Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Jaylyn Senise

Hypochondria, or the anxiety surrounding one’s health, is characterized by the fear of contracting a disease or illness. This anxiety is more common than one would expect, especially within these current times of COVID-19 where it has been heightened. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to MedicalNewsToday, approximately 4-6% of the world population deals with clinically significant hypochondria. Today, some people may begin to feel anxious given the highly contagious nature of the disease in addition to the lack of information regarding the future of the disease. Oftentimes, this may lead to physical symptoms that emerge due to the stress associated with being exposed to someone sick or contracting a disease.  With the coronavirus pandemic, hypochondria may be intensified because some of the most common symptoms such as coughing and sore throat are common and may be due to other more common colds other than COVID-19.

Some signs of hypochondria include worrying that you have serious illnesses given minor symptoms, being easily panicked regarding their health status, being preoccupied by one’s wellbeing, and avoiding people and activities in fear of risk. Proper treatment for hypochondria includes behavioral stress management programs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and visiting specialists for anxiety. The usage of antidepressants, for example Prozac and Luvox, and antianxiety medications are advised to control the effects of hypochondria.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hypochondria, 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.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypochondria-and-covid-19

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/worried-sick-help-for-hypochondria

https://www.nytimes.com/ 2018/06/18/well/a-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html

Image Source

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F06%2F18%2Fwell%2Fa-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html&psig=AOvVaw0M9bcHwiRGDUvI2RSlNcmG&ust=1625755773112000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAoQjRxqFwoTCIC39a6a0fECFQAAAAAdAAAAABAK

Diet Culture

Diet Culture

By Asha Shetler

                Diets have a 98% failure rate, yet “diet culture” has taken over our world. Diet and weight loss culture in a nutshell? Thinness is beauty, health, and success. Body positivity in a nutshell? The truth: that any body can represent beauty, health, and success. This diet culture, in addition to undermining the body positivity movement, can destroy one’s mental health and/or self-esteem. It tells us that no matter what we look like, we are too fat and we should lose weight; that our bodies are not beautiful and not healthy. Diet culture is reflected in our daily language, in Barbie’s tiny waist, in social media filters, in who’s popular and who’s not. The U.S. weight loss market was an astounding  $72.7 billion in 2018, and is predicted to only grow. Clearly, being fed these lies that spawn from diet culture can make us very self-conscious and sometimes even self-loathing. It sets us up to feel like a failure, as well as normalizes and even encourages disordered eating, such as anorexia or bulimia. So, what can we do to reject this culture? Some of the best approaches are practicing self-compassion and intuitive eating (asking yourself what you need to help you feel best in your body.) If you or someone you know is struggling with diet culture or body image, therapy could be a helpful option for you.   

Sources:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a35036808/what-is-diet-culture/

https://www.health.com/mind-body/body-positivity/escaping-diet-culture

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/

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/

Munchausen’s Syndrome

By Charlotte Arehart

Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder where the individual continuously pretends to have various ailments and illnesses to seek medical attention for them. There are several other versions of Munchausen’s syndrome, including Munchausen through proxy as well as Munchausen through the internet. Munchausen’s syndrome is a mental illness that often comes along with other mental difficulties such as depression and anxiety.

Since Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose sometimes. After all, the patient is likely to be lying about their symptoms and illnesses. There are a few things that may hint that a patient has Munchausen’s syndrome, such as inconsistent medical history, constantly changing or unclear symptoms, predictable relapses, extensive medical knowledge, new symptoms after a negative test or undesired test results, symptoms are only present when the patient is being watched or is near people, and seeking treatment in many different places.

Many times in the news we hear about cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, which is when a caregiver or parent pretends that their child is afflicted by ailments. There are many famous cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, such as the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. In cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by internet, the individual attends online support groups pretending to be afflicted with the struggle that those who are attending the meetings are actually experiencing. This could be either to mock those who are attending, or simply for attention.

