HIV/AIDS: Risk for Mental Disorders

By: Shameen Joshi

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that can lead to AIDS; it can be transmitted through various ways such as sexual intercourse, sharing syringes with someone who has HIV/AIDS, or through pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. HIV lowers the white blood cell count which is vital for our ability to fight off infections and other diseases. People living with HIV/AIDS may be more susceptible to other infections or diseases. The stress that is caused by the disease can affect the individual’s mental health as they are at a higher risk of developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. Situations that may contribute to the mental health of the individual include:

  • Having issues getting mental health services
  • Loss of social support resulting in isolation
  • Experiencing loss of employment or stress about being able to perform at work
  • Spreading the news about their HIV diagnosis
  • Incorporating their life with treatment for the virus such as using medicine and medical treatment
  • Facing stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS

HIV can also affect the individual’s brain and nervous system causing a change in how the person behaves and thinks. The individual also may have side effects from the medications they are taking.  HIV treatment usually includes a combination of medicines called antiretroviral therapy (ART) which should begin as early as possible during the diagnosis. Understanding the psychological and physiological effects of HIV/AIDS gives the caretaker as well as the individual more information on how to properly care for the diagnosis and it can also provide awareness on the mental health issues that accompany HIV/AIDS.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for depression and/or addiction, 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/

Trauma: Coping Strategies

By: Shameen Joshi

Traumatic events can be scary and they can cause high levels of stress for an individual going through the experience. It can affect the individual both physically and mentally. Traumatic events can range from natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods, violence such as abuse or mass shootings and other traumatic events such as car crashes and accidents. Responses to trauma can vary, however, the most general responses can include:

  • Being anxious
  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Continually thinking about the incident

Individuals who do not seek help from professionals or do not have support from family or friends may develop more severe symptoms. To deal with severe symptoms without help, individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope. The relief may be temporary but drugs, and alcohol can lead to a whole new set of problems that can be significantly harder to address.

There are healthier ways to cope with the traumatic event such as:

  • Avoiding alcohol and other substances
  • Spending time with those who are closest to you such as close friends and family
  • Actively trying to follow healthy routines in regards to meals, exercise and sleep

Staying active is a great way to cope with stressful feelings about the traumatic situation. If the feelings are persistent then talking to a psychologist, psychiatrist, and other mental health professionals can be a great way to relieve those symptoms.

You are not alone and there is a way out of those persistent feelings.

If you or someone you know is experiencing Trauma, 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 https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Effects of OCD on Productivity

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Effects of OCD on Productivity

By Jackie Molan

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that interfere with the person’s daily life. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts and impulses that occur repeatedly and induce fear and/or anxiety in the person experiencing them. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that occur in response to obsessions. They are typically intended to reduce the fear or anxiety brought on by obsessions, but this effect is short-lived, and thus the cycle continues.

Approximately 2% of the population suffers from OCD. Symptoms most often appear during adolescence or adulthood and are usually chronic. Therefore, if someone develops symptoms during adolescence, OCD is likely to cause them difficulties in numerous aspects of their lives as they age. A notable example of one of these aspects is productivity, which is relevant in both school and work environments.

Perfectionistic obsessions surrounding productivity and success are common in people with OCD. If an obsession causes anxiety about failing a task or assignment, the resultant compulsion might cause that person to spend hours checking and rechecking their work. This reduces productivity in the long run because it takes up valuable time and energy that could have been spent completing more tasks. Additionally, many compulsions involve some sort of movement, so it can be difficult for someone with OCD to sit at a desk for long periods of time. When OCD gets in the way of being productive, the person is likely to stress about their lack of productivity, which further exacerbates their OCD symptoms.

Although OCD has the potential to hinder productivity, there are steps you can take to improve it:

  • Go to therapy – The techniques employed in therapy can help you keep your OCD symptoms under control, allowing for increased productivity.
  • Manage stress – Finding ways to cope with stress will help prevent OCD symptoms from worsening.
  • Gain a better understanding of perfectionism – Learning about the pitfalls of perfectionism can allow you to set more realistic goals.
  • Practice self-care and compassion – Be kind to yourself even when you are feeling unproductive.

Living with OCD can certainly be challenging, but a more productive future is not impossible if you understand the nature of your problem and seek professional help with a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for obsessive-compulsive 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://psychcentral.com/ocd/ocd-and-productivity#How-OCD-can-affect-productivity

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/ocd

https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/what-happened-my-child-understanding-and

Managing Countertransference in Mental Health Professionals

Managing Countertransference in Mental Health Professionals

By Fiona McDermut

            Although mental health professionals are trained to treat a variety of disorders and psychological distress, we cannot discount their own psychological reactions. Therapists are human too, and they experience similar ups and downs to the people seeking their help. Additionally, many therapists feel a secondary wave of emotions when they can strongly identify with a client’s obstacles. For many people, it is difficult to react to others without involving personal emotions—it is no different for psychologists. In the world of mental health, this reaction based on personal mentality is known as countertransference.

            A therapist’s ability to work objectively with a client is dependent on the management of their own countertransference. Although therapists may develop strong emotional opinions about situations in their clients’ lives, it is important to always decide what is in the best interest of the clients.

Some examples of countertransference in practice include:

  • Disclosing too much personal information to a patient
  • Having unclear boundaries in the patient-doctor relationship
  • Being overly supportive or critical of the client
  • Any other actions in which the therapist allows their personal emotions to interfere with providing proper treatment

            Identifying with a patient’s strife is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important for mental health professionals to feel empathy, and to fully understand a client’s situation in order to develop a comforting therapeutic environment. However, this becomes unproductive when this empathy turns into extreme distress in the therapist and/or interferes with providing high quality care.

