Mental Health during Pride Month

By Charlotte Arehart

With June finally starting, this means that it is officially Pride Month! Pride Month is celebrated in June in the USA and many other countries. During Pride Month, we celebrate and recognize the impact that  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer LGBTQ+ individuals have on their communities. We celebrate their history, whether it be locally, nationally, or internationally. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health. There are a plethora of statistics about LGBTQ+ individuals and mental health, including the fact that members of the community are less likely to seek treatment for mental health, substance abuse, and eating disorders. This is largely due to fear of being discriminated against because of their sexuality. Pride Month is the perfect opportunity to prioritize and learn more about mental health for LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are many barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals face when it comes to finding mental health treatment. Many mental health centers lack culturally-competent or diverse staff and/or treatment. It was not very long ago that homosexuality and bisexuality were themselves considered mental illnesses. This was thought to be true until the 1960’s. Gay men and lesbian women were frequently forced to undergo “treatment” for their sexuality against their will, such as aversion, conversion, and even shock therapies. Also damaging to mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for bullying, and sometimes even hateful violent crimes. The best way to help the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health efforts is to support the community not only through words but through actions. By reducing the stigma around mental health and making LGBTQ+ individuals feel as comfortable as possible, hopefully we can make mental health treatment more accessible for everyone. Luckily, the vast majority of mental health professionals today are accepting and positive towards the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone deserves to have efficient, effective, and professional mental health no matter how they identify as individuals.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

Image Source: https://lgbt-speakers.com/news/top-10-lists/10-lgbt-speakers-for-pride-month-2021

Self-Diagnosing and Social Media

By Charlotte Arehart

For many people, it has become a habit to turn to the internet with any questions that one might have. While it is great to have the answers to the world at our fingertips, we have to keep in mind that just because we find an answer on the internet does not mean it is the correct one. Googling the answers to everything can be particularly harmful when it comes to physical and mental health. Searching up a simple symptom such as a stomach ache may lead to answers that suggest the individual has appendicitis, when in reality they may only be having indigestion. With the internet becoming more powerful than ever, more people have been self-diagnosing themselves with physical and mental health issues without seeking help from a professional.

Social media has played a huge role in the increase of people self-diagnosing. Many influential social media users with a large platform use their platform to speak and educate viewers about mental illnesses. While this is great in terms of normalizing and reducing the stigma around mental health issues, it becomes harmful when viewers use this information to self-diagnose. I personally have seen many videos on platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok where the creator lists several widely general and common “symptoms,” such as sleeping in too much or having a short attention span, and then they follow up with something along the lines of “if you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have ADHD!” In the comments section, I see floods viewers who are now concerned that they may have a mental disorder simply because they experience a few of the general symptoms listed. It seems that these videos create a lot of stress in people who do not actually need to be worried, since the symptoms listed are often so generalized. However, I do think that it is very beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues to receive support and a sense of community through social media. It can be very comforting to know that you are not alone going through something. If creators wish to speak about mental health issues on social media, it should be done in a very careful way. Addressing mental health on social media does present a wide variety of benefits, however it becomes an issue when people are self-diagnosing and becoming worried without speaking with a professional.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://etactics.com/blog/problems-with-self-diagnosis

Image Source: https://dailytitan.com/opinion/column-self-diagnosing-mental-health-disorders-is-hazardous/article_d953ca7f-0eae-57d2-81fb-d0d339734788.html

The Importance of Mental Health

By Charlotte Arehart

When thinking about their health, most people only consider the physical state of their bodies. However, it is important that we take our mental health into consideration as well. Not only are these two aspects equally important, but they are actually very closely related. People who have poor mental health are at greater risk of having poor physical health. For example, people who experience depression are at a 50% increased risk of dying from cancer and a 67% increase for heart disease. Stress and anxiety also have a huge impact on the body, affecting the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, as well as the gastrointestinal system.