It is important that medical staff keeps an eye out for those who may be experiencing Munchausen’s Syndrome, since it can be difficult to spot. Those who are suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome or Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy should seek mental health treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Munchausen’s syndrome, 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.webmd.com/mental-health/munchausen-syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554979/

https://10faq.com/health/munchausen-syndrome-symptoms/?utm_source=7017173049&utm_campaign=6449781305&utm_medium=78641056298&utm_content=78641056298&utm_term=munchausen%20syndrome&gclid=CjwKCAjwieuGBhAsEiwA1Ly_nQk9C1zizAwKaVlu7DhBKde8bnBOPK7v4QhwG7rYBc-ZZj3av-254BoCzqAQAvD_BwE

Image Source: https://healthproadvice.com/mental-health/An-Understanding-of-Munchausen-Syndrome

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

Depression and Humor

By Katie Weinstein

Humor is not only used as a way to get a good laugh with friends, but as a coping mechanism to defuse a situation. Using a positive humor style is associated with good health outcomes, but using a negative humor style, such as self-deprecation, is linked to depression.

It is important to know how to laugh at yourself, but it is also important to know when your self-deprecating has gone too far and is leading to depression. Some signs might be that you can’t take a compliment or that it is a reflex to use self-deprecating humor since this is indicative of low self-esteem. It is easy to justify self-deprecating humor as not wanting to sound too arrogant, but if you use it alone, this is a major warning sign since no one will be there to laugh at your jokes. Another sign might be that you start to actually believe what you’re saying. The point of self-deprecating humor is to make light of imperfections, not to validate insecurities. When you’ve gone too far with self-deprecating humor, the people around you might either tell you this or stop laughing at that type of humor since it makes other people uncomfortable.

The relationship between self-depreciative humor and depression remains unclear as to which causes the other or if there is a cyclical effect between the two. It is possible that people who are depressed choose a self-deprecating humor style because they are attempting to cope with low self-esteem or it is possible that repetitive negative humor causes low self-esteem and depression. A third possibility is that genetic and environmental factors affect depression and negative humor styles.

One way to stop using self-deprecating humor is to fight the urge to put yourself down when someone compliments you and just say thank you. Being cognizant of when you are using self-deprecating humor and the way the way that it makes you feel is important for helping you to stop using it.

If you or someone you know is experiencing low self-esteem and or depression 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/humor-sapiens/201911/the-relationship-between-humor-and-depression

Kratom Craze

By Charlotte Arehart

If something is legal, that must mean that it’s safe, right? While this would be great to believe, unfortunately it is not true.  An example of something that is not illegal yet but is still unsafe is the drug kratom. Although banned in 6 states, kratom is still legal in the United States. It can easily be purchased at drug stores and even online. Kratom, a psychoactive plant, comes from the leaves of kratom trees that grow in Southeast Asia, where it has traditionally been used for teas and medicines. Only recently has kratom been used frequently in Western societies. Many people praise kratom for alleviating their pain from headaches or even bad knees. However, kratom comes with some not-so-great side effects, and some that are quite aversive.

Low doses of kratom seem very beneficial. Users may experience increased energy, lower pain levels, and feelings of relaxation. However, continued consistent use of kratom or large doses of kratom pose some serious side effects. And since kratom is so addictive, it is easy for users to work their way up to this point. Users may begin to hallucinate, become depressed, have seizures, enter comas, or even die when mixing kratom with other substances. There have been many deaths recorded because of kratom usage with other substances like alcohol. One user on WebMD begs others to be wary of kratom, stating that their family member died from a third seizure caused by the drug. Another user warned of the addictive effects of the drug, saying that kratom advocates downplay the withdrawal symptoms to be similar to caffeine withdrawal when in reality it is more like “full on opioid withdrawal” symptoms. Since kratom has a very similar chemical reaction in the body as opioid drugs, it makes sense that the withdrawal symptoms would be very similar. Other users have stated that while the drug may be efficient in alleviating pain, the dependency that comes with the drug is not worth it.

Even though kratom is not illegal, there is no such thing as a “good” addiction. If you or someone you know is facing a kratom addiction, there are ways to get help. It is important that anyone who is facing a kratom addiction seeks therapy as soon as possible, before it is too late.

