Suicide: Fighting Suicidal Thoughts

By: Sally Santos

If you are someone who is suffering with suicidal thoughts, you should be aware that most people that have attempted to commit suicide but did not succeed feel relieved that they did not succeed in ending their life. When things get tough sometimes your mind starts racing and you feel overwhelmed with emotions. Suicide doesn’t just happen on its own, it is led by many social risk factors some of them being:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Employment status
  • Lack of social support

Many people who have attempted to commit suicide will say that they were experiencing very intense feelings of hopelessness. They felt like they had lost control of their lives and that nothing is going to get better. But that is not true. In that moment it may feel hopeless but there are ways to help you feel better. You do not have to feel like you have to fight your battles alone. In order to steer away from those thoughts it is important to keep in mind a plan just in case your thoughts become too overwhelming. It is recommended to make a list of all the positive things that you have in your life such as:

  • Read a favorite book or listen to your favorite music
  • Write down positive things about yourself or the favorite aspects of your life
  • Try to get a goodnights sleep
  • Have a list of people you trust to call in case you want to talk

Always note that you can discuss how you have been feeling with a healthcare provider. They can provide you with the advice and help that you need in order to achieve a faster and healthy recovery. Lastly, as mentioned in an article in Psychology Today it’s important to “remember that you have not always felt this way and that you will not always feel this way”. The emotions and thoughts that you have now are temporary not permanent.

Article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201204/fighting-suicidal-thoughts

Image: https://www.teepublic.com/sticker/1813639-suicide-prevention-awareness-butterfly-ribbon

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

 

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Bipolar Disorder: Cognitive Deficits of Which You May Not Be Aware

By Samantha Glosser

When you hear the term “bipolar disorder” your first thoughts are most likely about the cycle of elevated and depressed moods, of extreme highs and extreme lows. This is to be expected, as these states of mania and depression are hallmark features of bipolar disorder, and they are typically the symptoms highlighted by mainstream media. In mania, individuals exhibit symptoms of high energy, decreased need for sleep, feelings of euphoria, extreme irritability, and impulsivity. In a depressive state, individuals display symptoms of low energy, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, avolition, and suicidal ideation.

Sometimes there can be more to bipolar disorder than just these symptoms. For some, after the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms, there is a marked decrease in cognitive capacity across a few different areas. Typical cognitive deficits reported with bipolar disorder include the following: difficulties with working memory, such as word retrieval, and executive functioning, such as problems with planning, prioritizing, and organizing behavior. Individuals also experience difficulties retaining information that was just presented to them and can even experience slowed thought processes. These adverse cognitive impacts appear at both polarities of mood. It is also important to distinguish between two types of cognitive deficits: mood-phase specific and enduring. Mood-phase specific cognitive deficits are typical to most individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as these symptoms are only present during periods of mood intensity. Enduring deficits, on the other hand, will remain present even when an individual has sustained a period of partial remission or is at a baseline level of functioning (i.e., they are not experiencing mania or depression). Not everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences enduring cognitive deficits. Individuals with a history of higher acuity symptoms, as well as individuals with a history of treatment resistant symptoms, treatment non-compliance, and/or unhealthy lifestyle choices are more likely to suffer from enduring cognitive deficits.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from bipolar disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/


Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bipolar-you/201412/cognitive-deficit-in-bipolar-disorder

Low Self Esteem: 7 Steps to Start Loving Yourself

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Self-esteem describes the way that we evaluate and judge ourselves. It is assessed on a continuum from high to low, with unfortunately many people who fall under the category of having low self-esteem. People who feel this way about themselves do not see themselves and their views as valuable, compare themselves to others, feel worthless, and lack self-confidence.

If you or anyone you know struggles with low self-esteem, you know how difficult it can be to bear the feelings that come with it. It can be draining, can impair overall functioning, can influence social interactions, and can cause one to be withdrawn from society. Although it is not easy to cope with low self-esteem, it can be improved through steps towards accepting and loving oneself. The capacity for change comes from within yourself!

Here are 7 Steps to Begin Loving Yourself and Boost your Self-Esteem:

1. Practice saying things you like about yourself in the mirror every morning when you wake up. Start your day taking the time to compliment yourself. This will begin to come naturally the more you do it.

2. Write out a list of your accomplishments. Accomplishments as big as landing the job you wanted or as small as getting the laundry done count. The more you applaud yourself, the more you will be able to boost your confidence.

3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and failures. It is easy to hold onto failures and consider yourself to be a failure. Learn to accept and forgive mistakes, recognizing that everyone in the world makes them.

