Screen Time & Technology: How Exposure Affects Long Term Mental and Visual Health

Screen Time & Technology: How Exposure Affects Long Term Mental and Visual Health

By Crystal Tsui

We are privileged to live in the digital world. We can go on-line and check on with friends who are thousands of miles away or go shopping on our device during our lunch break. Everything is just a touch away and has become so accessible, but all of this comes with a price. We are exposing our children to electronic screens at such a young age, even as early as two months. Although it may be easy for busy parents to calm their child with an iPad, the harm may be greater than the immediate good. During the time we are exposing our young children to screens, their brains are still developing.

There is a period, which psychologists call the Critical Period, when children need exposure to outside stimuli from the environment around them. This is when they learn to distinguish facial expressions, social cues, and even tone of voice. If they are not exposed to the environment around them, their development could be stunted.

Prolonged screen time can affect their neurodevelopment, learning, and can result in behavioral disorders. Parents try to utilize digital screens for the purpose of education in most cases. Since digital is instant, the technology is thinking for the children. Not only that, but screens shift the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode which can cause self-regulation and stress management to be less efficient. If stress management is less efficient, children might not be able to handle daily stressors when they grow up.

Apart from mental health deficits, early screen time can cause visual deficits in children. Dr. Rahul Bhola, pediatric ophthalmologist, states that in the past few decades there has been an increase in myopia or near-sightedness. Not only has myopia been increasing, but a study found that children who were exposed to digital screens at a very young age, developed acute onset esotropia or crossing of the eyes. Many children had to have surgery to correct their eyes. However, if children must use screens (school related or not) try to limit their time and encourage outdoor activities as well as breaks from the digital world.

If you or someone you know has behavioral or attention 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/ .

Citations:

https://blog.chocchildrens.org/effects-of-screen-time-on-childrens-vision/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/behind-online-behavior/201604/what-screen-time-can-really-do-kids-brains

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201207/electronic-screen-syndrome-unrecognized-disorder

https://cdn.psychologytoday.com/sites/default/files/styles/article-inline-half/public/field_blog_entry_images/shutterstock_232911301.jpg?itok=d2s4ve_t

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Listening: Three Ways to Become a Better Listener

listening

By: Tamar Asayan

All anyone ever wants is to be listened to when they are going through a difficult time in their life. An act as simple as listening can be the biggest help anyone can ask for. However, it can also be the hardest thing to do because listeners have a habit of relating issues back to themselves. The aim of listening is not to try to fix them or tell them what to do; instead it is to show them that you care and feel for them as they are struggling. Oftentimes, it is better to not relate issues back to yourself. People feel the need to be listened to because they want to make sure their thoughts are rational, and do not want to overthink. When we listen it reassures the person that we care and that they are not alone.

Three easy steps to becoming a better listener is to listen, understand, and respond appropriately.

  1. Listen
    • Pay attention to not only what the speaker is saying but body language as well.
    • Do not interrupt the speaker.
  2. Understand
    • This is the time to process everything the person has told you so you know how to respond appropriately.
    • Ask questions; the best types of questions to ask are open ended and reflective questions.
    • This allows the speaker to open up even more and explain what they are going through.
  3. Response
    • Address the speaker’s points.
    • Restate what they have told you.
    • Don’t complete the speaker’s sentences. This can come off rude, and interrupts your time to listen and for them to speak. Interrupting and assuming what the speaker is feeling will make them think you do not want to listen.

Sources:

https://blog.udemy.com/importance-of-listening/

https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-generosity-of-listening/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/become-a-better-listener-active-listening/

Image: http://throwthediceandplaynice.com/2017/12/listening-up-in-2018.html

If you or someone you know may be having trouble with communication 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/.

 

Why Dieting May Be Bad For You

Sam Kwok

As the summer months roll around, the amount of social media posts of swimsuit bodies increase. Many people believe that summer is the time for dieting to achieve a perfect body that would be praised by others on social media. To help people lose weight and get into shape, many diet plans have been developed which typically restricts those following the plan from specific food groups. Some of the most common diets are:

  • Keto: low carb, high protein
  • Raw: uncooked food
  • Vegan: no foods that come from animals (ex. Dairy, meat, honey)
  • Paleo: no foods cavemen would not have eaten (ex. Pasta, dairy)
  • Atkins: low carbs
  • Weight Watchers: company meal plan, premade food

Research has shown that healthy lifestyles have been linked to better mental health. Those who eat a balanced diet and exercise daily tend to be happier. Though these diet plans seem to encourage people to make healthy decisions, many of these plans are in fact, the very opposite of healthy as they do not promote a balanced diet. The National Heart Organization recommends that individuals eat approximately 6 servings of grains a day. Those on an Atkins and Keto diet typically eat 0-2 servings. Those following the raw food diet also lack a lot of nutrients that exist in cooked food. Plants have an extra layer within their cells known as cell walls which are meant to help the plant in providing protection and structural support. Some animals like pandas have the ability to break through this cell wall, but humans, do not. The only way for us to break down this cell wall to absorb nutrients is through cooking our vegetables.

