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Kathy Marshack News

Feeling like a Hypochondriac? Don't Give Up Until You Get an Accurate Diagnosis

Monday, December 07, 2015


Feeling like a hypochondriac - don't give up until you get an accurate diagnosisDo you or a loved one feel like something isn't quite right with your health, but doctors haven't been able to diagnose anything wrong with you? Perhaps you feel like a hypochondriac for persisting in your search for answers. It's important that you don't quit searching, even if no one believes you yet. And when you get a diagnosis, it's good to ask for a second or third opinion. Why?

A recent NYTimes article highlights the need to have a complete health screen when seeking help for psychological problems. The wife of Actor Robin Williams reveals that unbeknownst to them, Mr. Williams didn’t just suffer from depression. He had a relatively unknown disease called Lewy body dementia where abnormal protein deposits are spread throughout the brain disrupt its normal functioning.

This disease is frequently confused with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, with its long list of symptoms like depression, anxiety, chronic sleep problems, stiffness, movement problems, fluctuations in thinking ability and persistent hallucinations that mimic schizophrenia. It estimated that about 1.4 million in the U.S., especially men, suffer from Lewy body dementia. And it often takes multiple visits and more than a year to diagnose it accurately. It progresses much more rapidly than Alzheimer's does. So it needs an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

You are a whole person, not a head separated from your body. Diet, stress, environmental toxins, head injuries, and so much more, contribute to mental health issues. It's important that all of these factors be considered in your diagnosis and treatment. I’ve discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique is very successful at getting to the root of stress related illnesses. If you haven’t found a medical explanation yet for the way you feel, and would like to schedule an appointment with me, please contact my Portland OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

5 Ways to Recharge Even If You Can’t Take a Long Vacation

Monday, October 12, 2015


5 ways to refresh yourself without taking a long vacationHasn’t summer flown by? Have you been able to make some down time to enjoy it? I was able to get out of the office for a couple of weeks and it made me feel recharged and invigorated to get going again.

Even if you can’t take weeks off or get out of town, what are some simple ways to reinvigorate yourself?

Disconnect from technology.
Even if you have to check in now and then, don’t start your morning by checking emails. That can ruin your day. And rather than spending time surfing the net, watching TV, or texting, it’s so much healthier for us physically and mentally to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine and enjoy the company of friends and family in person.

Disconnect from work.
You may not be going to the office today, but is your mind worrying about a business matter? We all need to take a complete break from our work routine so we can refresh ourselves.

Connect with what makes you feel good.
Have you fallen into a rut of routines and habits? Are they making you feel good about yourself and your life? Maybe you work at home and it’s tempting to spend all day in your PJ’s and just grab whatever food is handy. I guarantee you’ll feel and act more confidently if you honor yourself by eating a nourishing meal and wearing your best clothes.

Connect with people you admire and love.
How long has it been since you’ve had a really in depth conversation with a loved one? When we have these real conversations they refresh us and help us to grow.

Connect with what makes you joyful.
When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of doing what bring you joy, like singing, dancing, hiking, or a hobby? We all need to pay attention to what makes us feel vibrantly alive.

If you’re not living the life that you want, and you don’t know how to break out of whatever is holding you back, talking with a mental health professional may be exactly what you need. Just as we need yearly physicals to remaining optimally healthy, regular mental checkups are helpful too. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Answer to Insomnia?

Thursday, July 09, 2015


Have you ever suffered from insomnia? It doesn’t take too many sleepless nights before you feel terrible. Has it ever become so severe that you consulted with your physician? What did he prescribe? A sleeping pill? A better diet? An exercise routine? Did he also mention Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia (C.B.T.-I)? If not, he should have. You deserve to know what insomnia treatment options are available so you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

While medication may help some people, recent comparison studies are showing that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be the best treatment for your insomnia.

New York Times writer Austin Frakt, who battled insomnia, did a comparison by collecting data from various trails and studies. (I encourage you to read the entire article here.) His results are eye opening. Here’s a summary of his research:

A randomized trial compared C.B.T. with the active ingredient in Restoril in patients 55 years and older, evaluating differences for up to two years. It found that C.B.T. led to larger and more durable improvements in sleep. Long-term, C.B.T. alone even outperformed the combination of C.B.T. and Restoril.

