COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

By Celine Bennion

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us in more ways than just illness itself. From strict isolation measures to mask mandates, several necessary health protocols have changed the way we carry out our daily lives. This is especially true for college students who were forced to transition to online learning, shifting the established routines they once knew.

At the onset of the pandemic, students residing on campus were forced out of their dorms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Without a place to stay on campus, they moved back home, forcing a drastic change in living situations. Even commuter students had to adjust to new norms, as they were no longer allowed to study on campus. With siblings also engaged in online school and parents working from home, their learning environment quickly changed from a quiet classroom to a bustling household. These changes posed several challenges, as many students found it increasingly difficult to stay focused in lectures and successfully absorb the material they were presented with.

Additionally, because students could not be present on campus, they were no longer able to engage in everyday social interactions. Meeting up with friends to study, attending club meetings, and participating in sports were no longer an option after transitioning to remote learning. These fundamental social interactions are vital for college students to maintain their wellbeing and to properly develop as individuals.

The major academic and social changes that transpired due to the pandemic led to a serious rise in reports of mental health challenges. According to a 2020 Active Minds survey on college students, about 75% of respondents indicated that their mental health had declined during the pandemic. Students specifically reported increased levels of anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and stress. With the many changes that students quickly had to manage, these feelings are understandable.

The rise of mental health challenges has prompted numerous universities to initiate changes to the psychological services that are offered to students. Many students have access to Telehealth counseling sessions and other mental health resources through their university. These resources allow students to obtain proper assistance for navigating their personal challenges.

It is essential that universities acknowledge the struggles their students are facing and make appropriate changes to support them through this difficult time.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, 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.northjersey.com/story/news/education/2021/09/13/nj-colleges-covid-student-burnout-stress-mental-health-toll/5716116001/

https://online.maryville.edu/blog/stress-in-college-students-recognize-understand-and-relieve-school-stress/ (photo)

Depression and Anxiety Post Retirement

By: Ashley Marron

While many people look forward to retirement and its freedom, it can also trigger anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, the chance of a person facing clinical depression increases by 40% after retirement. People tend to give lots of thought when planning their retirement; whether it’s traveling the world, pursuing new hobbies, or spending more time with family and friends. However, they often overlook the psychological impact of retiring from work. While many new retirees find retiring to be a great relief from escaping the daily grind, they also find that after several months they may miss the sense of identity, meaning, and purpose that came with their job. They lose the structure that their job gave their days, as well as the social-aspect of having co-workers. Retirees may now feel bored and isolated, rather than free, relaxed and fulfilled. They may even grieve the loss of their old life, and feel stressed or worried about how they will now spend the future.

Retiring is a major life change, and it can seriously take a toll on one’s mental health. Seeking help from a professional can help provide coping mechanisms with these challenges of retirement. Therapy can also help in the treatment of depression and anxiety. There are certainly healthy ways to adjust to this new chapter in your life, and it should be an exciting time, not a negative experience. Therapy can help to ensure that your retirement is both rewarding and happy.

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

Sources

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/post-retirement-depression-recognizing-the-signs/ss-BB1fWAss

Image Source

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/post-retirement-depression-recognizing-the-signs/ss-BB1fWAss

The Effects of Agoraphobia

The Effects of Agoraphobia

By: Michaela Reynolds

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes an individual to feel an intense fear of being overwhelmed, unable to escape, or unable to get help. Due to this intense fear and anxiety, people will often avoid new places and unfamiliar situations. New places or unfamiliar situations include: open or enclosed spaces, places outside their home, crowds, and public transportation. Usually, Agoraphobia begins with a stressful event that makes an individual feel distressed and in turn, limits their contact with the world. This limitation of contact causes avoidant-behaviors with time the individual remains confined to their home. Agoraphobia is also caused by a stressful life event that triggers a panic attack. Due to the unpleasantness of panic attacks, the individuals will avoid any place or situation that will trigger another panic attack. These instances show that agoraphobia develops over time, rather than happening all at once.

The signs of agoraphobia are similar to a panic attack disorder, but the following symptoms can still occur:

  • Chest pain or rapid heart rate
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sudden chills or flushing
  • Fearfulness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Excessive sweating

If you or someone you know is struggling with agoraphobia, 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://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15769-agoraphobia

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/agoraphobia#complications-of-agoraphobia

 Image: https://www.rismedia.com/2020/11/05/are-you-agraid-you-might-have-agoraphobia/

Social Media: How Social Media Use Impacts Mental Health

Social Media: How Social Media Use Impacts Mental Health

By Celine Bennion

As you scroll through Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it may seem as though everyone you know uses at least one popular social media platform to share and connect with others. Social interaction is a key element for proper functioning and survival of humans. With modern technology, people can stay connected even when separated by physical distance, especially through social media. Despite their ability to maintain vital connections, social media platforms are known to engender mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as overall negative feelings in users.

