PTSD in Refugee and Unaccompanied Children:

By: Luz Melendez

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can occur to someone after being exposed to one or more traumatic events. These traumatic events can vary from a natural disaster, war/combat, serious injury, sexual violence, and/or exposure to death threats. After experiencing a trauma there can be an emotional reaction to these events which can include fear, helplessness, and even horror. There may also be distressing memories of the traumatic event which can be recurrent and involuntary. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms have to last for more than a month and be persistent. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

One population that is less talked about when it comes to PTSD is children, but more specifically refugee or asylum seeking children. The current population of children with PTSD in the U.S. is about 5% and among refugee children in the U.S. it’s about 54%. These children are experiencing hunger, extreme poverty, bombings, abductions, sexual assault, and even witnessing deaths. These stressors can often co-occur making everyday life very difficult for them. The effects of these events are causing developmental regression, clinginess, repetitive play of the trauma/s, anxiety, depression, ACES, and mood changes. One effect that is very important is how the brain is being affected by these traumas. PTSD is developed in two key regions of the brain, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala reacts too strongly while the prefrontal cortex impedes the ability to regulate a threat response. It’s the perfect storm that leads to hyperarousal, hyper vigilance, and sleep deprivation which are big issues when it comes to children. Children’s brains are growing and developing and these traumas are stunting the global developmental growth of these children’s brains.

Often PTSD in refugee or asylum seeking children, if left untreated/undiagnosed, can and will lead to life long-lasting effects. In the situation these children are in, it’s difficult to not only diagnose them but to properly treat them. Many if not all have witnessed one or more of the stressors mentioned above and these children are out in the world not only having their lives completely change but having their mental health deteriorate. Thankfully some host countries who take in refugees, screen them and try to help them adjust to their now new lives and overcome barriers that come with accessing physical and mental health care. This also includes overcoming the stigma that refugees have of seeking mental health care. Like mentioned before only some host countries do this, others are still fixing their processing of refugees.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. 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:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

PTSD Researcher Finds Link between Stress and Trauma

By Diana Bae

Rachel Yehuda, PhD, is a distinguished researcher and Director of Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Icahn School of Medicine of Mount Sinai. She has conducted numerous prominent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) studies and treatment. One of her most well-known studies researched Vietnam War combat veterans with PTSD and found that they had significantly lower cortisol levels than veterans without PTSD. Cortisol is a hormone that controls stress and although it is thought that more cortisol resulted in more stress, Dr. Yehuda showed that that is not the case. Thus, there needs to be a sufficient amount of cortisol to handle stress and reduce the risk of developing trauma. Now, Dr. Yehuda plans to test a drug, oral hydrocortisone, to see whether it can replicate the cortisol naturally produced in the body. If this drug is successful, it may prevent PTSD and other similar disorders.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the problems caused by PTSD and are dedicated to provide proper attention and treatment. If you or someone you know would like to set up an appointment for our counseling services, contact us at our offices in Paramus, NJ (201) 368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY (212) 996-3939. For more information, please visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Source: Inside, a publication of the Mount Sinai Health System, Issue: November 25 – December 15, 2019;  Picture Source: http:// www. thesuburban.com/life/lifestyles/can-trauma-be-transmitted-intergenerationally-oct-dawson-college-peace-centre/article_ea2d7bb0-b063-11e7-aee3-5b0d013065f7.html, https:// askopinion.com/how-to-deal-with-ptsd-aka-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Stress: Effects of Stress

Image result for stressed brain

Stress: Effects of Stress

By: Vanessa Munera

When people talk about stress, what exactly is it? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. With stress the body reacts to these changes with emotional, physical, and mental responses. Stress could either be presented as a positive or negative outcome in people’s daily lives.

According to Bernstein “Stress can occur in a variety of forms” (2016). Some stress can result in short events such as an argument with a loved one. Furthermore, other stress can manifest due to reoccurring conditions; for example, a demanding job, financial problems, and/ or long term illness. When reoccurring conditions cause stress to be both intense and sustained over a long period of time, it can be considered as “chronic” or “toxic” stress”. While all stress triggers physiological reactions, chronic stress is indeed to be considered a problematic issue that creates significant harm to the brain and the functioning of the body. In fact, “stress continues to be a major American health issue”.

