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/.

 

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Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

In order to better understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD,” you must first understand the difference between an obsession and a compulsion. Obsessions are repeated thoughts or urges that cause an individual anxiety in their day to day lives. Compulsions are repetitve actions that a person feels the need to take due to their obsessive thoughts. Some common examples of obsessions are: feeling the need to have things perfectly symmetrical/in order or having an excessive fear of germs. Some examples of compulsions are: excessive cleaning or handwashing, repeatedly checking to make sure that the oven is turned off, repeatedly switching lights on and off to make sure they are completely off before leaving the room, etc. OCD is an uncontrollable, long-lasting disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults all around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common age to be diagnosed with this disorder is 19, however, it is possible to be diagnosed earlier or later in life as well. Boys tend to have an earlier age of onset than girls when it comes to OCD. Genetically speaking, a person is at higher risk for developing the disorder if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has it too. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily guarentee a diagnosis. In terms of brain structure, the two sections of the brain known to play the most prominent role in the development of OCD are the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain such as the hypothalamus, thalamus, or cerebellum, in addition to several others. The direct connection between the disorder and these parts of the brain is not fully understood yet. There are some ways that a person with OCD can manage their symptoms to obtain a better, easier way of life. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Psychopath vs. Sociopath

 By: Dianna Gomez

“You’re a psychopath!!”

How often do we ourselves use this term or hear others throw this term around? Some people may use this phrase when referring to a crazy ex-boyfriend, strict parent, or annoying sibling, when in reality; most people don’t truly understand its meaning. You may be asking yourself, so what is a psychopath? How can I know whether I am really encountering one or not? There are certain characteristics that have been found to be shared between people who are actually psychopathic or have psychopathic qualities. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulation
  • Total lack of remorse and/or empathy for others
  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of feelings of guilt
  • Grandiose sense-of-self
  • Failure to accept responsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Need for stimulation
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Parasitic lifestyle/willingness to feed off others to sustain their own lifestyle

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? A sociopath is a person diagnosed with “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” People with this diagnosis are generally very manipulative and violating of the rights of others, among other things. Sociopathy can be thought of as a less severe form of psychopathy. If a person is a psychopath then they are also a sociopath, but if a person is a sociopath they don’t necessarily need to be a psychopath. Sociopaths and psychopaths share the same basic characteristics, just at different levels of intensity.

If this personality description sounds like you or someone you know, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Bipolar Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

Bipolar Disorder, also known as “Manic-Depressive,” is a disorder of the brain that causes a person to experience sudden shifts in mood, energy/activity levels, and disrupts their ability to function fully each day. The changes in mood range from a person feeling extremely “up” and energized which are known as manic episodes to feeling extremely “down” and sad which is known as depressive episodes. There are multiple forms of Bipolar Disorder, however, the two main types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Regardless of the type a person has, he or she still suffers from very similar symptoms. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes/symptoms that are either so severe the individual needs to be hospitalized immediately or the episode itself has lasted for at least 7 days. Depressive episodes occur in people with this type of Bipolar as well and these episodes can last up to at least 2 weeks at a time. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a certain pattern of depressive episodes followed by some hypo-manic episodes. The only difference between manic and hypo-manic is that hypo-manic episodes are not as intense as full on manic ones. More specifically, when a person is having a manic episode they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Racing thoughts
  • Participating in risky behaviors (ex: spending all your money)

On the other hand, when a person is going through a depressive episode, he or she can experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thinking about death and/or suicide

Luckily, there are several forms of treatment that a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can seek out to help them live a more normal and stable lifestyle. Methods of treatment include: medications (mood stabilizers, sleep medications, antidepressants, and atypical anti-psychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy), or a combination of both. Even while taking medications some mood swings may still occur. This makes it especially important that there is a close and honest patient-doctor relationship in order to manage the disorder in the most efficient way possible. In addition to these, there is also electroconvulsive therapy or “ECT,” and keeping a lifestyle chart. When keeping the lifestyle chart, the patient records their daily symptoms, sleep patterns, and other important life events.

