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Kathy Marshack News

Continue to Protect Your Children from the Damages of Marijuana

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Since Washington and Oregon have made marijuana legal for adults many teens think it’s okay for them, so we must help them make choices for the best future.Since Washington State and Oregon have changed their laws making marijuana use legal for adults, many of our youth think it’s legal for them and that it’s harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Marijuana use is still harmful. Here are a few scientifically proven reasons why:

  • It puts teens at greater risk for addictive behavior.
  • Because the teen brain is still developing, it can impair the areas that control motor coordination, impulse control, memory, learning and judgment.
  • It’s associated with behavior that results in teen death, such as traffic fatalities, drowning accidents, homicide, and suicide.
  • Because impulse control is impaired, teens are more likely to choose risky sexual activity resulting in STDs and pregnancy.
  • It’s responsible for children falling behind in school and even failing.
  • Teens can be arrested and this arrest record will severely limit their career choices.

Another problem with legalized marijuana is that adults think there will be no ramifications if their boss gives them a random UA. This is not true. Bosses don’t want their employees coming to work drunk or stoned. People need to be responsible about their social drug and alcohol use.

Listing these dangers to your children, however, isn’t usually the best way to reach them. Parents can be good role models by showing children they don’t need to use substances like marijuana or alcohol to have a good time. Help them find healthy ways of coping with the pressures they’re experiencing, such as outdoor activities, hobbies, spirituality, and a strong social network. Keep the lines of communication open as you listen attentively to what they have to say without judgment.

When you do talk with your teenagers, you might approach them from a safety first direction. You might say, “No matter what the law says, I hope you’ll keep your eyes open to the scientific facts. You only get one brain for your whole life. I’m trusting you to take good care of it.” Some parents underscore this by promising to rescue their teenager, without blame, from dangerous situations, including those that involve drinking or drugs.

If your relationship is too tense and you’re unable to reach your teenagers, please don’t ignore the situation, but continue to seek new ways of helping them. Don’t ever give up! Many people have found that talking with an objective mental health professional facilitates discussions such as these. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Parenting Effectively and Managing Depression and Stress.

Maternal Depression Is Linked to Child’s Inability to Show Empathy

Monday, March 06, 2017


Maternal Depression Is Linked to Child’s Inability to Show EmpathyDid you know that 1 in 9 women suffer from depression during or after pregnancy? That’s the latest statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s appalling that not all of these sufferers feel free to seek treatment. Especially in the light of a recent study I want to share with you.

But first a little background… Last year I wrote about the increased risk of autism in the children born to women who take SSRIs for depression. While that is of concern to health professionals, untreated depression is too serious and outweighs that risk. As an alternative, I like to incorporate holistic health treatments and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as often as I can.

Because this is such a serious health concern, I continually monitor for the newest information to share with you. Recently I came across an article in the Science Daily that further enlarges on the topic of maternal depression and its effect on the child’s inability to show empathy, often a hallmark of autism.

The study followed over 70 mother-child parings – 27 with depressed mothers and 45 without. They tracked them for the first 11 years of the child’s life.

They found that maternal depression across the first years of life impacts children’s neural basis of empathy. In children of depressed mothers, the neural reaction to pain stops earlier in the area related to socio-cognitive processing. According to Professor Ruth Feldman, “this reduced mentalizing-related processing of others' pain, is perhaps because of difficulty in regulating the high arousal associated with observing distress in others.”

The way the depressed mothers interacted with their children was crucial to the difference between these two groups. They were less synchronized or attuned with their children and had more intrusive behavior that triggered this reduced empathetic response in their children.

Identifying this depressed mother-child behavior opens the way for more effective interventions at this crucial period in a child’s development. I’m awaiting further results from their ongoing study into the way that maternal care affects the development of a child’s brain, endocrine systems, behavior and relationships.

This new understanding highlights the absolute necessity to treat depression in mothers. The long-range consequences are too serious to ignore. If you or someone you know is suffering from depressive symptoms, please seek help from a mental health professional immediately. There are numerous, effective ways to treat it, with and without medication. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can explore your options.

Entrepreneurs – How to Conquer Your Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Shoe squishing the word impossibleWhat do you consider to be your worst enemy as an entrepreneur? The ever-changing market? Fickle customers? Your competition?
 
What about your own negative attitude?
 
You may have heard that attitude is everything, and indeed it is. The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and dwelling on negative ones can cause many physical health problems.
 
But did you realize that optimism could also greatly impact the health and wellbeing of your business? Optimists tend to be solution-oriented. When they encounter a setback, instead of throwing their hands up, they continue to search for a way around the problem because they are convinced there is a solution. They are also willing to try new things because they recognize that what looks like failure is really a learning experience.
 
