Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

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TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

By: Dianna Gomez

A “traumatizing” experience is one that is dangerous, scary or unexpected and can leave a person affected emotionally. There are many different kinds of experiences that can be considered traumatizing. Traumatic events can be caused by other people such as terror attacks, community violence (mugging, shooting, assault, bullying), or a very serious car accident. Traumatic experiences can also be natural. Examples of natural traumatic events include hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Regardless of what category of trauma an event falls under, each has the potential to leave a certain amount of impact on a person’s brain.

For most people, with time comes less feelings of trauma following an event. However, it is not unheard of for a traumatic experience to leave a person affected for the rest of their lives. In addition, everyone reacts and copes with trauma differently. A majority of people have similar symptoms following a traumatic event that include trouble sleeping or concentrating, constantly thinking about what occurred, and feeling anxious, sad or angry. These can last for several weeks or even months following a traumatic event. There are a few actions that a person can take that are known to be the healthiest ways to cope after experiencing something traumatic. These healthy coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs
  • Spending time around loved ones or supportive people in your life that you trust
  • Maintaining normal daily routines (eating, exercising, sleeping)
  • Staying active! The more you have to keep your mind preoccupied, the less time you have to be consumed by negative thoughts about the event

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

In order to better understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD,” you must first understand the difference between an obsession and a compulsion. Obsessions are repeated thoughts or urges that cause an individual anxiety in their day to day lives. Compulsions are repetitve actions that a person feels the need to take due to their obsessive thoughts. Some common examples of obsessions are: feeling the need to have things perfectly symmetrical/in order or having an excessive fear of germs. Some examples of compulsions are: excessive cleaning or handwashing, repeatedly checking to make sure that the oven is turned off, repeatedly switching lights on and off to make sure they are completely off before leaving the room, etc. OCD is an uncontrollable, long-lasting disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults all around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common age to be diagnosed with this disorder is 19, however, it is possible to be diagnosed earlier or later in life as well. Boys tend to have an earlier age of onset than girls when it comes to OCD. Genetically speaking, a person is at higher risk for developing the disorder if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has it too. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily guarentee a diagnosis. In terms of brain structure, the two sections of the brain known to play the most prominent role in the development of OCD are the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain such as the hypothalamus, thalamus, or cerebellum, in addition to several others. The direct connection between the disorder and these parts of the brain is not fully understood yet. There are some ways that a person with OCD can manage their symptoms to obtain a better, easier way of life. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Communication Differences Between Genders

 

By: Dianna Gomez

Where would the world be without communication? Whether it be conscious or unconscious, we communicate in one way or another with those around us every minute of every day. We communicate in the work place, in relationships, with our friends and family – sometimes even when passing by strangers walking down the street. You would think that with the amount of communicating we do as a human species on a daily basis, we would have it all down to a “ T ” by now but that is far from the truth. Every once in a while we experience miscommunication and other frustrations related to interacting with the people around us. In order to improve the quality of communication in one’s own life, it is important to begin by understanding the different methods of communication between each gender. There are so many fundamental differences regarding the way in which men and women behave and think when it comes to communication. On average, women tend to speak more than men and when each gender is communicating, they do so for different reasons and from different perspectives.

Here is a list of these differences:

  1. Reasons For Talking
  • Men believe that communication should always have a clear purpose. Whether there is a problem in need of a solution or a specific question needing an answer, men use communication to get to the bottom of any topic of conversation in the most efficient way possible. On the other hand, a woman views communication as a way to discover how she may feel about something. Women like to lay all the potential pros and cons out on the table and discuss each more thoroughly. When it comes to relationships, communication is a way in which women increase intimacy with their significant others. They share their thoughts to rid themselves of any negative feelings they may be having.

2. How Much Should Be Said

  • Similarly to the first point, men always put productivity and efficiency at the very top of their lists. When telling a story, men only share the details that are absolutely necessary to get to the point. Women tend to share as much detail as possible, even if it isn’t necessarily needed. This is often times why men may interrupt women half way through an explanation when they have already received the point that is ultimately trying to be made.

3. What Does It Mean To “Listen?

  • When a woman first initiates a conversation with a man, she assumes they are doing so to obtain some type of advice or assistance. They automatically think to themselves “what can we actually do about this?” From the woman’s perspective, having the conversation all on it’s own is a way of finding a solution to any problem. Women just want to feel like they are being heard and understood, and if they feel this is happening any problem will already feel partially solved.

Communication is so important in every aspect of our lives. Especially when it comes to having relationships with significant others, if these fundamental differences aren’t already understood, there will be many disagreements and arguments about things that there wouldn’t be otherwise. Regardless of what gender you are, the next time you find yourself feeling frustrated when communicating with the opposite sex, take a step back and try to see the situation from their point of view. If this is done over a long enough period of time, you will find that life will soon go a lot smoother in all areas of your life.

 

If you or anybody you know may be having trouble with communication or may be having relationship problems they can’t seem to resolve, 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 us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Depression

By: Dianna Gomez

Similar to most mental health illnesses, depression does not discriminate. Depression doesn’t take into consideration what age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or religion a person is. In fact, not only does depression affect both men AND women, it may be experienced differently by each group as well. In general, depression is more commonly found in women then it is found in men. When it comes to women specifically, the higher rates of depression have been linked to biological, hormonal, life cycle, and psychosocial factors. It has been shown that hormones directly affect emotions and mood through brain chemistry. A time when women are especially at risk is after giving birth when physical and hormonal changes, as well as new responsibilities for their new born baby can be overwhelming. Postpartum Depression can also occur in new mothers and must be attended to immediately. When speaking about their depression, women are more likely to describe their experiences as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and/or guilt.

When men are depressed, they are more likely to describe their experiences as having feelings of fatigue, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, irritability, sleep issues, etc. In attempt to relieve themselves of their depression, men are more likely to bury themselves in their work and find ways to keep themselves preoccupied so they aren’t forced to confront their feelings head on. They may also participate in risky or reckless behaviors. Alcohol and substance use is another coping mechanism that men usually turn to. This is usually followed by episodes of anger and aggression.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Despite this, there is still no known cause for this debilitating illness. That is why it is absolutely crucial that professional help is sought out.

If either you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Coping With Stress

By: Dianna Gomez

 

Whether you are a prestigious lawyer or currently unemployed, one thing that all people have in common is that, at one point or another, we have all felt what it’s like to be stressed. The stress may be caused by totally different situations, but at the end of the day those feelings have been felt by us all. You may be asking yourself, “So what simple steps can I take to help myself next time I do feel overwhelmed with stress?” Whether you are a busy college student with 4 exams to study for, an overworked single mom with 2 jobs trying to put food on the table, or a very successful business person with tons of responsibilities, stress can be an issue in anyone’s life.

Here are 5 things you can do to decrease the amount of stress in your life:

#1. Determine Where the Stress is Coming From

  • Is your stress work-related? Is it constantly being caused by the same people in your life? Finding the root of the problem gives you better direction when aiming to correct it.

#2. Eat Healthy

  • For some people, a typical reaction to stress is to “eat your feelings” and turn to comfort foods that are more often than not foods that are processed and high in fat, sugar, or carbs. Although doing this may help you feel better for the short term, it definitely doesn’t help you in the long term which is more important. In fact, it can create problems in the long term that not only don’t help your stress, but add to it as well.

#3. Exercise

  • Go for a walk in the park, take a kick-boxing class, do a few laps in the pool. Get those endorphins flowing!

#4. Make Time for Yourself

  • We all have busy lives – places to be, people to see but nothing is more important than how you feel mentally. Whether it is 10 short minutes or an hour each day, take the time you have to do something you love and to be away from the chaos.

#5. You Can’t Fix What You Can’t Control

  • While you can’t control how your boss acts, what your mother-in-law says, or the current state of the economy, you can control things that you do. If you can’t control it, don’t let it control you!

 

If either you or anybody you know may be suffering from excessive amount of stress, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Depression or Sadness?

Depression or Sadness?

By: Kristine Dugay

Have you ever woken up one morning and wish you hadn’t? Not because it’s Monday or because you didn’t want to get ready for work or school, but simply because you wish you’d never wake up. Everyone has their bad days and sad moods, but when sadness constantly appears for no apparent reason it could be depression. Depression versus ordinary unhappiness is distinguished by longer and deeper feelings of despondency. With depression, all aspects of your life seem less enjoyable, important, loveable, and interesting. Depression mentally and physically drains your energy and you begin to have the inability to experience happiness, excitement, love, connection, and purpose.

Sadness is often related to circumstance, whereas depression is related to a mental illness. Being seriously bummed out over a breakup or getting a bad grade on an assignment can be terrible, but you’re still able to enjoy your favorite foods and T.V. shows. On the other hand, depression takes away the things that used to be significant and exciting for you and turns them into something that you lack interest in. If you constantly experience the following, there is a great chance you are depressed:

  • Feelings of worthlessness and self-blame
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Fatigue/decreased energy
  • Restlessness

If you believe that yourself or a loved one has or may have depression, suicidal thoughts, or interpersonal problems, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201510/the-important-difference-between-sadness-and-depression

Relationships: Emotional Abuse

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Relationships: Emotional Abuse

By: Catherine Ferreira

The typical image of an abusive partnership is often one of violence. It is one of bruises and broken bones; of random angry outbursts and bloodied hands. While not far from the truth, this portrayal can more often than not be greatly misleading.

There is a much deadlier, more sinister form of abuse that is not often talked about. It is not always noticeable, either. It takes the form of emotional abuse, or “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish one’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth”1. Emotionally abusive relationships do not simply consist of dramatic emotional outbursts or random fits of anger. It is so deadly exactly because it is so subtle: something as simple as “You’ve been gaining a lot of weight lately” can be an act of violence because it implies your partner has a degree of control over you.