There have also been cases of individuals who develop obsessions with diet fads and eventually develop eating disorders. Some common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These disorders not only take a huge toll on the body physically, but they also affect the mind psychologically. When trying to get into shape, one should eat a balanced diet and exercise daily, yet many diet plans fail to include such topics. Having a stable sleep schedule as well as maintaining social relationships can affect weight as well as an individual’s esteem and should be taken into consideration when one is attempting to lose weight. Remember, you are what you eat- so eat healthy.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an eating disorder, 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. Visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Part 2: Marijuana as Medicine

 

Marijuana Part 2: Marijuana as Medicine

Sam Kwok

Despite the growing use of medical marijuana, under the federal jurisdiction, it is still classified as a schedule 1 drug. Twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana; however, each state has its own legislature that creates lists of preapproved conditions that may be treated with marijuana. Though, when comparing these lists, one may notice that the severity of the conditions ranges drastically. For example, California, a state known to have very loose marijuana regulation laws, has a list that include more common conditions such as anorexia, anxiety, depression, migraines, or just “any debilitating illness …deemed appropriate by the physician.” New Jersey, which is considered a moderate state when examining marijuana regulations, has a list that excludes anxiety and depression, but includes more severe illnesses including terminal cancer, muscular dystrophy, and terminal disease where the physician has determined there is less than a year of life left. Despite the differences in severity, under the US law, medical marijuana patients, dispensaries, and government officials that do not enforce the federal laws are all criminals to some extent.

In the early 70’s Nixon began his famous “War on Drugs” campaign, which intended to keep the American public safe from hard drugs. One of these drugs, was marijuana. Almost 50 years later, the same laws are still upheld and little research has been done to update the data. Technology and scientific procedures have updates, so research and laws should be updated as well.

From the little data we do have, we know that CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient of marijuana has medicinal effects. It is linked to the healthy release (unlike opiates) of dopamine and serotonin which are the “happiness” chemicals in our brain. This may be the reason why in some states, marijuana is used as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy have shown to have dramatic improvements with the introduction of CBD. The number of seizures that a child has may decrease drastically when treated with CBD oil. Marijuana is also known to help people undergoing chemotherapy treatment. It may not only help patients to regain their appetite through the reduction of nausea, but can also help reduce pain and reduce the body’s urge to regurgitate. Despite the potential of medical marijuana, further research is still barred by the government. Some suggest that the easiest way to completely legalize marijuana is if states vote to create a 28th amendment which would legalize marijuana, but that would still require ¾ of all states to vote in favor. Currently, 30 states have some laws which allow for marijuana to some extent (includes medical and recreational), but 8 more still need to reform for the possibility of a 28th amendment. The nation’s capital, Washington DC has already decriminalized the drug as well. With the current administration, marijuana will not be legalized federally. But with more and more people becoming aware of such issues, even the government will not be able to stop people from getting the medicine they need. It is clear in which direction the US is heading towards in this debate and it is only a matter of time until medical marijuana is legalized in all 50 states.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Alcohol Abuse: Binge Drinking

By Hannah Pierce

Binge drinking is the most common and deadly form of alcohol abuse in the U.S. but it is also preventable. It is defined as drinking to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This usually occurs when a woman consumes four drinks and a man consumes five drinks in two hours.

Binge drinking can happen across a lifespan but it is most common among people between the ages of 18 and 34. Many high school and college students below the age of 21 report binge drinking on occasion. It is a form of alcohol abuse that is “drinking to get drunk” rather than just having a couple drinks.

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems including:

• Alcohol poisoning
• Unintentional injuries (car accidents, falls, burns)
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Cancer (breast, mouth, liver, esophagus, colon)
• Memory and learning problems
• Poor pregnancy outcomes (miscarriage, stillborn, fetal alcohol syndrome)
• Alcohol dependence

Binge drinking can be prevented by:

• Increasing taxes on alcohol and other pricing strategies
• Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol
• Restricting the hours that alcohol can be sold
• Holding retailers responsible for harms caused by illegal distribution of alcohol to minors or customers who are inebriated
• Consultation and counseling for alcohol abuse

If you or someone you know may be binge drinking or abusing alcohol, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Stress in College

By: Hannah Pierce

Experiencing stress in college is inevitable. Moving away from home, adjusting to independence, managing difficult classes and a social life are all common stressors. When you go away to college you are leaving your social support network at home and learning how to balance your time between school, friends, and health. Feeling stressed or anxious is completely normal. Everyone experiences stress when making significant life changes such as going to college.

Stress can have negative effects physically, emotionally, mentally, and academically. When people begin to feel stressed, they often start taking less care of themselves which takes a toll on their immune system. Stress can also negatively impact relationships. It can make people more emotional and can cause them to lash out, become defensive or irritable.

