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Kathy Marshack News

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.

Is Your Teen Being Held Captive by an Eating Disorder?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


is your teen being held captive by an eating disorderHave you heard about the young woman who was held captive and starved to death? We are horrified by this brutal and inhumane treatment. And no, I’m not referring to any one woman in particular. I’m talking about the thousands of beautiful young women and men in our communities here in Oregon and Washington who are punishing themselves with this cruel behavior! Across the nation there are millions of people who are afflicted with insidious eating disorders. The exact number is impossible to ascertain because this problem is surrounded by secrecy and shame.

Eating Disorders take many shapes. Most of them are connected to poor body or self-image and feelings of being out of control, guilty and ashamed. The good news is – they are treatable. February is Eating Disorder Awareness month, so let’s become more aware of the following eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa – Because people have an intense fear of being fat, even when they’re not, they starve and exercise themselves to death.

Bulimia nervosa – People uncontrollably eat a large quantity of food and then purge themselves by vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas or go on extreme diets and extreme exercise routines. Because they are trying to hide what they’re doing, they may maintain their weight, so there are no easily apparent signs of the eating disorder.

Binge Eating – People make a practice of rapidly consume a large amount of food at one sitting, which leaves them feeling uncomfortably full, ashamed and depressed.

While the following are not officially classified as eating disorders they also need to be addressed.

Binge Drinking – consuming in one incident four or more drinks for females and five or more drinks for males, has been tied to liver damage, brain damage, risky sexual conduct, immune system suppression, dementia and so many more health hazards.

Obesity – affects at least one third of the US population. While there are medical reasons for obesity, there are also psychological reasons such as using it as an excuse not to achieve more, as a way to ward off sexual advances, and more.

Compulsive, emotional eating – may be used as a distraction to cope with stress and anxiety.

Parents, I urge you to eat together as a family, and if you notice a problem with your children, don’t think they’ll “outgrow this phase”. The longer this behavior goes untreated the more deeply ingrained it becomes. The sooner it’s treated the better the chances are for recovery.

Therapy is very effective for treating eating disorders as it addresses the complex interaction of social, biological and psychological factors involved. The important thing is get help now. Please contact a mental health professional near you today. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to get on the road to recovery.

Is Your Chronic Stress or Depression Setting You Up for Dementia?

Monday, February 02, 2015


Did you realize that depression and chronic stress (of any kind) can lead to dementia or Alzheimer's? It’s also a precursor to heart disease if it goes untreated. Using SPECT Imaging, Dr. Daniel Amen has shown that how we choose to react to life’s losses, crises or major illnesses can either shorten or extend our longevity.

When you suffer the loss of a loved one or experience a major illness, do you react with depression, anxiety or drinking alcohol? Then it’s predicted you are significantly shortening your lifespan. Those who stay mentally healthy, despite the problems, usually live five years longer. Does that mean you don’t grieve over loss or have stress? No. What it does mean is that you don’t react to it in self-harming ways. You don’t use this negative event as an excuse to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol or beat yourself up with negative thinking.

Watch Dr. Amen's video and find two inspirational stories of triumph over loss, depression, suicidal thoughts, obesity and addiction. You’ll learn from these stories the follow gems:

  • "The best time to start healing from a crisis is before it starts.
  • Giving yourself the excuse to eat bad food, drink alcohol or smoke pot to deal with the pain only prolongs it.
  • Never let a crisis be an excuse to hurt yourself.
  • Whenever you feel sad, stressed or out of control, take care of your brain first.
  • Treat depression now before it causes further damage, don’t wait for it simply to go away.
  • Made good, conscientious decisions, rather than simply reacting.
  • Engage in regular brain healthy habits like exercise and new learning.
  • Begin taking brain smart supplements that include fish oil and Vitamin D.
  • Employ meditation to calm your mind and boost your brain at the same time.
  • Stop believing every negative thought that goes through your head!
  • Whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down your automatic negative thoughts and ask yourself, are they true?"

Sometimes the subtle signs of dementia are not picked up right away. Some symptoms to look for are asking the same question repeatedly, forgetfulness, fatigue, memory loss for things that you should know how to do, and neglecting personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition. It’s crucial to treat brain problems early, which includes learning how to deal with stress and loss. So I urge you, if you or a loved one is displaying symptoms of depression or anxiety, please consult a trained therapist immediately. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Overcoming Depression and Managing Stress.

