COVID Anxiety

By: Julia Massa

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked fear in many people from diverse populations, especially those who are immunocompromised. Research shows that pre-existing vulnerability to certain illnesses is a major trigger, so it is no secret as to why the pandemic has significantly affected those with autoimmune disorders. People are leaving their homes less, cities are vacant, parks are untouched, businesses are closing, and schools are silent while hospitals are loud, chaotic, and constantly moving. The pandemic has fueled OCD symptoms where people are commonly seen drowning their hands in sanitizer, hoarding their homes with cleaning products, clearing the shelves of toiletries, and constantly cleaning surfaces- no matter the location. There has been an increase in OCD diagnoses and symptoms of those who already have the condition are becoming more severe.

People are stressing over potential blood clots, painful lumps, infections, and even having something as little as an itch- the list tracks on. Illness anxiety is real and can disrupt an individual’s daily functioning. Individuals with this condition constantly google symptoms and surveil their body for any physical signs of illness- previously recognized as hypochondriasis. These constant rituals and safety behaviors can be detrimental to a person’s mental state. In addition, this “what if” mindset only reinforces an individual’s anxiety.  It can be very expensive dealing with this condition, as people tend to go to frequent doctor’s visits, whereas others may avoid going altogether. 

Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy, can be an effective treatment for those with illness anxiety. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help an individual with illness anxiety manage their anxiety and stress without taking a trip to the doctor’s office. Anxiety can actually present with physical symptoms that an individual may think is from a serious illness, so finding ways to cope and deal with the excessive worries can lead to optimal outcomes.

Sources:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/pandemic-anxiety-is-fueling-ocd-symptoms-e2-80-94even-for-people-without-the-disorder/ar-AASYBeE?ocid=uxbndlbing

https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/health-anxiety-what-it-and-how-beat-it

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/illness-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20373782

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for illness-anxiety, 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/          

The Relationship between OCD and Eating Disorders

The Relationship between OCD and Eating Disorders

By: Suzanne Zaugg

Eating disorders are characterized as obsessive, repetitive thoughts, and ritualistic behaviors. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic long lasting disorder that characterizes uncontrollable thoughts or behaviors that an individual may feel they need to repeat certain things over and over. Statistics show that people with eating disorders are more likely to show signs of OCD, due to the overlapping traits of both OCD and eating disorders.

Understanding the similarities and differences between eating disorders and OCD can help develop a more comprehensive understanding of a patient that presents both of these disorders. People with an eating disorder may experience intrusive thoughts about food and body image, and may develop ritualistic behaviors. Examples of ritualistic behavior pertaining to eating disorders include body checking for any changes in shape or size, frequent weight checking, and skipping meals. An important distinction between OCD and eating disorders lies in the relationship between the thought and action of the individual.  People with OCD are typically interested in ridding themselves of their thoughts and feelings whereas; people with eating disorders may feel more tied to the components of this disorder and feels as if it is a part of their identity.

Since both eating disorders and OCD share overlapping diagnostic characteristics, treatments will look similar. Both exposure therapy and cognitive behavior therapy are very helpful treatments for both eating disorders and OCD. Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment that involves exposing the patient to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Also, cognitive-behavior therapy is a treatment approach that helps you recognize negative or unhelpful thought patters.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating 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 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.waldeneatingdisorders.com/blog/eating-disorders-and-ocd-a-complicated-mix/

Laziness: The Harmful Effects of the Term “Lazy” on Mental Health

By: Rebecca Fernandez

               “Lazy” is a common uncomplimentary term in modern vocabulary for when someone is unproductive. Think back to a time a group member failed to pull their weight in a group project, or a time someone procrastinated severely, leaving everything for the last minute and creating a poor final product. Consider even a time where you witnessed someone who, by early afternoon, was seemingly unable to bring themselves to get out of bed to start the day.

Whether it was yourself or someone else that you imagined, it’s easy to write off everyone in those examples as lazy. However, there’s a major issue with doing that – “laziness” is often not the cause of these situations. Rather, many mental health conditions can create issues that simulate behaviors identical to laziness.

Take, for example, disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and other mood disorders, insomnia and other sleep disorders, and anxiety disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Each of these conditions can negatively impact a person’s ability to be productive, making them appear lazy. People with ADHD can often find themselves imagining all of the tasks they could be engaging in at once and becoming so overwhelmed they feel almost paralyzed. People with depression and other mood disorders often lack the mental energy to accomplish anything. Similarly, people with insomnia and other sleep disorders often lack the physical energy to accomplish anything. People with GAD may have a crippling fear that they won’t be good enough at something, preventing them from attempting to do the task in question. People with OCD may have a crippling (rational or irrational) fear that something bad will happen if they do specific things, preventing them from doing those things.

