CONTACT MY OFFICE:
(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington
   info@kmarshack.com

Therapy

ADD & ADHD
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
ASPERGER & MARRIAGE
COUPLES IN BUSINESS
DEPRESSION & STRESS
ENTREPRENEURIAL LIFE
EXPAT ONLINE THERAPY
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE
MARRIAGE COUNSELING
MIND & BODY HEALTH
PARENTING
PERSONAL GROWTH
RECOMMENDED LINKS
NEWS CENTER
ONLINE STORE
Overview
ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Overview
Articles
Overview
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Overview
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Overview
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Overview
Conflict & Communication
Infidelity
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Codependence
Advice for Singles Only
Overview
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Overview
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Overview
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Overview
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Newsletter
Press Center
Seminars
Related New Stories
Subscribe
Sample
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

15 Questions to Assess How Your ADHD Child Is Doing in School

Thursday, November 20, 2014


15 questions to assess how hour ADD or ADHD child is doing in schoolThe people who care most about your child’s education (you and the teacher) have a great opportunity to communicate and work together at the regularly scheduled parent/teacher conferences. Teachers have a lot of kids to keep track of – and each one has their own strengths and weaknesses. But since school can be especially difficult for your ADD and ADHD child, this conference with the teacher is the perfect opportunity for you to make sure your child doesn’t fall behind and have trouble fitting in at school.

You know your child better than anyone else. You know the problems aren’t because your child is a bad kid and it’s not because you’re a bad parent. Just as a child with a broken bone needs special care, so a child with an interrupted brain balance needs special attention. And things can change for the better!

When a parent takes some time to prepare for the parent/teacher conference or schedules a private meeting with the teacher, you can respectfully show that you want to be involved and supportive. Some questions you can discuss are:

  1. What skills (math, reading, etc) should my child learn this year?
  2. What are my child’s weaknesses and strengths?
  3. How is my child’s class behavior?
  4. How is my child doing socially?
  5. How is my child doing emotionally?
  6. In what areas do you see need for improvement?
  7. Do you feel my child is doing his/her best?
  8. What type of learner is my child – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic?
  9. How can we best accommodate my child’s learning style?
  10. Is my child performing at Grade Level?
  11. Does my child need extra help in any areas?
  12. How much time should my child spend on homework?
  13. How can I help?
  14. If your child is having a problem, initiate a conversation about it by asking: “May I share a concern?”
  15. What would you advise?

What more can you do? The first step to really improving life for those with ADD and ADHD is to build your child’s self-esteem. They don’t have many experiences that build their self-esteem and competence. And it's not easy coping with the frustrations day after day. They may fear that they’re strange, abnormal, or stupid. Some children release their frustration by acting contrary, starting fights, or destroying property. Some turn the frustration into body ailments, like the child who gets a stomachache everyday before school. Others hold their needs and fears inside, so that no one sees how badly they feel.

Over time a trained therapist

can help children with ADD or ADHD identify and build on their strengths, cope with daily problems, and learn to control their attention and aggression. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please

contact my office and schedule an appointment. Holiday breaks are a great time to fit it into your busy schedule.

New Research: Is the Risk of ASD or ADHD Increased by Taking Depression Medicine during Pregnancy?

Thursday, November 13, 2014


depression and pregnancyResearch shows that genetic factors play a large role in autism spectrum disorder. However, not as much is known about the role of medications prescribed during pregnancy. Do antidepressants and antipsychotics increase the risk of ASD and ADHD? Or is it the mother’s depression a greater contributing factor? That’s what researchers are trying to find out.

New research suggests that increased risk of autism after medication use during pregnancy may actually be reflecting the increased risk associated with severe maternal depression instead. According to SFARI (Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative), “Women who have a history of bipolar disorder or depression are more likely to have a child with Asperger syndrome than classic autism.” They base this statement on a study published in the 2012 issue of Autism Research and Treatment.

PsychCentral reports on a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers, which discovered, “While a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder was more common in the children of mothers prescribed antidepressants during pregnancy than in those with no prenatal exposure, when the severity of the mother’s depression was accounted for, that increased risk was no longer statistically significant.”  They did, however, discover an increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And antipsychotic drugs sometimes used to treat severe, treatment-resistant depression appeared to increase the risk for autism.

The senior author of the report, Roy Perlis, M.D., M.Sc., M.G.H., made this comment, “Untreated depression can pose serious health risks to both a mother and child, so it’s important that women being treated with antidepressants who become pregnant, or who are thinking about becoming pregnant, know that these medications will not increase their child’s risk of autism.”

