Your Brain on Stress

By: Stephanie Osuba

Our brain has an automatic response to stress located in the amygdala, an almond sized structure in our brain that regulates emotion. Once a threat is perceived, the amygdala releases a number of hormones – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine – to prepare for the “fight or flight” response. This is all well and good for physical threats, but what about interpersonal threats? Threats that are far more complex that need an actual solution rather than simply running away. That’s when your prefrontal cortex comes into play as it handles all of the executive function in your brain and allows you to think critically about situations. This way you can learn how to deliberately take a step back and think about how you are going to handle the stressor. So instead of letting your emotions dictate when you are angry with your significant other, dealing with rude customers, or have one too many, here are some ways you can learn to manage your stress in a constructive way:

  • Take a Breath: Calm things down and take deep breaths. This clears your head long enough for you to regain control of your emotions and let your prefrontal cortex get onboard. Once you do that, you can start critically thinking about what to do with your stressor.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of being in the present and being aware of your surroundings and the social context you are in. By asking yourself, “why am I feeling angry?” or “is saying this mean thing the best thing to do right now?” you can stop yourself from acting out in a way that you might regret.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Some situations allow room for you to intervene, and others do not. Focus your energy on aspects you can anticipate, while at the same time mindfully accepting the aspects that you cannot.
  • Broaden Your View: When the amygdala gives off negative emotions due to the stressor, the anxiety usually narrows your point of view and drives you to find the quickest solution to the problem. As we know, the fastest solution isn’t always the best and it prevents you from using the stressful opportunity to grow and learn from the situation and finding a creative solution.

As much as we would rather not have to deal with it, stress is part of our daily lives and learning how to manage it can give us the life skills to handle, relatively, any situation thrown at us.

Source: Greenberg, M., Ph.D. (2017, September 7). Five Secrets to a Stress-Proof Brain. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201702/five-secrets-stress-proof-brain

If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological distress due to stress, 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/.

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Coping With Stress

By: Dianna Gomez

 

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

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

#1. Determine Where the Stress is Coming From

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

#2. Eat Healthy

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

#3. Exercise

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

#4. Make Time for Yourself

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

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

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

 

If either you or anybody you know may be suffering from excessive amount of stress, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Anxiety: Exposure Therapy Helping Teens Combat Anxiety

By Hannah Pierce

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique in which a person is exposed to a feared object or situation to overcome their anxiety. A majority of researchers and clinicians believe that exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for many anxiety disorders. One study even found that people improved more using this technique than taking antidepressants.

Although exposure therapy is proven to be very effective, it is not frequently used with teens. Many teens suffering with anxiety are prescribed medication rather than receiving therapy. It is difficult for people to consent to exposure therapy because they do not want to do something that will make them feel even more anxious.

One article documented teens’ experiences with exposure therapy. A 14-year-old suffering from social anxiety, depression, OCD, and binge-eating agreed to tackle his social anxiety through exposure therapy. On a busy college campus he sat on a bench next to a stranger and initiated a conversation. To some people this may seem simple but to a teen suffering from social anxiety, the task is very daunting. He sat on the bench and tried to talk to the stranger but the stranger just kept texting and playing with his phone. Although the exchange did not turn into a conversation, at least the teen faced his fear and realized it wasn’t that bad.

Another teen’s exposure involved him holding a sign that read “I’ve been bullied. Ask me.” Thomas hoped to combat his anxiety while also educating people on bullying. Most students on the campus walked by him without giving him a second glance. After a while, a couple stopped to talk to Thomas. The man empathized with him, sharing that he had been bullied as well and the woman applauded Thomas for his bravery.  After the exchange Thomas was very pleasantly surprised and realized he did not have much to be so anxious about.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

Source: “The Kids Who Can’t” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

By Emily Aranda

Anxiety manifests itself in many forms and can be triggered by many stimuli. It is common to think of anxiety as stress that is tied to a situation, person, place, etc. of which rationally causes one anxiety, but generalized anxiety disorder is different. Generalized anxiety is not tethered to a physical or metaphysical thing; rather, it is free floating, does not require a trigger, and is not necessarily rational. Generalized anxiety is excessive, chronic, and interferes with one’s lifestyle. It affects 6.8 million US adults (3.1% of the US population) and is most commonly found in women. It is possible to develop generalized anxiety as a child or as an adult. Those with GAD tend to worry about the same topics as their peers, but to a disproportionate degree.

