Covid Vaccine and Mental Illness

By Veronica Oquendo

The Covid-19 vaccine is becoming eligible for those who are in need of it most, which include people that are elderly, have immunity deficiencies, and respiratory complications. There are sound concerns for those with severe mental illness that are in need of the vaccine, but they are not being prioritized. One reason for this is that individuals with severe mental illness are people from a disadvantaged group based on both medical and socioeconomic risk factors. These individuals are more likely to have health comorbidities like cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, chronic kidney disease, immunodeficiency, and cancer. Moreover, the mortality rate for those with severe mental illness is three to four times higher than for those who do not have mental illness. They are more likely to be smokers, or be obese, which both are associated with a higher risk of death when infected with Covid-19. Additionally, they are more likely to work in unsafe environments, live in overcrowded areas, or be homeless, which are all associated with an increased chance of getting Covid-19. For all these reasons, individuals with mental illness are at higher risk to contract and ultimately fall fatal to Covid-19. Therefore should be ensured to be among those who are vaccinated early.

If you or someone you know is in the need of help with mental illness please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey arrange an appointment with one of our licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. You can 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.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(20)30564-2/fulltext

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/people-with-mental-health-conditions-are-at-high-risk-for-covid-19-so-why-arent-they-being-prioritized#Severe-mental-illness-increases-COVID-19-risks

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, 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/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

Mental Illness: Genetics or Environment?

Mental Illness: Genetics or Environment?

By: Isabelle Siegel

The term “Nature vs. Nurture” describes an age-old scientific debate regarding whether behavior, personality, and other individual characteristics are the result of nature—one’s biology and genetics—or nurture—one’s environment and upbringing. The development of mental illness is a prime example of the Nature vs. Nurture debate, as scientists and others seek to understand: Is mental illness caused by genetics or environment?

The Big Question. Is Nature or Nurture responsible for mental illness? This is essentially a trick question, as both Nature and Nurture contribute to the development of mental illness. In fact, it is ultimately the interaction between one’s genes and one’s experiences and environment that leads a person to develop a mental illness. According to the Diathesis-Stress Model, genetic predispositions develop into mental illnesses when they are met with stressful environments and/or experiences. For example, a person can be born with a genetic predisposition for depression, but that person may not develop depression unless they experience stressful environmental events such as abuse.

Nature. What are the biological and genetic causes of mental illness? It is well-documented that mental illness can be hereditary, or passed on within families. For example, a person is four to six times more likely to develop Bipolar Disorder if someone in their family has or had Bipolar Disorder. Another potent biological factor contributing to the development of mental illness is brain anatomy and brain chemistry. Research suggests, for instance, that people with schizophrenia have less active prefrontal cortices (the area of the brain associated with decision-making, planning, and personality). Other biological factors implicated in the development of mental illness include exposure to infection or toxins, damage during pregnancy, and use of substances.

Nurture. What are the environmental causes of mental illness? The development of mental illness can often be associated with one’s childhood experiences. Exposure to abuse is a potent example of an environmental factor that can lead to mental illness. Other experiences can also result in the onset of mental illness, including death, divorce, and/or other forms of grief or trauma.

In conclusion, neither Nature nor Nurture is solely responsible for the development of mental illness. Rather, genetic and biological factors combine with environmental and experiential factors to result in the onset of mental illness. 

If you or a loved one needs support for mental illness, 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/

Image Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-nature-versus-nurture-2795392

Mental Illness: How to Support a Spouse with Mental Illness

Mental Illness: How to Support a Spouse with Mental Illness
By: Isabelle Siegel

Every relationship has challenges, but relationships in which one partner has a mental illness can be even more challenging. The presence of mental illness in a relationship can leave both individuals feeling alone and helpless. However, it is not impossible to be in a happy, healthy, and successful relationship with someone with a mental illness. If you are wondering how to support your partner/spouse with mental illness, know that it is possible. Although your partner’s/spouse’s mental illness may at times feel all-consuming, certain steps can ultimately help manage the overwhelming ups and downs.

