Services Offered

Dr. Mendoza provides psychotherapy to adults, adolescents, and children. Her specialties are individual and family psychotherapy.

Treatments are designed for the following psychological conditions:

Depression

Depression affects the entire body both physically and psychologically. Symptoms vary but may include sleeplessness, sad or irritable moods, lack of self esteem, changes in appetite behavior and physical well-being. Symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months or even years.  Without treatment, depression could continue for years and can be fatal, leading to suicide. With professional help, most sufferers of depression can significantly improve.

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People prone to depression may have certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem, general pessimism, or being overwhelmed by stress. Psychologists believe learned behaviors are also significant in the development of depression, as well as other psychological problems.  People learn both adaptive and maladaptive ways of managing stress and responding to life’s problems within their family and society in general. These environmental factors influence psychological development, and the way people try to resolve problems when they occur.
Learned behaviors may also be a contributor for why psychological problems appear to occur more often in family members, from generation to generation.  If a child grows up in a pessimistic environment, in which discouragement is common, that child may develop susceptibility to depression.

Environmental factors can also contribute to depression. For example, a serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change can trigger an episode. Very often, it is a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors involved in the development of depressive disorders

 

Anxiety Disorders

Everyone experiences levels of anxiety, but it is often not severe enough to warrant professional treatment. In fact, when we face danger resulting in physical harm or even death, we respond psychologically and physically using an anxiety driven response, causing us to either defend ourselves, or to escape injury. 

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Fortunately for most of us, physical danger is rare. Instead, we are faced with problems and stress that complicate our lives. Today's problems pose a different kind of threat such as losing a job, divorce, or our children failing in school.

These may be threats to our well-being, but have more of a psychological than a physical impact. These psychological threats can trigger anxiety. Normal anxiety is not a sign of a psychological disturbance; it helps us manage our lives by alerting us to problems requiring a response. Anxiety disorders develop when the level of anxiety becomes severe, even in response to every day common problems, or when the anxiety never goes away, and actually interferes with ordinary problem solving and functioning. 

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder in which unexpected panic attacks occur repeatedly, and not due to a substance or another psychological disorder or phobia. A panic attack consists of extreme anxiety. There may be physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, trembling, dizziness, nausea, sweating, hot flashes, or numbness. Often, there are chest pains which cause the person to believe a heart attack is taking place. There may be a feeling of unreality, or being detached from oneself.

Social anxiety is a persistent fear of social situations and embarrassment such as giving a speech or mixing at a party. Social anxiety, in extreme cases, may sometimes develop into a panic attack. People with social anxiety cannot control their fears even though they realize that they are exaggerated or even unwarranted. Many people may experience social anxiety to some degree, but when social anxiety interferes with a person's normal activities, then treatment becomes necessary.

General Anxiety disorder (GAD) occurs when a person has chronic anxiety, including excessive worrying over a period of at least six months. The person may feel a sense of restlessness, tension and tiredness, with difficulty sleeping. Lack of concentration and excessive irritability are signs of GAD.  Many persons with this form of anxiety may experience panic attacks in response to more severe stress.

Agoraphobia is the feeling of intense anxiety when a person feels he or she is in a place where they cannot escape easily. Persons who have had panic attacks in the past often worry about having another attack in a public place where they cannot seek refuge easily and get help. This fear causes them to confine themselves to what they consider safe or familiar surroundings, and will only venture out to a few secure locations, such as their home, work, and the homes of close friends or relatives.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which the person suffers from disturbing and intrusive thoughts and engages in compulsive behaviors (checking, hand washing, counting, repetitive statements) to relieve anxiety or fear caused by the intrusive thoughts.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after an individual has survived a traumatic event in which they feared their life was in danger. Among other symptoms, PTSD involves extreme anxiety, avoidance of memories of the traumatic event, and reexperiencing or reliving the traumatic event.

 

Stress

Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. It has physical and emotional effects on us that can cause both positive and negative feelings.

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Stress feels like an emotional reaction which elevates our cognitive and physiological activity levels. It is also something that makes demands on us for physical or cognitive productivity, in other words, anything that makes us think or act differently than we expect to or want to such as a near-miss car accident or a deadline at work.

Stress can be caused by positive events such as getting married, the birth of a child, buying a house or starting a business, negative events such as disappointment, failure, threat, embarrassment, death of loved ones, financial trouble and illnesses.

