Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

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Schizophrenia

By: Dianna Gomez

Schizophrenia is generally known to be a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Schizophrenic individuals most often have had a break with reality. When the average person hears the term ‘schizophrenia’ they immediately associate the illness with things such as hallucinations, hearing of voices, etc. Although these are accurate possibilities, there are several additional types of schizophrenia that many people aren’t aware of that people suffer from all around the globe. There are a total 5 subtypes of schizophrenia including: paranoid, disorganized, residual, catatonic and undifferentiated.

Paranoid: delusions (beliefs that may seem real to the person suffering but are not actually happening) such as believing the government is spying on them. Another symptom seen in this subtype is auditory hallucinations (hearing voices that are not real). Most often, these voices are not kind. They encourage the person to hurt others, hurt themselves, etc. These people may also see things that aren’t truly there (ex: seeing the devil).

Disorganized: in addition to having hallucinations and delusions, people with this type of schizophrenia have problems with disorganized speech (ex: speaking but not making any sense/word salad), disorganized thoughts (ex: quickly jumping from one topic to the next).

Residual: people with this type of schizophrenia mainly struggle with a lack of initiative, poor self-care/hygiene, poor social performance, underactivity, passivity, poor non-verbal communication (facial expressions, eye contact, etc). These people do not experience nearly as many hallucinations and delusions.

Catatonic: disturbances in a person’s movements and/or immobility. Catatonic individuals can maintain very unusual body positions/poses for extended periods of time. If someone were to try to move them, their limbs would be extremely resistant against efforts to be altered.

Undifferentiated: people with this type suffer from 2 or more types of symptoms listed above. They may have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior, etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from schizophrenia, 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 t0 set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.

TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

By: Dianna Gomez

A “traumatizing” experience is one that is dangerous, scary or unexpected and can leave a person affected emotionally. There are many different kinds of experiences that can be considered traumatizing. Traumatic events can be caused by other people such as terror attacks, community violence (mugging, shooting, assault, bullying), or a very serious car accident. Traumatic experiences can also be natural. Examples of natural traumatic events include hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Regardless of what category of trauma an event falls under, each has the potential to leave a certain amount of impact on a person’s brain.

For most people, with time comes less feelings of trauma following an event. However, it is not unheard of for a traumatic experience to leave a person affected for the rest of their lives. In addition, everyone reacts and copes with trauma differently. A majority of people have similar symptoms following a traumatic event that include trouble sleeping or concentrating, constantly thinking about what occurred, and feeling anxious, sad or angry. These can last for several weeks or even months following a traumatic event. There are a few actions that a person can take that are known to be the healthiest ways to cope after experiencing something traumatic. These healthy coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs
  • Spending time around loved ones or supportive people in your life that you trust
  • Maintaining normal daily routines (eating, exercising, sleeping)
  • Staying active! The more you have to keep your mind preoccupied, the less time you have to be consumed by negative thoughts about the event

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

 

Tourette Syndrome

By: Dianna Gomez

Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder. A tic can be classified as an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Those diagnosed with this disorder will either suffer from vocal/phonic tics or motor tics. In general, vocal/phonic tics produce a sound. Examples of vocal/phonic tics include things such as sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, and shouting. Examples of more complex vocal/phonic tics include full words or phrases. These words or phrases are always out of context and may or may not be recognizable. In 10-15% of cases, words blurted out may be inappropriate such as curse words, ethnic slurs, or other words or phrases that are not viewed as socially acceptable.

Motor tics, generally, are movements. Examples of motor tics include eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking/bobbing, facial grimacing, etc. More complex motor tics include movements that involve multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of these movements are things such as hopping, jumping, twirling, etc.

