COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

By Celine Bennion

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us in more ways than just illness itself. From strict isolation measures to mask mandates, several necessary health protocols have changed the way we carry out our daily lives. This is especially true for college students who were forced to transition to online learning, shifting the established routines they once knew.

At the onset of the pandemic, students residing on campus were forced out of their dorms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Without a place to stay on campus, they moved back home, forcing a drastic change in living situations. Even commuter students had to adjust to new norms, as they were no longer allowed to study on campus. With siblings also engaged in online school and parents working from home, their learning environment quickly changed from a quiet classroom to a bustling household. These changes posed several challenges, as many students found it increasingly difficult to stay focused in lectures and successfully absorb the material they were presented with.

Additionally, because students could not be present on campus, they were no longer able to engage in everyday social interactions. Meeting up with friends to study, attending club meetings, and participating in sports were no longer an option after transitioning to remote learning. These fundamental social interactions are vital for college students to maintain their wellbeing and to properly develop as individuals.

The major academic and social changes that transpired due to the pandemic led to a serious rise in reports of mental health challenges. According to a 2020 Active Minds survey on college students, about 75% of respondents indicated that their mental health had declined during the pandemic. Students specifically reported increased levels of anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and stress. With the many changes that students quickly had to manage, these feelings are understandable.

The rise of mental health challenges has prompted numerous universities to initiate changes to the psychological services that are offered to students. Many students have access to Telehealth counseling sessions and other mental health resources through their university. These resources allow students to obtain proper assistance for navigating their personal challenges.

It is essential that universities acknowledge the struggles their students are facing and make appropriate changes to support them through this difficult time.

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

Sources:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/education/2021/09/13/nj-colleges-covid-student-burnout-stress-mental-health-toll/5716116001/

https://online.maryville.edu/blog/stress-in-college-students-recognize-understand-and-relieve-school-stress/ (photo)

Post-College Anxiety

Post-College Anxiety

By: Julia Massa

Post-college anxiety, or Post Commencement Stress Disorder, though not an official medical diagnosis, is used to describe the uncertainty and anxiety college graduates often feel as a result of their achievement. With both internal and external expectations to “measure up,” graduates find themselves conflicted, depressed, and pressured. Graduates may fear failure due to not finding a job as well as feel pressured to pay back their student debt without having a secure job or realizing that career path just isn’t for them. Furthermore, they may feel alone due to moving back home and changing their social contexts. In fact, 53% of 18-to-24 year old graduates live with their parents after graduation. Homesickness is a cycle, perhaps.

From being a student at the mere age of five to an actual member of society can lead to an identity crisis. Additionally, college students may have trouble sleeping, concentrating, become less interested in socializing, experience shortness of breath or rapid heart rate, feel a lack of control of their life, or numb these feelings with alcohol, drugs, or binge-eating.

Feeling nervous about the future is a normal reaction to uncertainty, especially if you thrive on consistency and routine. Graduates can address feelings of uncertainty by practicing test runs for job interviews, “zooming in” and looking at each step, getting feedback from multiple resources like resume writers or networking events, and embracing the chaos. When life becomes complex, it is important to practice self-care and remind yourself that it is not a bad day- just a complex one. Moreover, if a graduate is stressed about finances, they can be financially proactive and learn banking, create an emergency fund, SAVE little by little, or create a realistic payment plan to pay off their loans. 

Graduating is a bittersweet experience. Adjusting to change can be scary, but in the case of college grads, they are on the path to prosper. Though it is easier said than done, it is important to embrace each chapter and live day by day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with post-college anxiety, 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://extension.wvu.edu/food-health/emotional-wellness/post-graduation-stress#:~:text=Lushkin%20lists%20these%20common%20symptoms,in%20a%20reasonable%20length%20of

https://www.careercontessa.com/advice/how-to-deal-post-grad-anxiety/

https://www.psycom.net/college-graduation-anxiety-expert-advice/

Image source:

Anxiety Disorder: Caffeine Induced

By: Julia Massa

Starbucks, Dunkin, Wawa, and other “on the go” stops will never go out of business. Humans rely heavily on caffeine to get through their shifts, workouts, or even just to post a quick Instagram story. In fact, humans spend five to ten dollars on their caffeine cravings each day. However, there are several caffeine related disorders according to the DSM-IV, including caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-related disorder not otherwise specified. Some symptoms of caffeine-induced anxiety include red face, shaking, muscle twitching, confused speech, sweating, insomnia, frequent urination, impulsive reactions towards minor inconveniences, and mood swings. Caffeine-Induced Anxiety is caused by the effect of caffeine on the brains neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine. This chemical increases stress hormones, like cortisol, which is linked to many mental disorders and may interact with medications a patient is already taking to manage their anxiety symptoms.

