Perfectionism: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Perfectionism: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
By: Isabelle Siegel

Oftentimes when people say “I’m so OCD,” what they really mean is “I’m a perfectionist.” Perfectionism is a trait characterized by a rigid need to be perfect: that is, without flaws. Although perfectionism is often thought of as being a positive trait, it can be maladaptive in many ways. Perfectionists tend to have unrealistically high standards, to take longer to complete tasks, to struggle with collaboration, and to place immense pressure on themselves. When perfectionism is extreme, it may meet criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).

OCPD, not to be confused with OCD, is a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of inflexibility and a fixation with perfection. This fixation can interfere with one’s ability to complete tasks, one’s interpersonal relationships, and other aspects of one’s life. People with OCPD attempt to control life using details, rules, lists, order, organization, and/or schedules. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, OCPD is diagnosed when an individual demonstrates:

  • a fixation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules
  • perfectionism that interferes with task completion
  • overemphasis on work and productivity, leaving no time for leisure or relaxation
  • a fixation with morality and ethical responsibility
  • hoarding of objects and/or money
  • an inability to delegate tasks to others
  • an overall rigidity and/or stubbornness

Like other psychological disorders, OCPD can be treated with therapy and medication. Therapies for OCPD emphasize identifying and modifying maladaptive behavioral patterns, as well as targeting triggers (such as stress) for overly perfectionistic behavior.

If you or a loved one demonstrates symptoms of OCPD, 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.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/perfectionism
https://www.ocduk.org/related-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/clinical-classification-of-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Signs_of_OCPD_1.png

Mental Illness: Genetics or Environment?

Mental Illness: Genetics or Environment?

By: Isabelle Siegel

The term “Nature vs. Nurture” describes an age-old scientific debate regarding whether behavior, personality, and other individual characteristics are the result of nature—one’s biology and genetics—or nurture—one’s environment and upbringing. The development of mental illness is a prime example of the Nature vs. Nurture debate, as scientists and others seek to understand: Is mental illness caused by genetics or environment?

The Big Question. Is Nature or Nurture responsible for mental illness? This is essentially a trick question, as both Nature and Nurture contribute to the development of mental illness. In fact, it is ultimately the interaction between one’s genes and one’s experiences and environment that leads a person to develop a mental illness. According to the Diathesis-Stress Model, genetic predispositions develop into mental illnesses when they are met with stressful environments and/or experiences. For example, a person can be born with a genetic predisposition for depression, but that person may not develop depression unless they experience stressful environmental events such as abuse.

Nature. What are the biological and genetic causes of mental illness? It is well-documented that mental illness can be hereditary, or passed on within families. For example, a person is four to six times more likely to develop Bipolar Disorder if someone in their family has or had Bipolar Disorder. Another potent biological factor contributing to the development of mental illness is brain anatomy and brain chemistry. Research suggests, for instance, that people with schizophrenia have less active prefrontal cortices (the area of the brain associated with decision-making, planning, and personality). Other biological factors implicated in the development of mental illness include exposure to infection or toxins, damage during pregnancy, and use of substances.

Nurture. What are the environmental causes of mental illness? The development of mental illness can often be associated with one’s childhood experiences. Exposure to abuse is a potent example of an environmental factor that can lead to mental illness. Other experiences can also result in the onset of mental illness, including death, divorce, and/or other forms of grief or trauma.

In conclusion, neither Nature nor Nurture is solely responsible for the development of mental illness. Rather, genetic and biological factors combine with environmental and experiential factors to result in the onset of mental illness. 

If you or a loved one needs support for mental illness, 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/

Image Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-nature-versus-nurture-2795392

COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

COVID-19 and Domestic Violence
By: Isabelle Siegel

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and stay-at-home orders were first put into place, it was predicted that domestic violence rates would soar. With people confined to their homes, it was only natural that the potential for abuse would become higher. At the onset of the stay-at-home orders, the United Nations Population Fund estimated that just three months of quarantine would yield a 20% increase in domestic violence worldwide. Why? Without work and other escapes from the home, people are forced to remain with their abusive partners at all times. Moreover, orders to remain at home complicate the process of seeking support from friends and professionals. Other factors such as higher stress levels, alcohol use, and economic anxiety may also contribute to increased rates of domestic violence.

However, there has been a surprising decrease in reports of domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence arrests are down a shocking 40%. Is the rate of domestic violence truly decreasing, or is something else at play?

Unfortunately, the statistics paint a misleading picture. In reality, anecdotal evidence suggests that domestic violence is at a high. Experts suggest that the drop in reports of domestic violence is just that: a drop in reports, not in incidents. Victims quarantining with their abusers are simply less able to call for help, as evidenced by the fact that more calls to hotlines and the police are coming from neighbors and other witnesses. Domestic violence calls most frequently occur when the abuser is not home or the victim is at work. With fewer opportunities to be apart from their abuser, victims are forced to remain silent. Other pandemic-related factors further render victims less likely to seek help. For example, victims report avoiding going to the hospital for domestic violence-related injuries due to fear of catching COVID-19.

