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Kathy Marshack News

Is This Normal Anxiety... or an Anxiety Disorder?

Monday, February 19, 2018


Find out how you can tell if your anxiety has gone beyond the normal range and your feelings of nervousness, fearfulness, and apprehension could be classified as an anxiety disorder.As unwelcome as anxiety is, it is a very normal reaction to stress. There are times when we all feel nervous, fearful, or apprehensive. New experiences where you can’t anticipate the outcome, high-pressure situations and stressful events will often cause a measure of anxiety.

Anxiety is often felt physically as much as it is emotionally. It results in physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, trembling, breathlessness, and nausea. Anxiety can also affect your mood, making you irritable or unable to relax.

The good news is that for many people, anxiety goes as quickly as it comes. Once the stressful event that induced the anxiety in the first place is over, their feelings normalize. They are able to handle the discomfort and uncertainty of anxiety without outside intervention.

But what if your feelings don’t normalize after some time passes? What if feelings of anxiety nag at you on a daily basis? You may suffer from an anxiety disorder. How can you tell?

Anxiety disorders disrupt your day-to-day life. Persons who deal with an anxiety disorder struggle with concentration, focus, and sleep. Their feelings are so severe that they begin to affect their work, relationships, and health. Anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and inescapable.

Anxiety disorders are persistent. Like I mentioned, normal feelings of anxiety pass relatively quickly. Persons suffering from an anxiety disorder experience severe anxiety for months. The general standard is that if you have more anxious days than not in a six-month period, you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders defy reason. You’ve thoroughly examined the situation causing you stress and anxiety. You’ve determined that your anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. You know you have good reason to move on and let go of these feelings. But you still can’t seem to shake your concerns and anxiety? Something more than “normal” anxiety may be going on.

It must be noted that anxiety disorders are not “personality flaws.” They are actually physical brain disorders. People with an anxiety disorder associate a new experience with an old emotional response that lingers in their brain. The previous anxious feelings are now attached to the new, and often unrelated, experience. So even though there’s no true reason for anxiety, their brain tells you that there is.

Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of an anxious brain vs. a healthy brain shows a fundamental brain difference. They show response differences in the amygdale and in the primary sensory regions of the brain, thus supporting the theory that emotional experiences cause changes in sensory representations in anxious brains. This reaction is not something that an anxious person can control. Their brain is literally wired differently.

Do you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder? Contact a qualified therapist. They can perform a careful diagnostic evaluation and recommend a course of treatment. Together, you and your therapist can find the treatment and approach that is best for you.

There are measures you can take to relieve some of your anxiety outside of the treatment you are receiving from your doctor. Here are some things that have worked for my clients in the past:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Practice deep breathing techniques.

  • Exercise regularly.


  • Find time to relax and spend time with the people you love.

Remember that you can treat your anxiety disorder. Research is yielding new, improved therapies to help those with anxiety disorders to lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, please call for an appointment. My office is located in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer convenient online therapy.

Work with Toxic People? Here's How to Cope

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


If you work with a toxic person, someone who is abusive, controlling, or try to cause you harm, find out how to cope with their behavior and what steps you can take to minimize their bullying.Do you have any toxic people in your life? People who are abusive, controlling, or try to cause you harm? Generally, you can get rid of this negativity by cutting toxic friends, family members, and acquaintances out of your life or at least drastically reducing contact with them.

But when you work with toxic people, the solution to your problem isn’t that easy. You have to work with them whether you want to or not. So how can you cope?

Here are some ways to protect yourself from a toxic workmate:

  • Assess if the person truly is toxic. Are they abusive or just difficult? Are they absorbed in themselves to the detriment of others, or are they just overcompensating? It’s worth considering because sometimes people who are not truly toxic can be won over by kindness and compassion and become less difficult. Behind their annoying behaviors, there may be feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, or a longing for attention and personal connections.

  • Don’t take to heart what toxic people say to you or about you. Words can hurt, especially when we’re barraged with subtle digs all day long. It's easy to withdraw into yourself, feeling hurt and rejected. Then you replay, rehash, and relive the experience over and over again. Don’t do that. Don’t absorb what toxic people say and let it reach you emotionally. Stay calm and rational. Doing so will help you diffuse the situation, rather than providing the bully with the reaction they hoped for.

  • Improve your emotional intelligence (EQ). This may sound counterintuitive because the toxic person should be the one working on their EQ! But really, people with a high EQ can neutralize the effect of toxic people. They stay aware of their emotions and remain calm and objective. They establish clear boundaries and decide when they have to put up with a toxic person and when they don’t. They can keep an emotional distance from the person without becoming cold and uncaring. People with a high EQ also understand that holding a grudge doesn’t do them any good, so they have an easier time letting things go that bring them stress.

  • Continue to do your best work. Rudeness in the workplace is known to stifle creativity, problem-solving, and efficiency. Counteract the inclination to lay low at work by continuing to put your best foot forward. In addition to helping you be your best self, this also casts doubt on any negative things your toxic workmate says about you.

  • Keep your interactions with the toxic person to a minimum. Engage with them as little as possible, and they may move on to someone or something else. Speak in a neutral voice. Keep your responses short and unemotional. Stay on topics that are boring or inconsequential. Don’t engage when they taunt you or make eye contact. Avoid sharing personal information with them and don’t ask them anything personal. Make yourself seem as uninterested in them and as uninteresting to them as possible.

  • Document everything.
    Make sure to keep a record of toxic behavior. Write down what happened, when it happened, who witnessed it, etc. Keep emails, notes, and even voicemails. If things reach a point a point where you need to bring the problem to the attention of your employer, Human Resources, or beyond, this ensures you have the necessary information to make your case.

  • Focus on yourself. You can be happy if you keep your focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You can’t control your workmate or make them change their personality. But you can continue to work becoming the best possible version of yourself. And remember, sometimes they healthiest choice is to walk away. You can work elsewhere!

Toxic people in the workplace often have severe Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). This is characterized by an “all-about-me” attitude and is manifested in thoughtless, self-absorbed behavior. The result is contemptible harm to those around them. My upcoming book, “When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” delves into Empathy Disorders and offers advice on how you can protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. You can read the first chapter here.

Are you in a position of leadership and see signs of toxic behavior in your business? Or are you on the receiving end of this type of demoralizing behavior and want it to stop? Many have found that consulting with a trained therapist and business coach has helped them find positive solutions. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment or take advantage of online therapy.

Entrepreneurs – How Mindfulness Is Good for Business

Monday, January 22, 2018


Practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you stay focused, less stressed, and more positive, as part of your self-care regimen, to benefit yourself and your business.As an entrepreneur, you probably work long hours. Between building your business and caring for your family, self-care can quickly take a backseat.

But with what result? A lot of built up stress with no relief in sight. This is bad for you, and for your business. To combat the personal and professional consequences of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I encourage many of clients to employ the practice of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. You focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, thus helping you be truly present, living in the moment.

Before you dismiss mindfulness as some sort of hippie nonsense, there is solid, scientific evidence supporting the benefits of meditation. The latest research in neuroscience suggests that mindfulness causes real, observable changes in the brain. There is decreased activity areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering combined with increased activity in the areas associated with focus and cognitive control. There is also decreased activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Finally, they have noticed an increase in activity in the left frontal cortex which is associated with positivity.

So mindfulness changes your brain to be more focused and controlled, less stressed, and more positive. How do these changes then benefit your business? Mindfulness helps you to:

  • Discover your true motivation and drive. Entrepreneurs burn out when they do things for the wrong reasons, such as fame, fortune, or notoriety. Of course everyone needs to make money, and it’s not wrong to want recognition, but if these are your only motives behind your business, you will get pulled off track quickly. Mindfulness guides you back to the greater reasons you started your business. It helps you gain satisfaction from doing things for yourself and for the right reasons. Because of this, you and your business can continue on and grow.

  • Develop resilience. You will see how every failure, every bump in the road, is a chance to learn. Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up, you will develop the resilience needed to keep going in spite of problems. You will have an easier time standing back up and dusting yourself off. It helps you continue to get things done, even under very challenging circumstances.

  • Make needed changes. Mindfulness helps you challenge your approach to life and business when you reach a roadblock or experience failure. It helps you analyze your problem and determine objectively why you are not obtaining the results you want. The process of mindfulness helps you try different things, even when you are naturally opposed to change.