 

If you or anyone you know may suffer from either Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II Disorder, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Alcohol Use Disorder

By Samantha Glosser

Alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism, is a pattern of alcohol use that results in impairment and distress in your daily life. Short term effects of alcohol use disorder include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. However, the long term effects are much more serious and include the following: stomach ailments, heart problems, brain damage, memory loss, liver cirrhosis, and cancer. Alcohol use disorder is also linked to increased chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide and suicide, as well as increased rates of unemployment, domestic violence, and legal problems.

Cravings for alcohol, drinking in spite of it causing personal problems, an inability to stop drinking, and building up a tolerance to alcohol are common symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed if two or more of the following are present in a twelve-month period (the severity of addiction is based on how many symptoms are present):

  • Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
  • Feeling the need or trying to cut back on drinking.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking and recovering from the short-term effects of drinking.
  • Craving the use of alcohol.
  • Failing to perform responsibilities due to drinking.
  • Continuing to use alcohol even though it is creating relationship problems.
  • Ceasing participation in important activities to drink more.
  • Drinking before or during potentially dangerous activities (such as driving).
  • Continuing drinking despite its relation to physical and mental health conditions.
  • Developing a tolerance for alcohol.
  • Experiencing withdraw symptoms when reducing or stopping alcohol intake.

There are numerous treatment options available to individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder, such as detoxification, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), inpatient/outpatient treatment programs, and medication. There are also different methods to recovery, such as abstinence (completely quitting) or just cutting down on alcohol intake. Finding the right treatment options depends on the individual, which is why it is recommended to seek guidance from a trained professional.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from alcohol use disorder, 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: Alcohol Use Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/alcohol-use-disorder

Postpartum Depression

By Samantha Glosser

“I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child. But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure.” -Gwyneth Paltrow

Postpartum depression can begin as early as a few weeks after giving birth, and it affects one in seven women. Symptoms of postpartum depression include the following: depressed mood or mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal from loved ones, loss of appetite or an increased appetite, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, fatigue or loss of energy, anxiety, fear of not being a good mother, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. These symptoms typically interfere with your life and your ability to raise and connect with your child. Although it is not certain what causes postpartum depression, it is most likely due to a combination of hormones and emotional processing deep in the brain.

As noted by Gwyneth Paltrow, an actress using her fame to shed light on the severity of this disorder, postpartum depression is not one size fits all; every woman experiences it differently and experiences symptoms at different severities. This is why it is important for women to be open and honest about their experiences with postpartum depression. Women often feel a lot of shame when they have postpartum depression, because they do not understand why they are feeling this way or what they are feeling. They feel like they are alone in these feelings. However, this is not the case. Other famous mothers such as Brooke Shields and Marie Osmond, like Paltrow, are using their platforms to share their struggles with postpartum depression and let women know that they are not alone and that they should not feel ashamed, which is opening up the doorway to treatment for all women. Postpartum depression can be effectively treated with psychotherapy, support groups, and psychiatric medication if needed. These treatments are the most efficient way for you to feel better and connect with your child.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from postpartum depression, 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: Layton, M. J. (2016, January 26). Task force urges doctors to screen new moms for depression. Retrieved from http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2016/01/26/task-force-urges-doctors-to-screen-new-moms-for-depression/94422958/

Phobias

By: Estephani Diaz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

By: Estephani Diaz

Borderline Personality Disorder is a complex disorder with no certain explanation as to what causes it. This disorder is so uncommon, that it only affects about 5% of our population. It is considered to be a combination of schizophrenia, anxiety, impulsiveness, severe mood swings, etc. In order to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, also known as BPD, you must have at least five out of the nine symptoms listed below:

  1. Perceived or real fears of abandonment
  2. Intense mood swings, severe depression or anxiety
  3. Impulsiveness
  4. Unstable intense relationships
  5. Self-injurious and suicidal behaviors
  6. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  7. Inappropriate, intense anger and rage
  8. Unstable sense of self
  9. Dissociation and feelings of detachment

Any combination of the symptoms above, can lead to family problems, ruin relationships, and cause anxiety, depression, and/or anger. BPD can last from a year to a lifetime. Those with BPD are recommended to seek talk therapy or group therapy. Medications can also be used, however, they would only be needed if one has a severe case of depression and/or mood swings. If help is not found, people with BPD have a high chance of abusing drugs, committing suicide, or worsening relationships with loved ones.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Borderline Personality 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/.

Psychiatric Medication: The Stigma of Mental Health Medication

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

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

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

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

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

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