Depression: Difference between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

By Gabriella Phillip

Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.

Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.

When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, 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/ .

Sources

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/major-depressive-episode-it-bipolar-i-or-unipolar-depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850601/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/unipolar-and-bipolar-depression-different-or-the-same/AE364DFBFFBAF1F66A9294A55120C64E/core-reader

 

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Gabriella Phillip

Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.

Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.

Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, 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/ .

 

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/ .

Antidepressants

Antidepressants

By: Lauren Hernandez

            If you or someone you know has been seeing a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner for treatment of depression, there are various types of antidepressants a mental health provider can prescribe. It is important to be familiar with different types of antidepressants in order for you, as the patient, to understand what the medication actually does on a neurological level.

The most common type of antidepressant prescribed is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, known as an SSRI. SSRIs mainly treat depression but they are also effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which impacts your mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning as well as other similar functions. On a neurological level, SSRIs prevent serotonin reabsorption which builds up serotonin in the synapse. This allows receptors to receive the signal and react with the optimal amount of serotonin. People suffering from major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders typically have lower serotonin levels. By preventing reabsorption in the synapse via medications, symptoms of these disorders may decrease. In 1987 Prozac was the first approved for treatment of those with depression and became one of the most prescribed antidepressants. Other common SSRIs include Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa.

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, SNRIs differ from SSRIs in that they block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that influences hormones and the “fight or flight” response in the brain. Approved SNRIs include Cymbalta, Pristiq and Effexor XR.

Some of the other common types of antidepressants prescribed include norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) which block the reabsorption of norepinephrine and dopamine. This is only seen to be effective in the medication bupropion, which is also known as Wellbutrin. Other types of antidepressants that are less common include Tetracyclics (TCA’s), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s), and Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors. These older medications are not prescribed as frequently because of the development of newer medications that effectively decrease symptoms and have fewer side effects.

Medication is helpful; however, it is most effective when used in combination with different types of psychotherapy or support groups. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or any type of anxiety or mood disorder, it is important to seek professional help from a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can provide antidepressants as well as support through talk therapy. If you or someone you know is currently taking antidepressants, it is extremely important to continue taking the medication and avoid discontinuations.

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder, please contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20044970

https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-different-antidepressants-work#1-3

Image Source:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjFgIeKmvPiAhVCnOAKHeFIDMkQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.verywellmind.com%2Fwhat-are-the-major-classes-of-antidepressants-1065086&psig=AOvVaw2C3kM7Q4RG9lVpyMGcv6xk&ust=1560953229169790

 

 

Dementia: 5 Facts You Need to Know

By Stephanie Osuba

Everyone fears that they, or their family members, will fall victim to a degenerative neurological disease when they age. Dementia is considered a syndrome, a series of symptoms that often appear together, and is caused by damage to the brain cells. Symptoms include memory loss, cognitive impairment, and diminishing language. Here are five facts that you need to know about dementia.

  1. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia; they aren’t interchangeable: As stated above, dementia is a syndrome and more of an umbrella term for other types of dementia, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and vascular dementia. Different types of dementia correlate with different types of brain damage. Alzheimer’s is mainly a result of abnormally high protein levels in and around brain cells that inhibit communication between them. This eventually leads to the death of the nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
  2. Dementia is not just a “memory loss” disease: Dementia also affects a wide range of cognition processes including: learning, language, executive and motor function, attention, and social cognition. For example, two thirds of diagnoses of Alzheimer’s are given to women primarily because they exhibit the symptom of memory loss more than men.
  3. Cognitive decline doesn’t always lead to dementia: Memory and other cognitive issues can be a result of other things such as: delirium, mild cognitive impairment, or normal changes due to age. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic, even mild cognitive impairment only lead to dementia in 29% of cases within the next five years.
  4. Not all types of dementias are progressive: Underlying causes such as vitamin B12 deficiency, underactive thyroid syndrome, and normal pressure hydrocephalus can be reversed with treatment. Even medications like antidepressants, narcotics, and antihistamines can have dementia-like side effects.
  5. Lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of dementia: Exercise has proven to be a great defense to cognitive decline through increased heart rate and blood flow to the brain. Maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in social activities is also a huge help.