Luckily, there are two main ways in which mental health professionals regularly work on managing countertransference:

  • Participating in individual or group supervision or consultation with other therapists
  • Seeking therapy of their own which provides an outlet to discuss and handle personal emotional needs without projecting it onto the patient.

The role of the therapist is ultimately to help the patient, not create more stressors in the client’s life. If the therapist or patient feels that this cannot be done successfully, it may become necessary to terminate the relationship and pursue treatment with a new therapist.

If you or someone you know is experiencing countertransference, 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:

https://psychcentral.com/health/countertransference#overview

Image source:

https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/psychotherapy-concept-psychologist-patient-with-tangled-untangled-mind-metaphor-doctor-solving-psychological-problems-couch-consultation-mental-health-treatment-flat-vector-illustration_19960102.htm

Why Men are less likely to Seek Mental Health Services

By Jenna Chiavelli

Why Men are less likely to Seek Mental Health Services

Recent research studies have found that men are less likely to seek mental health assistance compared to their female counterparts. Men are also less likely to disclose a mental health problem to friends and family. This isn’t because men are immune to mental illnesses but rather something larger is deterring men from reaching out for help. So what can psychologists attribute this to? The answer is toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity refers to harmful social norms about how men should behave that lead to misogyny, homophobia, violence, and mental health issues. In our society, we typically categorize women as the emotional figures and men as the strong and brave figures. Due to these social norms, people assume that men do not need mental health services as it is perceived as unnatural for men to discuss their emotions and feelings. Men themselves see seeking help as a sign of weakness, tarnishing their masculinity.

The media contributes to this societal problem as well, as a majority of mental health advertisements are targeted towards women and feature women. This further perpetuates the idea that mental health is a women’s issue, rather than a human issue. It is time we stop gendering mental health and remove the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

Why it Matters

In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women. White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020. It is abundantly clear that there are men struggling with mental health conditions, so much so, that they believe suicide is the only answer. If we continue to feed into toxic masculinity, men will continue to avoid help when they need it most. So what can we do about it?

Ways to Help

  1. Educate yourself and others – mental health problems are medical problems that can impact anybody regardless of gender.
  2. Talk openly about mental health – sharing personal experiences with mental health problems can make others more comfortable talking about their own experiences.
  3. Show compassion for those with mental health problems – showing compassion for those suffering can help reduce feelings of shame.  
  4. Check on the men in your life – Men are less likely to share their feelings compared to women, so work on having honest conversations with the men in your life. Let them know that you are there for them and stay alert of any concerning changes in behavior.

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://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-race-good-health/201902/mental-health-among-boys-and-men-when-is-masculinity-toxic

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Maternal Mental Health Month: Postpartum Depression

Maternal Mental Health Month: Postpartum Depression

By Fiona McDermut

As we come to the end of Maternal Mental Health Month, it is important to recognize postpartum depression which affects one in ten new mothers. Postpartum depression is characterized by significant depressive symptoms following child birth. This is caused by the dramatic drop of hormone levels in the mother. Unfortunately, nearly half of these women are never diagnosed and therefore, never properly treated.

It is crucial to be able to identify what is normal after child birth. It is completely normal to have occasional bouts of sadness due to fluctuation in hormones, also known as “baby blues”. Many women also experience anxious thoughts as a new mother. This is frequent because of the newfound responsibility of being a parent combined with excitement and restlessness. Although these symptoms are not pleasant, they are extremely common and can go away on their own or with simple self-help techniques. Some easy self-help techniques include exercise, listening to music, exposure to morning light, and even physical touch such as more frequent hugs!

On the other hand, worrisome results of childbirth include major depressive disorder (MDD) and psychosis. Although the symptoms of MDD (sadness, lack of pleasure, loss of interest, etc.) are similar to normal feelings after childbirth, if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is no longer something to brush off.

The two main treatments of postpartum depression include psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) have shown to be the most effective methods of psychotherapy treatment. Many find that the most effective results come from a combination of psychotherapy and medication. While there are many options for treatment, the best course of action is to get new mothers who are suffering from these symptoms in touch with a psychiatric professional as soon as possible, and to work with the doctor directly to select the most effective treatment plan for each individual.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/demystifying-psychiatry/201707/possible-new-treatment-post-partum-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/call/201903/post-partum-depression-what-it-is-and-how-it-is-treated

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/call/201701/depression-psychiatrist-s-recommendations-self-care

Image Source: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fres.cloudinary.com%2Fdyw8mv3b0%2Fimage%2Fupload%2Fc_fill%2Cg_face%2Cq_85%2Cw_710%2Ch_355%2Cf_auto%2Fv1%2Fnews%2F2021_04%2F2561982d-c1d3-4f7d-9529-84b7f2c44e74_xjw2id.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicshome.com%2Fthehouse%2Farticle%2Fmaternal-mental-health-week&tbnid=t29_QLahacsWRM&vet=12ahUKEwj0tsm7rPj3AhWKrnIEHZiGDJoQMygOegUIARD2AQ..i&docid=VcXxB5YbuIGLWM&w=710&h=355&q=maternal%20mental%20health&ved=2ahUKEwj0tsm7rPj3AhWKrnIEHZiGDJoQMygOegUIARD2AQ

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)