While the exact cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, it has been confirmed that it is hereditary so genetics may play a role. There are, however, some treatment options that are available to help ease the symptoms. Medications for tics include Haloperidol, Pimozide, and Aripiprazole. Speech therapy is also another form of treatment for those with tics. Lastly, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is another method of treatment for tics. DBS is a relatively new procedure that utilizes an implantable electrode to alter the activity of brain circuitry.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Tourette Syndrome, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

In order to better understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD,” you must first understand the difference between an obsession and a compulsion. Obsessions are repeated thoughts or urges that cause an individual anxiety in their day to day lives. Compulsions are repetitve actions that a person feels the need to take due to their obsessive thoughts. Some common examples of obsessions are: feeling the need to have things perfectly symmetrical/in order or having an excessive fear of germs. Some examples of compulsions are: excessive cleaning or handwashing, repeatedly checking to make sure that the oven is turned off, repeatedly switching lights on and off to make sure they are completely off before leaving the room, etc. OCD is an uncontrollable, long-lasting disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults all around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common age to be diagnosed with this disorder is 19, however, it is possible to be diagnosed earlier or later in life as well. Boys tend to have an earlier age of onset than girls when it comes to OCD. Genetically speaking, a person is at higher risk for developing the disorder if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has it too. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily guarentee a diagnosis. In terms of brain structure, the two sections of the brain known to play the most prominent role in the development of OCD are the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain such as the hypothalamus, thalamus, or cerebellum, in addition to several others. The direct connection between the disorder and these parts of the brain is not fully understood yet. There are some ways that a person with OCD can manage their symptoms to obtain a better, easier way of life. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Psychopath vs. Sociopath

 By: Dianna Gomez

“You’re a psychopath!!”

How often do we ourselves use this term or hear others throw this term around? Some people may use this phrase when referring to a crazy ex-boyfriend, strict parent, or annoying sibling, when in reality; most people don’t truly understand its meaning. You may be asking yourself, so what is a psychopath? How can I know whether I am really encountering one or not? There are certain characteristics that have been found to be shared between people who are actually psychopathic or have psychopathic qualities. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulation
  • Total lack of remorse and/or empathy for others
  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of feelings of guilt
  • Grandiose sense-of-self
  • Failure to accept responsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Need for stimulation
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Parasitic lifestyle/willingness to feed off others to sustain their own lifestyle

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? A sociopath is a person diagnosed with “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” People with this diagnosis are generally very manipulative and violating of the rights of others, among other things. Sociopathy can be thought of as a less severe form of psychopathy. If a person is a psychopath then they are also a sociopath, but if a person is a sociopath they don’t necessarily need to be a psychopath. Sociopaths and psychopaths share the same basic characteristics, just at different levels of intensity.

If this personality description sounds like you or someone you know, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

By: Dianna Gomez

Ask yourself this question: “Do I eat to live or do I live to eat?”

If you answered with the first option, good news you’re in the clear! However, if you answered with the second option, you may have an unhealthy relationship with food on your hands.

Approximately 2.8 million adults in the United States suffer from an eating disorder commonly known as Binge Eating Disorder (BED). As if that doesn’t sound bad enough, Binge Eating Disorder is also the most common eating disorder among adults in the United States as well. In fact, it is more common than anorexia and bulimia combined. In regards to the lifetime prevalence of this disease, 1.4% of sufferers are non-Latino white, 2.1% are Latino, 1.2% Asian, and 1.5% African American. There are various types of symptoms that can be experienced by a person suffering from BED and in order to be officially diagnosed, it has to be by a health care professional and overeating must occur more frequently than just “once in a while.”

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling a loss of control over your eating during a binge.
  • Feelings of extreme sadness following a binge.
  • There is no attempt to undo actions taken by throwing up or over-exercising.
  • Eating alone to hide how much is being eaten.
  • Eating large amounts of food when not hungry.
  • Eating extremely fast.
  • Eating well beyond feeling full.

Although the cause of this disorder is unknown, it can be managed. If you or someone you know may be suffering from BED, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Bipolar Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

Bipolar Disorder, also known as “Manic-Depressive,” is a disorder of the brain that causes a person to experience sudden shifts in mood, energy/activity levels, and disrupts their ability to function fully each day. The changes in mood range from a person feeling extremely “up” and energized which are known as manic episodes to feeling extremely “down” and sad which is known as depressive episodes. There are multiple forms of Bipolar Disorder, however, the two main types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Regardless of the type a person has, he or she still suffers from very similar symptoms. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes/symptoms that are either so severe the individual needs to be hospitalized immediately or the episode itself has lasted for at least 7 days. Depressive episodes occur in people with this type of Bipolar as well and these episodes can last up to at least 2 weeks at a time. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a certain pattern of depressive episodes followed by some hypo-manic episodes. The only difference between manic and hypo-manic is that hypo-manic episodes are not as intense as full on manic ones. More specifically, when a person is having a manic episode they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Racing thoughts
  • Participating in risky behaviors (ex: spending all your money)