Since mental health is so important, why do people usually disregard it? Many people are afraid of the stigma that surrounds mental health. Since you cannot always “see” mental health problems, some people view them as “not real.” Many people fear that others will look at them differently if they seek mental help. They do not want to be seen as emotionally weak. People are especially worried that seeking mental help with affect their careers, however this is not true. In fact, taking proactive steps to help mental health will reduce possible repercussions for the future. It is better to address the issue sooner rather than later, since unchecked mental health symptoms usually worsen over time. If you are experiencing mental health troubles, by no means are you alone. Many mental health issues are actually more prevalent than one would expect. By realizing that there are tons people who are experiencing something similar to them, people may feel better about reaching out for mental health.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health

https://www.pdhealth.mil/news/blog/reducing-self-stigma-mental-health-important-physical-health

Image Source: https://www.hrcsb.org/may-mental-health-awareness-month/

Social Media and Attention Span

By Katie Weinstein

People have spent increasingly more time on social media throughout the years which has led to shorter and shorter attention spans. This is because of click bait material and multitasking.

Social media is designed to grab people’s attention and get people to their next click so that people stay online for longer. Instead of publishing detailed, meaningful articles, people are now publishing more sensational, controversial pieces to get people to click. Because the material is very loud and polarizing, people have an urge to switch to new material, so new information is constantly competing for attention, reducing our attention span. This can be addictive in nature and teaches people to focus on engaging material for a short period of time and stay on social media for a long period of time. 

Additionally, social media is something that is commonly used while completing another task. When a person is multitasking, attention span is reduced. The effects are especially detrimental for younger people who are more susceptible to developing bad habits. The average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds and is now 8 seconds, which is 1 second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! This is because it takes greater cognitive effort to switch between tasks than it does to maintain the same level of concentration on one task. Research has also shown that episodic memory can be significantly reduced when multitasking. 

Some ways to prevent declining attention spans are:

  • Implementing a “no phone at dinner” rule
  • Complete one task at a time 
  • Put your phone away while working 

If you or someone you know is struggling with attention span, 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-shrink/201812/is-social-media-destroying-our-attention-spans

http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202101/22/WS600a2710a31024ad0baa4577.html#:~:text=The%20explosion%20of%20social%20media,just%208%20seconds%20in%202013.

https://muckrack.com/blog/2020/07/14/how-declining-attention-spans-impact-your-social-media

The Impact of Online Support Groups: Addiction during a Pandemic

By Charlotte Arehart

With research showing that the rates of substance abuse are increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for those who are struggling to seek help. Typically, support groups are a great way for those who suffer from substance abuse disorder to seek help. However, with CDC regulations as well as individuals’ anxieties about catching COVID-19, it is difficult for addicts to find support groups. Research has even shown that individuals struggling with substance abuse disorder are at higher risk of contracting the Corona virus than those who do not suffer. Face-to-face interactions are not always possible during the pandemic, especially not in large groups. This has resulted in the dawn of online support groups. The idea is that individuals can get the support that they need in a safe social environment online, perhaps over Zoom, without risking contracting COVID-19. But just like any other major change, online support groups come with its side-effects, whether they be positive or negative.

Online support groups definitely have some benefits for individuals who attend. Some of these include:

  1. Attendees continue to receive support during pandemic
  2. Meet new people from across the country
  3. Protection from the virus
  4. Discuss issues openly and honestly

While all of these effects seem great at first, there are certainly some negative aspects of attending support groups online, including:

  1. Online meetings are not as effective as in-person meetings
  2. Lack of conversation
  3. Lack of connectivity (not all areas have access to Wi-Fi!)
  4. Low engagement levels

Ultimately, it is difficult to say whether or not online support groups are outright a good or a bad thing. It ultimately comes down to an individual’s preference. Luckily, with infection rates declining in the United States and social regulations beginning to ease, in-person support groups are likely to begin meeting again soon, if they have not already!

If you or someone you know needs substance abuse support throughout 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/

Sources:

https://www.apadivisions.org/division-49/publications/newsletter/group-psychologist/2021/03/virtual-group-benefits

Image Source: https://www.beyondmybattle.org/support-groups

Social Anxiety: Struggling to Reach Out

            It’s okay to want to be alone, but many people around the world resort to solidarity because they fear they’ll be judged by others in a social scene. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is a mental illness categorized as a type of anxiety disorder that consists of an intense, persistent fear of being watched and/or judged by others. No matter what the situation is, if it involves other people, things become more challenging for them. It feels as though all eyes are on them and they’re terrified of making a spectacle of themselves in front of those around them, even friends and family. That’s why it tends to be a struggle for many sufferers of social anxiety to maintain any healthy relationships because they would rather push people away and avoid conversation than take the risk of feeling humiliated through judgment.

          The toll social anxiety has on some of its sufferers can lead to avoiding school and work as well as dropping many hobbies/activities all together because they’re simply too terrified to engage. In such instances, the disorder becomes a hindrance to everyday life because if they miss school and work, they’re losing out on education, money, and many other key things to sustain healthy living. Some signs that you may be suffering from social anxiety disorder are: when having to be around others; feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach, blushing, sweating or trembling, making little eye contact and speaking very softly, staying away from places where you see other people, etc. In this case, treatment comes in the form of psychotherapy, medication, or both. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is perhaps the most common form of treatment and teaches patients better ways of thinking and reacting to anxiety-inducing scenarios in order to best keep those unwanted emotions under control.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, 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/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml

OCD: Exposure Therapy and Medication

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a chronic, long-term disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors that take over and are constantly repeated. These repetitions can take over one’s life; all they can focus on are one’s obsessions and nothing else. Obsessions are defined as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety,” while compulsions are “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to their obsessions.” It’s a common disorder affecting about 1% of the U.S. on any given year, with a lifetime prevalence of OCD among U.S. adults falling at 2.3%. Symptoms can present themselves in a range of mild to serious, with about ½ of OCD cases falling under serious.

Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP therapy, is a common form of treatment for individuals with OCD, but it can be very harsh and relentless. In simple terms, ERP therapy takes the OCD patient and places them at the forefront of their fears so that they confront them head on, with no protection. However, when doing this they’re guided by a trained therapist to ensure they don’t resort to their compulsive behaviors. An example of this type of therapy would be having a patient who suffers from germaphobia stick their hands in dirty water without washing their hands after. Over time they’re usually able to adapt to and overcome their fears, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, this type of therapy doesn’t work for everyone and many individuals fighting OCD need medication instead, or a combination of both. Some common OCD medications are Zoloft, Prozac, and Luvox. These are all anti-depressants approved by the FDA to treat OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with obsessive compulsive 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/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/exposure-and-response-prevention

Anorexia: Silent Suffering

By: Elyse Ganss

Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is an eating disorder that includes symptoms of often an extremely low body weight, a fear of gaining weight, and body dysmorphia. People suffering from anorexia are usually consumed by thoughts of their body image.

Extreme focus on weight and shape is experienced by those who have anorexia. This often leads to a dangerous restriction of calories to lose and restrict weight. Those suffering from anorexia may excessively exercise, consume laxatives, or vomit after eating to stop weight gain. Even when the person suffering from anorexia reaches an extremely thin and unhealthy body weight/shape, they will not stop the restriction of food.

Anorexia can have serious health complications including heart problems, bone loss, infertility, kidney problems, and more. Anorexia is common with people who have perfectionist/high-achieving personality types. People suffering from anorexia feel as though they gain a sense of control by restricting their intake of food.

Anorexia can be undiagnosed for a long time if symptoms are not detected. It is common for people with anorexia to deny their eating disorder and not want to seek help. By meeting with a therapist, treatment plans can be established. Normally this would include a plan to get the person to a healthy weight, finding out what emotional issues the person is having, and changing their thought processes/outlook on their body image.

If you or someone you know needs support 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.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anorexia-nervosa/symptoms-causes/syc=2-353591

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/default.htm

Image Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-practice/202002/therapy-can-help-even-those-who-did-not-benefit

Mental Illness: How to Support a Spouse with Mental Illness

Mental Illness: How to Support a Spouse with Mental Illness
By: Isabelle Siegel

Every relationship has challenges, but relationships in which one partner has a mental illness can be even more challenging. The presence of mental illness in a relationship can leave both individuals feeling alone and helpless. However, it is not impossible to be in a happy, healthy, and successful relationship with someone with a mental illness. If you are wondering how to support your partner/spouse with mental illness, know that it is possible. Although your partner’s/spouse’s mental illness may at times feel all-consuming, certain steps can ultimately help manage the overwhelming ups and downs.

Develop an understanding of your partner’s/spouse’s diagnosis. It can be helpful to research the symptoms of your partner’s/spouse’s disorder in order to better recognize and label them as they arise. Having a basic understanding of what your partner/spouse is experiencing can help you to put yourself in his/her shoes and to gain insight into his/her struggles.

Just be there. Having a mental illness oftentimes makes people feel alone and as though they are a burden to their loved ones. The single most powerful way you can support your partner/spouse with a mental illness is to be there for him/her. Communicate that you are there for the highs and lows, and be ready to love your partner/spouse through them.

Do not let mental illness take over your entire relationship. Although it is important to communicate, try to keep your relationship balanced by limiting discussions about mental illness. Even when your partner’s/spouse’s mental illness feels all-consuming, continue to engage in activities that pull you and your partner away from thinking about his/her diagnosis and struggles.

Communicate openly how you feel. Regardless of a mental illness diagnosis, open communication is a critical component of any relationship. Be honest with your partner/spouse about how you feel, communicating any emotions with the goal of productively working through them.

Understand that your partner/spouse is trying the best he/she can. It can be easy to assume that a person with mental illness would feel better if only he/she tried harder. Oftentimes, people with mental illness are coping with their struggles in the best way they can.

Accept that it will be challenging at times. Being in a relationship with someone with a mental illness is going to pose challenges. It can arouse difficult emotions such as frustration, anger, resentment, sadness, etc. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and be willing to communicate them with your partner.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. It is important to understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support. Never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs, and consider seeking therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health.

If you or a loved one needs support, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2018/How-to-Be-Supportive-of-Your-Partner-with-Mental-I
https://www.nami.org/Personal-Stories/How-To-Love-Someone-With-A-Mental-Illness
https://www.verywellmind.com/coping-with-a-mentally-ill-spouse-2302988

Image Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/1XXGCnGttHazLixy5

Alcoholism during COVID-19

By: Elyse Ganss

Alcohol sales have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Nielson, during the month of March alone, alcohol sales were up by 55%. Thus, it is clear that COVID-19 has caused an increase in alcohol consumption. This could have negative health effects as well as cause an alcohol dependency and subsequent addiction. Addiction can result in job loss, the disruption of relationships, and difficulties in performing normal, day-to-day functions.

Alcohol abuse causes chemical changes in the brain that create feelings of pleasure when consuming alcohol, which make an addicted person reliant on the use of alcohol. They must continually up their dosage to feel the same sensation of pleasure as tolerance develops. Risk factors for alcoholism include a family history of substance abuse, a mental health problem, binge drinking, high stress, and low self-esteem.

A mental health professional will aid the patient with creating a treatment plan. Usually a detox program will be created that includes medication to help the patient safely withdraw from alcohol usage. Unregulated withdrawal can cause seizures and other negative health effects. Therapy is typically recommended for addicted patients as it can help the patient work through the issues that may have caused them to turn to substance abuse. Finally, family or couples therapy may be recommended to repair relationships that may have been damaged because of addiction.

If you or someone you know needs support for alcoholism or substance abuse, 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.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/basics#symptoms

https://www.healio.com/news/primary-care/20200416/alcohol-consumption-during-covid19-pandemic-what-pcps-need-to-know

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369250

Image Source:

https://greatlakesrehabilitation.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Consequences-of-Alcoholism