If you or someone you know needs substance abuse support, 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.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/kratom/art-20402171

https://www.healthline.com/health/kratom-and-alcohol#effects

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657101/

Image Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/kratom-and-alcohol

Mental Health during Pride Month

By Charlotte Arehart

With June finally starting, this means that it is officially Pride Month! Pride Month is celebrated in June in the USA and many other countries. During Pride Month, we celebrate and recognize the impact that  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer LGBTQ+ individuals have on their communities. We celebrate their history, whether it be locally, nationally, or internationally. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health. There are a plethora of statistics about LGBTQ+ individuals and mental health, including the fact that members of the community are less likely to seek treatment for mental health, substance abuse, and eating disorders. This is largely due to fear of being discriminated against because of their sexuality. Pride Month is the perfect opportunity to prioritize and learn more about mental health for LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are many barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals face when it comes to finding mental health treatment. Many mental health centers lack culturally-competent or diverse staff and/or treatment. It was not very long ago that homosexuality and bisexuality were themselves considered mental illnesses. This was thought to be true until the 1960’s. Gay men and lesbian women were frequently forced to undergo “treatment” for their sexuality against their will, such as aversion, conversion, and even shock therapies. Also damaging to mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for bullying, and sometimes even hateful violent crimes. The best way to help the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health efforts is to support the community not only through words but through actions. By reducing the stigma around mental health and making LGBTQ+ individuals feel as comfortable as possible, hopefully we can make mental health treatment more accessible for everyone. Luckily, the vast majority of mental health professionals today are accepting and positive towards the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone deserves to have efficient, effective, and professional mental health no matter how they identify as individuals.

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, 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:

Image Source: https://lgbt-speakers.com/news/top-10-lists/10-lgbt-speakers-for-pride-month-2021

Social Media: Self-Diagnosing

By Charlotte Arehart

For many people, it has become a habit to turn to the internet with any questions that one might have. While it is great to have the answers to the world at our fingertips, we have to keep in mind that just because we find an answer on the internet does not mean it is the correct one. Googling the answers to everything can be particularly harmful when it comes to physical and mental health. Searching a simple symptom such as a stomach ache may lead to answers that suggest the individual has appendicitis, when in reality they may only be having indigestion. With the internet becoming more powerful than ever, more people have been self-diagnosing with physical and mental health issues without seeking help from a professional.

Social media has played a huge role in the increase of self-diagnosing. Many influential social media users with a large platform use their platform to speak and educate viewers about mental illnesses. While this is great in terms of normalizing and reducing the stigma around mental health issues, it becomes harmful when viewers use this information to self-diagnose. I personally have seen many videos on platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok where the creator lists several widely general and common “symptoms,” such as sleeping in too much or having a short attention span, then follow up with something along the lines of “if you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have ADHD!” In the comments section, I see floods of viewers who are now concerned that they may have a mental disorder simply because they experience a few of the general symptoms listed. It seems that these videos create a lot of stress in people who do not actually need to be worried, since the symptoms listed are often so generalized. However, I do think that it is very beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues to receive support and a sense of community through social media. It can be very comforting to know that you are not alone going through something. If creators wish to speak about mental health issues on social media, it should be done in a very careful way. Addressing mental health on social media does present a wide variety of benefits, however it becomes an issue when people are self-diagnosing and becoming worried without speaking to a professional.

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, 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://etactics.com/blog/problems-with-self-diagnosis

Image Source: https://dailytitan.com/opinion/column-self-diagnosing-mental-health-disorders-is-hazardous/article_d953ca7f-0eae-57d2-81fb-d0d339734788.html

The Importance of Mental Health

By Charlotte Arehart

When thinking about their health, most people only consider the physical state of their bodies. However, it is important that we take our mental health into consideration as well. Not only are these two aspects equally important, but they are actually very closely related. People who have poor mental health are at greater risk of having poor physical health. For example, people who experience depression are at a 50% increased risk of dying from cancer and a 67% increase for heart disease. Stress and anxiety also have a huge impact on the body, affecting the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, as well as the gastrointestinal system.

Since mental health is so important, why do people usually disregard it? Many people are afraid of the stigma that surrounds mental health. Since you cannot always “see” mental health problems, some people view them as “not real.” Many people fear that others will look at them differently if they seek mental help. They do not want to be seen as emotionally weak. People are especially worried that seeking mental help with affect their careers, however this is not true. In fact, taking proactive steps to help mental health will reduce possible repercussions for the future. It is better to address the issue sooner rather than later, since unchecked mental health symptoms usually worsen over time. If you are experiencing mental health troubles, by no means are you alone. Many mental health issues are actually more prevalent than one would expect. By realizing that there are tons people who are experiencing something similar to them, people may feel better about reaching out for mental health.

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, 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.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health

https://www.pdhealth.mil/news/blog/reducing-self-stigma-mental-health-important-physical-health

Image Source: https://www.hrcsb.org/may-mental-health-awareness-month/