March: National Self-Injury Awareness Month

March: National Self-Injury Awareness Month

By: Julia Massa

March is self-injury awareness month. Raising awareness educates those who do not self-harm and reaches out to those who do.

Self-injury or self-harm is characterized by hurting oneself on purpose to release painful emotions, process or distract themselves from their negative feelings, feel something when feeling numb, punish themselves, or develop a sense of control in their life. Self-harm can manifest differently for everyone, including cutting, scratching, burning, carving words into the skin, punching oneself, piercing skin with sharp objects, pulling out hair, or picking at existing wounds. Due to the stigma and shame that surrounds self-injury; many people do not report it. The current self-injury prevalence from statistics in over 40 countries explains that 17% of people partake in self-harm throughout their lifetime and the average age an individual begins to self-harm is 13. 50% of people seek help from friends, but do not commonly seek professional help. Cutting is the most commonly used form, with 45% resorting to cutting to relieve their pain. Since 2009, there has been a 50% increase in reported self-injury among young females.

Warning signs of self-harm include scars, fresh cuts, burns, scratches, bruises, wearing long sleeves or pants even in hot weather, impulsiveness, rubbing an area repeatedly to create a burn, having sharp objects on hand, questioning personal identity, and feelings of worthlessness. Self-harm can cause permanent scars, uncontrollable bleeding that can result in death, infection, addiction to the behavior, shame or guilt, avoiding friends and loved ones, becoming ostracized from loved ones who do not accept or understand the behavior, and interpersonal difficulty from lying to others about their injuries.

With the devastating consequences of self-harm and rates significantly increasing, it is important to advocate for those suffering to try to prevent them from engaging in these behaviors. Additionally, resorting to therapy to treat the underlying cause, such as overwhelming feelings and mood disorders, and finding better ways to cope may be the most effective route for those suffering from self-injury to take. For some, art therapy may help people process emotions and grab a marker instead of a sharp object. Individuals suffering can also text the crisis text line at 741741 when impulses to self-harm come on suddenly.

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

https://www.crisistextline.org/topics/self-harm/#what-is-self-harm-1

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Self-harm

Body Dysmorphia: Symptoms and Treatment

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder where one intensely focuses on appearance and body image, and cannot stop thinking about perceived defects and flaws. These flaws are minor and cannot be seen by others. The individual may feel so ashamed, anxious, and embarrassed that social interactions are avoided. These symptoms can cause extreme distress, be extremely time consuming, be disruptive, and cause serious problems in one’s work, school, and social life. Some may experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Both men and women can struggle with body dysmorphic disorder.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia can include:

  • A strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that causes you to feel deformed and ugly
  • Engagement of behaviors that are difficult to resist or control such as frequently checking the mirror, skin picking, and grooming
  • Seeking cosmetic procedures but gaining little satisfaction
  • Constantly comparing your appearance to others
  • Often seeking reassurance from others about your appearance

Body dysmorphic disorder affects both males and females and typically starts in the early teenage years.

Risk factors include:

  • Societal pressure and expectations of beauty
  • Negative life experiences such as abuse
  • Having another mental health disorder

Shame and embarrassment are often associated with body dysmorphia and that may keep one from seeking treatment. Body dysmorphic disorder can last for years or be lifelong. If left untreated, it can get worse over time, so it is important that the disorder is identified and treated.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, 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/.

Sources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353938

https://www.healthshots.com/mind/mental-health/everything-you-need-to-know-about-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Image Source

https://www.healthshots.com/mind/mental-health/everything-you-need-to-know-about-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Trauma: The Impact of Inter-generational Trauma

The concept of intergenerational trauma was first recognized in 1966, by Canadian psychiatrist Vivian M. Rakoff, MD, when she discovered high rates of psychological distress among children of Holocaust survivors. Intergenerational trauma is trauma that isn’t just experienced by one person but extends from one generation to the next. Some of the examples are domestic violence, alcohol and drug, refugees, and survivors of combat/war trauma.

Trauma affects genetic processes, possibly by   epigenetic mechanisms affecting DNA function or gene transcription. Furthermore, microglia is the brain’s immune system. When in a constant trauma reactive state, microglia can eat away at the nerve instead of enhancing growth, which then can lead to genetic changes. Researchers have much to discover about its impact and how it looks within certain populations.  