4. Stop comparing. Remind yourself that you are different from the people around you, and that you are not them. The more you try to compare yourself with others, the more you lose sight of who you are.

5. Spend time with the people you love. It is easy to isolate when you are not feeling your best, but surrounding yourself with the family and friends who you feel closest to can boost your happiness and make you feel good about yourself, especially seeing how happy they are to be with you.

6. But also, spend time alone. Take yourself out somewhere nice, go on a long drive alone, or even travel by yourself. Giving yourself “me-time” is important in developing a better relationship with yourself.

7. Remind yourself that no on is perfect. It is easy for us to feel bad about ourselves when we think we need to be this “perfect” person. Remember, perfect does not exist, so you should just try to be you instead.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.

Self-Harm

By Samantha Glosser

Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is becoming far more common than it used to be. Studies have shown that around two to three million Americans engage in self-harm every year. However, despite the growing number of people who inflict harm on themselves, self-harm is still a topic that many people do not want to talk about. It can be a scary and uncomfortable topic to discuss, but avoiding conversations about this topic creates a cycle of stereotypes and misinformation that will make people who harm themselves feel alone and that they cannot ask for help. In opening up the discussion about self-harm, there are a few important things to note.

What is self-harm? Self-harm can be defined as the act of inflicting deliberate injury onto oneself. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: cutting, burning, bruising, pulling hair, and breaking bones. Self-harm is not a sign of suicidality, it is a coping mechanism individuals have adapted to deal with various types of deep emotional distress.

Why do people self-harm? Like most mental health issues, the cause of self-harm cannot be attributed to one factor. There are numerous different reasons that someone might turn to self-harm as a coping mechanism. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the following: loss of control over emotions, feeling numb or empty, confusion about sexual or gender identity, bullying, and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Self-harm allows sufferers to turn emotional pain into physical pain, or it allows them to feel something when they are numb and empty.

Who engages in self-harm? Self-harm does not discriminate. It can affect you no matter your age, race, or gender. However, there are a few groups who are at a higher risk for self-harm according to recent research. These groups include the following: LGBTQ+ individuals, people aged 12-25, individuals battling addiction, and individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and eating disorders. Often times you will not even know that someone is struggling with self-harm, because those who harm themselves commonly go to great lengths to keep their behavior a secret.

Can self-harm be treated? Although self-harm is not considered a mental disorder, there are still treatment options available. Treatment consists of psychotherapy which helps the individual to identify what causes them to self-harm and teaches them coping mechanisms that do not rely on bodily harm.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from self-harm, 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/


Sources: Grohol, J. M. (n.d.). Cutting and Self-Injury [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/cutting-and-self-injury/

Lyons, N. (n.d.). Self-Harm: The Myths & the Facts [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/embracing-balance/2015/07/self-harm-the-myths-the-facts

What is Self Injury (SI)? (2016, July 17). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-self-injury-si/

Delusions

By: Stephanie Osuba

A delusion is a strongly held thought or conviction that persists despite evidence to the contrary. There are three components that all delusions have: (1) they are held with unusual conviction (2) they are not amenable to logic (3) the absurdity of their content is explicitly evident to others. People who have delusions, no matter how weird and unimaginable, believe it to be fact and when attempting to clarify or argue will result in anger and even sometimes violent reactions. People with delusions usually feel that others think they are inherently unintelligent and that they aren’t being understood.

There seems to be a split in reality because most people who have delusions are able to keep their beliefs to themselves in professional settings where the delusions seem to “disappear” unless the person is in the presence of someone they trust. “Higher functioning” people who have delusions seem to have the input of a situation correct, however they often misinterpret the information leading to a delusional thought. For example, they might see their partner talking to the neighbor and suddenly they are being cheated on. Of course there are other cases in which the person is experiencing other psychotic symptoms (such as in schizophrenia where there might be hallucinations and disorganized speech) and the person is acting out on their delusions.

Some Common delusions:

  • Persecution: they are being intentionally run off the road, the police are searching for them, they are being targeted by news anchors
  • Infidelity: they are being cheated on or lied to by their partners
  • Love: they are in love, or someone, that they don’t know or have never met, is in love with them; usually celebrities.
  • Grandeur: believing they are God is very common; they have special or supernatural gifts
  • Memory: recalling events that have not happened; hard to clarify if it’s a delusion or pathological lying
  • Perception: when abnormal significance is placed on any normal or natural situation

Source: Hill, T., MS, LPC. (2018, October 17). 6 Dangerous Delusions Someone You Know Might Have. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2018/10/6-dangerous-delusions-a-loved-one-might-have/ 

If you or someone you know has delusions, 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/.

