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/.

Perfectionism: How Striving to be the Best can Leave us at our Worst

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We are commonly told that no one in the world is “perfect”, and that there is no such thing as “perfection”. Or so they say. Then why do so many people around the world still try to aim for this standard of “perfect” in what they do in life?

Perfectionists are individuals who strive for flawlessness. They set very high standards and expectations for themselves, have a set way of wanting to do things, and take time to be truly satisfied with their work. Aiming for perfectionism definitely has benefits. We all know that one person from school or work who would be the “perfectionist”: they would be the most successful, put out high quality work, and constantly keep pushing boundaries so that their final products are amazing.

However, being a perfectionist has its disadvantages and dangers. Individuals who seek to be “perfect” set extremely high standards for themselves, which results in their being very critical of themselves. Perfectionists tend to notice and fixate on all of their flaws, as they wish to not only produce “perfect” work but also to be “perfect” people. Whenever a perfectionist make mistakes, as does everyone in the world, he or she is unable to look past the “failure” and thus feel extreme guilt, shame, and sadness.

Perfectionistic thinking underlies several mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders. It can even lead to suicidal thoughts. Perfectionists’ inability to accept failure, constant self-criticism, and desire to act, be, and look perfect, drives them towards unhealthy behaviors and thinking. They are constantly hard on themselves for not achieving “perfect,” which is inevitable because there is no such thing as perfect! These patterns of thinking and negative behaviors need to be monitored for the risks they present in causing mental illness.

Instead of striving for “perfection,” we should be encouraging others and ourselves to be the best versions of who we are. Remind people that there is in fact a beauty in accepting yourself and your positive attributes, and in being kind to yourself. Encourage people to accept themselves, make mistakes, and to strive to not look perfect. We should truly appreciate ourselves and accept BOTH the good and the imperfect. By addressing and changing the perfectionist way of thinking, we can better prevent, understand, and heal many mental illnesses.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, 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/.

Stress: The Endless Pressures on the Brain

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

A common factor that unites all people is experiencing stress. Stress is the way that our bodies react to various situations including pressure, threats, challenges, or barriers. All individuals experience this in some form in their work, home, or school settings, some to a greater degree than others. We live in a world where we often encourage those around us to do more, work harder and longer, and essentially take on more stressors. This is a very dangerous situation, as stress can be very harmful to our brains.

There are numerous impacts that prolonged stress can have on our brains. When a stressor is present, the body has several physical reactions, including increased heart rate, sweating, raised levels of epinephrine, and constricted blood vessels. In our brains, a signaling pathway is activated involving the hippocampus and pituitary gland which results in the release of the hormone glucocorticoid, a stress hormone. This hormone is generally regulated by the body, released in fixed amounts when we wake up and is necessary for our body to operate. However, when stress is chronic and the brain pathway is activated excessively, glucocorticoids can inhibit growth, bone formation, and the immune response. They are linked to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, destroying neurons, impairing memory, and slowing down cognitive function.

As stress is faced recurrently, the brain learns to acclimate to the body being in constant states of elevated tension and anxiety. The circuitry of neurons and connections of synapses changes to adapt to the higher levels of glucocorticoids. Additionally, people exposed to more stress noted to have a larger amygdala in the brain, which is the region responsible for processing threatening and emotional situations. A larger amygdala indicates that the individual is more susceptible to stressors and is unable to recover from them well. Finally, such individuals were also seen to have a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both responsible for decision making and rational thinking.

It is evident that the stressful lifestyles that many of us live can have a severe adverse impact on our brains and health, most invisible to the eye but nevertheless perilous. Instead of endorsing demanding lives and tiring jobs, which can have negative consequences, we should be inspiring people to learn how to relax and take time for themselves. People should be urged to engage in activities such as meditation, pursue hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and give their brains a break from the stressors and anxiety that are continuously causing pressure.

If you or someone you know is suffering from excessive stress and/or 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/.

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

Social Anxiety and College: How to Cope This Semester

By Samantha Glosser

College is a stressful time for most students and it can quite often seem too difficult to cope with the pressures commonly found on college campuses. For someone with social anxiety, a disorder characterized by persistent fear of negative evaluation by others in social situations, this reality is all too real. They are faced with public speaking, graded class participation, and the anxiety of interacting with other students in clubs, organizations, and even at parties. And don’t forget the terror of meeting your new roommate! Being completely emerged in these situations makes it easy to feel like your social anxiety is inhibiting you in all aspects of your college life; however, this does not need to be the case.