While optimism can positively impact your life and business in a very large way, negativity can quickly tear down what you have worked for. Negativity adds to the normal stress felt by entrepreneurs everywhere. It also has a debilitating effect, sometimes preventing people from moving forward and getting past a situation or starting something new.
 
Do you tend to have a pessimistic attitude about life or your business? Or perhaps all the negativity in the media of late is having an impact on your state of mind?
 
Let’s consider three steps that can help you turn your negative thoughts around:
 
Accept your thoughts and feelings. It is important not to dismiss your negative thoughts and worries. Worrying about worrying is not going to help you! Accept your thoughts and feelings and take time to examine them. When you accept the existence of the negative thought and take ownership of it, you take back power and control. The problem no longer feels so large.
 
I often suggest to my clients that they make the effort to practice mindfulness, a simple 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. 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 consider your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
 
Challenge your negative thoughts. Once you accept your negative thoughts, you are in the position to challenge them. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?
 
Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive. It can be helpful to view your negative thoughts and worries as incentives to search for solutions. Especially in business, solutions do not come from worry or fear. They come from putting our attention on what is good and beneficial.
 
Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. To help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective, I suggest starting each day with a positive thought. That may sound small, but it will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day. It is also beneficial to practice gratitude every day. People who look for reasons to be grateful experience better mental health, emotional wellbeing and resiliency in the face of difficulties.
 
If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. I can help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate a positive attitude that will help you succeed in life and business.

Don’t be a Casualty of Social Isolation!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Don’t be a Casualty of Social Isolation!Ironically, while we now have the ability to connect digitally with millions of people around the globe, the problem of social isolation is growing. More and more people are feeling loneliness. Not only is this emotionally devastating but it creates serious health issues such as:

  • disrupted sleep patterns,
  • altered immune systems,
  • inflammation,
  • obesity,
  • higher levels of stress hormone,
  • increased risk of heart disease by 29 percent,
  • increased risk for stroke by 32 percent,
  • accelerated cognitive decline,
  • and premature death.

A recent NY Times article shares some disturbing statistics on social isolation:

40 percent of American adults say they’re lonely, which has doubled since the 1980’s.

One-third of Americans, older than 65, live alone.

Socially isolated individuals have a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, mainly among those who are middle age.

Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors.

The article includes this interesting observation:

“New research suggests that loneliness is not necessarily the result of poor social skills or lack of social support, but can be caused in part by unusual sensitivity to social cues. Lonely people are more likely to perceive ambiguous social cues negatively, and enter a self-preservation mind-set — worsening the problem. In this way, loneliness can be contagious: When one person becomes lonely, he withdraws from his social circle and causes others to do the same.”

How well do you recognize social cues, such as facial expressions? Do you tend to jump to negative conclusions? Negative thinking is not incurable. There’s much you can do to improve your life. It’s never too late to develop a warm social network. Depression, anxiety, and stress are all issues that you can overcome with the aid of a professional. Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area to make an appointment.

Click here to read the entire NY Times article and see how some people are trying to solve the problem of social isolation.

Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?Do you remember when you first heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It wasn’t formally recognized until 1980. That really wasn’t long ago, so therapies for treating PTSD are still in their infancy.

One traditional medical approach involves using medication and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. However, veterans aren’t finding this as helpful as hoped. Rehashing the event, without giving them coping skills, leaves them feeling helpless, which compounds the problem.

As a result, many alternative therapies are springing up. According to a recent New York Times article, some of them are: “therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.”

Are these viable options or are they just ways to avoid the issue?

Some of these therapies challenge veterans to overcome fears and build new experiences that put traumatic memories into perspective, which can be helpful.

However, the overall effectiveness of alternative therapies is hard to assess, beyond anecdotal evidence. Yet I believe that a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Neuro-Emotional Technique, Yoga, meditation or pet therapy can help PTSD sufferers maintain lasting gains. I’ve seen it reduce PTSD symptoms of depression and anxiety without any side effects, plus there’s no stigma attached to it.

I’m by no means alone in believing this. For example, in 2006, Dr. van der Kolk published one of the first studies about the effects of yoga on PTSD. He said that even “after six months the positive effects of yoga are still there.”

If you are a veteran or are experiencing PTSD for another reason, you deserve these life-empowering skills. You don’t have to settle for feeling broken, helpless and hopeless for the rest of your life. With patience and the help of a professional, you can get your life back. Please contact a qualified health care specialist in your area as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can determine and get started on the best therapy for you.

