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

Anxiety Disorder: Caffeine Induced

By: Julia Massa

Starbucks, Dunkin, Wawa, and other “on the go” stops will never go out of business. Humans rely heavily on caffeine to get through their shifts, workouts, or even just to post a quick Instagram story. In fact, humans spend five to ten dollars on their caffeine cravings each day. However, there are several caffeine related disorders according to the DSM-IV, including caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-related disorder not otherwise specified. Some symptoms of caffeine-induced anxiety include red face, shaking, muscle twitching, confused speech, sweating, insomnia, frequent urination, impulsive reactions towards minor inconveniences, and mood swings. Caffeine-Induced Anxiety is caused by the effect of caffeine on the brains neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine. This chemical increases stress hormones, like cortisol, which is linked to many mental disorders and may interact with medications a patient is already taking to manage their anxiety symptoms.

Caffeine is listed as a drug in both medical and psychiatric literature since it is a central nervous stimulant and can be fatal if a person exceeds the daily recommendation of 400mg. For those with anxiety, 200mg or less is the recommended dose. Though it is rare, consuming a caffeine pill of a high dose can lead to ventricular fibrillation and death. Caffeine is legal and unregulated, which is why many people do not realize how their medium hot caramel coffee with almond milk can exaggerate their anxiety symptoms or cause anxiety-related symptoms. When people limit their caffeine intake suddenly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms similar to addictive drugs like cocaine. These symptoms include headache, irritability, drowsiness, loss of focus, insomnia, stomach pain, etc. For this reason, many individuals continue to drink caffeinated beverages to prevent these symptoms. In fact, more than 97% of caffeine consumed by adolescents and adults come from beverages.

Though the prevalence rate for caffeine-induced psychiatric disorders has not been well established, there is a high comorbidity rate between caffeine and several mood and substance abuse disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with 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/

http://www.americanmedtech.org/files/STEP_Online_articles/353.pdf

https://www.dovemed.com/diseases-conditions/caffeine-induced-anxiety/

COVID Anxiety

By: Julia Massa

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked fear in many people from diverse populations, especially those who are immunocompromised. Research shows that pre-existing vulnerability to certain illnesses is a major trigger, so it is no secret as to why the pandemic has significantly affected those with autoimmune disorders. People are leaving their homes less, cities are vacant, parks are untouched, businesses are closing, and schools are silent while hospitals are loud, chaotic, and constantly moving. The pandemic has fueled OCD symptoms where people are commonly seen drowning their hands in sanitizer, hoarding their homes with cleaning products, clearing the shelves of toiletries, and constantly cleaning surfaces- no matter the location. There has been an increase in OCD diagnoses and symptoms of those who already have the condition are becoming more severe.

People are stressing over potential blood clots, painful lumps, infections, and even having something as little as an itch- the list tracks on. Illness anxiety is real and can disrupt an individual’s daily functioning. Individuals with this condition constantly google symptoms and surveil their body for any physical signs of illness- previously recognized as hypochondriasis. These constant rituals and safety behaviors can be detrimental to a person’s mental state. In addition, this “what if” mindset only reinforces an individual’s anxiety.  It can be very expensive dealing with this condition, as people tend to go to frequent doctor’s visits, whereas others may avoid going altogether. 

Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy, can be an effective treatment for those with illness anxiety. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help an individual with illness anxiety manage their anxiety and stress without taking a trip to the doctor’s office. Anxiety can actually present with physical symptoms that an individual may think is from a serious illness, so finding ways to cope and deal with the excessive worries can lead to optimal outcomes.

Sources:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/pandemic-anxiety-is-fueling-ocd-symptoms-e2-80-94even-for-people-without-the-disorder/ar-AASYBeE?ocid=uxbndlbing

https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/health-anxiety-what-it-and-how-beat-it

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/illness-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20373782

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for illness-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/          

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

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Celine Bennion

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder in the United States, currently impacting 3.1% of the population; as many as 5.7% of U.S. adults report experiencing this disorder at some point in their lives. GAD is characterized by feelings of excessive worry which have no particular trigger. This anxiety can be felt about school, work, social interactions, or even common, everyday events. These behavior patterns and cognitive issues become disordered when they begin to disrupt normal functioning.

Symptoms of GAD include the following: restlessness, being wound-up or on-edge, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleeping problems including difficulty falling/staying asleep or unsatisfying sleep. At least three of these symptoms must be present for at least six months for a patient to be diagnosed with GAD.

Treatment:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is particularly helpful in treating anxiety disorders, including GAD. This therapy involves teaching patients different ways to approach anxiety inducing situations by changing how they think, behave, and react to them. It also helps to implement social skills in patients.