               All of these explanations are generalized and therefore may not apply to everyone with each listed disorder, or be the only applicable factor for each disorder’s effect on laziness. However, if you or someone you know has been consistently labeled as lazy, remember that “laziness” is often more than how it appears on the surface, and that actively struggling with mental health does not make a person a failure.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of “laziness” as described above that are getting in the way of day-to-day life, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201410/the-psychology-laziness

OCD: Life During a Pandemic

By Charlotte Arehart

It seems logical to assume that those struggling with OCD are having a harder time during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not necessarily true. While some people who suffer from OCD are having more troubles, not every person who has OCD is seeing a difference in their symptoms. For example, someone who’s OCD focuses on other infectious agents that are not COVID-19 will probably not see a lot of change in their symptoms. A study done in November of 2020 found that OCD symptoms increased in frequency significantly more in “washers,” or people who are afraid of contamination, than in non-washers with OCD.

Many individuals with OCD are expressing how the pandemic has made other people realize what it is like to obsess over contamination. For some people with OCD, this has been the way they have felt for their entire lives. For many of us, obsessively cleaning and sanitizing things has only become part of our habits because of the pandemic.

One benefit that doctors have been seeing during the pandemic, specifically for OCD treatment, is the fact that online therapy sessions allow the patient to have their session in any setting. Many people who are being treated for OCD use exposure therapy with their therapists to help reduce their symptoms. This involves patients exposing themselves to stimuli that may induce their symptoms in an attempt to reduce their anxiety about these symptoms. With sessions being held on telehealth, patients can move about their environment and even do their therapy in unusual locations that allow them to expose themselves, with professional direction, to their stressors. This would not always be possible in an office setting.

The bottom line is that one cannot assume that an individual with OCD is experiencing worse symptoms due to the pandemic. While this is true some people who are suffering from OCD, not every individual’s stressors include the virus. It is important that someone who is experiencing OCD seeks treatment as soon as possible, before symptoms worsen. OCD can be debilitating if it is extreme. Therapy is an excellent form of treatment for OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, 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.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/covid-q-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644184/

Image Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/13/872466613/obsession-or-just-good-hygiene-keeping-the-coronavirus-and-ocd-at-bay

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

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Sarah Cohen


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a disorder that is composed of patterns of unwanted or intrusive thoughts that cause repetitive actions or compulsions that create difficulties by interfering with day to day activities. This is different than being a perfectionist because OCD thoughts are not just extra worrying about real life issues or enjoying a clean house. When most people think of OCD, they usually imagine someone who is always cleaning, and while this can be a manifestation of OCD, there are many other themes OCD might center around. For example, checking things such as light switches and locks excessively in order to get to a “good” number of times. Symptoms of OCD include obsessive and/or compulsive thoughts that take up a large amount of time and prevent normal work or school functioning. Obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts or urges that cause anxiety and distress usually followed by compulsions which are repeated actions meant to lessen the anxiety from the obsessions or prevent something bad from occurring. OCD is more common in women than men and usually begins during the teen or young adult years. Symptoms usually start off little by little and vary throughout the lifetime of the patient. Risk factors for OCD include a family history of OCD, physical differences in the brain, traumatic life events, or other mental health disorders. While there is no cure, if a patient can manage their symptoms well, they can lead a normal life. Treatments include psychotherapy, meditation, medication, and in rare cases when both medication and therapy are not effective, neuromodulation.

If you or someone you know needs support managing their OCD, 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.webmd.com/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder#2 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354432

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Julia Keys

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been normalized and trivialized in society as a need for everything to be meticulously clean and organized when in reality it is a serious psychological disorder that can cause significant distress for those who have it. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by a pattern of uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts, known as obsessions, which can only be remedied by certain behaviors, known as compulsions. People with OCD are commonly depicted as being ultra-neat or afraid of germs, which is true for some people, but the way OCD expresses itself is unique to the individual.

There are several common themes that psychologists have determined when treating patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One common theme is contamination. This may take on the literal meaning in which an object or place can be perceived as dirty, but it can also mean that contact with a person, place, or object will cause great harm. Checking is another typical behavior. One may check if something is safe or turned off over and over again. Checking can also express itself in the need for constant verbal reassurance, so a person with OCD may ask the same question over and over. People with OCD may be worried that they will suddenly lose control and hurt themselves or someone else. In efforts to qualm these obsessions, one may avoid certain places or people or have plans set in place that could prevent them from acting out these thoughts.

Common obsessions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Common compulsions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

When reading these lists one might think that these behaviors are relatively typical, however people with OCD spend an excessive amount of time and effort thinking about obsessive thoughts and preforming rituals to control them. A person with OCD may feel brief relief after preforming a compulsion, but they do not feel pleasure from such acts. Obsessions and compulsions are very difficult to control and may result in significant problems in one’s daily life or relationships.