Another trial focused on 25- to 64-year-olds found that C.B.T. outperformed Ambien alone. Adding Ambien to a C.B.T. regimen did not lead to further improvements.

Yet another trial found that patients experienced greater relief from insomnia with C.B.T. than with the sleep drug zopiclone.
Another study showed patients preferred C.B.T. for insomnia over drug therapy.

The Annals of Internal Medicine published a systematic review of C.B.T. On average, treated patients fell asleep almost 20 minutes faster and were awake in the night almost half an hour less. That’s nearly 10 percent more sleep.”

Why does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work so well? People with chronic insomnia set in motion a psychological cycle that must be broken before the sleep deprived sufferer can get relief. A bad night’s sleep leads to bad things happening during the day (low energy, lost productivity, falling asleep at the wheel, dropping off during bedtime storybook time, etc) so you dread another sleepless night. Worrying about it keeps you awake night after night.

C.B.T. for insomnia breaks that cycle by retraining the brain. It helps you establish and stick to a regular wake-up time, avoid daytime napping, and reserve bedtime only for sleeping, not watching TV, snacking, reading and so on. If insomnia has become a problem for you or a loved one, please consult with your physician. If he or she can’t find a solution to your chronic insomnia, please contact a mental health professional who can get you back on the road to optimal health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Two Ways to Become More Resilient

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


how to bounce back after a setback with resiliency and a can-do attitudeWhen negative life events arise, how do you handle them? Whether they’re severe job setbacks, health issues, or relationship problems, do you get stuck in negative self-pity or rise above the situation by resiliently moving forward? Why is it that some people seem to become stronger through adversity while others tend to develop psychological disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse or depression?

Psychology Today recently discussed a study led by Heather Rusch of the National Institute of Nursing Research at Bethesda, Maryland, which discloses two factors that characterize resilient people. Knowing what they are and how to acquire them will give you skills so you can be more resilient too. What are they?

Factor #1 Mastery

Feeling like you have control and influence over your circumstances promotes better physical and mental health, which in turn helps you become more resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.

When you daily spend time on things you do well, this reinforces your sense of mastery. It trains your brain in the “can-do attitude”. Psychotherapy also promotes greater mastery by helping people move through negative thoughts and memories rather than getting stuck in saying, “I can’t”.

Factor #2 Social Support

When you build strong, supportive social ties you’ll be less likely to develop psychological disorders and more likely to resiliently recover from traumas. Daily seek out positive friends, family, or coworkers who encourage you to openly talk about your feelings.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back or recover quickly from difficulties. If you’re in optimal mental and physical health, your resiliency will be stronger than if you’re in weakened or compromised health. Many people find that consulting with a trained therapist helps them to improve their capacity for resilience. If you feel this is the right option for you and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind & Body Health and Therapy FAQ.

10 Surprising Signs You May Need To See a Therapist

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


signs you may need therapy“I don’t need a therapist. I’m not crazy!” Have you ever hear someone say that? I’ve heard it many times. Often from people who are, for the most part, mentally sound and on the surface appear happy. But after conversing with them, I find that many of them want their lives to be better in one area or another. That’s a natural desire.

Did you realize that we turn to our friends and loved ones for therapy daily? Think about the last time you were really worried…didn’t you feel so much better after talking with a trusted friend? Or when you suffered a severe loss, like the death of a loved one. Didn’t their loving embraces, shared tears, and gentle words soothe you?

The difference between that kind of care and professional therapy is that psychologists and mental health professionals:

  • Can be more objective, since they see all sides of the story.
  • Have the freedom to tell you the truth, since they’re not worried about hurting your feelings.
  • Have greater experience, since they deal with issues like yours every day.
  • Have more insight, since they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Have professional training to help you make permanent change.

If there is a difference between what you would like your life to be and how your life actually is, then why not fix it so you can enjoy happiness and contentment right now?

But, you might say, “I’m not that bad off.” On the contrary, your body may be telling you that’s not strictly true. Whenever we sense a lack in our lives, we’re likely to react with the following responses:

  • Dramatic mood shifts
  • Constant fatigue
  • A drastic change in eating habits
  • Persistent guilt feelings
  • Insomnia
  • Recurring, irrational sense of panic
  • Persistent, overwhelming feeling of doom
  • Constant headaches, rashes, or backaches
  • Relationship problems
  • Excessive drinking or drug abuse

Do they sound familiar? Would your close family members or friends recognize any of these symptoms in you? Why not ask them? You might be surprised at their observations. Life is too precious to waste time on feeling less than your best.