Medications are another form of treatment for GAD. It should be noted, however, that medications are used to help decrease symptoms of a disorder and do not cure it entirely. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are commonly used to treat GAD. Anti-depressants work for both depression and anxiety by altering chemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine. They help to regulate mood and relieve symptoms associated with these disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the most commonly used anti-depressants. Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, are effective in treating anxiety symptoms quickly. They are often used as a second option when anti-depressants are not enough to relieve symptoms.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an anxiety 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/anxiety-disorders

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

https://adaa.org/blog/category/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad (photo)

Pain: Chronic Pain is a Fundamental Health Issue

By Gabriella Phillip

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

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

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

If you or someone you know is struggling with Chronic Pain and its mental health effects, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Mental Health Stigma: Myths

Mental Health Stigma: Myths

By Toniann Seals

When you hear that someone has mental health issues there are a few myths that may come to mind. Below are a few common myths and why they are not true.

1. MYTH: “People with mental health problems are dangerous.”

  • Mental health problems do not imply danger. Most people are battling something internally and do not have any signs of being a danger to themselves or others.

2. MYTH: “People with mental health problems are unstable.”

  • Many people with mental health problems are high functioning and can control their emotions. They can make their own well thought out choices.

3. MYTH: “People with mental health problems are unsuccessful in their daily lives.”

  • Many people with mental health problems are able to perform daily tasks such as working and having hobbies. They can be CEOs of companies, thrive in their careers and make important decisions.

4. MYTH: “People with mental health problems are lazy.”

  • Sometimes daily tasks do get hard for some, but mental illness has nothing to do with laziness. There are many factors that go into these illnesses as well as reasons why some people cannot function as productively as usual.

5. MYTH: “There is no hope for someone with mental health problems.”

  • Many people go to therapy for treatment and work toward recovery.

Before you are quick to judge someone because of their actions or labeled illness, think more in depth about what they are doing and who they are as a person. Just because you hear something that generalizes a group of people, it does not mean it is true.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health problem 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/.

Sources:

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts

(Image) https://smallbizclub.com/startup/creating-a-plan/10-myths-vs-reality-business-plans-startup-investment/

Obsessive Preoccupation with Perfect Health

Obsessive Preoccupation with Perfect Health

By: Toniann Seals

Everyone has heard of the phrase, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” Of course, it is not true in all situations, however with healthy living it may be.

Ways to stay healthy:

  1. Exercising daily
  2. Eating regularly
  3. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet
  4. Walking/taking the stairs
  5. Improving strength
  6. Eating organic food

If you take these behaviors to an extreme, it could potentially become negative both physically and mentally. Chronic fatigue or body image issues may arise. If exercising gets in the way of daily activities and causes your energy to decline afterward you may need to cut down. Likewise, eating healthy food is amazing for the body; however excessive dieting, calorie counting, and fasting can lead to eating disorders and other mental illnesses.

This could also negatively impact family and friends as your lifestyle could possibly put them in a position where they feel the need to keep up with you.

Patience, as well as understanding that perfection should not be the “goal,” can erase any bad thoughts or influences. Work hard, yet take care of your mental and physical health. Moderation and balance are necessary for a healthy life.

If you or someone you know is dealing with unhealthy lifestyle habits or an eating disorder, 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/.

Image: https://all-free-download.com/free-vector/download/healthy-lifestyle-theme-human-exercise-and-fruit-icons_6826742.html

Health and Weight

By Zuzanna Myszko

“Healthism” is a new term that has been coined because of the social link that has been created between morality and health. Because health is seen to be heavily related to weight, people who are overweight are often seen as “lazy” and “over-indulgent,” which are extremely harmful generalizations that make overweight people seem immoral.

Research has shown that the connection between health and weight is not as clear as we once thought. One may participate in health-promoting activities and still be overweight because of metabolic rate, genetics, biological influence, and environmental factors. Therefore, healthism stigmatizes the overweight individual and affects his or her self-image in all aspects of life.

Some specific factors that may be promoting weight gain include:

  • Increased accessibility to high-calorie foods and drinks.
  • Lower prices of high-calorie foods and drinks.
  • Increased prices of fruits and vegetables.
  • Living in food deserts, which are areas where affordable and nutritious food are hard to obtain.
  • Lack of public transport to get to grocery stores.
  • Low safety in some areas.
  • Environmental toxins.

Also, dieting, usually touted as the solution to obesity, has shown to be ineffective. People usually bounce back to the weight they were before beginning the diet. More importantly, dieters do not usually experience an increase in well-being and health outcomes.

Additionally, the judgment of others based on their weight implies that they should not be allowed to be responsible for their own bodies, which is an absurd assumption. All people have the right to autonomy when it comes to their bodies.

In the end, healthism has an excessively negative effect on the mental health of those impacted starting at a very young age. Many experience eating disorders as a result. Therefore, people who are generally termed “overweight” must focus on the facts and create a positive relationship with their body.

 

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from issues related to weight or eating disorders, 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/.

Image: https://playzoa.com/book-of-womens-exercise-pants-petite-in-spain.html

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-healing/201901/health-and-weight