If you or someone you know is struggling OCD, 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/blog/living-ocd/201107/the-many-flavors-ocd

Source for Picture:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=47C5DD3F1D65AD247FE6091E7A61190FA00E0683&thid=OIP.X50wPNnUfEvJHrY8IH6VyQHaFj&mediaurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.belmarrahealth.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F01%2FObsessive-compulsive-disorder-OCD-questionnaire-can-also-help-determine-the-risk-of-depression-and-anxiety.jpg&exph=2475&expw=3300&q=ocd&selectedindex=57&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6

 

 

 

Hoarding

Hoarding

By Lauren Hernandez

                Hoarding is a disorder characterized by the continuous inability to get rid of belongings that have no significant value. While Hollywood has made hoarding a spectacle for consumers, hoarding is a serious condition which threatens the safety and livelihood of many people around the world. People with hoarding disorder will accumulate random items they believe they have an emotional attachment to or because they think they might need the item in the future.

Typically hoarding begins in adolescence and the severity of the condition worsens over time. The cause is still unknown, however hoarding disorder can be prompted by experience of a traumatic event, if a family member has had the disorder, or if a person has difficulty making decisions. People who hoard may suffer from depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. If a hoarder continuously refuses to throw items away, their home will be covered in growing piles of random objects. This poses a serious threat to their health and to the health of the people around them. The clutter inside a home often deems the house unlivable, and there is a greater risk for falling and tripping over items. In addition, there is an increased risk of fires, and mold due to rotting food and other items that are wasting away. People who hoard also typically struggle with personal hygiene which can be associated with other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

According to DSM-5, the following symptoms are diagnostic of hoarding disorder:

  • Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their value or lack thereof
  • The difficulty in discarding possession is due to distress associated with getting rid of them
  • The difficulty in discarding possession leads to clutter of living spaces and compromises the use of living spaces
  • The hoarding creates clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning, including the ability to maintain a safe space

A person who hoards is unable to recognize that their hoarding activity is problematic and dangerous. If you or someone you know might have hoarding tendencies perhaps attempt to either clean the space, if it does not cause too much distress, or leave it. If attempting to clean causes too much distress, seek professional help. “The primary treatments used to relieve symptoms of hoarding disorder include cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). One or the other, or both, may be employed” (PsychologyToday).

If you or someone you know is engaging in hoarding activities, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/hoarding-disorder

Image Source:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=39261EB37504F116457B197FA206B36E38D082FD&thid=OIP._Fyir4F8p4hBOh6TS6Yy-QHaHa&mediaurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.choosehelp.com%2Ftopics%2Fanxiety%2Fcompulsive-hoarding%2Fimage&exph=1024&expw=1024&q=hoarding&selectedindex=31&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6

Effects of Sexual Assault

Effects of Sexual Assault

By Toniann Seals

Sexual assault is a tragedy that unfortunately happens to many victims. Statistics say that, “in the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.” This number is far too high and the reality is that despite the movements created to end it, it continues to have a large impact on many people’s lives.

Facts:

  • “91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male.”
  • “The lifetime cost of rape per victim is $122,461.”
  • “81% of women and 35% of men report significant short- or long-term impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

Sexual assault affects both the victim and their family. A few of the mental health issues that the victims could develop are anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts and paranoia. If sexual assault has affected your life, it is important to remember that it is never the victim’s fault and there are people here to help.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

Click to access NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf

Click to access rsarp00.pdf

Click to access NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf

Click to access nsvrc_talking-points_lifetime-economic-burden_0.pdf

Image:

https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/features/story/hashtag-metoo-trending-on-twitter-facebook-what-is-it-and-why-is-everyone-talking-about-it-1066951-2017-10-18

What is Trichotillomania?

By Stephanie Osuba

Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder categorized in the Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders section in the DSM-5. It is one of the other Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) – along with excoriation (skin picking) and onychophagia (nail biting) – in which the individual will pull, pick or bite at various parts of the body resulting in damage.  Symptoms include recurring hair pulling, hair loss, and related stress and impairment because of the behavior. The disorder is not considered self-mutilation like cutting or burning because the behavior is not intentional and research suggests that there is no connection between the disorder and unresolved trauma. Often people are ashamed of the behavior and their resulting appearance because of it and try their hardest to stop. Comorbidities include, tic disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders, although, trichotillomania can also occur in the absence of any other psychopathology.  The regular age of onset is between the ages of 11 and 13, however, baby trichotillomania is a rare phenomenon that seems to go away as the child grows older. Research also suggests that the disorder is primarily genetic as it appears in the first relatives of people with trichotillomania than it does in the general population.

Available treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT) with adjunctive dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These therapies help the person to be aware of the pattern of the behavior and helps to identify triggers to pulling. It also teaches methods to redirect that urge to pull into a new healthy pattern of behavior in order to reduce or eliminate the urge. While there is no FDA-approved medication specifically for BFRBs, research is being conducted. OCD medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anafranil can help alleviate symptoms as well.

Sources: Deibler, M. W., Psy. D. (n.d.). Trichotillomania (TTM) and related Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Retrieved from http://www.thecenterforemotionalhealth.com/trichotillomania-and-related-disorders

Zwolinski, R., LMHC. (2013, October 03). Cause And Treatment Of Trichotillomania. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/04/cause-and-treatment-of-trichotillomania/

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from trichotillomania, 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/.