When your emotional problems occupy your thoughts several hours a day, you should consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional will help you explore and assess your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Is it time to make some changes?

Learn more on my website: When to Seek Help and Therapy FAQs.

What To Do When Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is Ripping the Family Business Apart

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


alcoholism and drug abusing ripping the family apartAlcoholism and other drug abuse is an epidemic in our country. It’s so wide spread that our schools have developed substance abuse prevention programs to educate our youth. The courts are less tolerant of alcohol related traffic infractions. And who hasn’t heard of the rehab centers the movie stars and politicians check themselves in and out of?

Substance abuse lowers production, increases accidents, lowers quality work, and contributes to the loss of skilled employees. To combat this, employers have established employee assistance programs and redesigned insurance benefits to create treatment options for employees. These programs treat the addict AND the family, because the strength of the family determines the addict's success in treatment.

Employers want to rehabilitate and return a healthy employee to the job. Yet among family firms, drug addiction and alcohol abuse are frequently overlooked. Many people who work in family firms, yet are not family members, talk about the "secret" at work. The secret that everyone knows – that there’s a family member who is abusing drugs or alcohol. Yet no one does anything about it. The family member is protected not only by the family, but by a general conspiracy among employees.

While the function of the family is to nurture and protect its members and usually takes precedence over the welfare of the business or other non-family related employees, this isn’t helping the alcoholic or the drug addict.

To overlook, condone, deny, rationalize or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping the family system in tact is a misguided sympathy. Allowing addictions to go untreated is no way to take care of either the business or the family. By ignoring the problem the addict accepts this as tacit approval of their behavior. This causes the potential threat to the integrity of the family and business to grow. Alcoholism and other addictions leads to the breakdown of the family, just what a family firm wants to avoid.

How can the addict get help, while being reassured that he or she has the backing of the family and business? There are a variety of resources available. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to discover the right treatment for you or your loved one. With the support of the two most important systems in one's life, the addict has increased potential to succeed in treatment. They have a loving family and they have a job to come back to.

Read more on my website: Alcoholism Recovery and How Friends Can Help.

Does Your Gut Health Really Affect Your Mental Health?

Thursday, April 23, 2015


good gut health promotes good mental healthYou’ve heard the expression “it’s a gut-feeling.” Is it merely a coincidence that the gut has been associated with our feelings and our mental health?? Science is revealing some fascinating insights into this question.

Scientific American reports that when a person’s digestion is impaired or leaky gut is present, the symptoms of depression worsen. This may be due to increased autoimmune responses and inflammation. A more recent article explores the connections between gut health and autism.

A NPR story about Dr Emeran Mayer, a profession of medicine and psychiatry at U.C.L.A. reports that gut bacteria influences our minds. He’s researching MRI scans to see how the brain structure compares to the type of bacteria found in the gut. He’s already found some interesting connections. This same story talks about a study on mice and how their brain chemistry and behavior changed when gut microbes were introduced.

Nature reported on a study that found that feeding mice the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis can reverse autism-like symptoms. They found that mice born by caesarean section had significantly more symptoms of depression since they didn’t pick up their mother’s microbes, which they would have done during a vaginal birth.

A recent Huffington Post article reports that treating participants with probiotics lessens negative thinking and depression.

Will all of these findings translate into real treatments for humans? Time will tell. I find these studies fascinating because of their impact on the world of Autistics. They often suffer from gut problems and learning new treatments for them is always exciting.

Improving a person’s physical health will improve their mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like assistance in reaching your optimal physical and mental health through holistic methods, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Pets Are Good for Your Physical and Mental Health

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


owning a pet is good for your physical and mental healthAhhh…who can resist those puppy eyes? We’ve known for sometime that pets are good therapy for those who suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD. Now a recent New York Times article adds further proof that there is a beneficial hormonal change occurring when you and your dog makes eye contact.

Research shows that gazing into those big puppy eyes elevates the level of oxytocin in your brain. Oxytocin is the hormone that bonds a parent with a child and is related to stress and anxiety relief, thereby lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.

