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Kathy Marshack News

Conquering holiday worries with faith and hope

Friday, December 26, 2008

The winter holidays and the transition to a new year can take worrying to a whole new level. Somehow this time of year brings a mixed blessing even in the best of times. I am confronted with the contradictions in my life such as how to plan for the holidays amid a worsening economy. I alternately look forward to parties and feel guilty for not doing more to help others. I make my gift list at the same time as I wonder if that money should be spent in a more practical way. I want to create a warm and loving holiday celebration for my family, but I worry about what next year will bring to all of us. You have to be careful at this time of year not to get deeply depressed, especially with the current state of affairs in our country and our world. There is just an awful lot to worry about this season.

Today's crises are no more intense and overwhelming than those humankind has endured for centuries. As a matter of fact do you know what we are celebrating at this time of year? Our year-end holidays celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Thanksgiving is the holiday started by our Pilgrim forebears because they made it through their first harsh year in New England. Chanukah commemorates a miracle that occurred in the war torn country of the ancient Jews. Christmas celebrates the incredibly humble birth of a poor child who inspired a new world religion.

In other words these holidays are a reminder that even at the worst of times, if you have faith and hope you will not only come through hardship but you will be better for it.

Money challenges for parents of autistic children

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

According to the April 2008 edition of Pediatrics, the annual income of parents with autistic children is 14% less than parents without autistic children. Guillermo Montes, PhD, of the Children's Institute in Rochester, N.Y and his colleagues write, "The average loss of annual income associated with having a child with autism spectrum disorder was $6,200." Researchers speculate that part of the reason may be due to the different choices regarding work a parent might have to make. For example, some communities may not have the services available for autism forcing parents to relocate. As a health care provider in the Pacific Northwest, I am determined to give guidance and direction to parents with autistic children. If you are in need of assistance, please contact my office to set up an appointment. Here are some additional resources in the Portland/Vancouver area:

The Link Between Smoking and ADHD

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A recent study by Nicotine and Tobacco Research showed that people who suffer from ADHD are more likely to smoke and have a harder time quitting than someone without ADHD symptoms. Smoking provides a type of self-medication due to the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is related to attention processes and impulse control.

With this new understanding on smoking cessation and ADHD, physicians will be in a better position to tailor treatments for their patients. For those who desire to be a successful non-smoker, here are two key steps that I recommend to start you off:

First: Change your environment at work and at home so that smoking is not as easy to do.

Second: Recognize that most of your smoking is done to take care of other emotional needs. When you desire a cigarette, ask yourself, "What do I really want instead?" Then take care of the real need.

For more encouragement to stop smoking, click on the link for more information.

How to Be a Happier Person - Watch Less Television

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is there really a link between happiness and the amount of television you watch? Dr. John Robinson, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, conducted a recent study to show activities that happy people are involved in. After surveying 45,000 Americans over a period of 35 years, Dr. Robinson concluded, "We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy. TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less." While watching TV isn't a bad thing, prolonged viewing can lead to an unhappy lifestyle. I recommend activities such as reading a good book, visiting friends and family, enjoying the great outdoors, and doing things for others. These types of activities promote self-respect and leave you with a feeling of accomplishment. This holiday season try turning off the TV and take time to do things that will make you happy!

Drinking During the Holidays – How to Be Safe

Friday, November 21, 2008

The holidays can be a joyous and happy time, but they can also bring about added stress and pressure. Unfortunately, the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year due to the increase of alcohol consumption causing accidents and even death. To keep this time of year happy and safe, I recommend drinking in moderation. Here are a few key ideas to help keep alcohol in its proper place: 1. You don't have to drink! Many feel pressured to have a drink at a social gathering because it's been offered to them. If you feel like enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage, you are entitled to do so. Giving into peer pressure can lead you down a disastrous path. 2. If you plan to drink, set your limits. Before you arrive at the party, decide how much you will drink and then do it! If you set the rules, you are more likely to stick to them. 3. Keep alcohol in its proper place - an enhancement. Instead of viewing the party as a opportunity to drink, look at it as a wonderful time to socialize and enjoy good conversation. Then if you choose to have a drink, it's just an addition to a lovely evening not the focal point. This time of year is supposed to be fun, festive, and relaxing. Plan ahead of time to avoid becoming a victim to the horrible statistics that we hear about year after year. If you alcohol has been a problem for you in the past, please take a look at this tip for more information.

A Giant Step Forward with New Mental Health Parity

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last month, the U.S. Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008, also known as mental health parity. This is important news - this law will end insurance discrimination against mental health and substance use disorder coverage for 113 million Americans. Some states, like Washington state where I practice, already have a mental health parity law in effect, however this federal legislation insures parity for every American. When this law takes effect, which for most plans will be January 1, 2010, insurance companies will be required to provide parity benefits coverage in EVERY aspect of plan coverage—both in-network and out-of-network. Psychologists like myself see this as a giant step forward in eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health care. If you would like to learn more about how the legislation works, including the specific aspects of coverage affected, visit

Take Care of Your Brain

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The brain is the most complex and delicate organ in the body. Our feelings, emotions, personality, and behaviors are all housed in our miraculous brain. If slight damage or trauma has occurred, it can greatly impact the rest of your life perhaps even causing or affecting a predetermined condition. Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and author of many books on the brain, recently commented on the link between mild brain trauma and behavioral, emotional, or cognitive issues. The key is to take precautions to protect your brain. Avoid dangerous sports or activities that can cause brain damage. If you have experienced trauma, be sure to mention this to your psychologist even if you only believe it to be a minor incident. The more information you provide, the better care you will receive. For more information, I recommend reading more about Dr. Amen and his work.

Facing and Treating Addiction in a Family Business

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Alcoholism and other drug abuse is an epidemic in our country. We are all aware of the general problem nationwide. Yet among family firms, drug addiction and alcohol abuse are frequently overlooked. The secret that everyone knows is that there is a family member who is addicted or engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, yet no one is to talk about it. The family member is protected not only by the family, but also by a general conspiracy among employees. The conspiracy begins because the function of the family is to nurture and protect its members. The family is likely to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping the family system intact. Should this conspiracy be treated? Yes! By ignoring the problem the addict accepts this as tacit approval of their behavior. And by ignoring the problem, the potential threat to the integrity of the family and business grows. Alcoholism and other addictions leads to the breakdown of the family, just what a family firm wants to avoid. What can be done? First, consider that the addict is fortunate to have the backing of both his/her family as well as his/her business. With the support of the two most important systems in one's life, the addict has increased potential to succeed in treatment. Second, everyone in the family has to support the decision to confront the addict and to seek family therapy with them. If there are dissenters, the addict will solicit allies to defend their continued drug abuse. Third, education will help. Professional treatment centers emphasize that alcoholism and drug abuse are best understood as diseases. They must be confronted with their irresponsible and manipulative behavior so that they can change it. With professional treatment and ongoing support, they can be returned to their former productive and loving lives. For further information on this subject, click on the link to read my article, "Addiction 'Conspiracy' of Silence Hurts the Family and Business."


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a wintertime condition characterized by depression, exhaustion, lack of interest in people and regular activities. SAD is extremely common in the Pacific Northwest due to the lack of sunlight, shorter days, and overcast skies. This type of weather contribute to SAD symptoms. If SAD is left untreated, it will affect a person's outlook and ability to function on a day-to-day level. It's encouraging to note that SAD can be treated! If you are suffering from this disorder, I recommend getting outside as much as possible even if it's overcast. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet rich in Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids will also help. If the symptoms continue to persist, light therapy or antidepressants are recommended. For more information on how to diagnosis depression and treat it, read more at my website or call my office to make an appointment.

Use Financial Crisis as a Quest for Wisdom

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is the recent economic decline causing the stress level of Americans to increase? The answer is YES! According to the American Psychology Association's Stress 2008 survey, almost half of Americans say their stress level is increasing due to the financial crisis and it's primarily affecting woman. In June 2008, studies show that there are more suffering physical and emotional affects of stress than in 2007. Symptoms like fatigue, sleepless nights, headaches, depression, irritability, and lack of motivation are on the rise.

This is a major cause for concern. Many are coping with these symptoms with unhealthy habits such as overeating or skipping meals, indulging in alcohol, and smoking. More time is spent worrying about the financial situation rather than health. What can be done to prevent the increase of stress and its symptoms? I recommend shifting how you view problems, including the economic crisis. If you recognize that life is complex and problem filled, then when confronted with a situation you can face it as a quest for wisdom. Dig, assess, diagnose, and search to create workable situations. This will increase your self-worth and make you a little smarter along the way. Click here to learn more about stress management.

More information on the survey is available at

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