many different pets, dogs are the most common form of ESA’s and they can be of any age and any breed. ESA’s can be defined as any animal that is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to offer emotional support to a person that is suffering from a disabling mental illness. One example could be a psychologist prescribing an emotional support dog to ease a patient’s anxieties. Emotional support animals, however, are not service dogs; there is a key difference between the two types of support. ESA’s deal more with offering a soothing and relaxing friend to the owner; they can help ease anxiety, depression and phobias. Even so, they are not allowed in many public places and cannot go everywhere where the public is allowed. A service dog helps individuals perform tasks that they cannot do on their own. For example, they are trained to assist and alert someone who is hearing impaired and/or visually impaired, they are not their for simply companionship. Their training must alleviate a certain disability.

There is even another type of service dog called psychiatric service dogs that detect the beginning of a psychiatric episode and ease their effects; again this is different from an ESA. Unfortunately, although ESA and service dogs are both essential in their own ways, ESAs are not treated with the same level of respect and importance; as many people believe that they are simply not needed at all. Many people fabricate the need for emotional support animals and take advantage of the system, with people having the ability to buy certifications for only $50. This only adds to the ESA controversy. This has caused many places, including airlines, to restrict the use of ESAs, leaving people who actually need them in an unfortunate situation. This controversy is currently ongoing, with many people being against the excessive use of an emotional support animal. In order to reduce the number of fraudulent ESA certifications, it has been suggested that a standardized ESA assessment could be made and conducted by forensic practitioners with stricter guidelines. This in turn not only helps the owners of ESAs, but also the general public as well. An actual assessment and training will keep aggressive animals and lax owners from not only irritating the public but also from endangering it.

If you or someone you know is in need of an emotional support animal, 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.akc.org/expert-advice/news/everything-about-emotional-support-animals/

http://jaapl.org/content/early/2020/09/16/JAAPL.200047-20

Depression: How Does it Affect Relationships

By: Jasmyn Cuate

Depression is one of the most common types of mental illness that Americans struggle with each day affecting approximately 1 in 6 Americans. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, irritability, angry outbursts, or low frustration tolerance, loss of interest in or ability to enjoy usual activities, sleep disturbance, fatigue and lack of energy, appetite disturbance, agitation, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating, remembering things, making decisions, recurring thoughts of death, and thoughts of suicide.

Many individuals struggling with depression describe it as living in a heavy fog where you lose clarity about your life, start to have self-doubt, changing the way you view friends, family, and partners as well as how you think they view you.

Although many relationships experience problems, a partner dealing with depression or trying to help their partner overcome depression, may find themselves having more challenges to their relationship. Depression can cause overwhelming emotions such as detachment, distrust, and vulnerability. It can cause the partner to pay little attention to the other partner, be less involved, more irritable, start arguments, and have trouble enjoying time together. Factors such as high levels of conflict, lack of communication, difficulty resolving problems, and withdrawal can lead to depression.

Untreated depression can cause a cycle of self-destructive behaviors that can tear relationships apart. Research has shown that when one member of a couple has depression, there is an impact on the well-being of the other partner as well. In fact, BMC Public Health has found that partners of those with mental illnesses, show signs of anxiety and depression themselves.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for depression or experiencing relationship problems due to depression, 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/basics/depression/signs-depression

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-warning-signs-that-depression-is-affecting-your-relationship/

Anxiety and Depression: Rumination

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Rumination is the cognitive process of repeating negative thoughts without completion, much to one’s distress. In the mind, the thoughts play like a broken record. Rumination can involve negative thoughts about the past or present, and the self. This form of cognition plays a key role in many psychological conditions, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, alcohol abuse, OCD, PTSD, and eating disorders. Rumination is a passive process. One feels as if one cannot control repetitive, dominating thoughts. These distracting thought circles can last for long periods of time and disrupt work, school, and social life. Rumination is different than worry in that rumination involves negative thought content rather than thought content related to uncertainty. Worry usually is tied to the future, while ruminative thoughts are usually tied to the past or present. Rumination can impact physical health by increasing stress levels.In the context of depression, rumination usually involves negative self-assessments, such as feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. These feelings can lead to anxious responses and further worsen one’s emotional state.