Depression is not something you want to ignore because you’re afraid of what medication will do to you or your unborn child. There are a variety of depression treatment options available, with medication and without medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a holistic health approach are beneficial in helping anxious or depressed people lower medication requirements. Please discuss these options with your doctor. You don’t need to stay in the darkness. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and set up an appointment so we can discuss the best treatment for you.

Wondering if you or someone you love has depression? Take the online PsychCentral Depression Quiz. If depression is indicated, please contact your physician or a mental health professional immediately.

Read more on my website: Overcoming Depression.

Research Shows That the Autistic Brain Is too “Noisy”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


the autistic brain in too noisy from too many connections being made at one timeFor years I have described the brains of my autistic clients as too "noisy". I’ve long suspected that this also applies to those with ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. Now it appears that science is proving my point. Health and science writer for the New York Times, Pam Belluck, reported on an exciting new study in her article: “Study Finds That Brains With Autism Fail to Trim Synapses as They Develop”. Scientists have long debated whether autism occurs because there’s too much connectivity in the brain or not enough. Now it seems we are much closer to having the answer…

Research published by a group of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center is showing that it’s a matter of too much. A baby’s brain produces a massive amount of synapses – the electrical and chemical connections that allow the neuron’s spines to send and receive signals. It might help to think of each neuron being covered with spines that are like very sensitive antennae. When there are too many signals, the system gets jammed.

One of the groundbreaking findings in this recent study is that all the children started with approximately the same number of synapses and spines on their neurons. So they’ve discovered that it’s not a question of overproduction of at birth.

The problem arises as the child ages. It’s normal for the brain to start pruning these synapses, so each area of the brain can develop its specific function. Within the group of autistic children, they found that the brain was not pruning the synapses, resulting in “too much noise”.

Ralph-Axel Müller, a neuroscientist at San Diego State University, agrees that there’s growing evidence of over-connectivity. After conducting brain imaging studies, he concluded, “Impairments that we see in autism seem to be partly due to different parts of the brain talking too much to each other. You need to lose connections in order to develop a fine-tuned system of brain networks, because if all parts of the brain talk to all parts of the brain, all you get is noise.”

This goes a long way in explaining why those with autism spectrum disorder experience oversensitivity to noise, problematic social interactions, and even why they are more prone to epilepsy. This is an exciting discovery, because it brings us one step closer to discovering effective treatments. Studies are already being done on possible drug therapy. But they have a long way to go to find an effective one that doesn’t have troubling side effects.

The use of medicines, whole foods, vitamins and supplements can help heal the brain. Combining this type of holistic health regimen and therapy has helped many of my clients to live a fuller and more productive life. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

Learn more on my website – Mind and Body: Holistic Health and Therapy FAQ.

Muse Headband – New Technology Could Help Us Stay on Top of Mental Health

Friday, September 26, 2014


new technology - muse headband- could help us stay on top of mental healthFor a number of years, people have been able to travel to brain scanning facilities and find out how their brains respond to stimulation in a clinical setting. It hasn’t been possible for everyone to see how the brain is really responding to situations in every day life. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could monitor your brain activity at home, at work, or at the shopping center? If you found that something was bothering you more than you really expected, then you could focus on changing your responses and gain greater control of your life immediately. The idea of everyone being able to do this isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. 

Ariel Garten CEO of interaXon, was interviewed by CNN about a computer headband they’ve developed that tracks the brain’s electro-signals. It’s called Muse. She said,We're very interested in creating solutions that help you calm yourself; that can help you stay grounded, choose what to focus your attention on, and understanding and managing your own mind and response to the world so that people can be more productive in life.” 

While Muse isn’t a medical device, it has fantastic possibilities for controlling stress, helping those with ADHD to increase their abilities to focus, and providing cognitive recognition of negative thinking patterns so you can turn them into positive ones. It tracks your brain activity and then sends that information to your computer, smart phone or tablet, giving you real time feedback. 

While I haven’t tried this product out myself, I’m interested in the possibilities that a product like this could have for helping people gain greater control of their emotions, thoughts, and activities. I’m happy to keep you current on the latest technological advances that could contribute to greater physical and mental health. 

Being able to identify your self-condemning internal dialogue and self-defeating attitudes and actions in the instance of them occurring doesn’t give you the skill to automatically overcome them. It’s helpful to seek the guidance of a psychotherapist who can help you learn the skills to deal with the frustration and anger from years of unresolved emotions and to feel better about yourself. A psychotherapist can also build on the strengths you have so you can cope with daily problems and learn alternative ways to handle your emotions.

Are you ready to gain control of your life with the help of a trained psychotherapist? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office to make an appointment. 

For more information read on my website: Psychotherapy Options.

Medication or Therapy? Which Treatment Is Best for your ADHD Children?