As social media has gained popularity, more individuals find themselves bypassing face-to-face social interactions and scrolling through social media profiles instead. This lack of genuine social connection can create feelings of loneliness, increasing the likelihood of users developing mental health issues. Additionally, social media platforms can harm one’s self identity, creating pressure to live up to others’ expectations or perceptions.

Social media is a stage for constant comparison to others. Whether it is related to appearance, materialistic items, or personal accomplishments, users can easily find themselves longing for what others possess. Modern editing software that enables users to easily distort their features in photos creates an unrealistic basis of comparison for those who believe this appearance is natural. Additionally, it is very uncommon for users to post about negative events in their lives, creating a false perception of a “perfect life” as others view their profile.

If social media is often causing individuals to feel bad, why do they continue using it? A major contributor to continued social media usage is the fear of missing out, or FOMO. FOMO occurs when individuals feel that they may miss out on connections such as jokes, invitations, and connections. This fear can cause significant anxiety, especially for those who thrive off of connection with others. Additionally, biological implications are involved in users’ attraction to social media platforms. The continuous presentation of novel content triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that elicits feelings of pleasure. This fluctuation in dopamine levels leaves users craving the pleasurable feelings associated with scrolling, giving social media an addictive nature.

As you scroll through social media platforms, it is important to be mindful of the content you are consuming and discontinue interaction with content that causes negative feelings to arise.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, 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.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364393/

https://lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/2021/september/the-effects-of-social-media-on-mental-health

https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/2021/10/15/challenge-offers-2-500-stay-off-social-media/8469387002/ (photo)

Accessibility: “Telemental” Health Care

Accessibility: “Telemental” Health Care

By Celine Bennion

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health care providers were forced to make changes that would allow them to continue seeing patients while maintaining safety guidelines. Thus, the implementation of Telehealth and other platforms skyrocketed! These resources allow providers to connect with patients by video conferences or phone calls when they cannot be in the same location. Therefore, they can conduct therapy and psychiatric counseling sessions similar to those that are done in-person.

Despite the initial intent to use Telehealth as a temporary solution in the midst of a pandemic, many providers plan to continue using the platform. Several benefits surfaced during the first months of necessity for both providers and patients. For example, Telehealth sessions remove the need for transportation, making treatment more accessible to patients, especially those with frequent conflicts (childcare, work, etc.) or those who live a considerable distance away from a preferred provider.

Providers have also noted that many patients, especially children, feel more comfortable participating in therapy sessions online. In a familiar setting, such as their home, patients may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, leading to greater treatment progress. Additionally, virtual appointments allow therapists to gain insight into a patient’s home life and environment, including relationships with other members of the household. This access can give clues in determining information that may not be easily stated by the patient, such as domestic abuse.

Telehealth and other virtual health care platforms became popular out of necessity but will continue to affect mental health care long after the COVID-19 pandemic concludes.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy via Telehealth, 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.nami.org/Advocacy/Policy-Priorities/Improving-Health/Telehealth

Mental Health Care Was Severely Inequitable, Then Came the Coronavirus Crisis

https://khn.org/news/article/no-cancel-culture-how-telehealth-is-making-it-easier-to-keep-that-therapy-session/ (photo)

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)

How Social Media Affects Mental Health

By Jillian Hoff

In a world where most individuals are obsessively using social media, it can be detrimental to a person’s mental health.  Some of the most common symptoms that come from excessive use of social media include an increase in anxiety, depression, isolation, and fear of missing out (FOMO). Humans need social interaction, which can be given through social media but only to an extent. Humans need an in person social interaction with the people around them to feel connected. There is a reliance on social media to be able to connect with others now, especially during the pandemic. The convenience that comes from using social media may seem like it is beneficial but it the overuse of it can be the reason for your decline in mental health.

How to know when social media is affecting your mental health:

  • You start spending more time on social media than with your friends in person.
  • You compare yourself to others on social media.
  • You find yourself being distracted while you are at work or school.
  • Using social media is disrupting you sleep.

Ways to improve on mental health after a social media addiction:

  • Turn off your phone at certain times of the day.
  • Keep your phone or tablet in a different room when you are completing a task or going to bed.
  • Use social media in an active way instead of passively. This means you are using social media for a purpose.
  • Take on a new hobby or adventure to new places as a means of meeting new people and getting off of your phone.
  • Interact with others when you go somewhere instead of sitting on your phone.

Know when to put down your phone, it will make all the difference in your mental health!