College Stress

By: Charleene Polanco

Change is a natural part of life. Some people gladly welcome change and growth, while others tend to panic when the stability of what they are used to is gone. College is one of the biggest transitions a person can experience, because it is a time for independence. Leaving the safety of your house, parents, and friends is necessary to have new experiences and make connections. College introduces a change in lifestyle, greater workload, different responsibilities, and new relationships. With all of these changes, many students experience college stress because they are unable to effectively handle the different aspects of their lives. College stress is more common than we think, with six out of ten students experiencing stress to the point of it becoming detrimental to their college lives. The symptoms of college stress include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and an inability to cope.  The more serious symptoms of college stress are suicidal thoughts, drug/alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, physically violent outbursts, and uncontrollable crying.

Since stress is so prevalent among college students, there are many tips available to help reduce and cope with stress. It is recommended that college students seek out stress management resources. On college campuses, there are many resources available to students, which can help them manage their lives. Counseling services are one of the many resources designed to hear student’s problems and provide them with solutions. If a person is uncomfortable with contacting counseling services, they can start out by talking to a trusted friend, advisor, or family. However, if you are experiencing the more serious symptoms of college stress, it is highly encouraged that you seek out counseling services or other professional resources.

If you or someone you know is suffering from college stress, 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:

NYU. “Stress.” Stress, NYU, www.nyu.edu/life/safety-health-wellness/live-well-nyu/priority-areas/stress.html

“Student Guide to Balancing Stress.” Best Colleges, Best Colleges , 28 June 2018, www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/.

 

Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Don’t Come Forward Sooner

By Samantha Glosser

If you watch the news or are an avid social media consumer, you have probably heard about various claims of sexual assault against public and political figures, where the victim did not immediately come forward. We recently saw this with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager. Situations like Dr. Ford’s have opened up a discussion about one important question: why do survivors wait so long to report an assault? Research shows that it is a normal response for survivors of sexual assault to take time before reporting the assault, if they report at all. This may not make sense to you, as you are probably wondering why they wouldn’t want justice or revenge on their abuser. However, there are numerous reasons that compel survivors to prolong or withhold disclosing that they were sexually abused.

  1. Fear of being victimized a second time. Reporting a sexual assault often leads to new and added traumas from peers, family members, police officers, lawyers, etc. This feeling often comes from having to relive the experience or from people indicating that the victim caused the sexual assault by asking questions like, “What were you wearing at the time of the attack?”
  2. Lack of support. Lack of support is a multi-faceted issue. Survivors find it hard to report if they are not surrounded by loved ones who support them. However, even with this support, individuals still refrain from reporting because they know that our society has a tendency to blame the victim for the sexual assault. A lack of support can even come from other survivors of sexual assault. Typically, other survivors are seen as a source of comfort. However, some will dismiss another person’s assault with statements like, “What’s the big deal? It happens to all of us. Get over it.”
  3. Decline in functioning after the assault. Survivors of sexual assault experience intense feelings of shame, worthlessness, and self-loathing which can quickly bring on depression and anxiety. It is difficult for survivors to contemplate a course of action after the assault when they can barely figure out how to make it through the day. In the midst of these emotions, survivors want to forget and pretend that the assault did not occur.
  4. Vague memories of the attack. In some cases, victims of sexual assault were drugged by their abuser or previously inebriated. Both of these situations can lead to victims only having a vague memory of the attack. In addition, the trauma endured by some victims is so severe it causes them to dissociate, which also leads to vague memories. When individuals do not have a vivid recollection of the event, they may be scared to come forward because they fear others will not believe them, or in some cases because they do not believe their own memories.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, 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://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-women/2018/10/6-big-reasons-women-dont-report-sexual-abuse-right-away/

Opioid Addiction: Treating Opioid Dependence with Medication

By Samantha Glosser

The opioid epidemic is a real and fatal problem in the United States. Every week more than 800 people die from opioid-related deaths, yet the epidemic still appears to be growing. In addition to overdoses and death, opioid addiction is also a catalyst for the spread of diseases like Hepatitis and HIV, can cause birth complications such as low birth weight and neonatal abstinence syndrome, and makes it harder for individuals to maintain jobs. The impacts of opioid addiction are devastating for the inflicted individuals, their loved ones, and their communities. Thus, it is more important than ever to provide appropriate treatment to individuals who are struggling with an opioid addiction. But when abstinence and traditional therapies fail, what treatment is left? Medication assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is a highly effective, but not commonly used, treatment method that addresses all aspects of addiction.