The mental symptoms of GAD are as follows:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Persistent worrying or obsessing
  • Inability to relax or let things go
  • Distress about decision making
  • imagining every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
  • feeling anxiety without an apparent cause

GAD does not only involve excessive worry. GAD involves physical symptoms as well. The following is a list of the physical implications of GAD:

  • Trouble sleeping, staying asleep
  • Hypertension in muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Trembling
  • Inappropriate sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a debilitating condition that can be addressed by a professional. If you or someone you know is having issues with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Source:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20024562

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By: Christina Mesa

Anxiety is something that people experience in their daily lives. What characterizes Generalized Anxiety Disorder from normal anxiety is that it is chronic and the anxiety is often brought upon without a specific reason.  The worry you experience can interfere with aspects of your daily life, such as work and relationships.  Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million Americans and affects twice as many women as men.

Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Fatigue
  • Inability to control excessive worrying
  • Expect the worst
  • Restlessness/irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep, or unsatisfying sleep

Risk Factors include:

  • Shyness
  • Being divorced or widowed
  • Having few economic resources
  • Stressful life events in childhood and adulthood
  • Family history of anxiety disorders

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from postpartum depression, 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/

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder

Alcohol Abuse: Put the Drink Down

Alcohol Abuse: Put the Drink Down

By: Kristine Dugay

Abusing alcohol means drinking a dangerous amount of alcohol at one time or developing unhealthy drinking habits. Sometimes people have one too many drinks when they’re celebrating with friends leading to hangovers or throwing up; this is not that. Alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol dependence, otherwise known as alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is defined as drinking too much and too often, while alcohol dependence is the inability to quit. This means you are physically or mentally addicted to alcohol. You become so dependent on it that it becomes your only way to function with day to day living. Alcoholism is a long-term chronic disease that is influenced by your genes and your life situation.

There are several symptoms you should make yourself aware of if you or someone you suspect is alcohol dependent:

  • Prioritizing Alcohol: Drinking will always be more important no matter what condition your body is in.
  • Increased Tolerance: You need to consume more alcohol to get the same effect.
  • No Control: You cannot quit drinking or control the amount you consume.
  • Damaging Personal Relationships: You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.
  • Signs of Withdrawal: Anxiety, sweating, nausea, tremors, hallucinations, and muscle cramps.

The longer a person is dependent on alcohol, the worse these side effects become. While many of the results are irreversible, some are even deadly.

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

Source: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-abuse-and-dependence-topic-overview#3

College: Majoring in Stress

By: Kristine Dugay

“Get good grades, join sports and clubs, find a part-time job, eat well, and have a social life… but don’t forget to get enough sleep!” These are the unrealistic expectations college students are tired of hearing and trying to achieve. The fact is, 24 hours just isn’t enough time in one day. Stress is a huge underlying factor contributing to depression within college students. 44% of American college students report having some form of mental illness, including depression. However, 75% of these students do not seek help for these problems. Although college life can be hard to handle, there are ways to reduce and manage stress.

Practice time management skills: You will get a feeling of control over your life.

Find humor in your life: Laughter is the best medicine.

Avoid procrastination: It can affect the quality of your mood, work, and sleep.

Practice good sleep habits: Sleep deprivation can cause physical and mental problems.

Work within your limits: Set realistic expectations for yourself and others.

Seek the support of your friends and family: Vent sessions relieve tension and stress.