There are some intervention strategies to disrupt rumination. One way is to distract oneself with other activities, such as socializing or exercising. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a therapy approach that aims to change negative thought patterns. Patients learn to recognize their distortions, irrational thoughts, and negative thoughts. Once they recognize these thoughts, patients reframe negative thoughts and assess the irrationality of their thoughts. Patients also learn methods to calm their mind and body through breathing exercises and thinking of things they associate with feeling calm and peaceful. Patients are also encouraged to think of action plans to address their negative thoughts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, or is seeking Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for rumination, 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:

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2012). Rumination: relationships with physical health. Innovations in clinical neuroscience9(2), 29–34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312901/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/201604/rumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression

https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral

Image Source:

https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/editlab/2018/10/12/r-is-for-rumination/

Low Self-Esteem: Dating Apps Can Decrease One’s Self-Confidence

By: Lauren Zoneraich

With the advent and prolonged continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, many young adults have turned to dating apps as a way to connect with potential romantic partners, speak to new people, and entertain themselves. The most popular dating apps among young adults are Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Grindr, which are visually-based dating apps. Instead of text-heavy profiles, like those seen on Match.com, users swiftly accept or reject others based on their profile photographs, which dominate the page display. How does the visually-based nature of dating apps affect the self-esteem of dating app users?

One’s physical appearance and self-esteem are strongly linked. Self-esteem is defined as the self-evaluation a person holds regarding their worth, success, and capabilities. In a survey-based study of young adults, researchers determined that the visual nature of Tinder could raise or lower the self-esteem of users. Users who matched with a lot of attractive users and received many messages experienced an ego boost. Contrarily, many participants reported that the visual nature of the Tinder made them feel more self-conscious about their appearance. Users felt a decrease in self-esteem when they did not match with a lot of people or when they only received messages from unattractive matches. Many participants reported “swiping left on” (rejecting) users who they anticipated would not “swipe right on” (accept) them, or swiping left on users they liked to avoid the possibility of being rejected and experiencing a decrease in self-confidence. These reports highlight how Tinder can trigger negative assessments of the self even before a user is rejected, and of course, decrease a user’s self-confidence after rejection.

Online dating apps are not meant for everyone. If you find that apps such as Tinder are lowering your self-esteem, it may be best to delete these apps and meet partners through other avenues.

If you or someone you know is struggling with low self-esteem, 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/

Reference:
Kallis, R. (2021). Creating a future relationship or destroying my self-esteem? An exploratory study on dating app experiences and well-being. Journal of Communication Technology, 4(1), 78-100. https://doi.org/10.51548/joctec-2021-005

Image Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2016/1/11/10749670/tinder-secretly-ranks-users-desirability

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

Impostor Syndrome

By Veronica Oquendo

Imagine a scenario, you have gained a promotion at your job, and you are now Vice President of your company. Furthermore, your bosses want to congratulate you with an office party, and plaque for your outstanding achievement that earned your promotion. When you are at your office party you have an overwhelming feeling that you do not deserve this promotion and recognition. You think that you are not intelligent enough to hold this new position. You put a lot of effort into your work, but not anymore than anyone else would, even though others recognize your high work ethic. Worst of all, you feel that the other employees will find out you are do not deserve it, be scrutinized for it, and eventually fail. This scenario is not an uncommon occurrence, where 25-30% of high achievers currently suffer the feelings of imposter syndrome, and 70% of adults have experienced it at one point in their lifetime. The highest populations that feel imposter syndrome are women of color. 

Reasons for imposter syndrome: 

  • High pressure to succeed
  • Perfectionism 
  • Mental Health Issues 

It is important to note that imposter syndrome is not an official diagnosis in the DSM, but is a feeling an often associated with success, even more so among those suffering from anxiety and depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with imposter syndrome, 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/basics/imposter-syndrome

https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud

Social Anxiety: Struggling to Reach Out

            It’s okay to want to be alone, but many people around the world resort to solidarity because they fear they’ll be judged by others in a social scene. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is a mental illness categorized as a type of anxiety disorder that consists of an intense, persistent fear of being watched and/or judged by others. No matter what the situation is, if it involves other people, things become more challenging for them. It feels as though all eyes are on them and they’re terrified of making a spectacle of themselves in front of those around them, even friends and family. That’s why it tends to be a struggle for many sufferers of social anxiety to maintain any healthy relationships because they would rather push people away and avoid conversation than take the risk of feeling humiliated through judgment.

          The toll social anxiety has on some of its sufferers can lead to avoiding school and work as well as dropping many hobbies/activities all together because they’re simply too terrified to engage. In such instances, the disorder becomes a hindrance to everyday life because if they miss school and work, they’re losing out on education, money, and many other key things to sustain healthy living. Some signs that you may be suffering from social anxiety disorder are: when having to be around others; feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach, blushing, sweating or trembling, making little eye contact and speaking very softly, staying away from places where you see other people, etc. In this case, treatment comes in the form of psychotherapy, medication, or both. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is perhaps the most common form of treatment and teaches patients better ways of thinking and reacting to anxiety-inducing scenarios in order to best keep those unwanted emotions under control.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a 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: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml

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/