In a Smithsonian article about how dogs help veterans with PTSD, Meg Daley Olmert who works for a program called Warrior Canine Connection, says, “Oxytocin improves trust, the ability to interpret facial expressions, the overcoming of paranoia and other pro-social effects—the opposite of PTSD symptoms.”

Psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted a 2011 study on the potential benefits of pet ownership physically and mentally. Some of the benefits of pet ownership were increased feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence while staving off feelings of rejection. Pet owners were more physically fit and less lonely or fearful.

Psychiatrist, Ian Cook, MD, who is also director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, adds another benefit, "Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression. Other studies show that children raised with pets have fewer allergies.

Have you tried owning a pet and still are struggling with anxiety, depression or PTSD? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can discuss more options for helping you obtain your optimal physical and mental health.

Sleep Awareness Week™ - Do You See Room for Improvement?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Sleep Awareness Week draws attention to critical need for sleep in order to have good mental and physical healthEvery year since 1991 the National Sleep Foundation (a charitable, educational and scientific not-for-profit organization located in Washington, D.C) has surveyed America’s sleep behavior and has used the information to promote greater awareness and education about the importance of sleep with their Sleep Awareness Week™. This year it falls on March 2-8, 2015, culminating with the change to Daylight Saving Time on March 8th.

Their recent press release reveals that pain is a significant factor in sleeplessness. They report, “21 percent of Americans experience chronic pain and 36 percent have had acute pain in the past week.” That’s over half of the U.S. population! It also found that stress and poor health are contributing factors to poor sleep patterns.

Why is loss of sleep so critical? Because the following activities, to name just a few, are impacted…

  • Job performance.
  • Mood.
  • Concentration.
  • Relationships.
  • Quality of life.
  • Overall health.

What do they recommend? “Make sleep a priority.” Just getting 15 more minutes of sleep every night will improve your overall health. David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, says, “Taking control of your sleep by being motivated, setting a routine bedtime and creating a supportive sleep environment are relevant even for those with pain. Sleep is a key marker of health, and good sleep habits are critical for improving the quality of life of those living with chronic or acute pain.”

Is stress and pain keeping you awake at night? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to discover new ways of coping.

Learn more: Enter the word SLEEP in the search box to the right to find more articles about the importance of sleep.

Seven Tips for a Healthier Brain

Thursday, February 26, 2015


seven tips for a healthier brain

Imagine what it would be like to feel more cheerful…to think more clearly…to have a better memory…


Who of us wouldn’t like that? If there was a magic pill that you could take once a day that guaranteed those results, wouldn’t you take it? If only it was that easy! Since you’re willing to DO something to improve your brain health, what realistically can you do?

Here are seven proven tips to improve the health of your brain:

  1. Focus on promoting good blood circulation because a third of your brain’s volume is blood vessels.
  2. Walk 20 minutes three times a week because this increases flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and prevents or reduces plaque buildup.
  3. Eat food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including vegetables, whole grains, wild salmon, grass fed beef, fruit, good fats like avocado and olive oil.
  4. Get vitamin B12 and folic acid from eating green leafy veggies, meat, fish and yogurt because this gives you the amino acid homocysteine, which is associated with reducing the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer’s.
  5. Strive for better stress relief, which is as easy as increasing your laughter, because this reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which damages the hippocampus. Meditation also increases the size of the hippocampus.
  6. Socialize more because this provides mental stimulation, plus helps you deal with stress.
  7. Challenge your brain by playing games, learning a musical instrument or a new language.

Perhaps you’ve tried making these changes in the past. However, you quickly gave up because it felt too overwhelming.

As with any habit, it’s best to tackle one goal at a time. So pick one thing from the list that you’d like to change in your life and focus on that for the next three months. Write out your intention. Schedule on your calendar how you’re going to implement it every day, every week for the next three months. When you go to bed at night, create a picture in your mind about how you’re going to feel and look so much better because you make these changes. All of these tips will help you make your goal part of your new routine. When you’ve created that new habit, pick another goal and work on that one.

Do you need someone to guide you and hold you accountable as you create new healthy habits? That’s nothing to be ashamed of. We spend a lifetime creating the bad habits, so it’s not surprising that it’s not easy to change. A mental health professional can help you create new patterns that will support you in your quest for optimal health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Want to learn more? The CNN article and slideshow, Chronic Stress Can Hurt Your Memory is very helpful.



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