It’s easier said than done to accomplish these “small” tasks. If you believe that you or a loved one has or may have issues with depression, anxiety, or stress, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Source: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/college-students#2

Parenting: Homework and Your Child

Do you feel like you’re completing your child’s homework too often?

It’s not easy seeing your child struggle to complete homework assignments, or the overall lack of motivation and excitement to do it. Next thing you know, there is an e-mail from the teacher saying your child hasn’t been doing his or her homework and is struggling in class. At first, you get mad thinking your child is just being lazy. However, maybe there is something more to it. Here are some common signs to look out for if you suspect your child has a learning disability:

Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solid, left/felt)

Slow to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other spelling strategies

Avoids reading aloud

Trouble with word problems

Difficulty with handwriting

Awkward, fist-like, or tight pencil grip

Avoids writing assignments

Slow or poor recall of facts

Difficulty making friends

Trouble understanding body language and facial expressions

Most parents will occasionally see one or more of these warning signs in their children. This is normal! If, however, you see several of these characteristics over a long period of time, consider the possibility of a learning disability.

The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Written by: Brielle Internoscia

Stress in College

reasons-to-stressBy: Ellie Robbins

Going away to college is a brand new experience for all recent high-school graduates. There are more stressors than one may be able to count: being in an unfamiliar setting, taking out loans, lack of structure, being away from one’s parents, living on one’s own, making new friends where one has none, and more. Inevitably, the transition from high school to college is going to be a little bumpy.

However, once students move past these transitional worries, mental health is still greatly affected by being in a college atmosphere. Many colleges boast high academics, and this puts pressure on students to be competitive when it comes to their work, sometimes pushing their bodies and minds further than they should. The looming idea of the future weighs on the students even harder.

College is also a time for experimentation. For many students, this is the first time they ever are able to reinvent themselves, without the scrutiny of their parents or peers who have known them their whole lives. The identity-searching phase from our middle school years that we are all too familiar with seems to come back around. Not knowing oneself is scary; searching for oneself can be even harder and causes immense stress on an already over-worked young student.

Each college experience is undoubtedly different. There are bound to be more stressors for one student than for another, but the transitional period and independence is new for everyone. These experiences take a toll on students’ mental and physical health. Therefore, it is essential for college students to be aware of mental health resources both on and off campus. Almost all colleges have some sort of counseling center on campus. At many colleges, over 50% of students have been to the counseling center at least once during their 4 years at college.

If you are having difficulty in transitioning into college, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Comments are welcome

PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Anna Straus

What is PTSD and why does it occur? Two people may experience the same event, such as a car accident. One person is shaken up but recovers in a day or two; the other is consistently plagued with anxiety and stress at even the thought of getting in a car. Psychology supposes that something in the brain can get ‘stuck’ when a person processes a traumatic event.

PTSD is characterized by high levels of distress, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks and bad dreams. As a result people may avoid anything that slightly reminds them of the traumatic event, become emotionally numb or depressed and withdraw from otherwise enjoyed activities.

People at high risk for PTSD are people who are likely victims or witnesses of traumatic scenes: war veterans and domestic violence victims being among the most prone, although people with otherwise happy lives can also experience PTSD. The type or nature of traumatic event does not necessarily determine whether someone will get PTSD, rather, PTSD happens because of a person’s way of reacting to and attempts to ‘get over’ the event.

When left untreated the symptoms of PTSD can cause a multitude of secondary psychological and behavioral symptoms. People may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms. They may experience severe depression because of the negative impact that their PTSD stress has on all other aspects of their life.

A variety of treatments have been shown to improve PTSD symptoms. The efficacy of the treatments depending on multiple factors. Some research shows that a chemical imbalance occurs in PTSD patients, and medication appears to stabilize this. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapies also show promising results. These therapies help a patient confront their traumatic experience in a safe setting and reprocess it in a more effective way.

If you believe that you or a loved one has PTSD, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

 

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