If you have experienced a stressful event, a certain area of the brain called the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus functions as a command center in the brain, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that person has the energy to fight or flee”. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response because it provides the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. Some of the affects from the “fight or flight” response are increased heart rate, deeper intake of oxygen, heightened senses, and the rush of adrenaline – also known as epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Finally a hormone known as cortisol is released to help restore the energy that was lost during the response. When stress is no longer present, your cortisol levels to go back to normal as if nothing happened. In addition cortisol helps regulate metabolism and immune responses.

When dealing with chronic stress, cortisol levels are at a constant high, which eventually causes health problems. Although cortisol is a natural and healthy hormone in the body, constant high levels of it can be bad for your brain. High levels of this hormone can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. As stated in the article, “it can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others” (Bernstein, 2016). In addition, chronic stress can kill brain cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. It has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory and learning. Besides chronic stress having effects on the brain, it causes effects to the human body. This type of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, it can affect other systems in the body and cause them to stop working properly. This includes digestive, excretory and reproductive structures and exacerbates already existing illness. Fighting and managing chronic stress can be difficult; however it is not too late to learn how to manage it. Toxic stress can negatively affect the brain but the brain and body can recover from these effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, please do not hesitate to seek help by contacting  Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

 

Personality Psychology: The Big Five O.C.E.A.N.

Personality Psychology: The Big Five O.C.E.A.N.

By Crystal Tsui

You may have seen quizzes online that can help determine your personality. Most of the quizzes online revolve around the basis of five core personality traits. Fiske, Norman, Smith, Goldberg, and McCrae & Costa were the leading researchers that brought evidence of the big five traits. The five traits are scaled on a spectrum, for example if a person was rated low in Neuroticism; they were rated high in Emotional Stability. The five traits are categorized as:

  • Openness: high levels of imagination, insight, tend to be adventurous, creative
  • Conscientiousness: high levels of thoughtfulness, goal-directed behaviors, good impulse controls, and organized
  • Extroversion: high levels of excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.
  • Agreeableness: high levels of trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors
  • Neuroticism: high levels of sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability. They tend not to handle stress well.

These five traits have been found to be universal. One study showed that people in more than 50 different cultures found that the five dimensions could be accurately used to describe personality. Also, the five dimensions have biological and environmental origins that can influence the change of personality.

Another study showed that our five factors change over time. It showed that agreeableness and conscientiousness increased, but extroversion, neuroticism, and openness generally decrease as a person ages. Sex also contributes to the five factors as well. Women tend to score higher in both agreeableness and neuroticism. Even though sex differences have been found, it does not, by itself, demonstrate that the sexes are innately different in personality, although that is a possibility.

Frank Sulloway, a psychologist who focused on birth order, found that personality traits correlate with the order of individuals’ birth. He found that firstborns are statistically more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to those born later. This could be due to firstborns caring for their younger siblings at a young age.

The Big Five is not based on any underlying theory; it is merely an empirical finding, meaning that the underlying causes behind them are unknown.

If you or someone you know is dealing with borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder or any other personality disorders, 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.verywellmind.com/the-big-five-personality-dimensions-2795422

https://www.mentalhelp.net/psychological-testing/big-five-personality-traits/

https://blog.adioma.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/big-five-personality-traits-infographic.png

Shyness and Introversion

Shyness and Introversion

By Crystal Tsui

We all know someone who prefers to stay in rather than go out and party or someone who barely talk in a group setting. We may call them shy, quiet, or maybe socially awkward. But they may just be an introvert. Introversion and shyness are often times used together. However, shyness revolves around the fear of negative judgment while introversion is the preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. So it is possible for a person to be a shy extrovert, where the individual is afraid to speak up, fearing negative judgment, more so than exhausted in a certain social situation.

Despite the difference, there is also an overlap between shyness and introversion, e.i. many shy people are introverted. Some people are born with “high-reactive” temperaments that predispose them to both shyness and introversion. A shy person may become more introverted over time, motivated to discover the pleasures of solitude, other minimally stimulating social environments, and to move away from judgments. On the other hand, an introvert may become shy after continually receiving the message that there’s something wrong with them.