Is the Stress of Entrepreneurial Life Putting Your Family at Risk for Domestic Abuse?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


stress of entrepreneurial lifestyle putting family at risk for domestic spouse abuse child abuseNo one wants to think it could happen to them. And commendably, many entrepreneurs go into business for themselves because they want to spend more time together as a family. Yet the stress of growing a business can become an unbearable strain on the individual and on the family, and some turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. The greatest majority of child abuse cases are related to alcohol abuse.

NPR recently ran a story that reported, “Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died.” The Center for Disease Control has a downloadable fact sheet that reports that in the US, in 2012, the Child Protective Services received an estimated 3.4 million referrals of children being abused or neglected.

It takes just one incident of domestic violence to send a marriage and a business reeling.

For example, in my Entrepreneurial Couples book, I talk about Jay and Celia who thought they were untouchable until Jay allowed mounting stress at work to turn to abusing alcohol to unwind. His very successful auto repair business was starting to go sour because he could no longer compete with a national chain. One night when Celia was still at the espresso cart, Joe came home after having had a few drinks and was annoyed that his wife was not there cooking his dinner. Rather than wait until his wife got home, Jay started an argument with his teenage daughter; before he was through, he had pinned her to the wall and was strangling her, until he stopped in horror.

Although Jay was mortified that he got this out of control and immediately apologized to his daughter, he asked her to keep the incident a secret from Celia. Of course, this secret festered and came out two years later when the couple was in marital therapy as part of Jay's alcohol treatment program. Celia was unable to tolerate the betrayal, and the couple separated.

At the point that domestic violence erupts, the lives of entrepreneurs are extremely out of control. Stress from the typical workaholic entrepreneurial lifestyle can create health problems, marital problems, drug abuse problems, and ethical problems. Spouse abuse and child abuse indicate an obvious breakdown in the multiple developing progressions of an individual's life, and are evidence of serious mental and spiritual problems. In fact, to allow the stress of entrepreneurial life to become this extreme means that the couple has gone beyond crisis. Chronic problems that have persisted for years are responsible for this total disregard of human values and dignity.

As a result of these problems, in combination with the weaknesses of character that evolved years earlier from neglectful and abusive upbringings, the crossing of boundaries into domestic violence is more common than you might think. If you recognize yourself or your partner taking even a small step in this direction, you should seek the help of a psychotherapist immediately. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere and want to learn more, check out remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference.

Read more on my website: Entrepreneurial Life and Alcoholism Recovery.

How to Get Rid of Your Stress Headaches

Monday, January 26, 2015


how to get rid of stress headachesIs stress good for you? Perhaps you’re initial response was, “No!” We hear so much about the health hazards of stress, yet the stress response can be an asset for raising levels of performance during critical events such as a sports activity, an important meeting, or in situations of actual danger or crisis.

However, when you become addicted to stress and it becomes persistent, all parts of the body's stress apparatus (the brain, heart, lungs, vessels, and muscles) become chronically over or under-activated. This kind of stress can produce physical or psychological damage in time. One common manifestation is the stress headache.

I read an article on WebMD that had some great ideas of how to get rid of stress headaches. (I encourage you to read the whole article to get all of the interesting medical facts.) I’d like to share a brief summary of their suggestions for getting rid of your stress headaches:

Improve your sleep routine – Go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends.
Improve your exercise routine – Lower your stress hormones and boost endorphins with 20 to 40 minutes of heart pumping exercise three times per week at the minimum.
Improve your eating routine – Don’t skip breakfast or other meals and eat more whole, healthy foods such as dark, leafy greens and whole grains and fish.
Improve your relaxation routine – Use conscientious methods to relax, such as, walking, listening to music, meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, and skip the couch potatoing with the TV.
Improve your relationship routine – Actually pull out your calendar and schedule time for people that are important to you.
Improve your posture routine – Become aware of how you stand and sit at all times, so you prevent neck strain caused by slouching and tensing. This includes not clenching your jaw.

Have you heard these suggestions all before? Have you tried them and then reverted back to doing things the same old way? What’s stopping you from putting them into action? Did you notice I called each one a “routine”? These positive changes involve changing your brain and replacing old habits with new ones. Perhaps it’s time to consult a therapist and learn how to retrain your brain to cope with stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, because a few sessions of therapy can help you reclaim a pleasant and peaceful life.

Read more on my website: Managing Stress and Types of Therapy.

How Much Do You Know About Memory?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


how much do you know about memoryMemory is such an important part of our lives. It helps define who we are. It assists us in our relationships with others. And it definitely affects the decisions we make. So much of this is done without our even thinking about it. That is…until we start to lose our ability to remember. Then we wish we could do something to decrease memory loss. The good news is that there are things you can do to support your brain’s memory functions.

First, though, WebMD has a fun and interesting memory quiz to test how much you already know about how memory works and what affect our choices have on the quality of memory. You’ll learn the answers to the following questions:

Can sex trigger amnesia?
Does pregnancy cause “baby brain”?
How long do memory problems due to smoking marijuana last?
How does déjà vu work?
At what age do we start losing brain cells?
Why can you remember a song from your youth, but can’t remember someone’s name?
Why and how does – skipping breakfast, poor eyesight, working crosswords, drinking alcohol, taking statin drugs, antihistamines and sleeping pills – affect your memory?
Why does a sudden, high-stress event boost your memory?
Is the memory loss from perimenopause permanent?
Why does rest or sleep enhance memory?
What foods can boost memory?
Why do some diseases cause “brain fog”?

The function of the brain can be improved by holistic health choices that help you control memory-damaging stress, getting enough exercise, keeping your mind active and improving your concentration. A NET practitioner can help you not only protect your brain but even retrain your brain to cope with the brain fog caused by painful illnesses such as fibromyalgia. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more about memory on Psychology Today and PsychCentral.

Your Thoughts – Are They Making You Healthier or Making You Sicker?

Thursday, December 04, 2014


our thoughts can make us healthier or make us sickerWe know that our thoughts can change the way we feel. Have you ever been so stressed out you got a stomachache or a headache? Your thoughts did that to you. But can your thoughts actually change the brain’s physical make-up?

Scientists, who are studying the neuroplasticity of the brain, are discovering how much our thoughts really do shape our brain and our health. In an earlier article, I shared how different forms of meditation change the structure of the brain. This isn’t surprising because thoughts have physical properties. Every thought sends electrical signals through your brain, which in turn influences every cell of the body. Learning to control negative thinking is one of the most effective ways to have better health.

What health benefits may positive thinking provide?

  • Increase your life span
  • Lessen depression
  • Lessen distress
  • Gain a greater resistance to the common cold
  • Create better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Improve coping skills during times of stress

But why exactly does positive thinking cause these improvements? Science is still researching this question, yet we do know that there are a number of reasons…

  • Positive people take better care of themselves – they eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.
  • They avoid unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, smoking, and risky sex, which protects the body from debilitating diseases. 
  • An optimistic outlook lowers the level of cortisol associated with inflammation and raises the chemical that fosters communication between the two halves of the brain.
  • A can-do attitude generates a sense of empowerment and confidence in your abilities in contrast to the self-defeating I-can’t attitude.
  • The qualities of forgiveness, resilience, commitment, challenge, and control combat the harmful feelings of hopelessness, bitterness, resentment, anger and cynicism.
  • Optimistic people are more fun to be around, so they have better relationships with friends and family.

Positive thinking often starts with how you talk to yourself. The best advice is to only say things to yourself that you would say to a dear friend. When a negative thought enters your head, use positive affirmation to replace it. This will keep your brain chemistry in balance.

If you find you’re being controlled by habitually negative patterns of thinking, it’s time to seek professional help. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Healing everyday thought patterns is crucial to gaining optimum health.

A Holiday Wrap Up to Help You De-Stress this Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


stressed and worried about what will happen this holiday seasonAre you looking forward to spending more time with your family? Because of school break and holidays, December gives you that opportunity. If your initial reaction to that question was not joyful, it may be that the pressures of the season are getting out of control. The pressures to get more done, to spend more money, or to confront family issues that are generally ignored the rest of the year all contribute to stress overload.

You know it’s coming, so instead of turning to destructive and unproductive behaviors, why not plan this year to handle it differently? There are healthy means of relieving stress even during this stressful time of year.

Here is a holiday wrap up of a few of my past articles and tips that have proven helpful during stressful holiday times:


There are many holistic health treatments for stress including psychotherapy treatment and dietary supplementation. Read more on my website under: Managing Stress.

As a reminder: We will not have an official Asperger Syndrome Meetup during the busy month of December, I encourage all of you to still chat with your friends on this forum. We all know that December can be one crazy, stressful month with our Aspie loved ones. Share your stories, get inspiration, offer support, or gain whatever you need from our worldwide membership. We’ll meet again in January.

Workaholics - Do You Have to be Desperate before Seeking Help?

Monday, September 29, 2014


you don't have to be sick to get better“I don’t have time to be sick!” If you’re like many today, especially entrepreneurial couples who are running a demanding business, you’ve probably said this yourself. As a result, you may put off going to a doctor until the symptoms progress to an extreme point, maybe even to the point of irreparable damage. We’ve all heard stories of how people could be alive today if they had only visited a doctor at the beginning of the symptoms of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

The same can be said about mental health. At times, in our busy lives, the symptoms gradually creep up until it’s impossible to ignore the feelings of overwhelming anxiety or depression. Then a person is forced into dealing with crises rather than having the choice to live purposefully.

What are some symptoms that a mental health crisis is looming on your horizon? Do you find yourself thinking thoughts like these?

  • I’m so tired.
  • I don’t care.
  • I don’t enjoy doing the things I once did.
  • I’m not happy.
  • Nothing I do turns out right.
  • Why should I even try.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m bored.
  • I can’t focus or concentrate. I feel so disconnected.
  • I don’t want to think about it…I just want to stay busy.
  • My life isn’t as bad as that guy’s life, so I don’t deserve help.
  • Just suck it up and keep pushing through it.
  • It’s not my fault. You made me do it.

There are also physical symptoms that your mental health needs attention. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it illustrates the body’s reaction to mental distress:

  • Tight muscles - body pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • TMJ- Grinding your teeth
  • Clenched fists
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating palms
  • Self medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent anger and irritation
  • Throwing or breaking things
  • Road Rage
  • Mood swings

On the other hand, what can you gain by courageously committing to good mental health?

It improves your sense of personal well-being. When you catch problems early on, you recover more quickly, without lasting emotional and psychological scars. Utilizing the full range of your conscious and unconscious talents, unburdened by neurotic hang-ups, creates opportunities that you never knew were there before. A healthy mind also draws to you other healthy people. In a family business or any endeavor for that matter, having mentally healthy employees, coworkers and family members can only improve business functioning. It will keep your business competitive and successful.

People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they require less physical health care, even reducing medical and surgical costs.

Don’t wait another day. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SICK TO GET BETTER. Just as many find that a physical fitness trainer is beneficial for keeping them on track; a mental health professional can provide the support and objective eye to help you achieve optimal mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to increase your sense of well being, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

Muse Headband – New Technology Could Help Us Stay on Top of Mental Health

Friday, September 26, 2014


new technology - muse headband- could help us stay on top of mental healthFor a number of years, people have been able to travel to brain scanning facilities and find out how their brains respond to stimulation in a clinical setting. It hasn’t been possible for everyone to see how the brain is really responding to situations in every day life. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could monitor your brain activity at home, at work, or at the shopping center? If you found that something was bothering you more than you really expected, then you could focus on changing your responses and gain greater control of your life immediately. The idea of everyone being able to do this isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. 

Ariel Garten CEO of interaXon, was interviewed by CNN about a computer headband they’ve developed that tracks the brain’s electro-signals. It’s called Muse. She said,We're very interested in creating solutions that help you calm yourself; that can help you stay grounded, choose what to focus your attention on, and understanding and managing your own mind and response to the world so that people can be more productive in life.” 

While Muse isn’t a medical device, it has fantastic possibilities for controlling stress, helping those with ADHD to increase their abilities to focus, and providing cognitive recognition of negative thinking patterns so you can turn them into positive ones. It tracks your brain activity and then sends that information to your computer, smart phone or tablet, giving you real time feedback. 

While I haven’t tried this product out myself, I’m interested in the possibilities that a product like this could have for helping people gain greater control of their emotions, thoughts, and activities. I’m happy to keep you current on the latest technological advances that could contribute to greater physical and mental health. 

Being able to identify your self-condemning internal dialogue and self-defeating attitudes and actions in the instance of them occurring doesn’t give you the skill to automatically overcome them. It’s helpful to seek the guidance of a psychotherapist who can help you learn the skills to deal with the frustration and anger from years of unresolved emotions and to feel better about yourself. A psychotherapist can also build on the strengths you have so you can cope with daily problems and learn alternative ways to handle your emotions.

Are you ready to gain control of your life with the help of a trained psychotherapist? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office to make an appointment. 

For more information read on my website: Psychotherapy Options.



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