Time management is a key to success in college. If stress becomes overwhelming it is important to balance everything and use time management to ensure that your schoolwork won’t start to decline.

Coping mechanisms are different for everyone. Try to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in which ever ways work best for you. Some people may go to the gym, some may read a book, listen to music or watch their favorite movie, and others may confide in friends or mental health professionals.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing stress, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2011/03/31/stress-college-causes-combat.html

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

PAWS

By Marilyn Wells

 

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) occurs after alcohol or drug withdrawal, which presents fewer physical withdrawal symptoms, but is more disruptive to an individual emotionally and psychologically. PAWS occurs as a reaction to the individual’s brain returning to a normal state, which can often take up to two years.

Symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Rapid/extreme mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Variations in energy and concentration

Individuals with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome often experience these symptoms in episodes, which last for several days. During these episodes, individuals often struggle to fight the temptations to relapse.  However, with the help of a psychologist, individuals suffering from PAWS can better understand the process their bodies are going through, and learn how to practice methods of relaxation and self-care that will smooth the transition back to a normal life.

 

The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Source: addictionsandrecovery.org

Effects of Sleep Deprivation: The Importance of Beauty Sleep

Sleep-Deprivation[2]

Regardless whether you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl, a good night’s rest is extremely important for everyone. With midterms around the corner, students often engage in all nighters to study and completely disregard their body’s need for sleep. When people get seven or less hours of sleep, the effects can be detrimental to both their body and mind. When you are sleep deprived, your overall cognitive abilities become impaired due to your brain becoming exhausted. When people become sleep deprived, they have a lot more difficulty learning new things and both their long and short term memory are negatively affected.

A common side effect of sleep deprivation is micro sleep—when a person falls asleep for a few seconds or minutes and does not realize it. Micro sleep is completely out of people’s control if they are sleep deprived, regardless of their caffeine consumption, and can result in life threatening outcomes when driving. If people’s sleep deprivation continues long enough they are at an increased risk of experiencing hallucinations. For those previously suffering from manic depression, sleep deprivation is also known to trigger mania. Other mental risks include depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts.

Sleep is also necessary for a person’s immune systems to properly function. When people are sleep deprived their body will become more susceptible to catching viruses, developing respiratory problems, and will take longer to recover from illness. If you are sleep deprived for a long enough time, you are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Some studies have found that sleep deprivation is also associated with weight gain, and a higher risk for obesity. So before you decide to pull an all nighter for that exam, remember that your health and safety needs to come first!

If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: http://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body

By: Margalit I. Herzfeld

 

I Want it Now! (Binge Eating)

self control

I Want it Now! (Binge Eating)

By Justina Hanna

There are two types of people- the people that can see a cupcake and say no, and the ones that no matter how hard they try, they always end up eating that cupcake. So what is the difference? Psychologists have found a link between impulse control and working memory – what keeps us focused and helps us to avoid distractions. Studies have shown that handicapped working memory is often positively correlated with handicapped impulse control. So, what if you have poor impulse control? Here are some things you can try:

  1. Know your triggers: These could be stress or boredom.
  2. Have a plan in place to defeat the impulse
  3. Make it hard for yourself to indulge in the impulse
  4. Replace it with a good habit
  5. Get social support and moral support if possible

If you believe that you or a loved one have impulse control problems the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-modern-time-crunch/201401/plan-breaking-those-bad-habits

Image source: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=girl+looking+at+cupcake&view=detailv2&&id=9C1D96E36F33E40C01A17A6469EDB3650048A7CF&selectedIndex=3&ccid=okVl1o7M&simid=608006299937867910&thid=JN.KyjFqiwYM%2b3SJdslSDJjUg&ajaxhist=0

 

Anorexia Nervosa: How New Health Trends Can Make Eating Disorders Thrive

 

anorexia nervosa blog photo With all of the new trends regarding fitness, clean and organic eating, and juicing, it’s hard not to get caught up in society’s idea of what it means to be fit or skinny. For women, it’s always been about being thin and young looking, while men struggle to gain muscle and have six pack abs. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to exercise and eat healthier, there are still those who expect immediate results and, when they don’t get them, turn to extreme methods. So it’s no wonder that we also see an increase in eating disorders every time a new health craze hits.

There are several different varieties of eating disorders, but this blog will be primarily discussing Anorexia Nervosa and its effects on the youth of today. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to eat and, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it has the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder and frequently coexists with other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Here are some symptoms to be on the lookout for in case you or a loved one may be suffering from Anorexia:

  • Extremely low body weight
  • Severe food restrictions
  • Relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal/ healthy body weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image and self-esteem that is influenced by perceptions of body weight or shape
  • Amenorrhea, or the absence of at least 3 menstrual cycles

Anorexia is a serious disease and could lead to other medical complications such as osteoporosis, low blood pressure, brittle hair and nails, mild anemia, and multi-organ failure, just to name a few. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from Anorexia, the licensed counselors and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you.  Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.