COVID-19: Co-Parenting in a Stressful Time

COVID-19: Co-Parenting in a Stressful Time

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Co-parenting is challenging even during normal times. The crisis of COVID-19 can add to the stress of co-parenting. There are many aspects that make co-parenting even more difficult now than before. Some parents may have to work longer hours during the pandemic, whereas others may have reduced hours and are therefore struggling with finances; these are just a few extra stressors that parents are facing during this pandemic. Adding to the difficulty, different states handle custody arrangements differently, which adds confusion to the process.

Regarding custody, parents have to work together to ensure the safety of their children. Unlike before the pandemic, if they do not see eye to eye, they now have limited means of settling the matter in the justice system. State Supreme Courts such as in California, Maryland, and Texas, have issued that parents should follow their court-ordered processioning schedule during COVID-19. However, there are some exceptions including the event of a “lockdown” or a “shelter in place.” In other states, such as New York, the administrative judge has ordered to “act reasonably.” This uncertainty can spark conflict between co-parents as well.

To accommodate in this challenging time, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts released a joint statement of guidelines on March 19 to help separated parents create a plan during the health crisis. The statement says, “Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take serious concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances.” Nonetheless, the major issue that co-parents are facing, concerning their children, is that many parents are losing the ability to have daily or normal interactions with their kids.

Healthy co-parenting through COVID-19 requires parents to put aside their differences and put their children first. Parents need to know that although this time is confusing for children, kids are generally resilient. Both parents should talk to their kids, whether it be in-person, from 6-feet apart, or virtually about the pandemic. Communication during this time is the best way for a child to have a sense of normality. Thus, this is a time for parents to embrace technology and do their best to work together as co-parents.

Kids are feeling overwhelmed too. Therefore, as a co-parent, focus on doing everything they can do to emotionally support their kids. Reassuring their child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, they are loved is the best way to be there for their child during this time.

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


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Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Being Shy

By: Gabriella Phillip

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition involving an intense, persistent fear of being watched or judged by others. The fear that people with social anxiety experience in social situations is so strong that they often feel as though it is beyond their control. Social Anxiety Disorder affects around 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia.

Common symptoms for people with social phobia include

  • being extremely anxious around other people,
  • being self-conscious in front of others,
  • being very afraid of being embarrassed in front of other people
  • being the focus of other people’s judgment
  • worrying for days or weeks before a social event
  • having a difficult time cultivating friendships
  • avoiding places where other people will be present

Bodily symptoms for people with social anxiety include

  • heavy sweating
  • trembling
  • nausea
  • blushing
  • having difficulty speaking

Social phobia sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it, while others don’t. When chemicals in the brain are not at a certain level it can cause a person to have social phobia. Social anxiety usually begins during childhood/ teenage years, typically around age 13. A doctor can tell if the person has this disorder if symptoms are present for at least 6 months. This disorder should be treated in a timely manner to help spare those diagnosed from years of unpleasant feelings and anxiety.

Treatment can help people with social phobia feel less anxious and fearful. Two types of treatments used for Social Anxiety Disorder are psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and medication that’s safe and effective, often used in combination. Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective type of psychotherapy used for anxiety related disorders. Medication used to treat Social phobia include selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, and beta blockers. It’s important to choose a method of treatment that is best suited towards your individual needs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder, 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. 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 .




Dementia: What are the different dementia diagnoses?

Dementia: What are the different dementia diagnoses?

By: Keely Fell

Dementia is among one of the most prevalent conditions in individuals over 60. In 2019, a record 50 million individuals, worldwide, were living with a diagnosis of some form of dementia. Dementia is defined as a syndrome where there is major deterioration in memory, behavior, and thinking, which limits an individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks.

When diagnosing dementia, doctors will look at six areas of cognitive functioning. Those areas are:

  • Complex attention: Which is the area that refers to sustained focus and switching between tasks.
  • Learning and memory: This is the area that recalls recent and remote memory, as well as performing tasks.
  • Executive Function: This refers to skills such as prioritizing, paying attention, and planning.
  • Language: This refers to expression in written and spoken forms.
  • Perceptual-Motor Function: This understands shapes, directions, and locations.
  • And lastly, Social Cognition: Which refers to the ability to interact with others by recognizing facial expressions and body language.