There’s a shared bias in our society against both shyness and introversion. Neither trait is welcomed in our society because studies have shown that we rank the fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likeable, and even smarter than slow and quiet talkers.

Here are 5 ways introverts can spend time that is deeply fulfilling and socially connected:

  1. Reading. Books transcend time and place. Studies have shown that reading fiction increases empathy and social skills.
  2. Enter a state of “flow” by doing work or a hobby that you love. Flow is the transcendent state of being, in which you feel totally engaged in an activity. People in flow don’t tend to wear the broad smiles of enthusiasm. When you watch them in action, the words “joy” and “excitement” don’t come to mind. But the words “engagement,” “absorption,” and “curiosity” do.
  3. Keep an informal quota system of how many times per week/month/year you plan to go out to social events and how often you get to stay home. This way you can plan which parties or get-togethers you can truly enjoy and which you don’t. So you are less likely to drive yourself mad thinking you should’ve stayed home.
  4. Have meaningful conversations.
  5. Spend time and show affection to the ones you love, whose company is so dear and comfortable that you feel neither over-stimulated nor anxious in their presence.

If you or someone you know is dealing with social anxiety or suffering from a disruption of their social life, 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.quietrev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/QR_ebookMay8-2015.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=0

https://live.staticflickr.com/627/21427437162_910d54e08e_b.jpg

Stress: Types of Stress and What it’s All About

Stress: Types of Stress and What it’s All About

By Crystal Tsui

In our everyday lives, we deal with all different kinds of stress, whether it’s from danger, work, family, financial, or education. Here are some of the different types of stress:

  • Acute
  • Chronic
  • Eustress
  • Distress

Acute stress is our fight-or flight response where we are on high alert on our surroundings, usually lasting only 90 mins. Chronic stress is our daily stress that we typically deal with, such as bills, kids, and work. This is the kind of daily stress we tend to ignore. Eustress is our daily positive stress that motivates us to be productive such as having a baby, graduation, or meeting new friends. But the complete opposite would be distress. Distress is the daily negative stress like financial problems, work difficulties, or divorce. Most of the time we can manage our stress by exercising, mediating, or even taking time to talk to family and friends.

However, if stress is not managed properly, stress can affect your body and your immune system. Some symptoms of prolonged stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Increase likelihood of depression (such as lack of motivation)
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Some biological symptoms of prolonged stress include:

  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk of Diabetes Mellitus Type II
  • Increased changes in acid reflux
  • Increases risk of contracting H. Pylori (bacterium that causes gastric ulcers)
  • Erectile Dysfunction or heavier, painful menses
  • Decrease body’s response to fight off viruses, infections, and the common cold

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, 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://imagesvc.timeincapp.com/v3/mm/image?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftimedotcom.files.wordpress.com%2F2018%2F11%2Fstress-benefits.jpg&w=663&c=sc&poi=face&q=85

https://thehealthedge.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Managing-Work-Related-Stress.jpg

https://www.stress.org/daily-life

Psychosomatic Disorders

Psychosomatic Disorders

By Crystal Tsui

Psychosomatic disorder affects both mind and body and it occurs when a physical disease is exacerbated or caused by mental factors or vice versa. Psychological factors can cause physical symptoms when there is no physical disease. There are many factors that are involved with psychosomatic disorders, such as

  • Biological traits
  • Genetic and environmental factors
  • Family influences
  • Learned behavior

Some symptoms of psychosomatic disorders include:

  • Generalized pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

There are many physical diseases and conditions that are prone to be exacerbated by psychological factors. Some conditions include:

  • Hypertension
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspnea
  • Tachypnea
  • Tachycardia

Cognitive behavioral therapy is often the treatment for psychosomatic disorders and it helps individuals cope with their problems (eg. stress, anxiety, depression) and understand that their mental health is connected to their physical health. Most healthcare professionals try to treat the individual, taking into account the mental, social, and physical factors that may contribute to a disease.

 If you or someone you know has psychosomatic 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://centerforanxietydisorders.com/treatment-programs/psychosomatic-disorders/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwib8_iSpLTiAhWtTd8KHQaAC_cQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fradionational%2Fprograms%2Fallinthemind%2Fhypochondria-and-psychosomatic-illness%2F6866448&psig=AOvVaw1o8-BXYZWCSksnlzsZPuSV&ust=1558791237650609

Mindfulness: What is it, and does it really work?