Moreover, instances of domestic violence seem to be becoming increasingly violent amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Despite the overall decrease in domestic violence reports, there have been increases in rates of domestic violence-related shootings and murders.

If you or a loved one needs support for domestic violence, 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.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/nyregion/new-york-city-domestic-violence-coronavirus.html
https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/04/22/is-domestic-violence-rising-during-the-coronavirus-shutdown-here-s-what-the-data-shows
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/making-sense-chaos/202005/why-the-increase-in-domestic-violence-during-covid-19

Image Source: https://www.bpr.org/sites/wcqs/files/styles/x_large/public/202004/AdobeStock_182729028.jpg

ADHD: Treatment

By: Elyse Ganss

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is characterized by a pattern of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that impedes normal functioning and activity. For example, someone who has ADHD may be unable to focus on a task or will constantly move around and fidget.

Diagnosis of ADHD can only be given by a licensed clinician like a psychologist or psychiatrist. Typically, ADHD will only be diagnosed if there is a repeated pattern over a period time of inattention and hyperactivity. In children, a diagnosis requires a child falling behind in development. Adults who suffer from ADHD may have poor academic performance in school or issues at work as a result of inattention.

Risk factors for ADHD include genetics, exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy, behavioral toxins, and low birth weight. Treatment for ADHD may include therapy or medication to reduce symptoms and improve functioning. When medication is needed, doctors typically prescribe a stimulant that increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. This improves thinking and attention.

Therapy can help a person suffering from ADHD develop coping mechanisms like mindfulness or possibly meditation. Simple strategies like making lists, keeping a stable routine, utilizing a calendar, and creating reminder notes may help a person with ADHD improve functioning.

If you or someone you know needs support for ADHD, 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/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

Image Source:

https://img.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed-static/static/2017-01/10/18/campaign_images/

Insomnia: What factors cause it?

By: Elyse Ganss

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes an inability to sleep in regular increments. Insomnia can be caused by many issues including medical conditions, biological factors, and psychiatric conditions. Medical causes of insomnia include nasal/allergies, endocrine problems, asthma, neurological conditions, chronic pain, or gastrointestinal problems.

Insomnia can frequently co-occur with mental health disorders. Some psychiatric problems that may impact sleep include depression and anxiety. Depression includes symptoms of hopelessness, sadness, and a lack of energy. Severe depression is correlated with a higher risk for insomnia. Anxiety symptoms include stressful thoughts, general anxiousness, panic, or dread. Anxiety can make it so falling asleep feels impossible as you are consumed by thoughts/fears.

Lifestyle choices like naps, irregular sleeping patterns, and working on a laptop or phone close to when you are going to sleep can cause insomnia as well. Even certain foods and drinks can have a negative impact on your sleep. For example, drinks that have caffeine and are consumed up to 8 hours before going to sleep may cause insomnia.

Seeking therapy for insomnia may be helpful in decreasing symptoms. Typically, therapy will teach the patient how to replace negative thoughts as well as problem solving techniques in order to alleviate sleeping issues. Similarly, certain medications can be prescribed to help restore regular sleeping patterns if the insomnia is severe and has a long-term pattern.

If you or someone you know needs support for insomnia, 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.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-causes-insomnia

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167

Image Source:

https://news.uthscsa.edu/wp-content/uploads

Marriage Counseling

By: Elyse Ganss

Marriage counseling, also known as couples’ therapy, is a form of therapy where couples seek to resolve conflicts and improve their relationship. The outcome of marriage counseling is typically a strengthened relationship that the couple has worked to rebuild or, if differences cannot be resolved, the couple will break up/divorce. Many times, a relationship will degrade over several years as no effort has been made to repair the relationship. Through taking the action of attending marriage counseling, a couple may have a better chance of staying together.

Marriage counseling enables a couple to achieve a deeper understanding of one another. Specifically, problems that can be worked on through during therapy include communication issues, addiction, infidelity, conflicts about money, children, jobs, anger, stress, and sexual problems. While divorce may be the final result of marriage counseling, many couples are able to salvage their relationship.

A therapist helps the couple on developing problem-solving techniques and improve the ability to communicate effectively. Achieving respectful communication will prevent future arguments and will help increase marital satisfaction. Marriage counseling requires psychologists, social workers and/or therapists to acquire specific credentials and licensing. Thus, marriage counselors have vast knowledge and training to help couples work through their issues. Making the decision to go to marriage counseling to work on issues in one’s relationship is a positive step and a healthy way to deal with marital problems.

If you or someone you know is seeking marriage counseling, 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/tests-procedures/marriage-counseling/about/pac-20385249

Image Source:

https://psiloveyou.xyz/10-most-common-reasons-couples-need-marriage-counseling-39f9e77d1462?gi=9deeb8d9ff63

Parental Alienation Syndrome

By: Elyse Ganss

Parental alienation syndrome occurs when a child’s parent unconsciously works to turn the child against the other parent. This commonly occurs during divorce or custody battles. When saying negative things about the other parent, like blaming the other parent for their breakup, alienation turns the child against the other parent. Strategies can include brainwashing, alienating, and programming to cause distance between a child and parent. This behavior has negative effects for the relationship of the child and the other parent and can cause permanent damage.

The parent who unconsciously tries to turn the child against the other parent often exhibits narcissistic characteristics or tendencies in line with borderline personality disorder and are more concerned with their own feelings rather than the child’s well-being. Feelings that may be driving the parent’s behavior are anger and jealousy. Children benefit from the presence of both parents, unless a parent is abusive, and through parental alienation syndrome, children may become estranged from a parent.

If you have been experiencing anger about your co-parenting relationship and have been consciously or unconsciously taking it out on your child, you may be causing parental alienation syndrome. Children being alienated may experience anger, feelings of neglect, exhibit destructive behavior, and lack empathy. It is important to remember that no matter what you are feeling toward your former spouse, your child should not be brought into your separation, divorce, or custody battle. Supporting a child is the most important thing to do during a breakup and it may be helpful to bring the child to therapy to work through their emotions to prevent psychological damage.

If you or someone you know needs 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201802/parental-alienation-syndrome-what-is-it-and-who-does-it

https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/parental-alienation-syndrome#effects-on-child

Image Source:

https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/parental-alienation-syndrome

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

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression
By: Isabelle Siegel

Depression can cause immense pain and suffering for more than just the individual diagnosed. The partners/spouses of individuals with depression commonly report feeling hopeless and helpless, unsure how to provide necessary support to their partner/spouse. Attempts to help may be met with apathy or even anger, further complicating a seemingly simple question: How can I support my partner/spouse with depression?

Develop an understanding of depression and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. It can be helpful to research depression, taking note of its symptoms and causes. Understand that depression is an illness and not a choice. You may want to create a list of your partner’s/spouse’s particular symptoms and triggers for depressive episodes in order to better understand his/her experiences.

As simple as it sounds, just be there. Depression may have your partner/spouse doubting that you love him/her and may make him/her feel as though he/she is a burden to you. Assure your partner that you are there for him/her and that you love him/her despite his/her illness.

Encourage him/her to get help. Depressive symptoms can interfere with one’s motivation and ability to get help, so continuously encourage treatment. Help your partner/spouse find a therapist and/or psychiatrist, bring him/her to appointments, and cheer him/her on as they undergo treatment.

Do things you both enjoy. One important treatment step for depression is known as “opposite action,” in which individuals with depression act opposite to how they feel. If they feel like laying in bed all day, for example, they should get up and out of the house. As a partner/spouse, you can help by encouraging your partner/spouse to act opposite to their depressive urges by engaging in activities that you both enjoy.

Understand the warning signs of suicide. Individuals with depression are more vulnerable to suicide, so it may be important to know signs that your partner is considering taking his/her life. These may include talking about suicide, social withdrawal, giving away belongings, or obtaining means of attempting suicide. If you believe that your partner is at risk for suicide, seek immediate help.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Research suggests that having a partner/spouse with depression increases one’s own risk of developing depressive symptoms. 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.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/supporting-partner-depression
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325523
https://www.psycom.net/help-partner-deal-with-depression/

Image Source: https://www.rewire.org/support-partner-depression/

OCD: Perinatal/Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Perinatal/Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

By: Isabelle Siegel

Conversations about postpartum depression have recently become commonplace, leading many people to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of this condition. As a result, new mothers are much quicker to recognize and label their struggles and to seek help. However, the same attention has not been paid to a similar condition: Perinatal or Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

What is Perinatal/Maternal OCD?

Perinatal/Maternal OCD is essentially OCD with onset during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. In general, OCD involves the presence of obsessions (“unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind”) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or thought patterns performed to relieve anxiety caused by the obsessions).

Expecting and new mothers with Perinatal/Maternal OCD commonly experience obsessive thoughts about their infant’s safety, including intrusive thoughts about:

  • Unintentionally harming the infant
  • Sexually abusing the infant
  • Contaminating the infant
  • Making wrong or harmful parenting decisions

They may then engage in compulsive behaviors or thought patterns in order to relieve the resulting anxiety, including:

  • Repetitively calling the doctor or other health professionals
  • Repetitively checking on the infant
  • Total avoidance of the infant
  • Excessive washing of anything with which the infant might come in contact

Treatments for Perinatal OCD

Mothers experiencing Perinatal/Maternal OCD are not hopeless. As with other forms of OCD, Perinatal/Maternal OCD can be addressed with therapy and/or medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and, more specifically, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) can be used to target obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of Perinatal or Maternal OCD, 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:

Image Source: https://www.mothersclub.sg/mum-confessions-1/