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Kathy Marshack News

New Research on Genetics and Mental Disorders

Thursday, April 04, 2013


What does autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD have in common? Genetics! New research says that these disorders share multiple "genetics glitches" that can move the brain toward mental illness. For a disease to actually develop would depend on additional environmental and genetic factors. Keep in mind that this involves hundreds of genes and variations. (Read the article for the latest research - 5 Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors, Study Finds)


I found this research astounding! The wealth of research that is pouring in has the power to transform how we think and feel about these disorders and how they affect the people we love. On April 20, 2013, the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD will be meeting to discuss "Using Research as Therapy." Knowledge is power. Ignorance is oppressive. Let's use the wealth of data that is coming out of ivory tower labs and use it to heal our hearts and minds. 


If you are not able to make it in person, please join us as an online member

Have ADHD? Tips to Improve Concentration

Sunday, September 30, 2012


There are two sides to every coin and the same is true with ADHD. At times ADHD can produce pure brilliance and creativity, but at other times it can be a downfall. One challenge that is common with ADHD is difficulty with concentration and focus. 

 

For a individual with ADHD to improve the quality and quantity of focus and concentration, we must go back to the mind and body connection. The mind and body are in constant communication with one another. John Ratey, M.D., and author of the book, Spark, speaks about this connection and the impact it has on ADHD. Physical activity has been proven to increase dopamine and norepinephrine which are neurotransmitters in the brain. These brain chemicals have been shown to improve focus and attention. So, get moving!

 

Another tip to improve concentration is multitasking. Sydney Zentall, Ph.D., of Purdue University recommends doing one mindless activity while performing a more important task. An example would be to listen to music while reading. These intentional movements encourage the brain to focus on the most important task. Every person with ADHD is different, so this tip may not necessarily work for everyone. 

 

For more information on these concentration tips, visit ADDitude.com - When ADHD Kids Fidget: Better Focus Through Multitasking


How to Ease Your Child’s Back-to-School Anxiety

Monday, August 13, 2012


With school beginning soon, parents can assist their children to get off to a good start. This not only alleviates some of their anxiety, it can also help your child build confidence and performance academically and socially.

Be Positive
It is only natural for your child to feel apprehensive about the new school year. You can help ease their worries by speaking positively about what they are going to experience this year. Get them excited about that they are going to learn. Talk about the thing they enjoyed from previous years.

Ensure Your Child Is Healthy
Summer is a good time to schedule checkups with your pediatrician, dentist, and eye doctor. Make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations and that you have the required documentation from your doctor. Your visit with you pediatrician is a good time to discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development. This will help you identify any potential issues before school starts.

Get Everything Ready
Include your child when you are getting prepared for the school year. Take them with you when you do their school shopping and let them pick out things that they like. Help them put together their backpacks, discuss lunch and snack options, and help them lay out their clothes for school the night before. Make the preparation a joint effort.

Get into a Routine
Even though school hasn't started yet, it’s a good idea to start getting into a good routine that will ease them into their school schedule. Set a wake up time and bedtime for your child. This may need to be done gradually for them to adjust. Also start with a few academic games/projects to refresh their memories and get them to prepared for what to expect when school starts.

Visit School with Your Child
If this is the first year at a new school, a visit before the school year begins with your child will help them get comfortable with unfamiliar surroundings. Help them locate their classroom, restroom, lunchroom, and let them check out the playground! Oftentimes teachers are on-site a week ahead getting classrooms ready. You may want to call ahead and see if your child’s teacher will be available to introduce themselves to your child.

Communicate Regarding Special Needs
For parents who have children with special needs, such ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), it’s a good idea to put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

These tips should not only make for a smooth transition from a summer schedule to the classroom, but may also make a difference in stress levels at home. Click here for more parenting advice.

Changing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Disorders and Illnesses

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Even with an increase in understanding, there is still a negative stigma surrounding mental disorders (Asperger Syndrome, ADHD) and illnesses (depression, OCD). Fear, discrimination, and rejection are some of the negative reactions that some have received because of their mental disorder/illness. Because of this, some fail to seek out treatment. Failure do so will only lead to serious consequences like substance abuse, failed marriages, suicide, or even jail.

