The Courage to Love Again-The Psychology of Heartbreak

The risk of loving someone is the fact that heartbreak may come one day. It is associated with singlehood, neurotic tendencies, and an anxious/avoidant attachment. After the heartbreak one starts the fear being hurt again or/and you start to believe that there is something about you that makes it impossible for someone to love you properly.

Romantic love activates in the caudate nucleus through dopamine.  Psychologist refer to this part of the brain as the “reward system”, emphasizing the idea that love does trigger emotion but essentially it is more of a motivational state, the motivation to obtain and retain the objects affection. This part of the brain lights up when someone is in love and when someone is a cocaine addict, meaning you are essentially an addict. Getting over your lost love will be tedious but well worth it. Researchers have found that if a person was no longer in love but still in pain from a break up their brain would still be in motivation mode, and expecting a reward. Hence why heartbreak can bring visceral pain, your body is not getting what it wants. The grieving person has numerous neural circuits devoted to the lost person, and each of these has to be brought up and reconstructed to take into account the person’s absence.

Specifically, the pain may be caused by the simultaneous hormonal triggering of the sympathetic activation system (fight-or-flight system that increases the activity of the heart and lungs) and the parasympathetic activation system (rest-and-digest response, social engagement system). It’s like heart’s accelerator and brakes are pushed simultaneously, creating the feeling of heartbreak.

What can help?

  • Give yourself time to grieve and reflect
  • Forgive the other person and yourself
  • Work on rebuilding good feelings about yourself and a life on your own
  • Avoid assumptions that keep you mired in the wreckage of your past relationship
  • Be aware of old relationship patterns
  • Be open to someone who is different
  • Give love time to grow

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy due to heartbreak, 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

Healthy Relationships: What does a healthy relationship look like

Healthy Relationships: What does a healthy relationship look like

By: Alexa Greenbaum 

As humans, we seek genuine relationships in which both parties are satisfied and attain benefits from being a part of the relationship. Every relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons, but the key elements to a healthy relationship remain. Healthy relationships bring out the best in you and make you feel good about yourself. However, a healthy relationship does not mean that it is perfect, no one is healthy 100% of the time. 

Healthy relationships manifest themselves as healthy communication and proceed at a comfortable pace that feels enjoyable to each person. There is a common goal for where both parties want the relationship to go. Trust is also a component of a healthy relationship. Trust can help you feel secure and give you the confidence that your partner would not do anything to hurt or ruin the relationship. When there is honesty, it can allow yourself to be truthful and candid without fearing how the other person will respond. Independence from a significant other can strengthen a relationship because it can give you the space to be yourself outside of the relationship. No one person can meet all your needs. Maintaining outside interests and relationships can sustain your own identity as well as stimulate and enrich your romantic relationship. Mutual respect is also critical. When there is respect, you value each other’s beliefs and opinions and love one another for who you are as a person.  

Overall, a healthy relationship does not only require trust, honesty, and independence, healthy relationships also require reciprocation and care. A good relationship is where both parties do things for each other and care about the relationship by voluntarily investing time and energy into the relationship. This means that there is equality within the relationship. The relationship feels balanced so that everyone puts the same effort into the success of the relationship. Equity allows both parties to maintain a meaningful emotional connection. Doing things for each other should be done out of kindness. Kindness means that you are caring and empathetic to one another. Kindness also means that you provide comfort and support, kindness makes each other feel loved and emotionally fulfilled. 

In times of conflict, taking responsibility and owning your actions and words, avoiding placing blame, and admitting when you make a mistake is critical in healthy relationships. Conflict can be healthy if handled correctly and respectfully. If conflicts are handled appropriately, it should not make couples fear disagreement. Healthy conflict is when parties within a relationship openly and respectfully discuss issues but confronting disagreement non-judgmentally. Lastly, a healthy relationship is fun. Fun in a healthy relationship means that you enjoy spending time together that you bring out the best in each other.

If you or someone you know is struggling in their relationship or another crisis, 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 .


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Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By: Gabriella Phillip

Anxiety is normal as we all worry from time to time about meeting deadlines for work or school, or being on time for a scheduled appointment. However, people with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, experience a chronic state of severe worry and tension, often without provocation. People with GAD aren’t usually able to shift their focus from their concerns, even though they are aware that much of their anxiety is unwarranted. These worries can include overthinking plans and solutions, inability to set aside or let go of a worry, or severe difficulty with handling uncertainty. People diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder undergo persistent, excessive worry that occurs on more days than not for at least six months and show at least 3 symptoms of the disorder.