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, 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.riseservices.org/the-impact-of-social-media-on-mental-health/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

Physician Burnout during a Global Pandemic

By Eleanor Kim

Physicians and nurses around the world have been at the front lines fighting the coronavirus and saving the lives of those infected. Now more than ever, citizens are coming to realize the importance of those within the medical field and the bravery that comes with entering medicine. That being said, there has been an immense amount of pressure placed upon healthcare workers, often causing stress, anxiety, and depression. At the end of the day, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are humans and can feel the effects of burnout during such a heightened and high stakes moment in medical history.

Burnout is when someone becomes overwhelmed by the demands of their daily life, becoming emotionally and physically exhausted and creating a sense of depersonalization and weakened personal accomplishments. Burnout is a common occurrence among physicians and nurses given the great amount of pressure that comes with saving lives. That being said, these feelings of burnout have skyrocketed given the additionally taxing nature of current frontline medical work such as the stress of isolating from friends and family, the extended hours of work, the tragic lack of medical supplies, and the fear of contracting or spreading the virus, to name a few. Physicians are also left to deal with the other struggles and anxieties that the past year has brought upon the general population regarding economic, political, racial, and other personal effects of the pandemic.

During these elongated periods where healthcare workers are left sleep deprived, improperly fed, and overall anxious about the current status of the pandemic, they are exposed to both mentally and physically long lasting effects. In 2020, there have been a record number of physicians who have reported feelings of burnout and other mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic. Should these issues go untreated, there is an increased risk for depression, self-medication, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Burnout is more than just stress; it is a mental health crisis and should be treated as such.

If you or someone you know is feeling the effects of physician and healthcare worker burnout, 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/.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/05/17/doctor-heal-thyself-physician-burnout-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/

Image Source:

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/04/14/more-than-a-third-of-medical-staff-suffered-insomnia-during-the-covid-19-epidemic-in-china/

Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You

By Eleanor Kim

Pets have brought joy and comfort to pet owners for hundreds of years. The sheer presence of a happy-go-lucky dog or cat is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The benefits of pet ownership can go beyond mere companionship or responsibility, in fact, emotional support animals are able to, as their name indicates, provide emotional support and other mental health benefits.

Common ways in which emotional support animals could support their owners are:

  • Fostering emotional connectivity
  • Helping people during times of crisis
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Offering trauma support
  • Improving physical health (Lower blood pressure, decrease respiration rates, improve ability to cope with pain, etc.)
  • Lowering feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Reciprocating feelings of love and care

It is important to indicate the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals also provide emotional support to their owners; however, service animals undergo intensive training to perform specific tasks necessary to aid their owners’ needs. In contrast, emotional support animals do not need formal training and simply need to receive a certification from the state registry. In order to qualify for an emotional service animal, individuals must acquire a prescription from a licensed mental health professional indicating that the presence of an emotional support animal is necessary for the mental health of the patient.

In a time when all of us are at home and may be in need of more emotional support, emotional support animals may provide the help you need. If you are interested in receiving emotional support, whether that be through a support animal or through a mental health professional, we here at Arista Counseling are here to assist you.

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

References:

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479#definition

Picture Source:

https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/can-cats-dogs-live-together-peacefully

Gaining Familial Support through Therapy

By Eleanor Kim

Starting therapy is a crucial step towards achieving emotional and psychological wellbeing. Therapy in conjunction with support and love from family members provides a sense of familiarity and comfort while receiving professional help. As the individual continues their therapy, it may be beneficial for all family members to consider family therapy as a means of familial support for their loved one during what may be a difficult or challenging time for the individual.

Family therapy is a form of therapy that allows family members to express their care for a family member who may be dealing with mental health or substance abuse disorders while also strengthening their own familial relations through proper communication. Family therapy will also allow family members to receive the support they may need while they learn how to best help their loved one and to address any questions or concerns they may have regarding their condition.

Family therapy is not limited to families dealing with psychological or addiction issues. In fact, family therapy is a great option for all families, especially for those who are seeking professional guidance while navigating through situations that may cause their family stress, anger, grief, or conflict. Possible matters include, but are not limited to, marital issues, loss, illness, grief, life style changes, and other environmental stressors. Family members will work on strengthening their empathy and understanding for one another as therapists assist individuals to express their needs or concerns in an open and non-judging environment. Family therapists will also guide family members throughout the process of understanding what their loved one is experiencing, as is the case in individual therapy. It is beneficial for both parties to communicate with one another in ways in which they can help one another throughout the recovery process.

At Arista Counseling, we have many therapists who are ready to help you and your family through any psychological conditions, substance abuse issues, or otherwise troubling matters that may currently be affecting your family.

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

References:

http://www.acenterfortherapy.com/family_issues.php

Image Source:

https://www.seekpng.com/ipng/u2a9o0y3w7e6w7a9_family-counseling-clipart-marriage-and-family-therapist-clipart/