It can come out in more overt ways, too: manipulation and ultimatums; threatening to kill oneself; unfounded jealousy and a sense of entitlement; constant begging, badgering, stalking—all of these and more constitute what it means to be in an abusive relationship. Worst of all, they are symptoms of a toxic cycle that is hard to acknowledge and harder still to break.

Fortunately, however, guidance from a professional therapist can help you learn how to break out of this cycle. If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are in need of therapy or relationship counseling, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources

http://www.vchreact.ca/read_psychological.htm

Photo Source

http://www.nabiswa.com/

Abuse: Emotional Manipulation (Part 1)

social-and-psychological-manipulation-bergencountyIn this mini-series of blogs, I would like to discuss the covert abuse that leaves no visible evidence except for the victim’s psychological suffering. Psychological abuse, also known as emotional abuse, is a type of abuse that can eat away at a victim’s self-esteem, autonomy, and happiness. This abuse is typically associated with power imbalance and manipulation; the abusive perpetrator is usually dominant and passive-aggressive but can seem pleasant and reasonable. This type of negative social influence has devastating effects on the victim; the goal of this abuse is to change the victim’s perspective and behavior through devious, exploitative ways in order to control the victim to get what the manipulator wants. The targeted individual rarely sees what is happening to them because manipulators conceal their true, aggressive purposes. The relationship is clearly unhealthy. This causes severe psychological damage to the victim and she becomes so dependent on the manipulator that she can no longer think for herself. Manipulators need their victims to fear them, oblige to their requests, and feel guilty if they cannot comply with those requests. Victims of psychological abuse are often codependent and abusers know how to play on their emotions and vulnerabilities. The victims can lose their sense of self, and harvest anxiety and emptiness.

There are several techniques manipulators use in order to control their victims. All of these techniques can twist a victim’s thoughts, actions and desires in order to mold her into what the manipulator wants her to be. Manipulators tend to make excuses to justify their actions, deny certain promises or agreements, play on your sympathy, use bribery to get what they want, portray fake concerns to undermine confidence, and use passive-aggressive tactics in order to express their emotions indirectly. These mental schemers also use emotional blackmail, such as guilt and fear, to cause shame and self-doubt in the victim. There are eight common warning signs to know when you are dealing with an emotionally abusive manipulator:

  1. Uses an individual’s statements against her
  2. conveniently forgets promises and agreements, and denies he ever said them
  3. uses guilt and sympathy to control the victim
  4. undermine the victim’s problems, emotions, and difficulties
  5. perform passive-aggressive actions to express anger or disappointment
  6. drain positive energy from the people around him
  7. shows little of responsibility
  8. always seem to have it worse than the victim

Emotional manipulators are controlling and this desire to control the victim is usually because manipulators are insecure themselves. Their underlying purposes in their actions are self-serving, and they have a constant need to feel more significant than the people around them. Passive, susceptible individuals are perfect to manipulate so that manipulators can obtain that feeling of power and superiority.

If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and might be suffering from psychological and emotional abuse such as manipulation, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information

References:

Lancer, Darlene. “Psych Central Search.” Psych Central.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.

Lenda, Paul. “8 Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulation.. and Free Ourselves From It.” The Mind Unleashed. N.p., 03 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 June 2015.

Marriage Counseling Can Lead to Enhanced Communication and a Successful, Fulfilling Relationship

Marriage Counseling and Enhanced Communicaton

Marriage Counseling and Enhanced Communication

“Effective Conflict Resolution”

By: Jessica Ortega

Most people enter marriage with the intent of establishing a happy union with a life partner. Sadly, it is not always the case that everything works out as planned. As time passes, marital strife due to conflict begins to deteriorate the once happy union. When couples finally seek help, the relationship is sometimes so broken it is just too late. Everyone clashes due to the negative feelings from differences between two people; it is part of what it means to be together. However, it is important to know how to fight.

Couples with poor conflict resolution skills are not successful at solving problems and letting go. Here’s what to consider when problems arise so that you and your spouse can become marital masters:

  • Self-awareness: get to know yourself, your wants and needs and ask for them in a non-threatening way instead of expecting them from your partner.
  • Forgiveness: if you forgive yourself for any wrongdoing you or your spouse may have caused the marriage, you can be on your way to forgiving your partner and letting go.
  • Empathic listening and responding: express yourself in an honest way so that your partner preserves his/her self-image without invoking defensiveness.
  • Efficacy: expect a successful marriage. Have the idea that as a unit, you and your partner can get through difficult times.
  • Feedback: when necessary, provide positive feedback without attacking or invalidating your spouse.

Remember: having good relationships is a skill and marriage is one of the most important of those learned skills. If you are concerned that you or anyone you care about may be having marital issues, the licensed counselors and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you. They have successfully helped many couples to get through hard times and achieve marital happiness. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.