Sunday Night Anxiety and How Fathers are Uniquely Impacted

Recently, Healthy Minds Director Dr. Lanre Dokun was interviewed by Fatherly.com about the difficulty of managing anxiety on Sunday evenings as we prepare to head back into the work week. Read below for reasons the close of your weekend might cause a shift in your mood.

"Mondays are the worst — which explains why you’re a messy knot of anxiety every Sunday night. But just because feeling crappy is common doesn’t mean it’s not concerning. Sunday night anxiety can easily spiral into regular, debilitating anxiety throughout the week, experts warn. And pressures put on new dads to get back to work while still bonding with their new babies makes them especially vulnerable."

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4 Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues in New York City

4 Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues in New York City

Another nor'easter is headed toward New York City. With 4 to 8 inches of snow looming on the first day of spring, you might feel like you're slipping into the winter blues. You're not alone. After months of cold and gray weather, it's common for New Yorkers to experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression that occurs specifically during certain seasons of the year. The change in daylight hours can spark hormonal changes and throw off your circadian rhythm. If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, it's time to prioritize your mental health.

Common Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • depressed mood or irritability 
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • change in appetite
  • weight loss or gain
  • change in sleep
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicide

While Seasonal Affective Disorder can improve in time as the weather shifts and days length with the arrival of spring, you can take steps now to kickstart your health. If you're stuck in a pattern of feeling down here are a few ways to help you manage your emotions this week:

1. Get moving

With the winter cold, exercise routines can easily fall by the wayside. It's difficult to get to the gym through inches of snow and hard to be active outside when the temperature drops. But remember that exercise is critical to your mental health in addition to all of its benefits for you physically. If you can't make it to your favorite local gym, pick up an exercise routine at home. Try a meditative exercise like yoga (try Yogaglo online) if you lack space or download an app to guide you through a quick high intensity workout you can do from your living room. In just 30 minutes you can make a radical difference in your affect. 

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2. Let in some light

Natural light is hard to come by in the concrete jungle of New York. However, sunlight is an important ingredient to help beat the winter blues. Maximize what access to natural light you do have. Open your curtains or blinds to let in as much sunshine as you can. Then turn on lamps around your home and office to to help improve your mood. If you want to go the extra mile, purchase a simple sun lamp to improve your mood and reset your circadian rhythm.

3. Connect with loved ones

While a night out on the town might be harder to arrange, get creative about investing in quality time with close friends or family members. Invite friends over for a warm potluck meal. Or bake some cookies and drop them off to a neighbor next door in your apartment as an excuse to say hello. Small moments of connection can work wonders at changing your mood. If the elements outside make travel dangerous and prohibitive, schedule a Skype or phone date with a friend. 

4. Reach out for help

If you suspect that your sadness is more than seasonal or your symptoms of depression are beginning to worsen, speak to a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. Connecting with a trained professional can help you move toward health today and gain tools needed to manage future seasonal dips. 

For a free consultation with a Healthy Minds NYC care coordinator, call (929) 399-7120 or contact us today. We're here to help!

How to Find a Therapist in New York City

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Taking control of your mental health by reaching out for help is a courageous step. However, knowing where to find a quality therapist in New York City can be a stressful endeavor. How do you know what type of therapist to choose? Is it possible to gauge how warm, competent and experienced the therapist will be? And most importantly, how can you ensure that your care is affordable?

The city offers an abundance of mental health care providers, but choosing the right therapist can be a difficult decision for anyone to make. In order to aid your search, below we have outlined our best tips for finding quality mental health care in New York City.

Where to Start Looking

Getting referrals from close friends and family members can be a great place to start your search for a therapist. You might find they have worked with a provider in the past who would be a good fit for your particular challenge. However, keep in mind that every person is unique and what worked for one person’s needs may not be the exact kind of care you’re looking for at this time.

Search online at Psychology Today. This helpful directory allows you to search for credentialed professionals by zip code. You can even further refine your search by important details like insurance carrier, gender, issue or even treatment style. Each listing provides a short description of the therapist’s background, issues they treat and quick contact information.

Choose a group practice. While therapists working in private practices are often fantastic, working with a group practice can provide an extra level of insurance for your care. You’ll have confidence that your therapist has been vetted and verified by their peers. Plus, therapists working as a team often collaborate on cases, ensuring the best treatment plan is developed utilizing their collective skill sets.