Dementia is used as an umbrella term for many different sub-dementia disorders. The most common in the United States is, Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is when the neurons in the brain are slowly decaying overtime causing cognitive deficits in memory, and over time total mental ability. After Alzheimer’s the next most common dementia diagnosis is Vascular Dementia. Vascular dementia develops when the brain is deprived of essential nutrients and oxygen. Over time an individual with Vascular Dementia may experience mental slowness, aphasia, and trouble with basic functions such as, walking or urinating. This is different from Alzheimer’s because with Vascular Dementia, an individual is experience problems in memory retrieval. Dementia with Lewy Bodies is a type of dementia that has a combination of features of both Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Generally, an individual diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy Bodies may experience muscle symptoms that are accompanied by cognitive deficits as well. Less common than most other dementias is Frontotemporal Lobar Dementia. This dementia appears with behavior and language changes.  Frontotemporal Lobar Dementia is caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes.

A dementia diagnosis can be hard, and understanding how it affects the brain can help with coping with a diagnosis.

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


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Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit



Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.

Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.

By: Keely Fell

Heartbreak notably causes a great deal of emotional pain, but have you ever wondered what it does to the chemistry in your brain? Experiencing heartbreak can cause pains in the chest, gut and even in our throat. Such sensations can leave one feeling broken. The brain has quite a way of reacting to the experience of a broken heart, and understanding the feelings caused by brain reactions is essential to overcoming heartbreak.

One of the most interesting brain reactions to heartbreak is the experience of withdrawal symptoms in the absence of love. Often times when experienced, the brain mechanisms that are activated are the same as if someone is withdrawing from drugs like nicotine, cocaine, etc. So you could make the connection that love is addicting, thus creating a chemical reaction when you fall in love that is similar to a “high”.

Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have been performed showing how these mechanisms are being activated in the brain. A study conducted by Art Aron, Lucy Brown, and Helen Fisher found that the area of the brain associated with the rewards system, known as the caudate nucleus, lights up on scans when in love. This shows that love might be more than just an emotion and more of  a response searching for the reward of affection. People who use drugs such as nicotine and cocaine see similar brain activity across fMRI scans. In both cases, the brain is experiencing a spike in the release of dopamine through the caudate nucleus. It was also observed that when an fMRI scan was performed on people experiencing the first stages of a break up, the caudate nucleus was still in “motivation mode”, meaning that the individual was still searching for that “fix” of love.

Understanding that these feelings and symptoms are deeper rooted than just simply feeling sad over a broken heart, can help us through the healing process. Over time the brains need to fulfill the “fix” will subside and will move onto the next big thing.

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


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Anxiety and Bullying

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Anxiety and Bullying

By: Vanessa Munera

Being bullied is not an easy thing to handle. It can be a traumatic experience for teens that are being targeted. Those who are bullied experience impacts in their lives such as feeling lonely, anxious, isolated, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, when a bully moves on to the next target, these consequences of bullying linger longer for the victim. After prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse effects. These victims will experience depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide. In addition, victims of bullying can develop some sort of anxiety disorder. The top four major anxiety disorders victims of bullying can experience are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and social anxiety disorder.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this occurs after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can develop due to events such as a car accidents or losing a close relative. This disorder can also show up after repeated abuse or even bullying. Children who are bullied may experience nightmares, flashbacks, withdraw from others, or are easily startled. Kids, who undergo long term and abusive bullying, have increased chances of developing PTSD.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Kids with GAD are often tormented with worries and fear that distract them for their daily life activities. Those with generalized anxiety have a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is not uncommon with victims of bullying. With GAD, physical symptoms may appear such as insomnia, stomachaches, fatigue, and restlessness.

3. Panic Attacks: Those who suffer from panic disorders must deal with unpredictable and repeated attacks. When suffering from a panic attack, the attack is usually with no warning and can cause physically symptoms. These symptoms include sweating, chest pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In fact, a part of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in panic attacks. When left untreated, the sufferer will begin to avoid going out or things they once enjoyed, in order to prevent another panic attack.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder: People who suffer from social anxiety fear being humiliated or seen negatively by others. Those with this disorder often worry that the way they look or act cause others to mock them. This can cause sufferers to avoid social gatherings to avoid being humiliated. In fact victims of bullying often develop social anxiety due to the repeated shame and public humiliation they experienced.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, 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





Stress: Effects of Stress

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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 .




Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)

By Tatyana A. Reed

As the weather seems to slow down and we shift from bright sunny days to cold winter nights, some of us may notice a sudden change of mood that comes with this weather shift. This change of mood is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “S.A.D is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.”

Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.


  • People with SAD may have trouble regulating seratonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood.
  • People with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin.
  • People with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D.


Getting Treated

  • Medication: if someone suffers from S.A.D they can be helped by taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). However, like all medication there are side effects, make sure to speak with your doctor about this first.
  • Light therapy: the feelings of S.A.D can be lessoned by sitting in front of a light box that emits 10,000 lux of cool- white- fluorescent light for 20-60 minutes. The light is said to replace the loss of light from daylight savings
  • Therapy: it is best to talk with a psychologist, counselor, or someone in the mental health field when feeling different types of emotions that may be negative such as sadness or anger. Seeking help is the first step to eliminating S.A.D.

If you or a person you know is struggling with S.A.D, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit for more information.


Koblenz, Jessica. “11 Things About Seasonal Affective Disorder That Psychologists Wish You Knew.” Reader’s Digest, (PHOTO)

National Mental Health Institute. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,


Bulimia Nervosa-Learning About Eating Disorders

By: Erika Dino

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that leads you to eating an unusual large amount of food in a repetitive matter. After you do this, there is a behavior done such as vomiting or fasting due to the fact that eating large amounts of food makes you purge secretly. Purging also involves taking laxatives or excessive exercising. Individuals who have Bulimia Nervosa want to lose weight, or are often feeling fear towards gaining weight. They aren’t happy with their weight, because they have feelings of shame. They binge eat, and then purge, usually a few times a week.

Usually this is coexisting with another psychological illness. Examples of this can be anxiety or depression. Bulimia can be caused by stress, dieting, or mixed emotions that can make you feel uncomfortable. Traumatic life events and genetics can also have a part in bulimia nervosa.



▪Laxative abuse causing irritation

▪Inflamed throat

▪ Dental problems



▪Prescribed Medication

▪Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

We can help. We can make the difference. You are a strong individual and there is no reason to doubt it. We will work together, and we will get the best results.

Eating Disorders- National Institute of Mental Health


If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from Bulimia Nervosa, 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

Low Self Esteem: 7 Steps to Start Loving Yourself

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Self-esteem describes the way that we evaluate and judge ourselves. It is assessed on a continuum from high to low, with unfortunately many people who fall under the category of having low self-esteem. People who feel this way about themselves do not see themselves and their views as valuable, compare themselves to others, feel worthless, and lack self-confidence.

If you or anyone you know struggles with low self-esteem, you know how difficult it can be to bear the feelings that come with it. It can be draining, can impair overall functioning, can influence social interactions, and can cause one to be withdrawn from society. Although it is not easy to cope with low self-esteem, it can be improved through steps towards accepting and loving oneself. The capacity for change comes from within yourself!

Here are 7 Steps to Begin Loving Yourself and Boost your Self-Esteem:

1. Practice saying things you like about yourself in the mirror every morning when you wake up. Start your day taking the time to compliment yourself. This will begin to come naturally the more you do it.

2. Write out a list of your accomplishments. Accomplishments as big as landing the job you wanted or as small as getting the laundry done count. The more you applaud yourself, the more you will be able to boost your confidence.

3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and failures. It is easy to hold onto failures and consider yourself to be a failure. Learn to accept and forgive mistakes, recognizing that everyone in the world makes them.

4. Stop comparing. Remind yourself that you are different from the people around you, and that you are not them. The more you try to compare yourself with others, the more you lose sight of who you are.

5. Spend time with the people you love. It is easy to isolate when you are not feeling your best, but surrounding yourself with the family and friends who you feel closest to can boost your happiness and make you feel good about yourself, especially seeing how happy they are to be with you.

6. But also, spend time alone. Take yourself out somewhere nice, go on a long drive alone, or even travel by yourself. Giving yourself “me-time” is important in developing a better relationship with yourself.

7. Remind yourself that no on is perfect. It is easy for us to feel bad about ourselves when we think we need to be this “perfect” person. Remember, perfect does not exist, so you should just try to be you instead.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, 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