Caffeine is listed as a drug in both medical and psychiatric literature since it is a central nervous stimulant and can be fatal if a person exceeds the daily recommendation of 400mg. For those with anxiety, 200mg or less is the recommended dose. Though it is rare, consuming a caffeine pill of a high dose can lead to ventricular fibrillation and death. Caffeine is legal and unregulated, which is why many people do not realize how their medium hot caramel coffee with almond milk can exaggerate their anxiety symptoms or cause anxiety-related symptoms. When people limit their caffeine intake suddenly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms similar to addictive drugs like cocaine. These symptoms include headache, irritability, drowsiness, loss of focus, insomnia, stomach pain, etc. For this reason, many individuals continue to drink caffeinated beverages to prevent these symptoms. In fact, more than 97% of caffeine consumed by adolescents and adults come from beverages.

Though the prevalence rate for caffeine-induced psychiatric disorders has not been well established, there is a high comorbidity rate between caffeine and several mood and substance abuse disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, 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/

http://www.americanmedtech.org/files/STEP_Online_articles/353.pdf

https://www.dovemed.com/diseases-conditions/caffeine-induced-anxiety/

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Celine Bennion

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder in the United States, currently impacting 3.1% of the population; as many as 5.7% of U.S. adults report experiencing this disorder at some point in their lives. GAD is characterized by feelings of excessive worry which have no particular trigger. This anxiety can be felt about school, work, social interactions, or even common, everyday events. These behavior patterns and cognitive issues become disordered when they begin to disrupt normal functioning.

Symptoms of GAD include the following: restlessness, being wound-up or on-edge, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleeping problems including difficulty falling/staying asleep or unsatisfying sleep. At least three of these symptoms must be present for at least six months for a patient to be diagnosed with GAD.

Treatment:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is particularly helpful in treating anxiety disorders, including GAD. This therapy involves teaching patients different ways to approach anxiety inducing situations by changing how they think, behave, and react to them. It also helps to implement social skills in patients.

Medications are another form of treatment for GAD. It should be noted, however, that medications are used to help decrease symptoms of a disorder and do not cure it entirely. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are commonly used to treat GAD. Anti-depressants work for both depression and anxiety by altering chemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine. They help to regulate mood and relieve symptoms associated with these disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the most commonly used anti-depressants. Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, are effective in treating anxiety symptoms quickly. They are often used as a second option when anti-depressants are not enough to relieve symptoms.

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

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

https://adaa.org/blog/category/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad (photo)

Eating Disorders; How Stress Impacts Eating Disorders

By: Jillian Hoff

Stressful situations often can cause individuals to lean on food to cope. When someone has an eating disorder any stressful situation could possibly be one of the triggers for them. It is known that these individuals tend to have an increased desire to binge eat or restrict their diet so that they can feel more in control. This sense of stability to them is a means of a stress reliever. While stress in itself is not healthy for a person, the result of an eating disorder also tends to create problems for a person’s health. Eating disorders can often cause the individual to have a constant worry about their weight and the food that they are eating. At times this constant worry could lead to anxiety, low self-esteem and even depression. It is important especially for individuals who suffer from an eating disorder to find other ways to cope with stress so that they can try to decrease the chance of either binging or restricting food.

Some ways they can cope would to be to have some type of social support system. This would be someone that the individual can talk to at any time whether it is for emotional or financial help. The individual can also choose to focus on calming strategies like meditation or breathing exercises.  Writing down positive messages to yourself would also be a good coping mechanism especially due to the negative thoughts that they might feel due to their eating disorder. Some lifestyle changes could also help. This would include practicing time-management skills so that one does not feel overwhelmed. Also, by trying something new each day it could be used as a way to get your mind off any stressors in your life.