  • Trust your instincts. Entrepreneurs often use their instincts and intuition to make some of the best decisions for their life and business. You need to train yourself to trust your gut. So often entrepreneurs are stressed, pulled at from all directions, get advice and input from numerous sources, to the point that they lose confidence in their own instincts. Practices like mindfulness help you tune into your inner voice and reconnect with your intuition.

  • Enjoy the success you have right now. Entrepreneurs set goals and work toward them like no one else, and that’s part of why you are successful! But many entrepreneurs fail to slow down and rejoice in their present successes. Mindfulness helps you to focus on the things that make you feel successful now. This, in turn, will help you create more success.

Entrepreneurs face many challenges. What challenges are you dealing with? Could you use help achieving a more balanced and satisfying lifestyle? If so, contact my office and schedule an appointment. My office is located in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that is a better fit for your busy schedule.

How to Decide Which Kind of Therapy Is the Best Option for You

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


If you picture therapy as laying on a couch talking about your feelings, then you need to read up on some of new therapeutic approaches available.What do you envision when you think of going to therapy? Do you picture someone lying on a couch while a psychologist sits next to him with a notepad and pencil in hand? While some approaches do utilize this method, there are numerous types of therapy that can be used to help you overcome challenges. In all cases, the goal of therapy is to provide an environment that allows the client and therapist to work together openly and honestly toward a mutually agreed upon set of goals.

If you are considering starting therapy, know that there are many different types of therapy you can utilize. The success of any therapeutic approach depends on the needs of you as an individual. For this reason, many therapists use elements of several approaches. Your therapy should feel comfortable to you even as it challenges you to progress and develop.

Understanding how different therapies work and operate will help you determine whether your needs are being met, or what type of therapy might give you better results. Here are a few of the many types of therapy available to you that I have found to be particularly effective for many clients:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This type of therapy addresses the way people think. The techniques are designed to change faulty, irrational thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking.

Often people are stuck because they have a belief from childhood that keeps them from living the way they wished they could. During Cognitive Behavioral Therapy you are confronted with these beliefs and offered a new way of thinking about them. For example, just because your parents were divorced, does not mean you are incapable of learning the tools necessary for maintaining a satisfying relationship.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is usually considered short-term therapy. The reason for this is that the therapist is focusing on a specific problem. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been used successfully with a variety of issues from depression, to low self-esteem, to relationship dysfunction, to phobias, and anxiety. Once that problem is resolved, the therapy is complete unless there are other issues you with to work on.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – This is a complex model of human communication. Essentially, there is a formula regarding how persons take in sensory impressions, organizes their impressions through memory and decision-making, and then translates those impressions into a response. NLP utilizes specific interventions and communications to change those responses to be more positive.

This system of therapy that enables people to reach more success in their chosen endeavors.  Goal-setting, negotiating, problem-solving, and creating become more streamlined and successful when you are equipped with a structure and formula to follow.

NeuroEmotionalTechnique (NET) – This type of therapy treats behavioral and physical conditions through identifying and removing the neurological imbalances related to the physiology of unresolved stress. Normally we process stress and let it go. Sometimes, however, a disruption and imbalance occurs.

For example, you drive in rush hour traffic daily, automatically taking evasive action or jamming on the brakes when necessary. Your hands may sweat, your heart pumps faster, adrenaline rushes through your body. Your body engages its “fight or flight” response. But after the event ends, you calm down and forget it.

However, when something disrupts this natural letting-go process, your body may produce that same stress reaction when it's triggered by a memory. Often you'll be unaware of the connection. This unresolved stress can cause physiological problems such as pain, allergies, and headaches. It may also cause psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.

A NET practitioner can pinpoint your very real physiological response (such as a racing heart and profuse sweating) to a stimulus (a situation that brings up the unresolved stress reaction memory). Once the system is brought back into balance, your mind and body can heal, relieving you of the symptoms caused by your unresolved stress.

Clinical hypnosis – This is a process used for treating psychological and physical problems. Through hypnosis a person achieves a relaxed state in which their conscious and unconscious mind become focused and ready to receive therapeutic suggestions. When used professionally, hypnosis is safe, relaxing, and refreshing.

Hypnosis can be used to assist you in resolving smoking and weight control, fears, depression, anxiety, stress, sexual problems, alcoholism, pain control, confidence building, memory and concentration, retrieving repressed memories, even to facilitate physical healing.


The first step is to get in contact with a trained therapist who can help you set goals, pinpoint what you want to work on, and formulate a treatment plan just for you. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we could talk in person. Or take advantage of my online therapy option if that is a better fit for you. I can tailor therapy to your individual needs and goals to help you reach your full potential.

Parents - How Do You Know When Your Teen is Depressed?

Monday, October 09, 2017


1 in 5 teenagers will suffer from depression, so it is vital for parents to stay alert to these signs of depression in their teensDo you have a moody teen at home? With all the pressures and changes teens face as they grow up, it is expected that they will experience intense feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness from time to time. This is a normal part of growing up.

Sometimes, though, their anger or sadness are signs of a bigger problem – depression. While no one wants their child to have to deal with something severe like depression, it is estimated that 1 in 5 teens will suffer from depression at some point during their teen years. It’s so important for parents to stay alert to signs that their teen could be dealing with it.

How do you know if your teen is depressed? These are some common signs:

  • Irritability, anger, or hostility

  • Sadness, hopelessness, or discouragement

  • Frequent crying

  • Negative thinking and highly critical of self and others

  • Withdrawal from family and friends

  • Loss of interest

  • Poor performance in school

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Unexplained aches and pains

It can be hard for parents and other adults to know when a child is depressed. An irritable or angry mood might seem like a bad attitude or disrespect. Low energy and lack of interest might look like not trying. Parents may not realize that these can be signs of depression.

Depression also tends to look different in teens than it does in adults. Irritability is usually the predominant mood in depressed teens, as opposed to sadness with adults. They are also very likely to complain of unexplained pains like a headache or stomachache. Adults will often isolate themselves completely if they are suffering from depression. Teens are more likely to isolate themselves from their parents, but still maintain some of their friendships.

If you see some of these signs in your teen, but are unsure if they really signal depression, think about how long the symptoms have been happening, how severe they are, and how different your teen is acting from his usual self. Continuous unhappiness or irritability, for weeks or months, it is definitely not normal, and should be addressed.

The good news is that depression can get better with the right attention and care. Here are some steps to take if you think your child might be depressed:

  • Talk with your child about depression and their moods. Teens might ignore, hide, or deny how they feel. They might not realize they’re depressed. Even if they act like they don’t want help, talk with them anyway. Listen without judgement. Offer your support. Show them and tell them that they are loved and needed.

  • Schedule a visit to your teen’s doctor. The doctor will probably do a complete physical exam. A full exam lets the doctor check your child for other health conditions that could cause depression-like symptoms.

  • Contact a mental health specialist. A therapist can evaluate your child and recommend treatment. Parental counselling could be part of the treatment, too. It focuses on ways parents can best support and respond to a teen dealing with depression.

As an experienced family therapist, I can help you and your teen get through this difficult time. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we could talk in person. I also offer online therapy if it is more convenient for you.

Expats – Be Prepared for Mental Health Challenges Abroad

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Along with joy relocating to a new country can bring frustration, anxiety, and depression, so prepare for these mental health challenges before you go.Have you decided to make a move abroad? Maybe you have accepted a job in another country or are moving to participate in volunteer work. An adventure like this is full of excitement and opportunity. But to be successful, you have to prepare yourself for the challenges that can come along with it.
 
Some of the challenges you may face as an expat include:

  • Living in a place where few people speak your language. To be constrained by language barriers is isolating. Even when you have some grasp of your new language, fluency takes time and the process can be frustrating.

  • Adjusting to a new environment. Your new area may not be as safe as your previous neighborhood, limiting mobility and walks alone. Or maybe your spouse is working, leaving you to fend for yourself during the day. Unfamiliar foods and lack of access to the comforts of home can cause stress.

  • Understanding and adapting to new cultures and customs. Learning what is proper and acceptable in another country can be a long process. When you aren’t familiar with local customs it can lead to frustration and embarrassment. 