Read more on my website: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Letting Go to Achieve Greater Happiness and Health

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


There isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of as you become okay with the situation and experience greater health and calm.Many people today are dealing with chronic problems – mental issues, broken relationships and ongoing pain, to name just a few. An important phase of healing is to quit fighting it and begin surrendering to it.

Surrendering or “letting go” doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself, that you start self-medicating to forget, or that you’re practicing avoidance behavior. It simply means that accept the way things really are. Rather than continually knocking your head against the proverbial wall, you’ll be able to move in a better direction. When you come to terms with your situation in life, your happiness and health will improve.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to become congruent with your present-day situations. Yes, some of the life challenges in the following list can be really tough to handle. But with the right tools and support there isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of in time. A few of the difficult life situations we face are and need to become okay with might include:
  • Your current health level.
  • Your current level of pain.
  • Your limitations.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Being lonely.
  • Your body image.
  • Who you are.
  • Your single or marital status.

It’s important to note that being okay with something doesn’t mean you like it. Many of life challenges require that we practice self-compassion when addressing a chronic negative reality. Be patient with yourself as you process it and learn to live with it.

Never give up on finding a treatment that works for you. One type of treatment may work for one person, whereas a different treatment will help another person better. As a qualified psychologist and N.E.T practitioner, I’ve seen many clients respond well to alternative, holistic treatments. These include dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, movement therapies, specialized diets, and neuro-emotional technique.

There are ups and downs in the process of living. Sometimes our problems turn out to be gifts that provide us opportunities to grow as individuals. If you’d like to explore your options and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

Yoga PLUS Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise Alone

Monday, July 11, 2016


Yoga plus Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise AloneHave you noticed that familiar words and names elude you sometimes? If you’re over 40 be assured that this is a common occurrence. While some memory decline is inevitable over time, there’s much we can do to slow it down by how we live and move our bodies.

We’ve known for some time that staying physically active is crucial to mental wellbeing. Interestingly, a New York Times article recently reported on how you can intensify the effect of exercise by adding yoga and meditation to your weekly routine.

In one study, people suffering from depression were asked to meditate before they went for a run. In an amazingly short period of time, they showed greater improvements in their mood than those who did either running or meditation alone.

Another study
, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that all participants performed significantly better on their cognitive-thinking tests after increasing their exercise. However, only after adding yoga to the 12-week exercise routine, did the mood of the participants significantly improve. Exercise alone was not as affective in altering moods.

They also did brain scans on both groups (only exercise v. exercise plus yoga), which showed improved communication between the brains areas involved in memory and language skills. People who practiced yoga had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability to focus.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A. who oversaw the study noted that the reduction in stress hormones and anxiety likely played a substantial role in the improvement, as well as, an increased level of biochemicals in the muscles. I encourage you to read the entire article here.

If you have severe depression or trauma-induced depression, yoga in conjunction with working with a professional who has special trauma therapy training might be a better treatment for you. Sometimes yoga brings up too much painful stuff to be handled without therapy. If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.


Why Do Women Experience Depression More Than Men?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016


Why do women experience depression more than men and what can be done about it – learn more and take care of yourself and those you love.Especially during the childbearing years, women are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as are men. According to psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, 1 in 8 women develop clinical depression in their lifetime. Yet fewer than half of them seek help, accepting it as a normal way of life.

Why do women experience depression more than men?
We don’t have a definitive answer yet. But we do know the following issues are factors to be considered when diagnosing depression.

Hormonal fluctuations. It's possible that monthly cyclical changes in estrogen, progesterone and other hormones disrupt the function of brain chemicals such as serotonin, which controls mood. Just think of what women live through – Puberty, PMS, possibly Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression, Perimenopause and Menopause. All of these are accompanied with wildly fluctuating hormones, which can trigger depression.

Heredity. A British research team recently isolated a gene, the chromosome 3p25-26, in more than 800 families with recurrent depression. Scientists believe 40 percent of those with depression may be traced to a genetic link. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports on one study that found that women had a 42 percent chance of hereditary depression, while men had only a 29 percent chance.

Inadequate coping skills. Life stressors are associated with a higher risk of depression. And if women haven’t learned to successful cope with stress, they can feel powerless, which often contributes toward depression. Some of these stressors are:

  • Relationship problems. Conflict with parents, spouse and children.
  • Lack of social support. Feeling all alone.
  • Social and economic inequalities. Living in poverty, being uncertain about the future, racial discrimination and having less access to community resources are all issues that can cause low self-esteem and lack of control.
  • Work overload. Women are juggling a career and home responsibilities. Many women are single parents, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Plus they may be caring for sick or aging parents.
  • Abuse. Women are more likely than men to experience sexual abuse. And being emotionally, physically or sexually abused raises the likelihood of depression.