Connect with non-profit organizations like schools or faith communities that may have referral lists. Many therapists provide regular support for local groups who can speak to their expertise. Healthy Minds NYC, for example, is a recommended psychotherapy practice for many organizations, such as the School of Visual Arts and Redeemer Presbyterian Church here in the city.

Ask your other medical providers. Your primary care provider or other physicians may have great recommendations for trusted therapists. If you’re happy with the care you’re receiving from your PCP, see if they collaborate with or have previously worked alongside any mental healthcare providers. For example, our psychiatrists were trained at the reputable Mount Sinai Hospital here in New York City. As a result, they have worked side by side with many local medical professionals who have firsthand experience with our team and can verify their competence.

The Different Kinds of Therapists

In your search for a therapist, you’ll quickly see that providers have a wide range of backgrounds and training. Here is a quick overview of the most common types of care providers in New York City:

Psychiatrist (MD) - A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health care. These physicians can provide both psychotherapy and medication management to address both the psychological needs you have as well as the biochemical aspects of mental illness.

Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) - A marriage and family therapist is equipped to provide care for individuals, however has special training to focus on relationship dynamics both within couples and families. Marriage and family therapists are excellent resources for conflict in relationship, marital therapy or working through issues such as codependency, boundaries, anxiety and relational stress.

Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) - A clinical social worker is similar to a marriage and family therapist in that they both work with individuals, couples and families, however they often are comfortable addressing larger systemic issues you may face such as difficult work environments, managing long-term relationship problems or a history of addiction.

Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) - A mental health counselor can support you through most common mental health problems such as care for mood disorders like anxiety or depression, addiction, substance abuse, and relationship challenges. Most mental health counselors are able to treat individuals and couples.

Keep in mind that fees for psychiatrists will be the most expensive due to their high level of training and specialized skills. After all, they are medical doctors. But remember, of the most common mental health care providers, only psychiatrists are able to prescribe and manage medications. At Healthy Minds NYC, our psychiatrists provide both psychotherapy and medication management. And they work in collaboration with our other mental healthcare providers as a team so regardless of who you’re seeing for psychotherapy, you can have all your mental healthcare needs met in one place.

Common Types of Therapy

Regardless of their particular credential, all mental health care providers generally utilize the same types of therapy with specialization in certain areas. Here are some of the most common types of therapeutic modalities we see in New York City:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - a highly researched form of therapy that treats problems by addressing negative patterns of thought, behavior, and emotions.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) - a specialized form of therapy that helps individuals manage intense emotions, develop greater distress tolerance, and learn skills to communicate more effectively and reduce interpersonal conflict.

Psychodynamic Therapy - a form of talk therapy based on psychoanalysis that helps individuals uncover unconscious pain from the past to heal in the present.

Solution-Focused Therapy - a form of therapy designed to focus on quickly resolving current problems by finding available solutions now and exploring hopes for the future.

What to Ask a Prospective Therapist

Once you’ve selected a few potential therapists, it’s time to reach out for an introduction. You may find that email is the best way to reach some therapists since they are often in-session and unavailable to take calls. If you find it difficult to reach the therapists, try searching for another practice that offers a customer service or care coordinator team to receive calls during business hours. Much like Healthy Minds NYC, these group practices may be able to schedule you sooner instead of waiting to connect with a therapist around their client sessions.

In your initial communication here are some helpful questions to ask your prospective therapist:

  1. Are you accepting new patients?

  2. Do you work with clients who are struggling with my particular issue?

  3. What is your particular license or training?

  4. What is your treatment style? Do you use any particular method of therapy?

  5. What are lengths and frequency of sessions?

  6. Do you work with my health insurance for either in- or out-of-network benefits?

  7. What are the rates I can expect to pay? What form of payment do you accept?

  8. Do you have any cancellation policy I should be aware of?

What to Expect in Your First Session

Your first session is primarily for assessment. Your new therapist will want to learn more about why you are seeking treatment, what your goals for health are, and anything else you may find important. Your therapist will also be assessing their ability to adequately serve you based on their knowledge of their skills and your expressed needs. This is the time to ask for what you want and be open with any concerns you may have about the therapeutic process.

This first session is also your chance to assess your therapist. Ask any questions you have about their training, background, or ability to treat you. Pay special attention to how you feel in the session. Ask yourself, does this feel like someone I could talk to and be open with in the coming months?