How can this stigma be reduced? It is important to understand that these disorders/illness stem from the brain. The brain is a highly powerful organ in the body. As is true of any other organ, it doesn't always function properly. What would you do if you had heart disease? Wouldn't you immediately go to a heart specialist and get the right type of treatment and medication to help you heart? Should we view the brain in the same way?

Getting proper treatment is the big step to changing the stigma. Also, remind yourself that you are not the disorder or illness, it is just something you have. For example, if you had diabetes, do you run around introducing yourself as someone with diabetes? Of course not because it is just something you have, it is not who you are. The same should be for whatever your mental situation is. Don't allow it to define you. Yes, accept that it is a part of you, but do not let the idea of it change who you really are.

You are also not alone. Join a support group. You can now find a support group for just about anything. The more supported you feel, the more inclined you will feel to stick with your therapy and treatments. There may always be some stigma surrounding the mental health community, but it is changing. Don't let what others think change what you need to do to be a happier and mentally healthier person.

Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area if you would like to seek help for your mental disorder or illness.

Is ADHD Being Over-Diagnosed?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a behavioral disorder that affects millions of children and adults. Some of the common symptoms include disorganization, problems following directions, easily distracted, forgetful, and impulsive. ADHD affects all areas of a person’s life and without therapy or medication, more serious issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse can easily creep in.

The March issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal includes a study that is looking at the potential of over-diagnosing ADHD in younger children. After following over 900,000 children in British Columbia, Canada, researchers say that youngest children in the classroom are more likely diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children in the same class. The cut off in British Columbia for kindergarten is December 31st, so if a child was born in January, they could be almost a year older than others in the same class. The statistics in the study stated that around 30% of boys born in December were diagnosed with ADHD and 70% of girls born in December were diagnosed compared to children born in January.

Researchers are concerned that in some cases, a child may not have ADHD, but rather is just exhibiting immaturity due to age. Misdiagnosing ADHD in place of immaturity is very serious. A child wrongly diagnosed and treated for ADHD can cause serious lifelong effects. The flip side is also true, not diagnosing ADHD can have serious consequences.

If you know an adult or child who might have ADHD, I recommend seeking out the professional opinion of a ADD/ADHD specialist. To assess whether a person has ADD or ADHD, specialists consider several questions: Are these behaviors excessive, long-term, and pervasive? Is this a continuous problem, not just a response to a temporary situation? Do the behaviors occur in several settings or only in one specific place? The person's pattern of behavior is then compared against a set of criteria and characteristics of the disorder.

For more information, visit ADD/ADHD Overview on my website. If you are interest in treating ADD/ADHD, contact my office to set up an appointment.

The Upside to the Novelty-Seeking Personality Trait "Neophilia"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Are you always moving on to the next best thing? The personality trait, neophilia, is defined as liking anything new or being a novelty-seeker. For a long time, this trait came with a negative connotation. It was linked with ADD, addictions to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, and criminal actions. Now researchers are saying that neophilia combined with certain other personality traits could contribute to a sense of well-being and overall happiness.

C. Robert Cloninger, the psychiatrist who developed personality tests for measuring this trait stated, "Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age. It can lead to antisocial behavior, but if you combine this adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it’s not all about you, then you get the kind of creativity that benefits society as a whole.”

Dr. Cloninger says that the secret lies in a "trio of personality traits". That trio is novelty-seeking, persistence, and self-transcendence. Persistence gives you the motivation to keep trying even if you don't get what you want immediately. If you’re persistent, you look for new and better ways to achieve. Self-transcendence refers to getting lost in your thoughts or in moments and allowing amazing connections to form.

For more on this fascinating look at neophilia, read the NY Times article - Novelty-Seeking (Neophilia) Can Be a Predictor of Well-Being. If you are a neophiliac and want to get the most out of this personality trait, seeking therapy can be highly beneficial. If you do not seek to use this trait in a positive or effective manner, it could lead to extreme frustration and disappointment. Contact my office to set up an appointment if you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area.

How To Combat Depression and Anxiety with Adult ADHD

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Adults with ADHD are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. It is hard enough dealing with one disorder, so when a person is suffering from two disorders, it is frustrating to say the least. The medical field refers to this as comorbidity or two disorders occurring at the same time. Therapy and medication are the most effective ways to treat ADHD and depression. In addition, lifestyle changes are highly recommended.

