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/

Accessibility: “Telemental” Health Care

Accessibility: “Telemental” Health Care

By Celine Bennion

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

https://www.nami.org/Advocacy/Policy-Priorities/Improving-Health/Telehealth

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

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

Therapy Animals: How Therapy Animals Benefit Individuals with Mental Health Struggles

Therapy Animals: How Therapy Animals Benefit Individuals with Mental Health Struggles

By Celine Bennion

Have you ever had a bad day at school or work, felt irritable and discouraged, then came home to your pet greeting you with such enthusiasm that you forgot about your unpleasant day? Animals’ unconditional, loving nature has the power to instantly change a person’s mood, or even just help him or her feel better in general. This ability is utilized in therapeutic settings for those who struggle with mental disorders, as animals can facilitate healing in those afflicted.

Therapy animals are trained to exhibit certain mannerisms that are essential for providing therapeutic benefits to humans. These characteristics include gentleness, friendliness, and willingness to allow strangers to touch and interact with them. Pet owners may enroll their animals in such training to become registered in an official therapy animal organization. This certification allows therapy animals to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other institutions to provide comfort and companionship to those with whom they interact.

When a therapy animal is present in therapy sessions, patients feel more inclined to communicate and discuss difficult experiences. Additionally, they often experience an increase in self-esteem while in the presence of therapy animals. Individuals often find it difficult to disclose personal and emotional information with a stranger, which holds them back from receiving all of the benefits of psychotherapy. Therapy animals help to provide a sense of comfort, giving unconditional affection and creating a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Their presence makes it easier for patients to let down their guard and speak about their difficult experiences.

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://medicalmutts.org/our-service-dogs/psychiatric-service-dogs/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2016/The-Power-of-Pet-Therapy

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-truth-about-animal-assisted-therapy#1

Emotional Support Animals and Controversy

Emotional Support Animals and Controversy

By: Valeria Dubon

Emotional support animals (ESA’s) provide a comforting and consoling figure for individuals who suffer from some sort of mental illness. Although they can be in the form of many different pets, dogs are the most common form of ESA’s and they can be of any age and any breed. ESA’s can be defined as any animal that is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to offer emotional support to a person that is suffering from a disabling mental illness. One example could be a psychologist prescribing an emotional support dog to ease a patient’s anxieties. Emotional support animals, however, are not service dogs; there is a key difference between the two types of support. ESA’s deal more with offering a soothing and relaxing friend to the owner; they can help ease anxiety, depression and phobias. Even so, they are not allowed in many public places and cannot go everywhere where the public is allowed. A service dog helps individuals perform tasks that they cannot do on their own. For example, they are trained to assist and alert someone who is hearing impaired and/or visually impaired, they are not their for simply companionship. Their training must alleviate a certain disability.

There is even another type of service dog called psychiatric service dogs that detect the beginning of a psychiatric episode and ease their effects; again this is different from an ESA. Unfortunately, although ESA and service dogs are both essential in their own ways, ESAs are not treated with the same level of respect and importance; as many people believe that they are simply not needed at all. Many people fabricate the need for emotional support animals and take advantage of the system, with people having the ability to buy certifications for only $50. This only adds to the ESA controversy. This has caused many places, including airlines, to restrict the use of ESAs, leaving people who actually need them in an unfortunate situation. This controversy is currently ongoing, with many people being against the excessive use of an emotional support animal. In order to reduce the number of fraudulent ESA certifications, it has been suggested that a standardized ESA assessment could be made and conducted by forensic practitioners with stricter guidelines. This in turn not only helps the owners of ESAs, but also the general public as well. An actual assessment and training will keep aggressive animals and lax owners from not only irritating the public but also from endangering it.

If you or someone you know is in need of an emotional support animal, 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.akc.org/expert-advice/news/everything-about-emotional-support-animals/

http://jaapl.org/content/early/2020/09/16/JAAPL.200047-20

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

By: Hallie Katzman

Although going back to school can be very exciting for children, some kids experience high levels of stress and anxiety associated with the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. 7.1% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old have diagnosed anxiety. Anxiety disorders can be characterized by feelings of tension, intrusive or worried thoughts and physical symptoms such as sweating or a rapid heartbeat. These feelings can be heightened by stressful situations, such the transitional period of going back to school after summer vacation. Children can experience many types of anxiety related to going back to school such as separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder or social phobias and specific back to school anxiety.

These anxiety disorders can be treated through therapy plans to help manage or reduce the child’s symptoms through techniques such as rehearsing a school day. Additionally, mental health professionals can also advise the child’s parents of different techniques to help their child ease their back to school anxiety. Family, friends and teachers can help to create a supportive environment for the child when they go back to school to make the transition easier and less anxiety provoking. If the back to school anxiety persists longer than the first couple weeks of typical jitters and is causing distress to the child’s daily life, then meeting with a therapist would be beneficial to help them better manage symptoms.