Everyone is susceptible to intergenerational trauma, but there are specific populations that are vulnerable due to their histories. For instance, populations that have been systematically exploited endured continuous abuse, racism, and poverty. Like survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Asia or African Americans in the United States

A wide range of behaviors were observed in the offspring of Holocaust survivors: feelings of over‐identification and fused identity with parents, impaired self‐esteem stemming from minimization of offspring’s own life experiences in comparison to the parental trauma, tendency towards catastrophizing, worry that parental traumas would be repeated, a sense of a shorten future, mistrust and behavioral disturbances such as experiencing anxiety, traumatic nightmares, dysphoria, guilt, hypervigilance and difficulties in interpersonal functioning. Trauma can mask itself through learned beliefs, behaviors, and patterns that can become engrained.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for intergenerational trauma, 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.health.com/condition/ptsd/generational-trauma

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127768/

Illustration by therapist Ayan Mukherjee

Art Therapy: An Adjunct in the Therapeutic Process

Art Therapy: An Adjunct in the Therapeutic Process

By: Julia Massa

Art therapy is defined as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Art therapy is used as an adjunct in the therapeutic process when working with diverse populations, but predominately children. This type of therapy can be exceptionally beneficial for parents of a child who has a medical illness or struggles with expressing or verbalizing their feelings or thoughts. Though this form of therapy is not commonly used when treating the adult population, it is frequently used diagnostically for those experiencing illness, trauma, or a mental health condition. For instance, art therapy can be an effective treatment for individuals diagnosed with cancer or traumatic brain injury.

Art therapists typically work in hospitals, psychiatric, and rehabilitation settings, as well as other clinical and community settings. In particular, art therapy can help support an individual’s ability to cope with certain medical challenges as well as long or short-term hospitalizations. This type of therapy can serve as an outlet for those who have difficulty expressing their daily thoughts. The creative process allows an individual to foster self-esteem as well as self-awareness.

Using a variety of forms of expressive art, such as dance, music, writing, visual arts, drama, etc. can allow an individual to not only express, but reflect on their own thoughts and emotions. In turn, an individual can explore and understand why they react to their experiences in a particular way and how they can initiate change.  Art therapy can be a key enhancer towards personal growth.

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 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.atcb.org/what-is-art-therapy/

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/art-therapy

Neurotic Perfectionism and Dance

By Katie Weinstein

Dancing is proven to lower rates of anxiety and depression as well as increase self-confidence and provide opportunities for social interaction. However, the competitive dance field creates an environment that promotes neurotic perfectionism, causing dancers to lose their love for dance. While perfectionism is what enables dancers to strive towards meeting their goals and working hard, neurotic perfectionism is when people set unreasonable expectations for themselves and feel shame when they do not achieve their goal. Neurotic perfectionism can lead to disordered eating, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.

Dancers feel that there is no excuse for not landing the part or not getting attention from their teacher besides lack of effort, so dancers spend hours perfecting their mistakes and comparing themselves to others in the mirror, fostering an incredibly competitive environment and causing dancers to become overly critical of their bodies and skills. Instead of focusing on the positive and creating opportunities from mistakes, dancers expect every movement to be perfect and are overly self-critical when this isn’t the case. Additionally, dancers compete with other people for their next paycheck, so they end up setting super high expectations that are nearly impossible to achieve, wishing they could get their leg up higher or look thinner than everyone else in the room. They often think that if they are not casted, they might not be able to afford to pay rent or buy groceries. Dancers end up pushing themselves too far, and often end up with insomnia from nervousness and injured because of burnout. This can even lead dancers to self-medicate so that their injuries are off the record, leading to substance abuse.

Some signs of neurotic perfectionism include setting unrealistic expectations, feeling shame or guilt and overemphasizing the final product, but underemphasizing the process. It is important to change your thought patterns so that you are not overly critical and can set realistic goals for yourself.

If you or someone you know is experiencing neurotic perfectionism, 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/talking-about-trauma/202101/competitive-dancers-risk-neurotic-perfectionism

https://www.dancespirit.com/perfectionism_101-2326036484.html

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

Body Image: The Negative Effects of Zoom

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Due to the transfer of meetings, classes, and other events from in-person to Zoom, people are experiencing an increase in self-consciousness from looking at their faces on a screen. In normal interactions, we do not need to confront our own image, but on Zoom we constantly face it. During Zoom meetings, it may be difficult to avoid focusing on how we look when we listen, talk, and emote. Continually staring at our own image can bring our insecurities to the forefront of our minds. In fact, our perception of our image may become distorted the longer we look at ourselves.

Zoom meetings may be especially difficult for people who already struggle with body dissatisfaction, or its more severe form, body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphic disorder is a preoccupation with one’s appearance, especially minor aspects of appearance which one perceives as a defect or flaw. People with body dysmorphia may have low self-esteem and believe that the perceived defect in their appearance makes them ugly or deformed. The preoccupation with the perceived flaw may cause anxiety in social situations. People with body dysmorphia may frequently check their image or groom themselves as a means to “fix” their perceived flaws. Features on technology, such as the “selfie camera” on the iPhone, serve as mirrors that enable people to repetitively perform these checking behaviors. The selfie camera also promotes preoccupation with one’s appearance. The Zoom screen is a permanent, overstimulating mirror.