  • Being separated from family and friends. If you want to grab lunch with your mom or a friend they are all back in your native country, and phone calls can be expensive! It can also be upsetting if you have to miss important life events, milestones or beloved holidays.

This combination can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, or depression. In fact, expats experience a significantly higher risk for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems than their domestic counterparts. This was highlighted in a recent study that showed that expats are at a higher risk for mental health problems.
 
These feelings can quickly derail what should be an exciting, engaging, and interesting chapter of your life. They can lead to poor job performance, marital problems, and physical health issues.
 
What can you do before embarking on your journey to prepare yourself for these challenges? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Identify both the strengths and weakness that change brings out in you. This awareness will help you maximize your strengths and not be blindsided by your weaknesses.

  • Let go of the idea that life has to be a certain way. View change, big and small, as an opportunity to grow. 

  • Do research. Find out as much as you can about the country, city, and neighborhood as you can before you move. If possible, visit before your move so you have some idea of what to expect. Talk to people who have made the same move or a similar one.

  • Learn some basic phrases in the new language. Having a greeting and some basic sentences you’ll need on a regular basis memorized before you go will help you feel more comfortable in your new environment. It will also make it easier to pick up the language.

  • Plan ahead to see family and friends. Plan a definite time to come back to your home country for a visit or have loved ones come visit you. Schedule phone calls and video chat sessions. 

  • Find a therapist. You may come to realize that you could really use the help of a therapist to navigate your transition to a new life in a new country. 

On the point of finding a therapist, how you do you find one in a new country? It can definitely be a challenge. Depending on where you are going, there may not be that many qualified therapists in your area. The local therapists may not speak your language. And in a small community, the local therapist could be someone you interact with in other circles. It can be uncomfortable to open up to someone who has connections to your outside life.
 
What if you could have a qualified therapist who speaks your language, and who is available at the touch of a button? I offer a service that provides exactly that! My Remote Counselling Services for Expats utilizes a HIPPA compliant, online video program to connect us, no matter where you are in the world via video conferences, I can help you navigate the unique situations that you face and find a healthy way to cope with your new challenges. Please take advantage of this unique service so you can get the most of your international experience and your life!

What is Anxiety Costing Your Business?

Monday, September 18, 2017


Anxiety can cost you your business so it is important to find out what you can do to combat negative thinking.Anxiety is costly. It costs you emotionally, mentally and physically. The mind-body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and anxious feelings can cause many physical health problems.
 
What about the financial cost of dealing with anxiety? Doctor’s visits and medications are expensive. Personal steps taken to prevent anxiety, such as supplements or private forms of transportation to avoid crowds, can add up quickly. There is also the cost of re-doing a project or an activity if it has been disrupted by an anxiety attack, which was illustrated in a recent story in the NY Times of a woman whose panic attack cost her $1000.
 
Then there is the burden put on your business. Persons who suffer with anxiety take more time off work than their less-anxious counterparts. And if you own a business, your anxiety will eventually affect your bottom line. How?
 
Here are just a few ways anxiety can cost your business:

  • Anxiety can make you less solution-oriented. When you encounter a setback, you are likely to give up quickly instead of continuing to search for a way around the problem. It can prevent you from moving forward and persevering. 

  • Anxiety can prevent you from trying new things and expanding your business. Anxious persons are afraid of change and failure. Instead of looking at a new experience as an opportunity to learn, you look at it as a chance of failing.

  • Anxiety affects your employees. Your anxiety can rub off on the people who are around you, thus reducing their efficiency and even their attendance at work. It can also lead your employees to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around you, hindering communication which is a vital part of managing a successful business.

  • Anxiety can cost you clients. Clients are more likely to work with you if they sense you are confident in your product and relaxed. They, too, can pick up on your anxiety, and it could prevent them from doing business with you.

To clarify, the type of anxiety I am discussing here isn’t the “normal” feelings of nervousness, fear, or apprehension caused by new experiences, high-pressure situations, or stressful events. This type of anxiety usually goes as quickly as it comes. Once the anxiety-inducing event is over, feelings normalize.
 
The type of anxiety I’m talking about is the kind that nags at you on a daily basis. It is the type of anxiety that can sometimes be pushed out of mind enough to get through the day, but that eventually starts to affect your business, relationships, and health. This anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and may even feel inescapable.
 
