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Kathy Marshack News

Just a Big Ego or Could It Be Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

According to Greek mythology, Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. The concept of a big ego has been recognized throughout history but it has only recently been defined as a psychological diagnosis – Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Perhaps you think that narcissism is just annoying. However, it is a serious diagnosis. People with this disorder have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Complications of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, when untreated can include: substance and alcohol abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, relationship difficulties and problems at school or work.

Narcissists come across as conceited, boastful and pretentious. This impacts everyone around them as they often monopolize conversations, look down on others as inferior and have a misplaced sense of entitlement. They insist on having "the best" of everything and can become easily angry when thwarted. Click here for a list of common symptoms as outlined by the Mayo Clinic. Or take the Narcissistic Personality Quiz at

Can narcissism be confused with strong self-esteem? No. Here’s the difference. Unlike narcissists, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.

More than likely, it is the loved ones of a narcissist that see the need for professional help. If you are in a relationship with someone you suspect is a narcissist, get counseling for yourself immediately. A trained mental health professional can help you navigate this difficult relationship so you don’t sink into a dangerous cycle of codependency.

Should they choose to get help, therapy can greatly assist those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In the short-term psychotherapy would address issues as substance abuse, depression, and relationship issues. In the long-term goal the idea is to gradually reshape their personality so that they can create a healthier self-image and more enjoyable relationships.

If you need a diagnosis or counseling related to narcissism, in yourself or a loved one, contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area to make an appointment.

Caring for Alzheimer's Patients

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alzheimer's is a devastating disease. The sad truth is that an individual with Alzheimer's will hit a point when they will not be able to function independently. For each person, the situation is different, but the side effects include memory loss, depression, and mood swings.

Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's is particularly challenging. This is especially true if you are a loved one. You can expect it to be physically and emotionally draining. As hard as it is to think about yourself, you have to. If you don't, you will be in no position to take care of the person you love. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, get a good night's rest, and make time to be around others. You may not feel that you are up for socializing, but you will need the support. The Alzheimer's Association has a hotline for caregivers. The number is 800-272-3900. Take a look at a previous blog on How To Cope with the Stress of Being a Caregiver.

Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when caring for the needs of someone with Alzheimer's:

- Encourage stimulation both mentally and socially. This improves cognition.

- Regular exercise. Studies show that resistance training is best for improving cognition, but ultimately just do whatever you can to get them moving!

- Beware of alcohol. Certain medications don't mix well with alcohol. Also, because of memory loss, the individual can easily lose count of how many drinks they have had. Over-drinking is a strong possibility.

The article New Research Offers Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers provides more details regarding the tips I discussed.

Plants – Nature's Stress Relievers

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Here in the Pacific Northwest our summers are beautiful, yet short-lived. Because of our long, wet winters we often don't get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors as much as we would like. Have you ever thought of bringing the outdoors inside? Many don’t realize that indoor plants hold many benefits both physically and emotionally.

Physical Benefits:

  • Prevents colds and allergies
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Better air quality (removes toxins and increases oxygen flow)

Emotional Benefits:

  • Reduces stress
  • Promotes positive energy
  • Improves concentration

If you are feeling stressed either at home or work, pick up a few plants. They might be just what you need to find some inner calm. If you are dealing with a more severe case of stress and anxiety, visit Managing Stress.

Is There Too Much Stress on Our Children?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's easy to remember all the fun and joyous times we experienced as children. Some of us still long for those carefree days when we had no worries or fears. As perfect as it may have seemed, this memory is not realistic. Children are experiencing high levels of stress. It may look carefree, but inside many children have much on their minds.

School is one of the main concerns for young people. Juggling getting good grades, extracurricular activities, and sports can be a lot of handle. Another concern that tops the list is money. Children are not blind to the fact that there are financial problems in the family. Whatever stress the parent may be feeling, the children will feel it as well.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to children. Each child is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. Some can handle more than others. In order for a child's stress level to be healthy relies much on the parents. Parents must be in tune with how their child is dealing with the challenges in their life. Taking time to talk openly without criticism will allow a child to open up about what they are going through. They must feel that what they share will be respected and safe. I urge all of you parents to stay alert to signs that your child is under stress.