Physical Signs of Stress include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, sweaty palms, tightness of the chest, neck, jaw, and back muscles, headache, stomach problems, trembling, twitching, stuttering, nausea, sleep disturbances, fatigue, shallow breathing and dryness of the mouth or throat. Other symptoms are susceptibility to minor illnesses, cold hands, itching, being easily startled, and chronic pain. Emotional Signs of Stress include irritability, anger, hostility, depression, jealousy, restlessness, withdrawal, anxiousness, diminished initiative, lack of interest, tendency to cry, being critical of others, self-deprecation, nightmares, impatience, decreased perception of positive experience opportunities, reduced self-esteem, insomnia, changes in eating habits.

There are also cognitive signs of stress (forgetfulness, preoccupation, blurred vision, errors in judging distance, reduced creativity, lack of concentration, diminished productivity, lack of attention to detail, disorganization of thought, lack of control or need for too much control, negative self-statements and negative evaluation of experiences) and behavioral signs of stress (smoking, aggressive behaviors increased alcohol or drug use, carelessness, eating disorders, withdrawal, hostility, clumsiness, nervous laughter, compulsive behavior and impatience).

 

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, perhaps as many as 2 million American children. Boys are two to three times more likely to be affected than girls. ADHD continues into adolescence and adulthood, and can cause a lifetime of frustration and emotional pain if not treated.

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A person with ADHD may experience symptoms where thoughts are constantly shifting. The person feels easily bored, yet helpless to keep their mind on the tasks at hand. Furthermore, he/she is distracted by unimportant sights and sounds and their mind is driven from one thought or activity to another. They can be so absorbed in their own thoughts and images that they don't notice when someone speaks to them.

They may be unable to sit still, finish tasks, plan ahead, or be fully aware of what's going on around them. To their family, classmates or coworkers, they seem to exist in a disorganized world. On some days and in some situations, they may seem fine, often giving the false impression that the person with ADHD can actually control these behaviors. As a result, the disorder can mar the person's relationships with others in addition to disrupting their daily life, consuming energy, and diminishing self-esteem.

Unlike a physical problem, such as a broken arm, or strep throat, ADHD does not have clear visual signs that can be seen in an x-ray or a lab test. ADHD can only be identified by looking for certain characteristic behaviors. These behaviors vary from person to person, and scientists have not yet identified a single cause behind all the different patterns of behavior. It is possible that some day it is discovered that ADHD is not actually caused by one specific cause but rather several slightly different disorders.

At present, ADHD is a diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display chronic symptoms characterized by a combination of three types of behavior: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their mind on a specific task and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. On some specific activities and things they enjoy, they seem to be able to give effortless, automatic attention. But on other deliberate tasks at school or work, they can't seem to be able to give them conscious attention, organization or be able to complete them. Learning something new is also very difficult.

For example, completing homework can be agonizing, both in planning ahead by writing down the assignment and bringing home the right books, or when trying to work, keeping their mind from drifting to something else. As a result, the homework assignment gets rarely finished and the work is full of errors.

Dr. Mendoza also conducts psychological evaluations and testing for children, adolescents and adults in the following areas:

• Differential Diagnosis 
• Intelligence
• Gifted Academic Placement
• Learning Disabilities and Disorders
• School Placement
• Personality Assessment
• Adoptive Parenting

Psychological Testing/Evaluations

Gifted/Intelligence Evaluations

Intelligence or I.Q. testing is done to determine a child's level of cognitive ability and their potential for success in challenging academic settings such as gifted classes.

Psychoeducational Evaluations

Psychoeducational evaluations are done to determine whether a student has a learning disorder/learning disability. These evaluations are helpful to determine a student's learning strengths and weaknesses and to develop recommendations for greater academic success. Attention, processing speed, and/or immediate memory difficulties commonly associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder are also assessed by psychoeducational testing. Psychoeducational evaluations often include emotional/behavioral functiong assessment as described below. Dr. Mendoza will determine what kind of testing is warranted depending on the issues presented.

Emotional/Behavioral Evaluations

Emotional/Behavioral evaluations are done to assess a patient's emotional functioning. This type of testing is offered for both children and adults. Emotional/behavioral evaluations are helpful to clarify diagnoses and formulate a treatment plan.