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

Sources:

https://www.mirasol.net/learning-center/chronic-stress.php

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/stress-binge-eating-disorder

Drug Consumption Rose During COVID-19

By: Priya Desai

Coronavirus is a hard time for everyone and there has been a lot of adjusting to do. Many people turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the stress, anxiety and depression that they were feeling. Due to this, there was an apparent increase in both quantity and how often people were using drugs during the pandemic. These coping mechanisms are only temporary and cannot fix the problems that people are actually facing.

Months after the pandemic started, there was a survey done in Florida to see how often drugs and alcohol are being used. Almost 80 percent of the participants reported using alcohol in the past month, over 35 percent reported using marijuana, and 10 percent of participants were using stimulant drugs. Along with this, overdoses have spiked since the pandemic began. The increase usage of drugs during the pandemic has occurred primarily among young adults. A few of the reasons for this are economic stress, boredom, general anxiety about the pandemic, fear of acquiring the virus, and loneliness.  With school being online and the stay-at-home act being in order, students had free time which resulted in them abusing substances. Instead of using drugs, people can find a hobby, whether it be painting, exercising, or baking. In addition, with classes being held virtual and jobs being lost due to the pandemic, young adults were worried and stressed. This resulted in an increased use of drug and alcohol in attempt to cope with the stress.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse caused by the pandemic 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/

Citations: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/202012/drugs-choice-in-the-era-covid-19

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/03/substance-use-pandemic

Image Citation: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.therecoveryvillage.com%2Fmental-health%2Fstress%2Fsubstance-abuse%2F&psig=AOvVaw1hOPaFHRj0X49E6hcvbtEC&ust=1631200310612000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCJC80e3U7_ICFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

PTSD- Police Officers

By: Devorah Weinberg

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering from a traumatic event. Symptoms include: reliving the trauma, avoiding situations that trigger memories of the event, insomnia, and difficulty focusing. Those suffering from PTSD may experience nightmares and severe anxiety as well. They may have difficulties with relationships and feel hopeless about the future.

Being a police officer is extremely stressful. On average, a police officer will witness three traumatic events per every six months in service. Up to 35% of officers suffer from PTSD. Unfortunately, they tend to suffer from cumulative PTSD. This form of PTSD builds up over time, due to repeated exposure to traumatic events. Cumulative PTSD often goes untreated due to the difficulty of detection, since it slowly builds up. In addition, many police officers are afraid to seek treatment because they don’t want to be perceived as being weak by their peers.

 If the PTSD remains untreated, it may lead to substance abuse, aggression, or even suicide.

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

Sources:

https://www.police1.com/health-fitness/articles/police-officers-face-cumulative-ptsd-tgd6zLqtGwdG3wg2/

https://nationalpolicesupportfund.com/police-officers-experience-high-rates-of-pt

Image Source:

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/takeaway/segments/police-and-ptsd

What Do Dreams Tell Us About Our Mental Health?

   By: Kassandra Lora

Have you ever wondered if dreams are a reflection of our subconscious trying to send a message or if they are just meaningless? What do these specific dreams tell us about our mental health?

    One type of dreaming, besides the occasional nightmares, is lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when the dreamer is aware they are dreaming but, without waking up, they can control what they do in the dream as well as the outcome of the dream. Some people lucid dream regularly while others rarely and some cannot lucid dream at all. So, what does lucid dreaming show us about our mental health? In an article written in the PsychologyToday magazine, they discussed an observation conducted with a group of undergraduate students who participated in a sleep study. The results stated how, “Intense lucid dreamers had, on average, lower levels of psychological distress.” It was explained that individuals who have more intense lucid dreams had less depression, stress, and anxiety than individuals who had less intense lucid dreams.  However, those who don’t lucid dream at all had no difference in psychological wellbeing when compared to those who have very intense lucid dreams.  It is interesting to see how something like lucid dreaming can have such a perspective on psychological health.