               If you, your child or someone you know is experiencing back to school anxiety or other anxiety disorders or mental health issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively, at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Sources: https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/

https://nyulangone.org/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-children/types

https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20an%20emotion%20characterized,recurring%20intrusive%20thoughts%20or%20concerns.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html

Image source: https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/helping-your-child-cope-with-back-to-school-anxiety/

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

What Do Dreams Tell Us About Our Mental Health?

   By: Kassandra Lora

Have you ever wondered if dreams are a reflection of our subconscious trying to send a message or if they are just meaningless? What do these specific dreams tell us about our mental health?

    One type of dreaming, besides the occasional nightmares, is lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when the dreamer is aware they are dreaming but, without waking up, they can control what they do in the dream as well as the outcome of the dream. Some people lucid dream regularly while others rarely and some cannot lucid dream at all. So, what does lucid dreaming show us about our mental health? In an article written in the PsychologyToday magazine, they discussed an observation conducted with a group of undergraduate students who participated in a sleep study. The results stated how, “Intense lucid dreamers had, on average, lower levels of psychological distress.” It was explained that individuals who have more intense lucid dreams had less depression, stress, and anxiety than individuals who had less intense lucid dreams.  However, those who don’t lucid dream at all had no difference in psychological wellbeing when compared to those who have very intense lucid dreams.  It is interesting to see how something like lucid dreaming can have such a perspective on psychological health.

    Besides measuring psychological distress, according to the Psych Central website, dreams have many mental health benefits as well. Some benefits of dreams include:

  • Helping you learn: Dreams allow your brain to make sense of new information that has been learned.
  • Being therapeutic to a person: dreams can help a person heal real-life emotions through dreams.
  • Helping you overcome your fear: lucid dreaming can allow you to practice facing and overcoming what you are afraid to do in real life.

If you or someone you know needs help regarding sleep and dreams, 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://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/201804/what-dreams-may-tell-you-about-your-mental-health

https://psychcentral.com/blog/brain-and-mental-health-benefits-of-dreaming#2

Image source: https://wallhere.com/en/wallpaper/781179

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

By: Kassandra Lora

Once the seasons change from fall to winter and the days become shorter, some individuals may notice a change in their moods. Some of these mood changes may be a slight feeling of being “down” but other times, these mood changes can be more severe and can have a significant effect on a person. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually affects a person once the seasons are changing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression.” It is not as common for someone to develop SAD symptoms during the spring and summer months, although it is still possible.

Some significant depression symptoms may include:

•           feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

•           losing interest in activities

•           changes in appetite or weight

•           having problems with sleep

•           having low energy

•           feeling worthless or hopeless

•           having difficulty concentrating

•           having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, to develop the diagnosis of having SAD, you must have the symptoms of major depression or must have some of the symptoms listed above. You must also have these depressive episodes occur to you during a specific season for a least two consecutive years.

Individuals who are more susceptible to developing SAD are more commonly those who live further north. Furthermore, according to the Nation Institute of Mental Health, “SAD is more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II disorder, which is associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes.” SAD is also more commonly found in women than men.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a severe condition, though scientists cannot understand what exactly causes SAD. Scientists have done the research and have suggested that people with SAD may have reduced serotonin activity, regulating mood. Researchers have also indicated how lack of sunlight in people with SAD can affect their serotonin levels, affecting their mood. Although these are all possible causes and effects which determined why individuals may have SAD it is still unclear if these are the exact reason. However, these causes and effects can be useful when focusing on treatment.Treatments that may help people with SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and vitamin D.

Speak to your health care provider about which treatment or combination is most suitable for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective 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.

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Image Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/03/how-i-learned-cope-seasonal-affective-disorder-grad-school

OCD: Exposure Therapy and Medication

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a chronic, long-term disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors that take over and are constantly repeated. These repetitions can take over one’s life; all they can focus on are one’s obsessions and nothing else. Obsessions are defined as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety,” while compulsions are “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to their obsessions.” It’s a common disorder affecting about 1% of the U.S. on any given year, with a lifetime prevalence of OCD among U.S. adults falling at 2.3%. Symptoms can present themselves in a range of mild to serious, with about ½ of OCD cases falling under serious.

Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP therapy, is a common form of treatment for individuals with OCD, but it can be very harsh and relentless. In simple terms, ERP therapy takes the OCD patient and places them at the forefront of their fears so that they confront them head on, with no protection. However, when doing this they’re guided by a trained therapist to ensure they don’t resort to their compulsive behaviors. An example of this type of therapy would be having a patient who suffers from germaphobia stick their hands in dirty water without washing their hands after. Over time they’re usually able to adapt to and overcome their fears, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, this type of therapy doesn’t work for everyone and many individuals fighting OCD need medication instead, or a combination of both. Some common OCD medications are Zoloft, Prozac, and Luvox. These are all anti-depressants approved by the FDA to treat OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with 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://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/exposure-and-response-prevention

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