Here are some practical suggestions to help lesson symptoms of ADHD and depression in an adult:

Get a good night’s rest. Sleep is vital. Without adequate sleep, you mind and body suffer and whatever you may be dealing with will only be aggravated. A few tips to help you get a good rest: Go to bed at the same time every night. Do something truly relaxing before bed like take a bath or practice breathing techniques. Avoid eating right before bed.

Daily exercise. Exercise has long been known to help improve moods due to the release of endorphins. Exercise is also a productive way to release stress and frustration. Find time daily to exercise even if it is just for a few minutes. Since we are in the winter season, click here for some tips on how to exercise during this time of year. Getting outside as much as possible is good for everyone!

Eat a healthy diet. A diet low in sugar and fat and high in protein, fruit, and vegetables is recommended. Balance is necessary. It is better to have a healthy diet that can be maintained than a crash diet with highs and lows.

If you recognize that you are in need of making some lifestyle changes to help improve your ADHD and depression, start by setting small reasonable goals. Also, be patient as you implement them. If you need further assistance, speak to your doctor or therapist.

Summer Program for Teens with Learning Disabilities

Thursday, December 08, 2011


To parents with high school students who have Asperger's, High-Functioning Autism, PDD-NOS, ADD, NLD, Dyslexia, and other learning differences, College Internship Program (CIP) has an exciting offer for you. CIP is offering a program to help your teen transition from high school to college with a 2012 summer program.

Making that transition for a teen with learning disabilities can be incredibly challenging. To assist with this challenge, CIP has specifically designed this program. The curriculum includes:


• Roommate Rules: Written and Unwritten
• Navigating a college campus
• Social dining, chit chat and eating rules
• Self-advocacy and disclosure
• Self-initiation
• Making plans with friends and planning leisure activities
• College 101

• Dealing with being away from home

In addition to the above, every day will begin with using ice breakers, idioms, and a discussion of expected versus unexpected behaviors. Six different dates and locations are being offered. This is a wonderful opportunity. I highly recommend looking into it for your teen. They are now accepting applications. Click here for more information.

New Research on How to Treat Autistic Children with ADHD

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Children with autism have many challenges to overcome in the course of their life. But what if autism is compounded with ADHD? It would make life even more challenging – especially if it goes undiagnosed. That’s why it’s important for doctors, educators and parents of autistic children to be aware that someone with autism may also have symptoms of ADHD.

Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Oregon Health Sciences University collected data from Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network's Registry and found that out of 2,000 autistic children and adolescents over 50% exhibited symptoms of ADD or ADHD. They also concluded that over a third exhibited severe symptoms. However, only 10% were taking medication that could be used to treat ADHD.

Children with autism and ADHD may benefit by taking medication for their ADHD symptoms. With their ADHD under control, they can then focus on tackling the affects of autism. It is important to note that medication is not a cure for ADHD. It can help to control the symptoms, but more is needed. Emotional therapy, behavioral counseling, and practical support should be combined with medication if the doctor deems it appropriate.

For more information on ADHD and recommended therapy, visit Parenting a Child with ADD.

ADHD and Business: Friend or Foe?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Living with ADHD has been compared to living in a kaleidoscope, where thoughts, sounds, and images are constantly shifting in the brain. You may bore easily yet you struggle to keep your attention focused on anything for a long period of time. Distraction becomes a constant companion. Yet in the midst of all the brain chaos, pure brilliance and creativity usher forth and can make a person with ADHD a true success story.

SmartMoney Magazine recently published an article about entrepreneurs with ADHD entitled, "ADHD: Why Some Entrepreneurs Call ADHD a Superpower." Surprisingly, ADHD is common among successful entrepreneurs. Some even refer to it as their "superpower." The article highlights three successful entrepreneurs. They share their thoughts on ADHD and their business, their struggles as well as their strengths. They also share some of their tips for harnessing the negative aspects of ADHD.

SmartMoney contacted me for my expertise on ADHD and you will see a quote from me in the article. I have been working with many ADHD clients over the years and one of my suggestions for entrepreneurs with ADHD is to hire a personal assistant. Since someone with ADHD rarely recognizes the fine details, a personal assistant can fill in the missing blanks.

Whether you are old or young and have ADHD, I also recommend seeking psychotherapy. By working with a qualified therapist, you will be able to identify and build up your strengths as well as learn to control aggression or frustration that often comes with ADHD.

For more information visit Adult ADD/ADHD on my website.


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