A survey of a class at Cornell University revealed that the main reason students do not keep their cameras on during Zoom classes is due to insecurities about how they look. Zoom has implemented some features to combat these body image issues. Users can choose to “Hide Self View” so that they cannot see their own image on the Zoom call. Still, although they cannot see themselves, people may still worry about how others see them. If one is constantly staring at oneself or worrying about how one looks, one may not be able to focus on the content of the meeting.  Mind-wandering may decrease the level of happiness one feels while participating in a certain activity. Thus, eliminating distractions may make classes and meetings more enjoyable for participants.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or body dysmorphia, 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://cornellsun.com/2021/05/03/zoom-classes-heighten-self-consciousness-introducing-new-classroom-distraction/

https://www.vogue.com/article/body-dysmorphia-zoom-face

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353938#:~:text=Body%20dysmorphic%20disorder%20is%20a,may%20avoid%20many%20social%20situations.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_mind_wandering_make_you_unhappy

Image Source:

https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-prevent-zoom-bombing

Low Self-Esteem: Dating Apps Can Decrease One’s Self-Confidence

By: Lauren Zoneraich

With the advent and prolonged continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, many young adults have turned to dating apps as a way to connect with potential romantic partners, speak to new people, and entertain themselves. The most popular dating apps among young adults are Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Grindr, which are visually-based dating apps. Instead of text-heavy profiles, like those seen on Match.com, users swiftly accept or reject others based on their profile photographs, which dominate the page display. How does the visually-based nature of dating apps affect the self-esteem of dating app users?

One’s physical appearance and self-esteem are strongly linked. Self-esteem is defined as the self-evaluation a person holds regarding their worth, success, and capabilities. In a survey-based study of young adults, researchers determined that the visual nature of Tinder could raise or lower the self-esteem of users. Users who matched with a lot of attractive users and received many messages experienced an ego boost. Contrarily, many participants reported that the visual nature of the Tinder made them feel more self-conscious about their appearance. Users felt a decrease in self-esteem when they did not match with a lot of people or when they only received messages from unattractive matches. Many participants reported “swiping left on” (rejecting) users who they anticipated would not “swipe right on” (accept) them, or swiping left on users they liked to avoid the possibility of being rejected and experiencing a decrease in self-confidence. These reports highlight how Tinder can trigger negative assessments of the self even before a user is rejected, and of course, decrease a user’s self-confidence after rejection.

Online dating apps are not meant for everyone. If you find that apps such as Tinder are lowering your self-esteem, it may be best to delete these apps and meet partners through other avenues.

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

Reference:
Kallis, R. (2021). Creating a future relationship or destroying my self-esteem? An exploratory study on dating app experiences and well-being. Journal of Communication Technology, 4(1), 78-100. https://doi.org/10.51548/joctec-2021-005

Image Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2016/1/11/10749670/tinder-secretly-ranks-users-desirability

Ever Feel Like a Fraud?

By: Stephanie Osuba

Despite your degrees, acclaims, and accomplishments, do you ever sometimes feel like you are an imposter? That you’ve been getting lucky or that you’re a fake in your profession and one day people are going to find you out? As it turns out, you aren’t alone. Many successful people feel this way and often have to step back and remember all the things they have achieved – Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein among these people! While there is no diagnosis or even proper name for this feeling in the DSM-5, there are countless of reports of this in psychology and psychotherapy literature. In fact, the first time the term “imposter syndrome” was used was in an article in 1978 by Drs Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes who – after studying 150 educated, established, and highly respected women – found that they didn’t have an internal sense of success and found themselves to be “imposters.”

So what causes this “imposter syndrome” that befalls so many successful people? One reason could be that there is no real measure to success. There is always something more that you can do and regardless of how much success you’ve already had and you think you are content with, self-doubt can always creep in and say you haven’t done enough. Another reason could be “pluralistic ignorance,” which is believing something to be true without being able to prove or disprove it – usually involving unspoken or false beliefs about other people. For example, research has shown that all college students feel anxiety about school but the actual students think they are the only ones who feel that way and other people are having no trouble adjusting to college life. And lastly, talent can make us believe that we haven’t worked hard enough and don’t deserve the praise or success of what comes naturally to us.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201811/do-you-ever-feel-fraud 

If you or someone you know appears to be having issues with self-esteem or is suffering from anxiety, 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/

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 https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-self/2018/09/childhood-toxic-shame/ 

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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/