Depression is NOT a normal way to live. It’s very treatable and you can lead a happier life. Please seek help if you have any physical signs and psychological symptoms of depression. Women with depression often have other mental health conditions such as:


If you think you're depressed, please don't hesitate to seek professional help. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Depression and Stress.

A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!How would you like a no cost way to stay in shape, clear your mind, spark creativity, reduce depression and anxiety, and change the way your brain works? It’s easy. Just go for a hike! Now that spring weather is warming up here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great time to get outside and take a hike in the woods. Not only will you see beautiful scenery, smell wonderful woodsy scents, and exercise your muscles, you’ll actually be making positive changes to your brain, as the following studies show.

University of British Columbia researchers found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in women over the age of 70. That’s the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory. Who doesn’t want a better memory? Hiking will do that and so much more. It also reduces stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem, and releases endorphins.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on a study about how rumination (repetitive negative thought about self) is affected by urban setting versus a 90 minute walk in the woodsy park. Not surprisingly, they found that spending time in nature significantly decreases obsessive, negative thoughts. It also reduces neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through an urban setting, however, didn’t receive these benefits. In fact, the researchers discovered that increased urbanization correlates to increased mental illnesses.

When you go for your hike, leave your phone off! Here’s why…Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem-solving skills are greatly improved by ditching technology and going for a hike. After a 4 day backpacking tip, (without any tech tools turned on), the participants’ creative thinking and problem-solving skills improved 50%. It also improves your relationships since you’ll have more of an opportunity to talk. For your safety, I would suggest having the phone with you, but only turn it on if you experience problems and need help.

Hiking also helps children with ADHD. Frances E Kup, Ph.D. and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D. found that children with ADHD improved their ability to pay attention and control their impulsive behavior when they engaged in nature activities.

We live in such a beautiful area. I hope I’ve motivated you to find a few trails and recharge. However, it’s important to realize if you or your loved one is experiencing serious mental health issues such as persistent anxiety or depression, it’s important to consult a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Explore Alternative Treatment of Depression as Research Links SSRIs During Pregnancy with Increased Risk of Autism

Monday, January 25, 2016


Should I take SSRIs for depression while I'm pregnant?" This is a vital question to discuss with your Dr. since there's an increased risk of autism in your childOnce again a study links taking SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil) during pregnancy with increased risk of autism in the child. Anick Bérard of the University of Montreal an internationally known expert in the field of pharmaceutical safety during pregnancy published the finding in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The researchers factored into the study genetic predisposition or family history, maternal age, socioeconomic factors such as poverty, and the affects of depression itself. And they found that you double the risk of Autism if SSRIs are used.

Bérard and her team followed 145,456 children from birth to 10 years of age. Significantly, 1,054 of those children were diagnosed with autism. When interviewed she said:

“Using antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), during the 2nd/3rd trimesters of pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with autism (87 percent increased risk of autism with any antidepressants; more than doubling the risk with SSRI use specifically) – this risk is above and beyond the risk associated with maternal depression alone (maternal depression was associated with a 20 percent increased risk of autism in our study). Given the mounting evidence showing increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcome with antidepressant use during pregnancy, our study shows that depression should be treated with other options (other than antidepressants) during this critical period.

Indeed, 80-85 percent of depressed pregnant women are mildly to moderately depressed; exercise and psychotherapy have been shown to be efficacious to treat depression in this sub-group. Therefore, we acknowledge that depression is a serious condition but that antidepressants are not always the best solution.

Our study is not out to scare women. It’s 2015 and women can make informed decisions, but they need to have evidence-based data. A discussion with their physician is warranted in order to fully consider all treatment options.”

The prevalence of autism amongst children is increasing. So is depression. According to the World Health Organization, by the year 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, after heart disease. Therefore, it’s likely that antidepressants will remain widely prescribed, including during pregnancy.

Today six to 10 percent of pregnant women are currently being treated for depression with antidepressants. Since 80 to 85 percent of depressed pregnant women are mildly to moderately depressed, it is advantageous to use medication as the last resort. This degree of depression can often be effectively treated with alternative methods such as exercise, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a holistic health approach.

If you’re depressed and plan on becoming pregnant, please learn about your medical choices. If you’re already taking SSRIs please consult your doctor. It would be harmful to stop taking them without your doctor’s supervision. And it’s harmful to leave depression untreated for the duration of the pregnancy, since depression itself increases the risk of autism.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to be fully informed about treating depression with holistic health options, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.



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