Develop an understanding of your partner’s/spouse’s diagnosis. It can be helpful to research the symptoms of your partner’s/spouse’s disorder in order to better recognize and label them as they arise. Having a basic understanding of what your partner/spouse is experiencing can help you to put yourself in his/her shoes and to gain insight into his/her struggles.

Just be there. Having a mental illness oftentimes makes people feel alone and as though they are a burden to their loved ones. The single most powerful way you can support your partner/spouse with a mental illness is to be there for him/her. Communicate that you are there for the highs and lows, and be ready to love your partner/spouse through them.

Do not let mental illness take over your entire relationship. Although it is important to communicate, try to keep your relationship balanced by limiting discussions about mental illness. Even when your partner’s/spouse’s mental illness feels all-consuming, continue to engage in activities that pull you and your partner away from thinking about his/her diagnosis and struggles.

Communicate openly how you feel. Regardless of a mental illness diagnosis, open communication is a critical component of any relationship. Be honest with your partner/spouse about how you feel, communicating any emotions with the goal of productively working through them.

Understand that your partner/spouse is trying the best he/she can. It can be easy to assume that a person with mental illness would feel better if only he/she tried harder. Oftentimes, people with mental illness are coping with their struggles in the best way they can.

Accept that it will be challenging at times. Being in a relationship with someone with a mental illness is going to pose challenges. It can arouse difficult emotions such as frustration, anger, resentment, sadness, etc. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and be willing to communicate them with your partner.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. It is important to understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support. Never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs, and consider seeking therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health.

If you or a loved one needs support, 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/

Sources:
https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2018/How-to-Be-Supportive-of-Your-Partner-with-Mental-I
https://www.nami.org/Personal-Stories/How-To-Love-Someone-With-A-Mental-Illness
https://www.verywellmind.com/coping-with-a-mentally-ill-spouse-2302988

Image Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/1XXGCnGttHazLixy5

Isolation vs. Loneliness: How They Both Affect Your Mental Health

By Stephanie Osuba

People are constantly throwing around the terms introvert or extrovert to describe their personalities. For example, a common thing for an introvert to do would be to cancel plans and spend the night alone, and chalk it up to being an introvert. Not that there is anything wrong with some people thriving without the company of others or needing some time to recharge alone. However, when does isolation become dangerous for your mental health? How often is it okay? And how is it related to feelings of loneliness?

The difference between isolation and loneliness is a physical one. To isolate yourself would be to physically separate yourself from the company of other people, intentionally or not. Loneliness is the internal feeling of being alone. That’s why when people are isolated, they don’t necessarily feel alone and in the same way, people who are constantly surrounded by others, like celebrities, can feel incredibly lonely. A recent study in the journal Health Psychology has found a relationship between isolation and loneliness: when one is more physically isolated, it produces more feelings of loneliness and vice versa. Both of these finding have been related to a higher risk of depression and mortality.

Tips on how to enjoy your “me time,” and also protect your mental health:

  • Set a Time Frame: How many times do you want to socialize a week? Or a month? Everyone’s answer to this is different, but try to stick to your number. It’s important to know what your social boundaries are, but also not to fall into a pattern of isolation.
  • Talk to Your Closest Friends: Your friends can often be the people who help you navigate social situations and hold you to social commitments. They are also the people that won’t overstep your social boundaries and to whom you can talk about anything with.
  • Volunteer or Join Clubs: Get out in the community and get to know the people in your neighborhood. Volunteer for a cause you believe in or join a local club that tailors to your interests. It’s a great way to meet new people and can help fill your “social quota” for the month.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues due to isolation or loneliness, 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: Plata, M., Psy D. (2018, August 29). When Isolating Yourself Becomes Dangerous. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-gen-y-psy/201808/when-isolating-yourself-becomes-dangerous.