Friday, February 07, 2014


best treatment for adhd childrenThere has been a decades long debate whether medication or behavioral therapy is the best long-term treatment for children with ADHD. So an article written by Alan Schwarz in the New York Times caught my eye. He reports that the original findings of the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With A.D.H.D were taken to mean that medication was hands down the best option.


Now, some of the authors of this study are worried that these findings were skewed because they tested primarily for reducing the hyperactivity and lack of focus, which medication is designed to remedy quickly. How children perform in school and on a social level was not addressed in the study.

He reports that one of the study researchers, Stephen Hinshaw, a psychologist at U.C. Berkeley said, “My belief based on the science is that symptom reduction is a good thing, but adding skill-building is a better thing. If you don’t provide skills-based training, you’re doing the kid a disservice. I wish we had had a fairer test.”

Medication can treat the symptoms of hyperactivity and improve the ability to concentrate. This makes a person more receptive to learning new behaviors. But life-long improvement in interpersonal relationships must include learning, through therapy, social skills among which is empathy. Kids with ADHD are not just impulsive and distractible they also often ignore the feelings of others.

Behavioral therapy, emotional counseling and practical support are all needed to improve the child’s self-esteem and ability to cope with the frustrations of daily life. Some children release this frustration by acting contrary, starting fights or destroying property. Some turn the frustration into body ailments, like the stomachache before school. Still others hide how badly they feel.

Over time a therapist can help people with ADHD identify and build on their strengths and learn to cope with daily stresses in a constructive way. If you live near Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA, and would like assistance for your child, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

You can read more about Parenting a Child with ADD/ADHD on my website.

Pharmaceutical Ad Campaigns Influence Over-Diagnosis of ADHD

Monday, January 20, 2014


boy with ADHD is very activeAt one time they were labeled as “bad kids.” Thankfully over the last two decades doctors, educators and parents have come to recognize that children with ADHD have a very real neurological disorder that needs treatment. But are we swinging too far in the opposite direction? Is ADHD being over-diagnosed?

A recent New York Times article draws attention to what Dr. Keith Conners, psychologist, professor emeritus at Duke University, and early advocate for recognition of ADHD, had to say about this alarming trend. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990. “The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous. This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”

This highlights the problem of over-diagnosis and over-medication of ADHD. The pharmaceutical companies are vigorously marketing their drugs to doctors, parents and even children through various ad campaigns. This article goes on to report, “The Food and Drug Administration has cited every major A.D.H.D. drug — stimulants like Adderall, Concerta, Focalin and Vyvanse, and nonstimulants like Intuniv and Strattera — for false and misleading advertising since 2000, some multiple times.”

Because of side effects and danger of addiction, medication cannot be viewed as harmless. It’s important for parents to educate themselves before consenting to drug treatment for their children. After a proper diagnosis, medications can be prescribed to temporarily control the symptoms, but they cannot cure the disorder.

Psychological help is also needed to improve self-esteem and to instill life-long coping skills. Behavioral therapy, emotional counseling and practical support are essential for lasting improvement. After discussing with a doctor ALL treatments available, as a parent you ultimately need to make the final decision about what’s best for your child.

If you are searching for the best diagnosis and treatment for neurological disorders such as ADHD, consult a psychologist or psychiatrist. A thorough evaluation of the person’s medical, academic and family history is essential for a proper assessment of type and severity of the disorder and other associated emotional problems. Contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office to schedule an appointment.

Learn more on my website – ADD & ADHD.

Will Insurance Companies Finally Make Mental Health More Accessible?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


health insurance to cover mental and physical health equallyFor years those with mental health issues have struggled with getting adequate insurance coverage or have been denied insurance coverage when their mental illness is diagnosed. As a psychologist I’ve had a front row seat – watching people struggle to use their mental health benefits, if they were fortunate to even have mental health benefits. I’ve written articles exposing the sometimes life-threatening situations that have been created by a broken system.

So I was happy to see the recent CNN article, Feds Boosting Mental Health Access, Treatment. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced new rules that, “Finally put mental health and behavioral health on equal footing.” Of course this has been in the works for years. President George W. Bush began the move to greater equality with The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which has made mental health care more accessible, but it hasn’t been enforced up to now.

Insurance companies have often limited the coverage for mental illness, which makes it tough on those seeking help. If you had coverage often times you were limited to five or ten visits with a counselor. If the problem cannot be resolved in five or ten sessions, you had to pay out of pocket if you could afford to do so.

The new rules require insurers to cover co-payments, deductibles, doctor visits, outpatient services and residential treatment equally for physical and mental illnesses. This is very good news for those with chronic mental health issues.

There are so many changes going on in healthcare right now that it can be difficult to keep up. Here’s a word of advice, stop looking for someone to take care of your every health or emotional need. There will never be a perfect healthcare system. Instead utilize your good old common sense and decide for yourself, with the help of professional advisors such as your trusted doctors, just what is the best psychological or medical treatment for you, your loved ones and your employees.