If these are symptoms you deal with, you may have developed an anxiety disorder. In this case, help is needed to manage the mental and physical discomfort, and learn how to cope. If you do suffer from an anxiety disorder, be assured you can identify and correct your negative thoughts and beliefs. You can change the way you think, thereby changing the way you feel.
 
How can you do this? I encourage my clients to Identify, Challenge, and Replace their negative, anxious thoughts.

  • Identify what you’re thinking when you start feeling anxious.

  • Challenge those thoughts and ask yourself if your fears and concerns are legitimate and warranted.

  • Then Replace your negative thoughts with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive.

It’s simple but it can be far from easy! In many cases, if you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder you will need the guidance and support of a doctor. Anxiety disorders are not all treated the same, and it’s important to determine the specific problem before embarking on a course of treatment.
 
Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment, or try online therapy if that is best for you. I will conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine what type of anxiety you are truly dealing with and establish a plan of treatment to get you back to feeling and working at your best.

Researchers Find Insomnia Isn’t Just a Night Disorder

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


Insomnia is not just a night disorder1 am… 3 am…. 3:47 am…. All night long you toss and turn, not getting a wink of sleep. Why can’t you fall asleep? You’re tired beyond tired. If you can just get through tomorrow, you’re bound to sleep better tomorrow night. Right? Not necessarily.

Do you think of insomnia as solely a night disorder?
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that. Contrary to this popular belief, scientists are finding that insomnia is a 24-hour condition. It’s not just your sleepless night causing you to have a bad day. It’s your day causing your sleepless night. It’s a loop that your brain gets into that needs to be broken.

Psychology Today has an informative article by Michael J. Breus Ph.D. on a number of recent studies on insomnia. Using EEG, researchers measured brain activity during wakeful, resting states, both with eyes open and eyes closed. They found that people with insomnia displayed:

  • Less powerful alpha-wave activity in the frontal and temporal lobes (with eyes open). Alpha waves indicate restfulness.
  • More powerful beta-wave activity throughout the brain (with eyes closed). Greater beta wave activity indicates hyper-arousal.

In a nutshell, daytime hyper-arousal of the brain carries over into nighttime, resulting in insomnia.

Scientists at the University of Michigan found that daytime alertness and anxiety were the only predictors for the use of prescription sleep medication. However, they also note that, “insomnia patients who used prescription sleep aids showed no significant improvement to their sleep at the one-year follow up compared to people with insomnia who didn’t take sleep medication.” And according to researchers at Penn State University, this 24-hour hyper-arousal can start at a young age.

Will easing your day-time anxiety help you overcome insomnia? It can certainly help. Many people have also found relief from CBT-I (Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia). It breaks the cycle by retraining your brain.

If you suffer from insomnia, check with your physician. If no physical causes can be found for your insomnia, it’s time to enlist the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Guidelines to Help Your Children Adapt to Change

Monday, August 21, 2017


Mother talking to her daughterOne of the best parts of life is change. One of the worst parts of life is change. How is that? As exciting as change can be, it can also be daunting, even frightening. Even a person who generally adapts well to change will experience apprehension about some of life’s changes at some point.

If we experience fear of change sometimes, what about our children?

Their lives are in a constant state of change. Just think about the physical changes they go through from infancy to adulthood. They’re also processing enormous amounts of new information and learning at a rapid pace. As a parent, you no doubt work hard to build in your children the resilience they will need to cope with these changes.

There are bigger changes that our children must adapt to. What about the loss of a parent or grandparent? Divorce? A parent remarrying? How can you help your children adapt to changes of this magnitude?

As a child, your son or daughter depends on you to help them make sense of major changes in their life. You must take the time to help them understand what is going on and adjust. The guiding principle here is to slow down and communicate.

Here are some key communication guidelines for parents:

Like all people, children need to know they are loved and cared for. It is also important for them to believe that someone needs and relies on them. They want to know their existence and presence makes a difference to other people. Listen to your children and support them. As kids navigate new situations and inevitable disappointments, they need to know that they’re not alone. Cultivate a warm, strong relationship.


Talk to them openly about what is happening, and give them opportunities to tell you how they feel, without criticism. Regardless of how you feel about the changes and how you are ready to proceed, you need to know what your child is thinking and feeling.


