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

COVID-19: Why going outside can help with your mental health

COVID-19: Why going outside can help with your mental health

By: Alexa Greenbaum

While social distancing during COVID-19, going outside has become one of the few activities to escape the house. In states that are in lockdown, governors such as in New York, Washington, and Montana have strongly encouraged people to go outdoors to run, walk, hike, and bike while practicing safe social distancing. Although it is not clear why, studies have found that spending time outside has a positive effect on our general well-being, including mental and physical health. In fact, doctors have been issuing “nature prescriptions” as a treatment for a range of conditions including chronic stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD, as well as others.

Efforts around the world have been promoting the health benefits of time spent outside. Regardless of the level of physical activity, spending time outdoors for even just 20 minutes per day can lower stress hormone levels, boost self-esteem, and improve mood.

Time in nature serves as an escape from daily pressures. The outdoors has been found to build resilience, hope, happiness, and optimism even before the added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional research also suggests that going outside results in a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

Based on several existing literature, positive effects documented were often described as “psychological healing,” “increased sense of well-being,” and “restorative.” Thus, a form of healing to achieve, maintain or promote a positive mental health state. Nature is a critical component of overall health and a great place to start.

If you or someone you know is struggling from COVID-19 or another crisis, 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.forbes.com/sites/cassidyrandall/2020/04/09/why-going-outside-is-good-for-your-health-especially-right-now/#4479a8bd2de9

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cravings/201909/nature-s-role-in-mental-illness-prevention-or-treatment

https://time.com/5539942/green-space-health-wellness/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature

Image Source:

https://41nbc.com/2020/05/10/virus-outbreak

Anxiety during COVID-19

Anxiety during COVID-19

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Reported rates of anxiety have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people reporting anxiety and fear symptoms is well above historical norms. Polls have found that nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health. Hotlines have seen consistent results. During April alone, a month in which most Americans were in quarantine, the federal government’s distress hotline increased text rates more than 1,000 percent. In addition, dozens of states and locally run distress hotlines have reported sizeable increases in call volume as well. If you are experiencing anxiety during this time, you are not alone.

Americans who are in quarantine and sheltering in place are suffering. Outbreaks are stressful and symptoms of anxiety can include:

•    Fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones.

•    Changes in sleep or eating patterns.

•    Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

•    Worsening of chronic health problems.

•    Worsening of mental health conditions.

•    Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. 

In particular, those who have reported high rates of fear and anxiety include:

•    Minorities

•    Women

•    Older people and people with preexisting health conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as well as people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance abuse

•    Adults under the age of 34 (children and teens)

•    People who are helping with the response to COVID-19 (doctors, health care providers, and first responders

During this time, it is more important than ever to take care of your mental health. Asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength. Call your health care provider if you are experiencing stress or anxiety. Health care providers can help you by providing a procedure and referrals.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety from COVID-19 or another crisis, 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.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-mental-health

Image Source:

https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/4/16/21219693/coronavirus-anxiety-depression-mental-health-ptsd-covid

Therapy: Reasons Not To Delay Mental Health Treatment

Therapy: Reasons Not To Delay Mental Health Treatment
By: Isabelle Siegel

The median delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment-seeking is a shocking ten years. In other words, people are suffering silently and without help for nearly a decade before they even speak to a professional. Before choosing to delay treatment, it is important to consider the many benefits of seeking therapy sooner rather than later.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the likelihood that symptoms will worsen. Among those who chose to delay treatment, 37% reported that their symptoms worsened. This can in turn make treatment more difficult when it is finally sought out and, overall, can complicate the therapeutic process.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the likelihood that physical symptoms will develop. Unaddressed mental illness symptoms can lead to physical consequences including obesity, heart attack, stroke, gastrointestinal issues, and general increased risk for disease.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the degree to which symptoms interfere with one’s life and relationships. A hallmark of mental illness is interference with quality of life and relationships. People who choose to delay mental health treatment are more likely to lose their jobs, drop out of school, experience financial troubles, and get divorced.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the risk of comorbid disorders. People with untreated mental illness are more likely to develop comorbid disorders. Comorbid substance use disorders are particularly likely to arise as a result of people self-medicating with alcohol and/or drugs. These comorbid disorders further complicate treatment when it is finally sought.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases mortality rates. Neglecting mental health problems increases one’s risk for self-harm, suicide, and accidents (e.g., overdose, car accidents). In fact, the majority of suicide attempts are due to untreated mental illness.

Seek treatment now. 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.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361004/
https://deserthopetreatment.com/co-occurring-disorders/going-untreated/
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/09/mental-health-patients-waiting-nhs-treatment-delays

Image Source: https://www.news-medical.net/health/Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy-for-Anxiety.aspx

Suicide: Fighting Suicidal Thoughts

By: Sally Santos

If you are someone who is suffering with suicidal thoughts, you should be aware that most people that have attempted to commit suicide but did not succeed feel relieved that they did not succeed in ending their life. When things get tough sometimes your mind starts racing and you feel overwhelmed with emotions. Suicide doesn’t just happen on its own, it is led by many social risk factors some of them being:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Employment status
  • Lack of social support

Many people who have attempted to commit suicide will say that they were experiencing very intense feelings of hopelessness. They felt like they had lost control of their lives and that nothing is going to get better. But that is not true. In that moment it may feel hopeless but there are ways to help you feel better. You do not have to feel like you have to fight your battles alone. In order to steer away from those thoughts it is important to keep in mind a plan just in case your thoughts become too overwhelming. It is recommended to make a list of all the positive things that you have in your life such as:

  • Read a favorite book or listen to your favorite music
  • Write down positive things about yourself or the favorite aspects of your life
  • Try to get a goodnights sleep
  • Have a list of people you trust to call in case you want to talk

Always note that you can discuss how you have been feeling with a healthcare provider. They can provide you with the advice and help that you need in order to achieve a faster and healthy recovery. Lastly, as mentioned in an article in Psychology Today it’s important to “remember that you have not always felt this way and that you will not always feel this way”. The emotions and thoughts that you have now are temporary not permanent.

Article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201204/fighting-suicidal-thoughts

Image: https://www.teepublic.com/sticker/1813639-suicide-prevention-awareness-butterfly-ribbon

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

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.

Suicide and Mental Health Issues in College Students

By Samantha Glosser

Many students expect their college years to be the best years of their lives. They will achieve great academic successes, make life-long friends, go to the best parties, and enjoy living away from their parents. This idea is emphasized all around us in movies, TV shows, and social media posts. However, this is a glorified image of college that may not be the case for all students. In fact, according to a recent study by the American College Health Association, about 1 in every 11 college students have attempted suicide; 1 in 5 students has considered suicide and 1 in 5 students engage in self-harm.

How could these statistics be true when students are told that they are living in the best years of their lives? As it turns out, the college years are filled with numerous different stressors. These stressors include academic and career difficulties, intimate relationships, finances, personal and family health problems, issues with personal appearance, and death of family members and friends, just to name a few. 3 out of every 4 college students have experienced at least one of these stressors within the last year. These stressors are highly associated with mental health diagnoses, self-harm, and suicidality. The societal pressure that college should be the best years of your life can also be contributing to these statistics. If a student feels alone or thinks that no one else is experiencing similar feelings, it can push them closer towards self-harm and suicide.

If you or someone you know appears to be at immediate risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are not at immediate risk, but appear to be suffering from suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues, 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/

Source: https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/09/11/survey-1-in-5-college-students-stressed-considers-suicide/138516.html