On the other hand, when a person is going through a depressive episode, he or she can experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thinking about death and/or suicide

Luckily, there are several forms of treatment that a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can seek out to help them live a more normal and stable lifestyle. Methods of treatment include: medications (mood stabilizers, sleep medications, antidepressants, and atypical anti-psychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy), or a combination of both. Even while taking medications some mood swings may still occur. This makes it especially important that there is a close and honest patient-doctor relationship in order to manage the disorder in the most efficient way possible. In addition to these, there is also electroconvulsive therapy or “ECT,” and keeping a lifestyle chart. When keeping the lifestyle chart, the patient records their daily symptoms, sleep patterns, and other important life events.

 

If you or anyone you know may suffer from either Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II 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. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Insomnia

By: Dianna Gomez

Insomnia is a condition that makes it very difficult for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, or for psychological reasons such as anxiety, depression or intrusive thoughts. In addition to these possibilities, the type of lifestyle an individual chooses to live can also be responsible for creating symptoms of insomnia. There are a few things that people who experience insomnia tend to do that may be worsening their symptoms without them even knowing. Some examples of these lifestyle habits include:

  1. Taking Mid-Day Naps
  • Whether it is short or long, sleeping in the middle of the day can increase a person’s chances of having difficulty sleeping through the night. If you can, try to avoid taking naps all together.
  1. Sleeping In Late
  • When a person is lacking sleep, it isn’t uncommon for them to attempt to fix the problem by sleeping in later the next morning to make up for their “lost hours.” However, by doing so, you are confusing your body clock which then makes it difficult to fall asleep at a regular time again the following night. This can quickly create a vicious cycle that is even harder to break.
  1. Taking Your Work Home With You
  • Regardless of what your occupation is, almost everybody has hectic daily schedules. When people are feeling behind on their work, they often decide to put in a little “over-time” by bringing their work home with them. By doing this, you make the process of “winding down” at night harder as your mind is kept wide awake and pre-occupied when it shouldn’t be.
  1. Using Electronics
  • Especially in today’s generation, it is extremely common for people to use their phones or laptops while lying in bed right before they intend to fall sleep. The problem with this, however, is that bright screens like those on our electronics actually stimulate the brain more and cause you to stay awake. This then makes it more difficult to fall asleep for the night.
  1. Working Irregular Hours
  • If you have a job that has you on various different “shifts,” sleeping may become a problem for you. If a person doesn’t stay on a regimented time schedule, their body clock cannot decipher when it should be waking up to take on a new day or winding down to get ready for bed.

 

If you have already tried reversing these lifestyle habits and still regularly experience symptoms of insomnia, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By: Dianna Gomez

Panic. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why is my heart beating out of my chest? Am I dying? Why can’t I make it stop?!

For some of us, these emotions are all too familiar. Anxiety can be a scary thing, especially when you’re not totally up-to-date on what exactly it is. What are you to do when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Well, have no fear because I have a few helpful tips to share!

 

Here are 5 things that you can do to calm yourself down when suffering from an anxiety attack:

  • Take Deep Breathes

Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that although it may not feel like it right now, everything will be okay.

  •  Talk Yourself Down

Repeat a calming/kind phrase to yourself OUT LOUD. Remind yourself that you are safe, loved, and never alone.

  • Seek Help

Sometimes we tend to insist that we can get through tough times all on our own, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a neutral professional, a loved one or someone you trust, find someone with whom you can talk out your troubles.

  • Use Music and Visuals

Never underestimate the power of calming music and visuals. Whether it be classical music, peaceful nature videos/sounds, or your favorite John Mayer song – let the music play and your worries float away!

  • Put Your Anxiety on Ice

Create sensory stimulation by gently sticking both of your hands into a bowl of very cold water with ice. The more ice the better.

 

If either you or anybody you know suffers from anxiety, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.