MAT involves the use of medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, combined with psychological treatments. This technique aligns with the disease model of addictions, which acknowledges the fact that the brain is physically altered by drug use. Treatments should then be capable of addressing the neurological and physiological changes that occur in the brain, which is where medication comes into the picture. Appropriate dosages of medications relieve the biological urge the brain feels for the drug, reduces cravings, relieves withdrawal symptoms, and improves the overall quality of life for patients. This allows an individual to begin working towards recovery at a faster pace. The medication will help them heal physically and at the same time psychological treatment will help them heal both mentally and emotionally. In addition, research shows that medication assisted treatment is proven to not only help individuals diagnosed with an opioid addiction to recover faster, but also prevents overdoses, improves daily functioning, and prevents them from committing crimes. If you or someone you know has been unsuccessful in their opioid addiction treatments, MAT may be the right treatment for you.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from opioid addiction, 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/

Jaffe, A. (2018, October 9). Is medication assisted treatment good or bad? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201810/is-medication-assisted-treatment-good-or-bad

Nightmares: Normal or Disorder?

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We all know the horrible sensation of waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare, a terrifying dream that occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. These dreams are a normal response to stressors in our life, and occur both during childhood and in adulthood. However, when nightmares occur regularly and lead to impairment of one’s cognitive and social functioning, they can develop into Nightmare disorder.

Nightmare disorder is characterized by frequent occurrences of fearful dreams which can interfere with development, functioning, and sleep. People with the disorder are constantly woken up with the detailed recall of dreams that feel like a threat to their survival or security. In addition, such individuals tend to awaken very easily, and have difficulty functioning throughout the day. They are not taking any substances which could lead to the increase in nightmares and, therefore, show signs of the disorder.

Many of the likely causes of Nightmare disorder include mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, which cause people to stress throughout the day which can interfere with their sleep. In addition, any major life trauma can result in this growing distress. Finally, any sleeping disorder, such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or sleep terror, can cause increased nightmares.

If you are experiencing extreme, recurrent nightmares, do not hesitate to reach out for help and seek treatment. You can speak to a psychologist or take anti-depressant medication to address the issues behind these dreams and to better reduce the unpleasant symptoms. Aside from this, setting a routine during bedtime, making oneself comfortable, exercising during the day, doing meditation before bed, and sleeping until sunrise are ways to better relax and try to prevent nightmares. It is important to take care of yourself and your health, both when you are awake and alert AND when you are asleep.

If you or someone you know is suffering from nightmares, 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/.

Body Image: Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment

By Samantha Glosser

Body dysmorphic disorder, sometimes referred to as body dysmorphia or BDD, is a mental disorder characterized by preoccupation with imagined or markedly exaggerated imperfections or defects in one’s physical appearance. Those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder spend a significant amount of time every day obsessing over their appearance and engaging in repetitive compulsive behaviors in an attempt to avoid anxiety, distress, and hide their imperfections. Signs and symptoms include constantly checking one’s appearance, excessive grooming, over-exercising, picking skin, pulling hair, using makeup or clothing to camouflage one’s appearance, or even getting plastic surgery. Body dysmorphic disorder leads to significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life. However, there are treatment options available.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is short-term, goal-oriented therapy. In body dysmorphic disorder, CBT is used to decrease compulsive behaviors and the negative thoughts about one’s appearance. This is achieved through techniques such as cognitive restructuring and mind reading. Cognitive restructuring teaches the patient to challenge irrational thoughts about their bodies and replace them with more realistic and adaptive thoughts. In addition to their own negative thoughts, individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder also believe others hold the same negative thoughts about them. Mind reading allows patients to understand that other people do not share these thoughts about them and provides realistic alternatives. For example, that person staring at them at the mall was probably admiring their outfit. Another frequently used technique is exposure therapy. This requires patients to create a hierarchy of anxiety-provoking situations which they are then exposed to in order to overcome anxiety and distress.

Psychiatric medications. Research has also shown that antidepressant medications are an effective treatment for body dysmorphic disorder, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s that are commonly used for the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder include Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, among others. SSRI’s help to reduce obsessional thinking, compulsive behaviors, and depression, a common comorbid disorder among individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, or other problems associated with negative body image, 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: Tartakovsky, M. (2016, July 17). Demystifying treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/demystifying-treatment-for-body-dysmorphic-disorder/