If you interested in scheduling an appointment with my office please take a look at Therapy FAQ page for answers to questions regarding insurance. Read more about the benefits of psychotherapy on my website – Psychotherapy Treatment Options.

Parents – How to Help Your Child Do Well in School This Year

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


help your children do well in schoolAs the new school year begins in Oregon and Washington, many parents happily send their children to school expecting them to receive a good secular education and to learn the social skills needed for life as an adult.

Each classroom is filled with children who have a wide range of abilities and personalities – those who will have minimal problems, those who will be straight A students, those who will struggle, those who are average, and those who get left behind because they require special attention that they’re not receiving.

Where will your child be in this diverse group? We all hope for the best. But if your child is experiencing difficulties, how long will it take for someone to call it to your attention? It is so much better to stay involved and aware of your own child’s situation, because no one knows your child like you do. As an example, your child’s behavior may be interpreted by someone as an uncooperative attitude, but you may see it as struggling to remain connected out of boredom.

When children have trouble fitting into the classroom setting, their academic achievements suffer. The more they fall behind, the harder it is to catch up. So, parents have tough decisions to make. They have to figure out whether it’s normal awkwardness or is it an indicator of a more serious problem? Is it a physical problem, perhaps a child needs glasses or has low blood sugar? Is it an indicator or a psychiatric condition such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome? Is it an indicator that your child is gifted and needs extra challenges to stay engaged?

Perhaps you’re hesitant to acknowledge and address the issue, thinking your child will simply outgrow this stage. Perhaps you suspect there is a problem, but you’re in denial or are grieving the changes this will bring to your entire family. Perhaps you’re afraid that if you pursue this, your child will be stigmatized or will identify with being “labeled”, that it will become a crutch and excuse for not trying to do better.

A recent news report highlighted the fundamental truth that if you don’t seek a diagnosis, you can’t use the special services available to your child that can begin the process of understanding, accepting, and supporting your child to get the best out of school and life.

If you see that your child is struggling and you don’t know why, don’t put off seeking help. Consult either your child’s pediatrician or a licensed psychologist for help in assessing your child’s situation. As a parent of a child with Asperger’s, I know how valuable early intervention is for their success. Feel free to contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

What Experts Are Saying About the New DSM-5

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, is about to be released. There has been mixed response from the medical community about the revisions in the "Bible of mental disorders." One expert, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that the DSM is the best out there at the moment, but would like to see some changes.

Dr. Insel believes that disorders should be categorized not only by symptoms, but by also looking at biology, genetics, and neuroscience. Chairman of the DSM revisions and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. David J. Kupfer commented on this problem. He said, "The problem that we’ve had in dealing with the data that we’ve had over the five to 10 years since we began the revision process of D.S.M.-5 is a failure of our neuroscience and biology to give us the level of diagnostic criteria, a level of sensitivity and specificity that we would be able to introduce into the diagnostic manual."

Insel and other scientists are looking to establish a new way of looking at and diagnosing mental disorders. To learn more about this subject, read the New York Times Article - Psychiatry's Guide is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say.

Click here to read my blog - How Changes in New DSM-5 Impact Those With Asperger Syndrome.

Sleep Disorders or ADHD?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


In a recent blog, I discussed that depression, anxiety, and stress could be linked to sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Now new research shows that ADHD could be diagnosed instead of a sleep disorder diagnosis.

The New York Times article- Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit - takes a look at the rise in ADHD diagnoses, but is it really ADHD? ADHD is linked to hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating, but these could also be symptoms for sleep depravation. Sleep depravation is rising among adults and also children. We are sleeping less than we did in the past. Some possible culprits are technology and stress. Lack of sleep can cause a variety of physical and emotional health problems.

This is not to say that an ADHD diagnosis is wrong. It's important if you feel that you or your child is experience symptoms that could be linked to ADHD, speak to your doctor. A specialist will ask questions such as:

  • Do your behaviors and feelings show that you have problems with attention and hyperactivity? (Your doctor might ask you questions about your past, your life now and your relationships. You may write down answers on forms.)
  • Have you had these problems for a long time, ever since you were a child?
  • Do you have a hard time keeping your temper or staying in a good mood? Have you had these kinds of problems since you were a young child? Do these problems happen to you both at work and at home? Do family members and friends see that you have problems in these areas?
  • Do you have any physical or mental health problems that might affect your behavior? Your doctor may give you a physical exam and tests to see if you have medical problems that are like ADHD.

For more information, visit my website - ADD & ADHD or contact my office to set up an appointment.


Recent Posts RSS


Tags


Archive