Mindfulness: What is it, and does it really work?

By: Lauren Hernandez

In this busy, technology filled day and age, it is difficult for people to remove themselves from the stress of work and money, family and friends, and to disconnect from the 24/7 social frenzy that is social media. Now more than ever it is imperative that people begin to step back from their phones and computer screens to take care of their mental health and general wellbeing. One fairly new and unique way is mindfulness meditation.

What is mindfulness you may ask? Mindfulness is a process in which you have full and total awareness of the present moment. It has been proven that mindfulness reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and improves one’s mental health.

Here are some simple tips to begin practicing mindfulness on your own:

  • Bring your attention to your breathing. Feel your breath filling your lungs and the warm exhale of air leaving your body.
  • Notice changes in your posture and maintain awareness of current bodily sensations
  • Allow yourself to disconnect from all forms of technology
  • Take time to listen and to observe what is happening around you
  • If you get distracted bring your attention back to your natural breathing patterns

If you feel as though you may need help practicing mindfulness or have questions about the way you are feeling, contact a mental health professional such as a psychologist who can offer some guidance.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking guidance in practicing mindfulness, 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.msn.com/en-gb/news/happiness/what-is-mindfulness-meditation-the-mental-health-trend-thats-changing-the-way-we-work-relax-and-sleep-%e2%80%93-explained-by-a-psychologist/ar-AABonMO

Image Source:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=86FA9F7C4018FC36005A2032C1D57C2D863CAD85&thid=OIP.ixk5pGCmRgwvCQKIKoadJwHaFZ&mediaurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wikihow.com%2Fimages%2F5%2F55%2FPractice-Mindfulness-of-Body-States-Step-7.jpg&exph=1807&expw=2479&q=mindfulness&selectedindex=60&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6

 

Grief: Ways to Cope

Grief: Ways to Cope

By Toniann Seals

The death of a loved one requires coping skills that not many people know how to develop. In this case, grief is the feeling of sadness and loss in relation to someone no longer in your life.

Ways to cope:

  • Join a support group
    • You may find comfort in being around others who can relate to your pain and experience.
  • Be open
    • Try not to bottle up your feelings. Express them and address them as soon as needed.
  • Accept your differences
    • Do not worry about how long your grieving process is or if you are reacting properly. Everyone grieves differently and it is all up to the individual.
  • Take care of yourself
    • Try not to neglect your hobbies, hygiene or health because these will help you through the day.
  • Seek counseling
    • If you feel that it is difficult handling the grieving process on your own, contact a psychologist or psycho therapist who can help you overcome your loss.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time grieving 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/coping-grief.html

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm/

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/grief

(Image) http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm/f943158abab8ab7973711dda2a54d74c0bdc5979/c=284-2756-5920-5940&r=x1683&c=3200×1680/local/-/media/2016/11/09/USATODAY/USATODAY/636142814289480079-XXX-193876-1-iocs-Sadness1-150-per16-150-R1.jpg

 

Anxiety: Test Taking

Anxiety: Test Taking

By Toniann Seals

Many students are exceptional in class, but find themselves below average on tests (both in class and standardized). How can the student who is continuously participating, going to extra tutoring sessions and always asking questions failing tests? There is a chance they are suffering from test taking anxiety.

Symptoms of test anxiety

While testing:

  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hot flashes

Effects of test anxiety

  • Feelings of not being good enough
  • Feeling as though you are a failure
  • Negative thoughts
  • Lack of self esteem

Overcoming test anxiety is something that can be handled with a professional, however there are ways you can help yourself in the meantime.

Coping mechanisms

  • Begin studying early so you feel more confident and less anxious
  • Have open communication with your teacher so they understand what you are going through
  • Get enough sleep the night before
  • Meditation can help anxiety
  • Create affirmations and positive thoughts where you picture yourself doing well

If you or someone you know is dealing with anxiety 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/test-anxiety/faq-20058195

(Image) https://www.psycom.net/test-anxiety-quiz-assessment/