Be in tune with how each child is dealing with the changes in their life. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to children. Each child is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses. Some can handle more than others. This means spending time with each of your children individually and allowing them to share their own feelings on the matter, separate from the rest of the family.


A key part of developing resilience and dealing with change is emotional management. Teach your kids that emotions are okay! It’s okay to feel. And it’s okay to feel differently than their parents about a situation. They need to know that what they share will be respected and safe.


Answer your child’s questions. Some of them may be painful. You may think your child isn’t old enough to understand. But honesty is vital when helping your children adapt to big changes in their lives. If they can’t get a straight answer from you, who can they turn to?


Be honest about your mistakes. Some big changes come because of mistakes made. Making mistakes is a part of life. Life is about learning something new every day. Sometimes those lessons cause pain, or even permanent scars. It is natural to not want your children to see those mistakes or experience any of the pain associated with them. But know this: whatever stress you are feeling as a parent, your children are feeling it as well.


Use the situation as a teaching tool. Demonstrate to your children that failure is not the end of the world. Show them that it is absolutely possible to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. Be honest with them about what is happening and why. If you are honest, it not only teaches your children a lesson, but it also helps them forgive and start to heal.


Even if you are doing the best you can to communicate with your child, there are times when he or she may need professional help to deal with big changes and stress in their life. Or perhaps you could use some support as you lead your family through life’s ups and downs. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we could talk in person. I also offer online therapy if it is more convenient for you.

Avoid a Crisis – How Entrepreneurs Can Be Proactive About Mental Health

Monday, August 14, 2017


Man in suit holding happy face signWhat kinds of qualities come to mind when you think of a successful entrepreneur? Are they creative, tenacious, self-sacrificing? What about depressed, anxious, or obsessive?

The same qualities that make a person a successful entrepreneur can also make them vulnerable to a host of mental health issues. Some issues like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can, in the beginning, propel an entrepreneur to success. But there is a fine line between healthy and harmful.

Depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and a lack of motivation can arise and develop when entrepreneurs are overly focused on their business. Because entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy for them to push through tough times without pausing to evaluate if their negative feelings are part of a bigger issue that needs attention.

Do you find yourself paying little attention to the effect your schedule and lifestyle may be having on your mental health?

When you put your mental health on the back burner, you set yourself up for a mental health crisis later. If you neglect your physical health, you run the risk of disease, injury, or a traumatic event like a heart attack. Similarly, if you neglect your mental health, your brain and body will force you to slow down and take a break, but not in a manner that feels good for you or helps your business.

Wouldn’t it be better to be proactive about your mental health, caring for it before you experience a crisis? They key is to not wait until you’re broken. By waiting too long to take care of yourself, you’ll make it much harder to get back to where you want to be.

The good news is that you don’t have to be sick to get better. Here are four things you can do now to maintain good mental health and avoid a crisis later on:

  1. Care for your basic needs. As an entrepreneur, you work long hours. That’s a given. But prioritize sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and time with friends and family. Adequate sleep is absolutely vital to function at optimum levels. Eating good food gives your mind the nutrients it needs to make brilliant business decisions. Exercise relieves stress. Time spent with those you love keeps you balanced
  2. Simplify your life. The life of an entrepreneur is full of activity and decisions. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. Where you can simplify, do it. For you that may mean using a grocery delivery service or having limited wardrobe options to sort through each morning. Simplify as many things in your life as you can so that you can focus on the areas that will benefit most from your attention and creativity.
  3. Get help with the details. To make your vision succeed, there are a lot of teeny-tiny details to work out. Hire someone to help you. You have skills, but you are not skilled at everything. So outsource the things you need to. Let other people care for the details while you continue focusing on what you are best at.
  4. Hire a psychologist. People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they are less prone to illness and experience a better sense of personal well-being. Engaging in psychotherapy enhances your analytical and intuitive abilities by utilizing the full range of your conscious and unconscious talents. It helps you take charge of your life.

If you’re ready to take a proactive stance, I can help you achieve strong mental health so you can grow your business and succeed as an entrepreneur. Please contact my office. I have an office in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that works best for your lifestyle


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