    Besides measuring psychological distress, according to the Psych Central website, dreams have many mental health benefits as well. Some benefits of dreams include:

  • Helping you learn: Dreams allow your brain to make sense of new information that has been learned.
  • Being therapeutic to a person: dreams can help a person heal real-life emotions through dreams.
  • Helping you overcome your fear: lucid dreaming can allow you to practice facing and overcoming what you are afraid to do in real life.

If you or someone you know needs help regarding sleep and dreams, 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/.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/201804/what-dreams-may-tell-you-about-your-mental-health

https://psychcentral.com/blog/brain-and-mental-health-benefits-of-dreaming#2

Image source: https://wallhere.com/en/wallpaper/781179

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

By: Kassandra Lora

Once the seasons change from fall to winter and the days become shorter, some individuals may notice a change in their moods. Some of these mood changes may be a slight feeling of being “down” but other times, these mood changes can be more severe and can have a significant effect on a person. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually affects a person once the seasons are changing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression.” It is not as common for someone to develop SAD symptoms during the spring and summer months, although it is still possible.

Some significant depression symptoms may include:

•           feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

•           losing interest in activities

•           changes in appetite or weight

•           having problems with sleep

•           having low energy

•           feeling worthless or hopeless

•           having difficulty concentrating

•           having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, to develop the diagnosis of having SAD, you must have the symptoms of major depression or must have some of the symptoms listed above. You must also have these depressive episodes occur to you during a specific season for a least two consecutive years.

Individuals who are more susceptible to developing SAD are more commonly those who live further north. Furthermore, according to the Nation Institute of Mental Health, “SAD is more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II disorder, which is associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes.” SAD is also more commonly found in women than men.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a severe condition, though scientists cannot understand what exactly causes SAD. Scientists have done the research and have suggested that people with SAD may have reduced serotonin activity, regulating mood. Researchers have also indicated how lack of sunlight in people with SAD can affect their serotonin levels, affecting their mood. Although these are all possible causes and effects which determined why individuals may have SAD it is still unclear if these are the exact reason. However, these causes and effects can be useful when focusing on treatment.Treatments that may help people with SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and vitamin D.

Speak to your health care provider about which treatment or combination is most suitable for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, 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.

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Image Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/03/how-i-learned-cope-seasonal-affective-disorder-grad-school

COVID-19: How to Cope with Stress During COVID-19

COVID-19: How to Cope with Stress During COVID-19

By: Alexa Greenbaum

In crisis situations, it is normal to feel overwhelmed with emotions. The COVID-19 pandemic can feel threatening, as there are many unknowns. For example, published information from reputable sources, such as in the media, news, articles, journals, government officials, and specialists in relevant fields of work often contradict one another. It is important to note that everyone deals with stress differently, nonetheless, focusing on being resilient in response to COVID-19 will help minimize stressors and allow growth from traumatic experiences.

In this time of many uncertainties and conflicting information, it can be difficult to be calm. Feeling a lack of control, fears, and ruminating on stressors can escalate undesirable emotions. These stressors can feel or be traumatic and as a result, especially in isolation, cause people to consciously think about how COVID-19 is stressful.

It is difficult to stay calm but to subside unwanted stress, taking a step back and identifying your fears and putting emotions into perspective is a great way to start the process of becoming resilient to chaotic situations. It is important to understand and accept that there are a number of things that are out of control in life and emotions cannot prevent stressful situations. As a result, growth is associated with reflection and cognitive processing.

In effort to overcome stress about COVID-19, some pathways to resilience include focusing on positive relationships, positive emotions, and hardiness. Connecting and not isolating yourself by supporting loved-ones, focusing on what is in your control, and connecting with larger social networks such as your communities can provide emotional and instrumental support. Communicating with others can also elicit positive emotions such as laughter and optimism and can influence the belief that one can grow from negative events.

Taking care of yourself during a time of crisis is of upmost importance. To do so, take time to unwind and give yourself a break from looking at the news, create a routine, and take care of your body and mental health.

If you or someone you know is experiencing uncontrollable stress from COVID-19 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://yalehealth.yale.edu/covid-19-managing-stress

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2017/05/13/6-ways-to-stop-stressing-about-things-you-cant-control/#7529342630db

Image Source:

https://www.nysut.org/news/2020/april/stress-management