 

Source: Ph.D., M. C. (2017, December 7). 5 Facts You Need to Know About Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fifth-vital-sign/201712/5-facts-you-need-know-about-dementia 

If you or someone you know needs help coping with the dementia of a family member, 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-esteem

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt that, “you weren’t good enough?” If you have, self-esteem is at the core of this feeling, because it involves perceptions one has of oneself. These perceptions eventually become beliefs about self-worth and value. That is why self-esteem is so important in a person’s life, because how people think of themselves, is what drives them towards or away from certain actions. High self-esteem is often associated with multiple accomplishments in life. This is because people with high self-esteem, believe that they are worthy of the opportunities they get, and, therefore, make the most out of them. One the other hand, those with low self-esteem, constantly believe that they are not good enough. When an opportunity presents itself to them, people with low self-esteem feel like they do not deserve it, and do not perform their best. This is why low self-esteem is associated with depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from low self-esteem, here are a couple of tips available to raise self-esteem:

  • Identify triggers of low self-esteem: if you are able to recognize the places or people that lower your self-esteem, you are able to avoid or prepare for them. This way, learning experiences come from each event.
  • Avoid negative self-talk: if you do not think negatively about yourself, you are able to feel better and attempt things you would normally avoid.
  • Connect with loved ones: family members and friends can be great emotional support because people who care about you, will also make you feel loved and wanted. Nurture these feelings so that eventually you are able to see yourself as they do, and will slowly learn how to love yourself a little more each day.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

Gross, S. J. (2016, July 17). How To Raise Your Self-Esteem. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-raise-your-self-esteem/

Mind for Better Mental Health. (2013). How to increase your Self-esteem. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/#.W9cKgY2WyM8

 

Phobias

By: Estephani Diaz

The average person has at least two or more fears that they wish to never encounter. Some are afraid of heights, while others are terrified of flying. Others scream at the sight of a spider on the wall and others fear being lost in a large crowd of people. Now, phobias are more intense than you average fear. Phobias are defined as a persistent fear of a situation, activity, or thing causing one to want to avoid it.

Phobias are categorized into three separate types: social, agoraphobia and specific phobias. Social phobias would include the fears of public speaking, crowds, meeting new people, etc. Agoraphobia is the fear of being outside. For example, those with agoraphobia are afraid of shopping centers or public transportation due to the belief that it is unsafe. Lastly, specific phobias are directed to exact things and/or situations. This would include: aichmophobia (fear of sharp objects), coulrophobia (fear of clowns), nomophobia (fear of being without a cellphone), and many more.

Common responses to coming in contact with your phobia/s are:

  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Strong desire to get away
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Stress
  • Nausea

According to research, phobias can be developed after experiencing a traumatic event and/or influenced by one’s upbringing, culture or lifestyle. For example, if an individual is a victim of a car accident, it is possible for them to develop a fear of driving, known as Vehophobia.

Recommended treatment for those with phobias is to seek psychotherapy and if needed, medication. It is also suggested to expose oneself to their fear/s or similar situations to slowly overcome them.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a phobia/s, 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/.

Stress: The Detrimental Effects of Stress on the Body

By: Charleene Polanco

Stress is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension, and whether it is about taking a final exam for class, going off to college for the first time, or work-related, stress can affect the way we perform. If gone unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of negative consequences on the body, which will be discussed. Stress has been linked to a number of physical and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, heart attacks and stroke. A constant high level of stress, can lead to immune system disturbances, which can cause an increase in your body’s susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have direct effects on the skin leading to rashes and hives.