You will likely complete some paperwork. Expect to sign some consent forms that usually provide your basic information to your therapist and inform you of your privacy and rights to confidentiality. You will also establish how to pay your therapist each session. Keep in mind that some therapists do not accept payment at the time of your session in order to maintain a focus on your treatment rather than administrative details. For example, at Healthy Minds NYC, our central office handles all payment electronically following your session, so your time with your therapist can be one hundred percent about your treatment.   

You will collaborate with your therapist on a basic meeting rhythm. Psychotherapy is generally a weekly commitment and during your first intake session, if both you and your therapist would like to proceed with working together, you’ll establish your next session time and date.

Remember this is a relationship. Like all new relationships, it can take time to connect with your new therapist. Be patient if you don’t click right away in your first session. On average, we find clients hit their sweet spot in therapy after 3 sessions.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to get started with a therapist today, Healthy Minds NYC is accepting new clients. We are also happy to provide you with a free consultation with one of our care coordinators to help you on your search for mental health care. Contact our office at (929) 399-7120 today or Contact Us online.

 

Three Apps to Help You Relax Right Now

Three Apps to Help You Relax Right Now

Some of the best apps to help you relax are available right now for free in your pocket. Though our phones can be an incredible source of stress with alerts and notifications pinging us at what seems like every minute, our handheld devices can offer a bit of digital relief with some incredible and easy to use relaxation apps.

Here are some of our favorites to use when you're feeling anxious:


Breathe2Relax App

Breathe2Relax - FREE

Has your therapist recommended you practice deep breathing during times of stress or as a regular practice to help you remain mindful and centered? If you find deep breathing difficult on your own, this free app guides you through a deep breathing exercise with relaxing music and beautiful images, and it helps you rate your stress level along the way.

Calm app

Calm - FREE

Do you find yourself often losing focus during meditation or struggling to implement deep breathing practices to help manage your stress? The Calm app is quite sleek offering a beautiful user interface to help you relax. It includes both deep breathing exercises and meditation with programs you can choose to build skills around your stress-reduction goals. 

Headspace Meditation App

Headspace - FREE

Want to add a communal element to your meditation? Headspace offers a free 10-day program to get you started with the process of meditation. If you enjoy this program, for an additional fee you can subscribe to other programs to develop mindfulness in specific areas of your life. Headspace also allows a communal program where you can meditate with friends if you'd like the accountability. 

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety Due to Politics

How to Manage Anxiety and Stress Due to Politics

The American Psychological Association (APA) has released preliminary findings from its annual “Stress in America” poll, and results show that regardless of political party, age or race, U.S. adults are suffering from a decline in mental health due to last year's election and the ongoing political climate.

Adults using social media are particularly at risk, with 54% of men and women who engage outlets like Facebook or Twitter reporting significant stress versus 45% of adults who do not use social media. Likely the added stress for social media users is due to information overload and constant exposure to the onslaught of potentially vitriolic exchanges that can take place through digital communication. Without face-to-face human contact tempering statements, the collision of opposing ideals online can lead to often hurtful or enraging disagreements.

So how can savvy New Yorkers save their sanity in the midst of this political climate?

  • Take a sabbatical from social media. The APA recommends people manage their stress by periodically disconnecting from the 24-hour news cycle to recharge and focus on self-care. Once you’ve consumed a sufficient amount of information to stay informed on top issues, log off and prioritize your personal health. Get moving with physical exercise or indulge in non-political intellectual stimulation, like reading a favorite book or catching up on Netflix. Spend time offline with loved ones and invest in hobbies that bring pleasure to your life.
     
  • Don’t borrow worry from the future. Our director, Board-Certified Psychiatrist Dr. Lanre Dokun of Healthy Minds NYC, calls this type of thinking “catastrophizing.” He says, “A common habit of anxious or stressed out people is believing that if the thing they are worrying about occurs, they will be unable to cope. This is patently untrue. Think about the things you worried about last week, or month or year! And yet, here you are, In one piece!” Trust you’ll be able to navigate whatever the future holds and live in the present.  
     
  • Transform anxiety into action. Stress isn’t always negative. Acute stress in small doses can be helpful in spurring us to take needed action. For example, feeling stress when preparing for a big presentation at work can encourage you to do your best. Stressing about what to say on a first date might help you come up with a list of topics to discuss in a pinch when the conversation lulls. But this type of stress is very different than chronic stress that is ongoing, indirect and causes disruption in multiple areas of your life. Instead of allowing stress to linger, acknowledge the anxiety the political climate presents and then channel your feelings into a productive response.