Even if you are the best parent in the world, there are times when you child may need professional help to deal with their stress. This is no slight on you. Being a good parents requires taking the necessary action for the ultimate welfare of your child. Contact a mental health care professional or speak to your family doctor about these issues.

For more information, visit Am I a Good Parent and Managing Stress.

Weight Loss Surgeries Possibly Linked to Abusing Alcohol

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Losing weight is a difficult journey. It takes hard work and dedication. Weight loss surgeries have become increasingly popular over the last few years. With any kind of surgery, risks are always involved. One possible risk is alcohol abuse.

After studying 2,000 obese individuals who underwent bariatric surgery (particularly Roux-en Y gastric bypass surgery), the risk of alcohol abuse increased. This only became apparent after a two year period. (For more detailed information, read - Weight-Loss Surgery May Raise Risk of Alcohol Abuse.)

At this point, researchers can only speculate why the Roux-en Y surgery is more likely causing alcohol abuse. It could be linked to increased alcohol sensitivity. Some patients go back to old habits. Regardless of the reason, alcohol abuse can take a toll on the mind and body.

Recognizing that this is a possibility after surgery is important to understand. The patient needs to be aware of all the consequences, negative and positive.

One important step to take in dealing with alcohol abuse, obesity, or both is to understand the reasons why. With the help of a mental health care professional, you can learn to understand this pattern of destructive behavior and how to redirect your thinking. Visit Weight Control and Alcoholism Recovery for additional information.

The Danger Associated with Loneliness in Middle Age

Monday, June 25, 2012

Living alone or feeling lonely may have more dangers than we thought. New research is pointing to loneliness and isolation as a possible cause for premature death. The age group at the most risk? Middle age. Those living alone were more likely to die earlier of heart problems or stroke than those living with family or friends.

Psychological problems can lead to physical health problems like heart disease. If you live with someone, there is a greater chance of recognizing physical health problems. If you live alone, you might forget medication or even choose to ignore symptoms. Because of this research, doctors are being encouraged to ask patients about their living situation because it may give insight into their physical and emotional state. For more information on this research, read the article - Lonely? Your health may suffer

Of course there are many who live alone who are far from lonely. It’s possible to develop a warm social circle of friends and family members. On the other hand, you could live with someone and still be lonely! Whatever your circumstances, if you feel sad or lonely look for a mental health care professional in your area. Depression, anxiety, and stress are all issues that you can overcome with the aid of a professional. If you delay in taking action, it could have a negative impact on your health. Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area to make an appointment.

Brain Injuries Causing Long-term Damage

Friday, June 08, 2012

In January, I wrote a blog discussing the dangers associated with playing sports like football and soccer. Dr. Daniel Amen, a well-known physician and psychiatrist, has been speaking out about these dangers for years. What is the reason? Head injuries related to contact sports can cause dementia, depression, memory loss, and encephalopathy.

This topic has been recently exposed in the NFL. There are now 2,000 players suing the NLF stating that they were not aware of the dangers and that they were deliberately hidden from them by the NFL. Ray Easterling, who played for the Atlanta Falcon's, committed suicide in April after years of suffering from dementia. His widow, Mary Ann, is holding the NFL responsible stating that they could have done more to protect her husband's health. This lawsuit is intended to change how the NFL handles this vital information. Those suing hope that it will help those who are in need of medical attention and make the game safer in the future. For more on this breaking news read 2,000 Players Unit in Suing NFL Over Head Injuries.

I also encourage you to view this interview with Dr. Daniel Amen – especially if you have kids playing sports. He speaks about concessions and their long-term effects on the brain.

Changing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Disorders and Illnesses

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Even with an increase in understanding, there is still a negative stigma surrounding mental disorders (Asperger Syndrome, ADHD) and illnesses (depression, OCD). Fear, discrimination, and rejection are some of the negative reactions that some have received because of their mental disorder/illness. Because of this, some fail to seek out treatment. Failure do so will only lead to serious consequences like substance abuse, failed marriages, suicide, or even jail.

How can this stigma be reduced? It is important to understand that these disorders/illness stem from the brain. The brain is a highly powerful organ in the body. As is true of any other organ, it doesn't always function properly. What would you do if you had heart disease? Wouldn't you immediately go to a heart specialist and get the right type of treatment and medication to help you heart? Should we view the brain in the same way?

Getting proper treatment is the big step to changing the stigma. Also, remind yourself that you are not the disorder or illness, it is just something you have. For example, if you had diabetes, do you run around introducing yourself as someone with diabetes? Of course not because it is just something you have, it is not who you are. The same should be for whatever your mental situation is. Don't allow it to define you. Yes, accept that it is a part of you, but do not let the idea of it change who you really are.

You are also not alone. Join a support group. You can now find a support group for just about anything. The more supported you feel, the more inclined you will feel to stick with your therapy and treatments. There may always be some stigma surrounding the mental health community, but it is changing. Don't let what others think change what you need to do to be a happier and mentally healthier person.

Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area if you would like to seek help for your mental disorder or illness.

The Best Therapy to Treat Procrastination

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Procrastination is the act of habitually putting things off to a later time or delaying taking action. Procrastination can have a serious impact on a person's life. Physical problems like stomach problems and insomnia are common. Procrastinators often times smoke and/or are heavy drinkers. There are also emotional side effects. Depression and procrastination can go hand in hand – they feed one another.

What are some of the reasons for procrastination?

  • Fear
  • Perfectionism
  • Desire for an adrenalin rush 
  • Lack of self-control
  • Skewed thinking that your performance will be better under pressure

The list could go on and on. If you are a procrastinator, no need to think that you are hopeless. By tackling your procrastination problems, you might just find that you will be a happier and less stressed individual. The best advice for a procrastinator would be to schedule therapy. That may sound extreme, but it works. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that would be highly beneficial. CBT addresses the way people think. Procrastination as mentioned earlier is stemming from some type of incorrect thinking and emotion. Reprogramming how you think and view tasks could change whether or not you will procrastinate. Addressing the core issue will help you and your therapist to identify what tools you need to change these unhealthy patterns.

To learn more about CBT or other therapy options, please visit Psychotherapy Options on my website. Stop your procrastination today!

A New Kind of Therapy - Tough Love

Friday, May 25, 2012

Have you ever been around a whiner? Do you like listening to the negative, persistent complaining? Probably not. This type of communication leaves both parties drained instead of refreshed. Whining has a tendency to be prevalent in therapy sessions. The client comes in week after week with the same old problems that they like to vent about. Because of this, many therapists are changing their approach from unconditional love to tough love.

What is the reason for this shift? Whining and complaining doesn't solve problems. Therapists see the need for their clients to be more solution-oriented. They are looking to answer the question: What is the root of the whining? What truly is the problem? If the client is not looking to problem solve, then some therapists may end therapy until the client is ready for change.

How to get a whiner to change? In the article How to Stop Whining: Therapists Try Tough Love by Elizabeth Bernstein there are some excellent suggestions. For example: Create a good rapport with the whiner. Use commendation before counseling. Set a specific limit on how long complaints are allowed. Ask questions to draw out the individual and look for a real problem. Help the individual look for a solution by asking what they plan to do about it.

There are many more ideas, so I highly recommend reading the article. Even if you are not a therapist, I am sure you know a whiner or two. This might give you some tips of how to handle them.

Are you looking for solution-oriented therapy? Contact my office to set up an appointment if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area. Click here to learn about Psychotherapy Options.

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