Unlike rashes and hives, which are visible, stress can affect various systems, organs, and tissues within the body, signs that are not seen, and are, therefore, much harder to notice. Some parts of the body affected by stress are the nervous and cardiovascular systems. When stressed, the nervous system signals the body’s adrenal glands to secrete adrenalin and cortisol. Since both of these hormones cause high blood pressure, a person who is under constant stress, also has elevated blood pressure which can lead to heart problems in the future. Even if a stress episode is considered to be minor, repeated minor stress episodes can negatively impact a person’s cardiovascular system by causing inflammations in the coronary arteries. This can eventually cause heart attacks. In order to prevent the negative consequences of untreated high levels of stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. There are multiple symptoms of stress, some of which include, frequent headaches, cold hands/feet, dry mouth, heartburn, depression, forgetfulness, and rapid or mumbled speech.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress, 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/.

Source:

“Stress Effects.” Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017.

Psychiatric Medication: The Stigma of Mental Health Medication

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

When someone gets a fever, a bacterial infection, or any other physical illness, what do we tell them? “Rest, go to the doctor, and take some medicine.” We strongly encourage them to receive a prescription for and to take medication for their illness. If a sick individual were to not take their medication, we would tell them that they are being irresponsible, and that they are not taking care of themselves. Why do we not say the same when it comes to medication for people struggling with mental illness?

In a time when mental health is becoming increasingly important, society still has a stigma around this, primarily regarding prescription psychiatric medications for it. There is still a lack of understanding about what mental health is and how it impacts people. Some view those with these difficulties as “crazy” and “unstable.” Medications for such conditions are seen in a negative light, and are seen to be only for people who are labelled “crazy” or “unstable.” Since mental illnesses are related to the mind and are invisible to the eye, many in our society cannot believe that these illnesses are serious, and thus consider taking medication for them to be shameful and unnecessary. As a result, thousands of individuals feel ashamed to get the proper help and take medications. They thus must struggle and suffer silently.

In reality, mental health medications can be extremely beneficial, and can change the lives of those who take them. Mental illness can be grueling to live with and can compromise one’s life and wellbeing. Medication helps these individuals to overcome their condition and lead a better life, especially paired with psychotherapy. Antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs have been developed to help these people in need, and we should be encouraging people to take them and take the necessary steps in getting better instead of shaming them.

While we have no problem encouraging our loved ones to take Tylenol, Advil, Cough syrup, and many other medications for their physical ailments, we should be just as promoting of them taking Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac, and other psychological medications. It is time to eliminate stigmas around taking care of our mental health, and encourage and applaud those who have taken the steps towards a better life through using mental health medications.

If you or someone you know is suffering mental illness and would like to consider medication, 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/.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia: Symptoms

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Schizophrenia is a chronic and often debilitating mental disorder. Schizophrenia affects all aspects of functioning and consequently, sufferers may appear to have lost touch with reality. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin between ages 16 and 30. The symptoms fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

The positive symptoms of schizophrenia consist of behaviors that are not usually seen in individuals without schizophrenia. Individuals displaying positive symptoms appear to lose touch with reality. These may include, hallucinations (hearing voices), delusions (being controlled by aliens), thought disorders (incoherent speech), and movement disorders (agitated body movements) are classified as positive symptoms.

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are classified as deviations to normal emotions and behaviors. Flat affect, reduced expression of emotions, are commonly seen in individuals with schizophrenia. Someone who displays flat affect may speak in a monotone manner and show little facial expression. Some other examples of negative symptoms include loss of pleasure in activities and reduced speaking or communication.

The cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia include disruptions in executive functioning (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions), trouble focusing, and deficits with working memory (the ability to use information immediately after learning it).

Antipsychotic medications can be very beneficial in the treatment of schizophrenia. Additionally, psychotherapy is helpful in order to foster coping skills to address the everyday challenges of their diagnosis. Studies show that individuals who participate in psychotherapy are less likely to have relapses or be hospitalized.

If you or a loved one appears to 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 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Schizophrenia. (2016, February). Retrieved April 30, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml