Post-College Anxiety

Post-College Anxiety

By: Julia Massa

Post-college anxiety, or Post Commencement Stress Disorder, though not an official medical diagnosis, is used to describe the uncertainty and anxiety college graduates often feel as a result of their achievement. With both internal and external expectations to “measure up,” graduates find themselves conflicted, depressed, and pressured. Graduates may fear failure due to not finding a job as well as feel pressured to pay back their student debt without having a secure job or realizing that career path just isn’t for them. Furthermore, they may feel alone due to moving back home and changing their social contexts. In fact, 53% of 18-to-24 year old graduates live with their parents after graduation. Homesickness is a cycle, perhaps.

From being a student at the mere age of five to an actual member of society can lead to an identity crisis. Additionally, college students may have trouble sleeping, concentrating, become less interested in socializing, experience shortness of breath or rapid heart rate, feel a lack of control of their life, or numb these feelings with alcohol, drugs, or binge-eating.

Feeling nervous about the future is a normal reaction to uncertainty, especially if you thrive on consistency and routine. Graduates can address feelings of uncertainty by practicing test runs for job interviews, “zooming in” and looking at each step, getting feedback from multiple resources like resume writers or networking events, and embracing the chaos. When life becomes complex, it is important to practice self-care and remind yourself that it is not a bad day- just a complex one. Moreover, if a graduate is stressed about finances, they can be financially proactive and learn banking, create an emergency fund, SAVE little by little, or create a realistic payment plan to pay off their loans. 

Graduating is a bittersweet experience. Adjusting to change can be scary, but in the case of college grads, they are on the path to prosper. Though it is easier said than done, it is important to embrace each chapter and live day by day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with post-college anxiety, 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://extension.wvu.edu/food-health/emotional-wellness/post-graduation-stress#:~:text=Lushkin%20lists%20these%20common%20symptoms,in%20a%20reasonable%20length%20of

https://www.careercontessa.com/advice/how-to-deal-post-grad-anxiety/

https://www.psycom.net/college-graduation-anxiety-expert-advice/

Image source:

March: National Self-Injury Awareness Month

March: National Self-Injury Awareness Month

By: Julia Massa

March is self-injury awareness month. Raising awareness educates those who do not self-harm and reaches out to those who do.

Self-injury or self-harm is characterized by hurting oneself on purpose to release painful emotions, process or distract themselves from their negative feelings, feel something when feeling numb, punish themselves, or develop a sense of control in their life. Self-harm can manifest differently for everyone, including cutting, scratching, burning, carving words into the skin, punching oneself, piercing skin with sharp objects, pulling out hair, or picking at existing wounds. Due to the stigma and shame that surrounds self-injury; many people do not report it. The current self-injury prevalence from statistics in over 40 countries explains that 17% of people partake in self-harm throughout their lifetime and the average age an individual begins to self-harm is 13. 50% of people seek help from friends, but do not commonly seek professional help. Cutting is the most commonly used form, with 45% resorting to cutting to relieve their pain. Since 2009, there has been a 50% increase in reported self-injury among young females.

Warning signs of self-harm include scars, fresh cuts, burns, scratches, bruises, wearing long sleeves or pants even in hot weather, impulsiveness, rubbing an area repeatedly to create a burn, having sharp objects on hand, questioning personal identity, and feelings of worthlessness. Self-harm can cause permanent scars, uncontrollable bleeding that can result in death, infection, addiction to the behavior, shame or guilt, avoiding friends and loved ones, becoming ostracized from loved ones who do not accept or understand the behavior, and interpersonal difficulty from lying to others about their injuries.

With the devastating consequences of self-harm and rates significantly increasing, it is important to advocate for those suffering to try to prevent them from engaging in these behaviors. Additionally, resorting to therapy to treat the underlying cause, such as overwhelming feelings and mood disorders, and finding better ways to cope may be the most effective route for those suffering from self-injury to take. For some, art therapy may help people process emotions and grab a marker instead of a sharp object. Individuals suffering can also text the crisis text line at 741741 when impulses to self-harm come on suddenly.

If you or someone you know is engaging in self-harm, 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 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.crisistextline.org/topics/self-harm/#what-is-self-harm-1

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Self-harm

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

Art Therapy: An Adjunct in the Therapeutic Process

Art Therapy: An Adjunct in the Therapeutic Process

By: Julia Massa

Art therapy is defined as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Art therapy is used as an adjunct in the therapeutic process when working with diverse populations, but predominately children. This type of therapy can be exceptionally beneficial for parents of a child who has a medical illness or struggles with expressing or verbalizing their feelings or thoughts. Though this form of therapy is not commonly used when treating the adult population, it is frequently used diagnostically for those experiencing illness, trauma, or a mental health condition. For instance, art therapy can be an effective treatment for individuals diagnosed with cancer or traumatic brain injury.

Art therapists typically work in hospitals, psychiatric, and rehabilitation settings, as well as other clinical and community settings. In particular, art therapy can help support an individual’s ability to cope with certain medical challenges as well as long or short-term hospitalizations. This type of therapy can serve as an outlet for those who have difficulty expressing their daily thoughts. The creative process allows an individual to foster self-esteem as well as self-awareness.

Using a variety of forms of expressive art, such as dance, music, writing, visual arts, drama, etc. can allow an individual to not only express, but reflect on their own thoughts and emotions. In turn, an individual can explore and understand why they react to their experiences in a particular way and how they can initiate change.  Art therapy can be a key enhancer towards personal growth.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, 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 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.atcb.org/what-is-art-therapy/

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/art-therapy

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 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

Group Therapy

Alice Cordero

According to psychcentral.com, Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy treatment where several people meet together under the supervision of a therapist in a particular setting. Group therapy is a form of therapy that can be used in conjunction with individual therapy and medication.  The benefits of group therapy include:

  • Modeling
    • Patients are able to witness how others in the group cope with their problems in positive ways and apply it to their lives.
    • Patients learn from other group member’s mistakes.
  • Helps improve social skills
    • In group therapy, most of the time each individual has to share something about themselves and how they are doing; this helps improve the patient’s interpersonal relationships and understand that they are not alone in this particular process.
  • Increased feedback
    • Provides patients with different perspectives/ coping methods
    • Gives patients a view of how others handle their particular situation
    • Provides individuals with personal feedback through other patients perceptions of themselves
  • Support Network
    • Having multiple individuals who are going through the same gives each patients the opportunity to build a support system that they can use

 

Group therapy involves members expressing their feelings, problems, ideas, and reactions towards other members. Studies have shown that group therapy has been effective in addressing countless problems, including: anxiety, depression, addictive disorders, substance abuse, death, lifestyle issues, and relationship issues.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the conditions listed above or think you/ they could benefit from group therapy, 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/.

Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity

By: Leah Flanzman

The human brain has the power to grow, mold, and adapt to the course of your life in order to best cater to your overall happiness and well-being. This concept is known as neuroplasticity, and occurs when the brain alters its physical structure and changes its circuits so we can better imagine, remember, feel, experience pain, dream, and learn.  Neuroplasticity is similar to the popular expression “it’s like riding a bike.”  Once you acquire a skill, your neurons kick into gear and remember their specific pathways so that each time this skill is performed, they are pre-programmed on what to do.  These pathways strengthen over time as new synapses form maximizing these skills.

Neuroplasticity can be a valuable tool for rewiring how your mind thinks and reacts to certain situations. It can foster increased happiness by retraining your brain to strengthen pathways that promote happiness as an alternative to worry or stress in light of certain situations.  The activities that you choose to do can alter the structure of your brain.  For example, if you are stuck in a funk, doing something positively stimulating for the brain will train it to associate the negative feelings with happier ones.  Your moldable brain will remember the pathways it took to achieve happiness and the next time you experience sadness, it will automatically kick into positivity gear.   Additionally, you can trick your brain into happiness pathways by imagining yourself in your desired mood.  Your brain lacks the capability to distinguish between imagination and reality so if you visualize a desired image of happiness long enough, your brain will believe it to be true and trigger the emotion.

When your brain fills up with neural connections that are relevant to your life, the ones that are unnecessary will begin to deteriorate. Your clever mind can form creative ways to suppress depressive thoughts and shine light on positive thoughts so your unproductive nature fades into the background.  Options that can help you in your quest to mold your brain towards greater happiness include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy
  • Visualization
  • Relaxation
  • Hypnosis
  • Nurturance
  • Stimulation

If you or someone you know thinks they could benefit from therapy that aids in restructuring their brain to think positively, 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/.

 

Self-Harm

Self-harm is a way of expressing feelings that can’t be put into words by deliberately harming the surface of your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It’s the release of pain and tension one feels inside. It’s a distraction from overwhelming feelings and emotions, from no emotion at all, and can be used as a way to punish oneself.  It’s a way to feel control.

Dear readers that self-injure,             
            Maybe you feel ashamed, maybe you think no one would understand, maybe you think you won’t be left alone again, and quite honestly you might be scared of hearing that you’re crazy. But hiding who you are and what you feel is a heavy burden. We have all been there in one way or another. Truthfully, the secrecy and guilt of self-harm affects your relationships with your friends and family members and the way you feel about yourself. It can make you feel even more lonely, worthless, and trapped. But you are not crazy, and you are definitely not alone.

Why You Should Stop:

  • The relief is short lived.
  • Keeping the secret is a lonely and a difficult journey.
  • You can hurt yourself badly, on purpose or not, and misjudge the damage you’ll do.
  • Those who care for you, even those who are unaware of the situation, would be broken to know it.

How to Rid Yourself of the Mechanism:

  • Communicate with somebody you can confide in. A friend, a family member, a teacher, etc.
  • Give yourself time to heal.
  • Seek out professional help and begin to both work with and understand your emotions.
  • Sprint, draw, paint, sing, scream, run, cry, and do whatever you can to make your impulse go away in that moment.

How to Help Someone that Does Self-harm:

  • Don’t judge.
  • Respect the person’s time needed to heal.
  • Offer support, even if you might not completely understand.
  • Help find therapy, and offer to help reach out to more adults and professionals.

By Isabelle Kreydin

 If you or someone you know is self-harming and needs 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/.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm