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Kathy Marshack News

Genetic Research Is Revealing What Causes Schizophrenia

Monday, February 15, 2016


genetic causes of schizophreniaIt’s exciting to report that we are significantly closer to understanding what causes schizophrenia. More than two million Americans are diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is characterized by delusional thinking, hallucinations, and speech and behavioral disorganization. The New York Times recently reported on a landmark study that pieces together the steps by which overactive genes can increase a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia.

The researchers found that the risk of schizophrenia is tied to a natural process called synaptic pruning. As a person matures from adolescence and early adulthood, the prefrontal cortex of the brain (the section where thinking and planning skills are centered) prunes or removes weak or redundant connections between neurons. According to this study, people who are at risk for developing schizophrenia carry overactive C4-A genes that tag too many of the connections for pruning, resulting in fewer neural connections and thinner prefrontal layers, which is associated with schizophrenia.

Since the schizophrenic's loss of frontal lobe activity is where executive functions develop, this study explains why schizophrenic adolescents have difficulty defining and adopting adult thinking. Researchers hope that completing this at-risk genetic profile will lead to clarifying a better prognosis for these people.

The more that is learned of mental disorders, the closer we are to knowing how to treat them effectively. For now, medication can blunt some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Also psychotherapy is an effective treatment for mental disorders.

As a psychologist with over 30 years of experience in counseling families, I also see the importance of providing therapy for family members who have the ongoing stress of caring for someone with a serious mental disorder. If this describes you and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment to get the support and understanding that you need and deserve.

Discover Neuro Emotional Technique to Make Emotional and Even Physical Healing Possible

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Discover Neuro Emotional Technique to Make Emotional and Even Physical Healing PossibleIt’s said that we all carry scars – scars from past emotional and physical wounds that shape who we are today. How you remember a past, painful occurrence will determine your present ability to experience emotional health.

If you’ve properly processed the negative past and extinguished it, it won’t present itself as a problem for you now. Oftentimes, however, if the original conditioning event is not processed correctly, you’ll experience a physiological response each time you experience that event.

For example, physiologist Pavlov conditioned dogs to associate the sound of a bell with the sight and smell of meat. So each time the dogs heard the bell, they would salivate. They were conditioned to respond in that specific way because of their memory of what the bell represented.

When clients are asked to re-experience a past emotion, such as anger or fear, they’re being asked to go back and relive a memory. By reliving that memory, they produce a feeling. And that feeling can be used by a NET Practioner to help a client overcome a phobia, resolve life-altering stresses, and heal mental disorders.

Scientific research is connecting the dots between painful events, stress, and the physiological changes to the brain. As the Dec 2015 study “Could Stress Contribute to Pain-Related Fear in Chronic Pain” stated:

“A difference between acute and chronic stress is supported by data outside of the pain field: Early adversity as well as chronic stress has been linked to structural alterations in the brain causing a hyperactive amygdala and impaired prefrontal inhibition. These alterations could underlie the extinction impairments observed in several mental disorders, which is interesting in the context of chronic pain given the high comorbidity between chronic pain and affective disorders. Finally, effects of acute stress on pain-related memory retrieval may be fundamentally different in normals and patients with chronic pain. While stress-induced effects in normals are adaptive, they may be altered and in fact maladaptive and in patients with chronic pain. For example in patients with PTSD, cortisol enhanced rather than impaired memory retrieval.”

Paradoxically, we can use the power of past, negative events to help us heal our present. The job of a NET practitioner is to gently help a client go to that place of unresolved negativity so he or she can complete a process that allows them to move forward from that painful place.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. As a NET practitioner, I will help you remove the block, so your body can repair itself naturally.

Read more on my website: Releasing Unresolved Stress.

Are New Year’s Resolutions Too Superficial?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Every year you resolve to lose weight, quit drinking, or spend more time with family, yet the resolve fades, so why are New Year’s Resolutions so hard to keep? Every year you may resolve, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to quit drinking so much”, or “I want to spend more time with my family.” Yet as January fades away so does your resolve. Why is it that we can’t accomplish what we want? Because all too often we apply a band-aid when surgery is needed. We end up trying to fix the symptom or signal without addressing the real problem.

When problem solving the first question to ask yourself is, "Is this thing I’m observing the signal or the problem?" Recognizing and interpreting the signals is quite a complex process, but you can improve your skills.

However, there are two common mistakes people make when trying to solve a problem or create real change in their lives…

1. Ignoring signals until they grow into serious problems. For example, I often hear that people too busy to attend to themselves or their personal relationships. Too busy doing what? Working? You need to ask yourself why are you working so hard? Is that your goal? Most people want a close-knit family who enjoys being together. But if you’re too busy managing the nuts and bolts of a business or career and have no time to enjoy and communicate with your family, aren't you overriding one of the reasons why you working in the first place?

2. Mistaking signals for the problem. When a person is angry or aggressive, we tend to listen, but when a person is quiet or passive, we tend to ignore them. Actually, those behaviors are signals of something. Discovering the meaning of the signals takes digger deeper.

The bottom line is that all human behavior is meaningful. But the meaning may come disguised as signals that look like problems themselves. For example, alcoholism is a signal of a pervasive illness. Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, may be a sign of overwork, too much stress, a lack of parental guidance, or even confusion in the work place. If you try to solve the problem of alcoholism by reducing the person's stress at work, the alcoholic may just have more time to drink. Likewise, if you recommend alcohol treatment for the person who is abusing alcohol, they may stop drinking but find other self-destructive methods to cope with problems at work.

Many New Year’s resolutions are superficial but the underlying problems most likely require deeper probing. So if there’s something about your life that isn’t working don’t just settle with a quickly forgotten resolution. Instead dig in, assess, diagnose and search out the meaning. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to figure out what the signals are telling you. I’ll help you tap into all the strengths at your disposal to create workable solutions.

Seven Weight Loss Misconceptions that May Be Keeping You Overweight

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Seven Weight Loss Misconceptions that May Be Keeping You OverweightYou’ve no doubt heard the statistics that the obesity rate is on the rise in the United States. And you know that excess weight not only increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer, but it compromises your psychological welfare. Being overweight lowers self-esteem and heightened vulnerability to anxiety and depression.

Yet, many people have misconceptions about weight loss. Take a look at the following false statements. Have any of them influenced your thinking?

1. “You can’t lose a lot of weight and keep it off.”
Researchers have been surprised at how easy it was to find people who have achieved major weight loss goals. The National Weight Loss Registry found that the project’s 2,800 respondents have maintained an average 67-pound weight loss for five years, with up to 14% of them staving off a more than 100-pound weight loss.

2. “Your ‘set-point’ determines how much you weigh.”
Studies show that when you lose weight, your metabolism actually shifts to a normal rate for that new weight, in spite of your individual differences. Some want to blame their bodies rather than their own behavior for their weight-loss failure.

3.”Poor willpower is to blame for excess weight.”

It’s not that simple. There are genetic, metabolic, biochemical, cultural and psychosocial factors. It doesn’t help that there’s an increase in easy-access, delicious, high-fat foods. Nor does it help that our lives are more sedentary. Willpower helps but to lose weight and keep it off, an active lifestyle is a must.

4. “The best weight loss regimens incorporate structured exercise three to five times a week.”

A physically active lifestyle is important, but you don’t have to live at the gym to do it. Walking 30 minutes most days may be all you need to effectively lower body fat.

5. “I have to lose a lot of weight to make a significant impact on my health.”
Even small weight changes can have a major impact on your health and quality of life. A five-pound loss can improve depression, anxiety, psychosocial functioning, and mood.

6. “You should eat only low-fat and no-fat foods.”
Many people avoid fatty food only to overeat “low-fat” foods. According to the American Medical Association, reducing fat intake is only effective if we reduce calories as well. And our brains need a limited measure of good fats from foods like avocados and nuts in order to function properly.

7. “Dieting doesn’t work.”

We absolutely need to be aware of what we put in our mouths. If you have a sensible diet plan that focuses on substituting healthy choices for the junk food you’ve been eating, you’ll see results.

Do you find yourself consistently struggling to keep the weight off because you’re an emotional eater? It may be time to request the assistance of a mental health professional who is trained in methods of permanent weight control. It’s not easy to change an ingrained lifestyle but if you use a psychologist as your coach you can do it. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

What Do You Need to Leave Behind in Order to Pursue Your Passion?

Thursday, December 31, 2015


pursue your passionAre you passionate about the life you live? When you think of people who follow their passion who comes to your mind? Perhaps a great humanitarian like Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter or Mahatma Ghandi? Or maybe you think of those who sacrifice for their art?

A recent Op-Ed article in The New York Times discusses Lady Gaga and how, when she remembered her childhood dreams said, “I suppose that I didn’t know what I would become, but I always wanted to be extremely brave and I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe of what passion looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.”

Passion causes you to search out that which makes you feel complete. In the process, people may leave their former lives, homes, jobs, spouses, and families behind in their search for their true self. But is that necessary or even advantageous in order to lead a passionate life?

The article mentions a few underlying feelings that cause people to begin a search for their passion:

Trying to heal emotional and mental wounds
Needing to create something unique
Wanting to make a mark on the world
Fantasizing about the “perfect” life
Having an unquenchable thirst for new and novel experiences
Focusing on their inner nature and not feeling fulfilled
Feeling extreme loneliness

So when it comes to pursuing your passion your motives matter. When the focus is solely on self it doesn’t lead a person to feeling fulfilled and satisfied. To be happy, in addition to being passionate, you need to learn how to communicate your needs and wants while helping and giving to others. Achieving that balance is what makes our lives complete. “No man is an island” – we need to give love and be loved to feel whole.

You may love to sing but will never be a professional singer. You may love to help people but you’ll never be recognized as a humanitarian. You can still pursue your passion. Whatever your profession or role in life – you can become passionate about your life if you focus on learning how to do it to the very best of your ability, in your unique style. This will bring you the validation, praise, respect, honor and love you desire.

So instead of changing your external circumstances you may need to leave behind beliefs, feeling and thoughts that no long serve you. If you want to add more passion to your life or career and need help examining your motives and your options please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How to Stop Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder

Monday, December 21, 2015


how to stop suffering from seasonal affective disorder SAD
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to the shorter, darker days of late fall and winter. It saps your energy and making you feel moody. Treatment for SAD may include:


  • Light therapy (phototherapy)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Regular exercise
  • Vitamin D therapy

SAD makes you feel like hibernating, but you mustn’t give in to those feelings. Exercise is vital for managing depression. Evidence shows that regular workouts may help soothe a sad psyche as effectively as antidepressants.

Researchers at Duke University tested people with major depression and found that a moderate exercise program (30 minutes 3 times per week) reduced depression as much as medication. Although, medications produced results more quickly, after 16 weeks, the exercise effect caught up, according to the study. Exercise causes the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that reduces depression. In addition to this brain chemical boost, working out often enhances your body image and gives you a sense of accomplishment, mastery, and pride.

Being exercise conscious also gets you out of the house and exposes you to more sunlight. As mentioned earlier, light therapy is essential to treating SAD. Research is showing that many in the Pacific Northwest suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, which exacerbates the onset of depression, hypertension, infection, chronic pain, osteoporosis, dementia, diabetes, weight gain, and there’s a possible link with breast cancer. More sunlight means you’re body manufactures more Vitamin D.

If can’t seem to shake SAD on your own and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Don’t waste time waiting for it to go away by itself.

Read more on my website: Overcoming Depression.

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.

Can ADD Be Healed?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


After you’ve been accurately diagnosed with ADD or ADHD there are treatments that can help your brain heal so you can finally reach your full potential in life.You may be surprised to learn that ADD, attention deficit disorder, affects people in widely diverse ways. Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychologist with 35 year’s experience, recently shared how his research has identified seven types of ADD. (You can read more about them here.)

A few common symptoms of ADD are being easily distracted, hyperactive and impulsive, but not everyone has those symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to be accurately diagnosed so a treatment can be developed that targets your specific needs.

Breaking the cycle of failure and frustration is the primary goal of treatment for the ADD adult through the proper use of medication and psychosocial interventions. Some stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine and Concerta are effective and safe medications. But, in some cases, it may make the symptoms worse. Stimulants may not be appropriate due to a history of abuse, a patient’s high blood pressure or heart disease also. Hence you and your doctor will need to closely monitor your reactions to any prescribed medications.

Psychotherapy is especially helpful for ADD patients with conditions such as depression and anxiety as it helps adults deal with the frustration and anger issues. In addition, psychotherapy can help improve social skills and ability to deal with ADD-unfriendly situations.

If you suspect that you or someone you love has ADD symptoms, don’t delay seeking a diagnosis and treatment because you’re afraid of what other people will say. Just as you would seek treatment for a heart condition, so it’s proper to seek help for a brain dysfunction. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area please contact my office to set up your first appointment.

Read more information on parenting children with AD/HD and ADD in Adults.

Dr. Daniel Amen is offering a free video series on healing ADD. I highly recommend you watch it as soon as possible.

Happify – An App to Retrain Your Brain to be Happy

Thursday, August 20, 2015


phone app happify retrains your brain to be happyDo you wish there was a way to uplift your mood at the touch of a button? Well, there’s an App called Happify that is designed to do just that. Have you heard about it? It's designed by neuroscientists and psychologists like John Gottman. They claim it retrains the brain to shut off negative thoughts and reduce stress.

According to their website, “Happify has turned a decade’s worth of research into a series of activities and games that train your brain and build skills for lasting happiness. The program is designed to train people to disrupt patterns of negative thinking, manage stress and build skills to overcome life challenges.” Co-Founder & President of Happify, Ofer Leidner, got his idea from the book “Flourish” by Martin Seligman.

Once you start, you’ll answer a few thought-provoking questions about things such as your gender, age, work and relationship status, children, creativity, boredom, resiliency, and how comfortable you are with sharing your feelings. Then you sign up through your Facebook account or you can create an account with your email address. Then it reveals the recommended tracks you can follow based on the answers you provided. Leading experts in the science of happiness helped them create these specialized tracks.

If you try it, come over to my Facebook page and let me know what you think of it. I'd really like to know if it works for you.


Read more on my website: Article on Happiness.



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