There are plenty of things you can do to treat your social anxiety before it gets in the way of your college experience. For some, self-help techniques are useful. Participating in deep breathing exercises and positive self-talk are such techniques. Deep breathing helps to alleviate some of the physical symptoms of social anxiety, while positive self-talk can lessen the effect that anxiety has on negative thoughts. However, others benefit from psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or medications (antidepressants) targeted for social anxiety. This treatment plan typically includes exposure therapy, which gradually places you in anxiety-provoking situations while simultaneously teaching you relaxation skills to cope with your anxiety. It can help you to understand the irrational basis of your worries. A combination of psychotherapy, medication, and at home self-help strategies are an effective way to prevent your social anxiety from taking over your college experience.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from social anxiety 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/

Group Therapy

Alice Cordero

According to psychcentral.com, Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy treatment where several people meet together under the supervision of a therapist in a particular setting. Group therapy is a form of therapy that can be used in conjunction with individual therapy and medication.  The benefits of group therapy include:

  • Modeling
    • Patients are able to witness how others in the group cope with their problems in positive ways and apply it to their lives.
    • Patients learn from other group member’s mistakes.
  • Helps improve social skills
    • In group therapy, most of the time each individual has to share something about themselves and how they are doing; this helps improve the patient’s interpersonal relationships and understand that they are not alone in this particular process.
  • Increased feedback
    • Provides patients with different perspectives/ coping methods
    • Gives patients a view of how others handle their particular situation
    • Provides individuals with personal feedback through other patients perceptions of themselves
  • Support Network
    • Having multiple individuals who are going through the same gives each patients the opportunity to build a support system that they can use

 

Group therapy involves members expressing their feelings, problems, ideas, and reactions towards other members. Studies have shown that group therapy has been effective in addressing countless problems, including: anxiety, depression, addictive disorders, substance abuse, death, lifestyle issues, and relationship issues.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the conditions listed above or think you/ they could benefit from group 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/.

Negative Stigmas of Mental Illness

Mental Illness and Stigmas

Emily Ramos

When a person is born with a deformity, the source of their disability is obvious. But when someone is mentally ill, there are no obvious physical indicators for their behavior.  A lot of the times people pity those with a clear disadvantage and fear the behavior of those with a mental illness. This can cause someone suffering from a mental health illness to live in fear of embarrassment and humiliation if their condition is found out.

A common misconception people have about those who suffer from mental illness is that they are unpredictable like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode at any second. This portrayal comes from the fact that many who go on shooting sprees happen to also suffer from mental illness. This is a false depiction because not all patients act out in violence; same as how not everyone cries when they are mourning the loss of a loved one.

We have to remember to not stereotype everyone with the same diagnoses as being the same. The 2012 Aurora movie theater shooter, James Holmes, showed signs of depression since middle school and attempted suicide at the age of eleven. What people don’t know is that he also was obsessed with the idea of killing people which led to his violent outburst. Most individuals with depression don’t exhibit the desire to inflict pain on others.

The pressure that a negative stigma creates on an individual in addition to the weight of their illness can be overwhelming and unbearable. The best way to reduce mental health stigmas is to raise awareness and enforce discussions about mental health. Millions of people suffer from mental disorders and just as we treat those who suffer from physical illness with care and emotional support we need to provide care and emotional support to mental health patients.

If you or a person you know is struggling with mental illness, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Self-Harm

Self-harm is a way of expressing feelings that can’t be put into words by deliberately harming the surface of your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It’s the release of pain and tension one feels inside. It’s a distraction from overwhelming feelings and emotions, from no emotion at all, and can be used as a way to punish oneself.  It’s a way to feel control.

Dear readers that self-injure,             
            Maybe you feel ashamed, maybe you think no one would understand, maybe you think you won’t be left alone again, and quite honestly you might be scared of hearing that you’re crazy. But hiding who you are and what you feel is a heavy burden. We have all been there in one way or another. Truthfully, the secrecy and guilt of self-harm affects your relationships with your friends and family members and the way you feel about yourself. It can make you feel even more lonely, worthless, and trapped. But you are not crazy, and you are definitely not alone.

Why You Should Stop:

  • The relief is short lived.
  • Keeping the secret is a lonely and a difficult journey.
  • You can hurt yourself badly, on purpose or not, and misjudge the damage you’ll do.
  • Those who care for you, even those who are unaware of the situation, would be broken to know it.

How to Rid Yourself of the Mechanism:

  • Communicate with somebody you can confide in. A friend, a family member, a teacher, etc.
  • Give yourself time to heal.
  • Seek out professional help and begin to both work with and understand your emotions.
  • Sprint, draw, paint, sing, scream, run, cry, and do whatever you can to make your impulse go away in that moment.

How to Help Someone that Does Self-harm:

  • Don’t judge.
  • Respect the person’s time needed to heal.
  • Offer support, even if you might not completely understand.
  • Help find therapy, and offer to help reach out to more adults and professionals.

By Isabelle Kreydin

 If you or someone you know is self-harming and needs help, 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.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm