CONTACT MY OFFICE:
(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington
   info@kmarshack.com

Therapy

ADD & ADHD
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
ASPERGER & MARRIAGE
COUPLES IN BUSINESS
DEPRESSION & STRESS
ENTREPRENEURIAL LIFE
EXPAT ONLINE THERAPY
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE
MARRIAGE COUNSELING
MIND & BODY HEALTH
PARENTING
PERSONAL GROWTH
RECOMMENDED LINKS
NEWS CENTER
ONLINE STORE
Overview
ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Overview
Articles
Overview
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Overview
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Overview
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Overview
Conflict & Communication
Infidelity
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Codependence
Advice for Singles Only
Overview
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Overview
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Overview
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Overview
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Newsletter
Press Center
Seminars
Related New Stories
Subscribe
Sample
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

Empathy 101: Understanding the Neurotypical/Asperger Relationship

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Empathy 101: Understanding the Neurotypical – Asperger RelationshipEmpathy is a complex, multi-faceted skillset that allows a person to clearly recognize the other person, while holding constant their own feelings and thoughts. It’s respecting the boundaries of the other person. You don't confuse their pain or thoughts with your own.

Furthermore, the highest level of empathy is what I call "Radiant Empathy," or the ability to care for the feelings and thoughts of others without any need for reciprocity. It takes a lifetime to develop Radiant Empathy because it’s the combination of a healthy brain and life experience.

Asperger’s Syndrome is an empathy disorder, the result of the person not having a Theory of Mind. Basically, they don’t easily recognize that another person has beliefs, desires, intentions, feelings and perspectives that differ from their own (unless it is specifically pointed out). Empathy is a complex system that requires the brain to connect Emotional Empathy and Cognitive Empathy.

Neurotypical persons in relationships with those with Asperger’s Syndrome expect and need empathy, but they don’t receive it. This makes them feel so alone, depressed, and socially isolated. They suffer from numerous stress-related chronic illnesses, because no one really understands what they’re going through.

Once you understand the quality of empathy that is part of every breath you take… and is totally absent in your Aspie, you can better navigate this life. Furthermore, this understanding also helps you redirect your energy to take better care of yourself and to embrace a more loving reality. This doesn't mean everything works out; it just means that you're more in charge. That can feel good.

If you’re a member of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us for the next teleconference, Empathy 101 on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 3:00 PM.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to read a free chapter of “Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”. This book discusses the science behind Aspie behavior and how you can initiate the rules of engagement that help your Aspie give you the emotional support that you need.

How Much Are Those Sleepless Nights Costing You?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Sleep deprivation or interrupted sleepless nights break down your physical and mental health, making you susceptible to obesity, diabetes, disease and more.Sleep is essential for wellness. Without it, we aren’t happy, healthy or safe. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, but if you’re not getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, it’s time to re-evaluate your sleep habits.

Recently the New York Times carried a comprehensive article on sleep. Much of it may be a review for you, but the information is important. Here are some highlights:

A number of chronic physical and mental health problems are caused by insufficient sleep:
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Compromised immune system
  • Depression
  • Poor memory and decision making skills
  • Irritable moods

People who are sleep deprived make more mistakes. One sleep survey estimated that in 2012, 274,000 workplace accidents were directly related to sleep problems, costing $31.1 billion annually.

The article writer, Tara Parker-Pope had an interesting analogy for how the brain works while you sleep…

Think of your brain like a computer that uses the nighttime to back up all your data. It consolidates memories, links with old memories and creates paths for you to retrieve memories, and forms connections between disparate thoughts or ideas. That’s why, when you don’t sleep, your thinking and memory are fuzzy. Some research suggests that when you don’t sleep your ability to learn new information is reduced by almost half.”

Sleep deprivation also make you more susceptible to mental health problems. Why? Your brain does its housekeeping while you sleep. In mouse studies, researchers found that during sleep, the space between brain cells enlarge, allowing toxins to flush out. This research suggests that not sleeping allows toxins to build up, triggering brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We’ll need further research to know for sure.

Many sleep problems can be corrected by better nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques and better sleep habits. However, if you’re experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, you might want to consult with your doctor to see if there’s a physiological reason, like sleep apnea, that can be treated.

Another option is to try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (C.B.T.-I.) to learn how to shut your mind off. I’ve personally discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) is very effective for removing blocks to your well-being. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How to Use Mindfulness to De-Stress at Your Desk

Monday, April 03, 2017


Here are some practical ways to use mindfulness to de-stress at your desk so you can mindfully choose mental and emotional states that most benefit you.Is work getting you down? Do you carry the job stresses home to your family, inflicting them with your bad mood? That just creates more stress, doesn’t it? If you’re ready to try something new that stops this cycle, I’ve got a recommendation for you…try mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Basically it means you’ve developed a focused mental state based on your awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

If you have a daily practice of mindfulness at your desk, you can release the tension as it begins rather than letting it build like a pressure cooker ready to explode. Try these simple mindfulness ideas and see if they don’t work for you…

  • Focus on one thing at a time. Mindfulness helps you hone in on the one thing you need to accomplish at this moment in time. This helps you avoid the temptation to multitask.
  • Be aware of what your body needs. You know how sitting for hours staring at a computer screen makes you feel. It’s not pleasant. Don’t just sit there and take it. Move your body until it’s relieved. Stand up, stretch and move at least once an hour to relieve any tightening and to remind yourself to keep good posture.
  • Keep yourself centered. You know how stress can make you feel off kilter and out of sorts. Take time to collect yourself. Find a quiet place and relax through meditation or going for a walk.
  • Clear out the clutter to stay in the moment. When all those nagging, little tasks pile up, it’s amazing how much stress they exert on you. If they can be done in 5 minutes or less, clear them out of the way.
  • Breathe. When you get up to stretch, do a few breathing exercises too. Draw air deeply into your lungs and feel yourself relax. Too often people breathe shallowly, which adds to your feelings of anxiety.
  • Remember your purpose. The job isn’t everything. Work is a means to make a living so you and your family are happy and healthy. This puts things in perspective and helps you create boundaries so work stays at work, so you’re no longer taking it home with you.

Sometimes stress builds up and becomes a chronic problem that detrimentally affects all areas of your life. If this has happened to you, please seek the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can get it resolved and you can move on.


Read more on my website: Managing Stress and Releasing Unresolved Stress.

Parents – Are Your Financially Dependent Adult Children Draining You?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Financially helping your adult children get established on their own may seem harmless, yet there’s danger in giving them money without skills to use it wisely.As a parent, you want the best for your children. So when they’re trying to get established on their own, giving them money seems so simple, so harmless. But what if it goes on year after year? When and where do you draw the line?

If you’re providing financial assistance for your adult children, it may get to the point that you feel like you’re not helping them any longer, that you’re actually hindering their progress toward standing on their own two feet. It’s important to consider these things, since ongoing financial help is a growing trend that will have long-term consequences for your child’s well-being and happiness. Well-meaning help can become an ongoing handout that destroys your joy and your child’s initiative and self-confidence.

A recent New York Times article reports on a survey of more than 2,000 young adults from 2007 to 2013. The findings show that today almost half of them receive financial assistance from their parents. Although two-thirds of high school students go to college, only half end up graduating. And they’re taking longer to get it done.

There are many factors involved such as the high price in rent in urban area, the cost of college tuition, the low payoff for the types of jobs they acquire. Whatever the reason, how long is “long enough”? When is it no longer a kindness? When should parents “cut the apron strings”?

When you provide financial assistance, it’s vital to require that your child learns financial and emotional self-management skills. Help them understand what credit really is, how to balance a checkbook, why it’s important to budget and live within one’s means, and that instant gratification or impulse buying doesn’t result in happiness. This can be started at an early age. Otherwise, they can lose whatever motivation and discipline they may have had. You may unwittingly be sending the message that ‘you’re not capable or competent’.

At times, financially dependent adult children may also have mental health issues including anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Anything that feeds the sense of powerlessness will worsen these problems.

It’s never too late to instill financial independence in your adult children. It may, however, involve a series of painful conversations and decisions. Taking control of the situation may feel less daunting when a trained mental health professional guides you through the process. It is possible to help your adult child to become independent of your financial purse strings, without alienating him or her. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, so we can get your family back on track.

Read more on my website: Am I a Good Parent?

Are You Managing Your Anxiety or Is Your Anxiety Managing You?

Monday, March 27, 2017


Woman feeling anxiousAnxiety, despite being an unwelcome feeling, is a part of life. It is a feeling of nervousness, fear, or apprehension. Typical situations that cause anxiety are new experiences where you can’t for-see the outcome, high-pressure situations, or stressful events. Anxious feelings are often manifested physically through an upset stomach, headaches, or a racing heart.

For many people, anxiety goes as quickly as it comes. Once the anxiety-inducing event is over, their feelings normalize. They are able to handle the discomfort and uncertainty of anxiety without outside intervention.

This isn’t the situation for everyone though. There are many people who on a daily basis deal with nagging feelings of anxiety. Sometimes they can push these feelings down and go about their day without being too affected. Other times the feelings are so severe that they begin to affect a person’s work, relationships, and health. Anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and inescapable. In this case, help is needed to manage the mental and physical discomfort and learn how to cope.

Whichever group you fall into, it is necessary to manage your anxiety more effectively. Pushing your feelings to the back of your mind is not “managing” your anxiety; it is just procrastinating dealing with it.

What can you do if it feels like anxiety is gaining the upper hand in your life? Take a look at these suggestions:

Accept your feelings. Don’t dismiss how you are feeling. Accept your thoughts and feelings, and spend time examining them. By taking ownership of your feelings, you take back your power and control, making the problem feel much smaller. Practice mindfulness. This form of meditation helps you regain control of your thoughts. Consider your thoughts and feelings without judgement.

Challenge anxious thoughts. A lot of anxious thinking is not only negative; it is irrational. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? What are the pros and cons of worrying about it? You may think the worst will happen, when in reality there is no basis to think that. Challenge what you believe to be true about what you fear. Retrain your mind to process things in a way that does not feed your anxiety.

Replace anxious thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational distortions behind your anxious thoughts, replace them with realistic and positive thoughts. Give attention to things that are good and beneficial. Make a choice to be optimistic. Actively look on the bright side. It takes time and practice, but it can be done!

Practice gratitude every day. Looking for reasons to be grateful has a powerful effect on your mental health and emotional wellbeing. What you choose to remember and focus on become the pathway the brain will automatically take. If you constantly dwell on negative things that cause anxiety, your thoughts and feelings become dark and worrisome automatically. You’ve worn that pathway in your brain. But the good news it that those pathways can be shifted. Choosing to practice gratitude shifts your brain to see constructive, positive themes in your life instead of destructive ones.

Do you feel like your anxiety is too severe for these suggestions to help? Do you experience excessive anxiety and worry about daily activities? Does it interfere with your normal routine, job performance, or relationships? Are your everyday worries accompanied by physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, trembling, and stomachaches?

If so, you may one of the millions of American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder. These chronic conditions fill people’s lives with exaggerated worry and tension. Simply the thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety. Anxiety disorders are relentless and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

The good news is that you can treat your anxiety disorder. Research is yielding new, improved therapies to help those with anxiety disorders to lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you may suffer from an anxiety disorder, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office for information and treatment.

The Art of Negotiation When You Live With Your Business Partner

Monday, March 20, 2017


Man and woman negotiatingAs an entrepreneur you are probably pretty accustomed to negotiating to get what you want. You negotiate prices, interest rates, contracts and more. And when you enter into a business partnership, you negotiate the details of the arrangement and the way you will do business.
 
What you may not be so used to is “negotiating” with your romantic partner. The term used most often in this setting is “compromise.” Two people communicate and discuss an issue, and eventually reach a compromise. The idea of compromising, though, carries the connotation that at least one person loses out in some way. They have to give up something important or valuable to them to reach an agreement.
 
Now, what happens when your romantic partner is also your business partner? How can you negotiate successfully with someone you are very likely used to compromising with? As with any relationship, life partners who are also business partners should work toward finding a win-win solution. The art of negotiating a win-win, or no-compromise, solution with another person requires a lot of effort. But the pay-off is a relationship filled with respect and cooperation.
 
The art of negotiation for entrepreneurial couples consists of the following:
 

Listen. It is very important to hone your listening skills. Listening can be a difficult skill to master, especially if you have a lot to say. But a good listener gains understanding of the other person’s reality, which is necessary before you can proceed with negotiations.


Listen to what your partner is trying to tell you, not just the actual words they are using. It will take some perception and understanding on your part to read between the lines. Pay attention to their body language. Also, be truly interested in what they have to say. You have chosen to spend your life with this person, so show that same interest and kindness when you deal with them in regards to your business.

 

Display empathy. Your partner has likely spent a good portion of their day being beat up by the outside world. So when negotiating with them, deal with them in a different way. You are a source of peace, a place of sanctuary. If you are genuine and make the effort to feel what your partner is feeling, they will feel appreciated. This will make them more comfortable speaking in clear terms that will require less analyzing and translating on your part.


Watch your tone. Maybe a direct, assertive, no-nonsense tone has gotten you what you want from others in the past. It probably doesn’t work so well with your partner. Your voice helps sets the tone for negotiations, so start light. Keep your tone positive, even playful. If things get more serious and stressful, use a low and slow voice. This type of voice inflection signals that you are in control, but does not show aggression or put your partner on the defensive.


Look at things a different way. There are many “right” solutions to a problem. We tend to think our solution is the right one because it fits our reality the best. Be open to ideas that work just as well, or even better, than our original one. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to benefit from the creativity of other free thinking individuals.


Take your time. Don’t move too quickly, or too slow. Don’t drag on a negotiation longer than need be. But devote the time necessary to have a productive conversation, or series of conversations. It may be that a solution cannot be reached in one day, and you have to go to bed and start again tomorrow. That’s ok! Don’t give up just because you aren’t getting your way. You may be tempted to resort to intimidation for the sake of expediency, but you will risk your healthy relationship with your partner.


Focus. Keep your business discussions focused on business. Try to avoid letting personal issues or outside forces into the conversation. And when the discussion is over, don’t let it carry over into your personal relationship. Living with your business partner doesn’t mean that everything revolves around the business. Nurture your personal relationship, too.


These positive negotiation skills should help you resolve most issues. However, the tendency to compromise, intimidate, or acquiesce can be difficult to get past. Sometimes it is necessary to get some outside help get personal and business discussions back on track and productive. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, I offer remote education for entrepreneurial couples via video conference.

6 Things Resilient Business Owners Never Do – Even on Very Bad Days

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Man at desk with computer "Everyone experiences tough times; it is a measure of your determination and dedication how you deal with them and how you can come through them." -Lakshmi Mittal
 
As a business owner you have good days and you have bad days, perhaps even very bad days. Being in control of your own business isn’t for the feint of heart. Probably more than anything else, to succeed in business you’re going to need to be resilient. Resilience is a broad term that refers to mental toughness. It indicates that a person is flexible, tough, thinks ahead, and works thoroughly and efficiently.
 
But sometimes there are some negative thinking patterns that can begin to erode your resiliency. How can you eliminate negative thinking that might be holding you back?
 
Let’s consider 6 things that resilient business owners don’t do:
 
  1. Feel sorry for themselves. Problems small to large are inevitable, but feeling sorry for yourself is a choice. Self-pity wastes valuable time and mental energy. It also keeps your focus on the problem instead of creative solutions. A good way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to cultivate a grateful attitude, perhaps by writing down things in your life that are positive.
  2. Succumb to fear of change. Change is a part of life. Nothing stays the same. For some people, adjusting to change comes easily. For others, change causes an inordinate amount of stress. Whatever natural reaction you have to the idea of change, a resilient business leader will not shy away from change or let fear hold them back. Your success, both in life and business, depends on your ability, and willingness, to adapt.
  3. Dwell on the past. Learning from past mistakes with a goal to not repeating them is a good thing. Dwelling on them is harmful. You can get stuck in a cycle of second-guessing your choices or wishing that the present was just like the past. Neither of these things are productive. To grow and progress you have to make peace with the past and work through any negative emotions that could be holding you back.
  4. Worry about things they can’t control. Complaining and worrying about things you have little or no control over will not help you. It will only serve to distract you and take energy away from working on the things you can control. Other people’s choices, business decisions, and opinions are outside of your control, so don’t waste precious time worrying about them. Accept the situation, and move forward.
  5. Resent the success of other people. Have you ever felt a little twinge of jealousy when you see someone with something you don’t have? Maybe another business owner received an award or recognition for their work. A resilient leader doesn’t get distracted by jealousy. Resentment takes away your focus from your own work and impedes your efforts to reach your goals. Instead, recognize that the success of another person in no way takes away from your success. Be happy for them, and keep working toward your own definition of success.
  6. Give up. There are some people who can’t handle failure in any form. Their self-esteem is completely wrapped up in their “success”, aka “lack of failure.” But real success comes, not from doing everything perfectly the first time, but from trying, failing, getting back up, and trying again. If you feel like you have failed, try again. Focus on improving your skills, and mastering your craft.

Of course, ridding yourself of negative thought is easier said than done. If you’re struggling with one of these areas, consider getting help from a mental health expert. Rather than being a sign of weakness, this shows that you are ready to step up and be the best possible version of yourself and succeed not only in your business, but your life. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

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.

Who Is Taking Care of the Caregivers?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


44 million Americans are caregivers of a special needs child or elderly relative or neighbor and they need our family and community support to keep going. Are you one of the 44 million Americans who is the caregiver of a special needs child or for an elderly relative or neighbor? We deeply appreciate the love you show and the hard work you do. We realize that often you’re doing this in addition to working secularly, caring for your own household and parenting your children. Thank you for all that you do!

Being a caregiver is a high stress job. Not only are you dealing with the decline of a loved one, the work is physically, emotionally and financially draining. Many times a caregiver is called upon to perform medical procedures for which they haven’t been sufficiently trained such as giving injections, changing catheters, etc. Plus caregivers work reduced hours or even quit their careers to care for their loved ones.

Recently the New York Times ran an article that helps us to get to know these caregivers better. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Nearly a quarter of caregivers are millennials.
  • Caregivers are equally likely to be male or female.
  • About one-third of caregivers also have a full-time job.
  • About one-quarter work part time.
  • A third provide more than 21 hours of care per week.
  • AARP estimates their unpaid value is $470 billion a year.
  • One in five report significant financial strain.
  • Family caregivers over 50 who leave the work force lose, on average, more than $300,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetimes.
  • Sixty percent of those caring for older family members have to reduce the number of work hours, take a leave of absence or make other career changes.

The demand for caregivers is increasing, while the available number of caregivers is decreasing. Because they’re not getting the support and help they need, caregivers often suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic disease. JAMA reports on a study that shows that caregiving shaves, on the average, four years off their lifespan. And surprisingly, the physical impact lasts long after the job is done. PNAS reports on a study that long-term caregivers’ immune systems are still disrupted three years after their job ends. The NEJM reports that caregivers of patients with long I.C.U. stays have high levels of depressive symptoms lasting for more than a year.

Legislation is trying to ease the burden for caregivers by passing the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. This has been signed into law by Oregon, but Washington State hasn’t adopted it yet.

The CARE Act requires hospitals to:
  • Record the name of the family caregiver on the medical record of the patient.
  • Inform the family caregivers when the patient is to be discharged.
  • Provide the family caregiver with education and instruction of the medical tasks he or she will need to perform for the patient at home.

If you are a caregiver, please take advantage of local support groups. Reach out to friends and family and schedule time off. Attend classes and talk with professionals about your demanding role. Become educated so you can perform your tasks well and with no risk of injuring yourself. Mental health professionals can help you learn techniques for managing your stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I would love to help.

Available Online Resources:

The Eldercare Locator identifies community organizations that help with meals, transportation, home care, peer support and caregiving education.

The Local Area Agencies on Aging connects patients and caregivers to the services they need.


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.



Recent Posts RSS


Tags


Archive