For patients with GAD, worrying is often accompanied by physical symptoms including headaches, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, sweating, hot flashes, and restlessness. Generalized anxiety disorder affects around 6.8 million American adults; women are twice as likely as men to be afflicted. Onset age of this disorder can occur at any point in one’s life, but usually begins between childhood and middle age. Generalized anxiety disorder can affect all areas of life including social life, school, work, and family. According to a national survey conducted by the Anxiety Disorders Association, 7 out of 10 people diagnosed with GAD noted that their persistent anxiety has a clear impact on their romantic relationships and two-thirds reported that that this disorder has had a negative effect on their friendships. Generalized anxiety disorders are the most common cause of workplace disability.

Treatment for GAD commonly includes medication, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), talk therapy (psychotherapy), exposure therapy, and anxiety management; some of these treatments are used simultaneously. There is no single optimal treatment since what works for one patient might not be as effective for another patient. A combination of modalities is usually most effective.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help as we are able to provide a combination of treatments which have proven to be effective. 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. 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 .



Click to access July%2015%20GAD_adaa.pdf


Listening: Three Ways to Become a Better Listener


By: Tamar Asayan

All anyone ever wants is to be listened to when they are going through a difficult time in their life. An act as simple as listening can be the biggest help anyone can ask for. However, it can also be the hardest thing to do because listeners have a habit of relating issues back to themselves. The aim of listening is not to try to fix them or tell them what to do; instead it is to show them that you care and feel for them as they are struggling. Oftentimes, it is better to not relate issues back to yourself. People feel the need to be listened to because they want to make sure their thoughts are rational, and do not want to overthink. When we listen it reassures the person that we care and that they are not alone.

Three easy steps to becoming a better listener is to listen, understand, and respond appropriately.

  1. Listen
    • Pay attention to not only what the speaker is saying but body language as well.
    • Do not interrupt the speaker.
  2. Understand
    • This is the time to process everything the person has told you so you know how to respond appropriately.
    • Ask questions; the best types of questions to ask are open ended and reflective questions.
    • This allows the speaker to open up even more and explain what they are going through.
  3. Response
    • Address the speaker’s points.
    • Restate what they have told you.
    • Don’t complete the speaker’s sentences. This can come off rude, and interrupts your time to listen and for them to speak. Interrupting and assuming what the speaker is feeling will make them think you do not want to listen.



If you or someone you know may be having trouble with communication 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


Self-Esteem and Shaming Parents

By Stephanie Osuba

We have all felt, in one way or another, like we weren’t good enough or even felt embarrassed after making a mistake at work. This is healthy in that we are expressing sadness or just reflecting on a situation that could have been handled differently, but we move on and eventually feel valued and confident again. However, for some, that feeling of shame and guilt never goes away. Some believe they are inherently flawed, worthless, and inferior to everyone else. These negative emotions and lack of self-esteem are largely rooted in repeated childhood and adolescence trauma that is often left unprocessed. Internalization of this emotional abuse leads to a conditioning of sort, usually by the primary caregiver, that the negative emotions constantly felt reflect who one is as a person. This person comes to genuinely believe that he or she is a bad person, unlovable, never good enough, and deserves to be treated with disrespect.

The constant shame is also accompanied by a constant feeling of guilt. Everything is his or her fault, regardless of the context. There is a sense of unjust responsibility for other people’s emotions and the outcome of all situations. Its no wonder why low self-esteem can manifest itself in anxiety, self-harm or poor self-care, or on the other extreme, narcissism and antisocial tendencies. Here are some behaviors that can be a manifestation of low self-esteem:

  • Lack of healthy self-love: poor self-care, self-harm, lack of empathy, and inadequate social skills
  • Emptiness: loneliness, lack of motivation, and finding distractions from emotions
  • Perfectionism: this is often a behavior that manifests as adults because of the unrealistic standards these children were held to by their parents and were punished for not meeting
  • Narcissism: grandiose fantasies of who they want others to perceive them to be; even if they do succeed however, this protective personality doesn’t numb the negative emotions they truly feel.
  • Unhealthy relationships: people with low self-esteem are incapable of building and maintaining a relationship with others, largely because they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like. Both parties are usually extremely dependent.
  • Susceptibility to manipulation: the constant self-doubt, shame and guilt make it too easy to bend a person with low self-esteem to an experienced manipulator’s will.

Source: Cikanavicius, D. (2018, September 03). A Brief Guide to Unprocessed Childhood Toxic Shame. Retrieved from 

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-esteem, 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