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Kathy Marshack News

Signs and Symptoms of Hoarding

Monday, September 26, 2011

Have you heard of hoarding? There has been a lot of attention surrounding hoarding recently with even television shows revolving around this disorder. What exactly is hoarding? Hoarding is when a person excessively collects items and is then unable to give these items up. This is not your average collector. A hoarder will put their home and even their own safety at risk for the sake of their possessions. Their home becomes cramped, unsanitary, and seemingly uninhabitable.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the signs and symptoms of hoarding:

  • Unable to discard items
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
  • Cluttered living space
  • Moving items from one pile to another, without throwing anything away
  • Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items like trash or napkins 
  • Difficulty organizing items
  • Procrastination and trouble making decisions
  • Strong attachment to possessions, including discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
  • Limited or no social interactions
  • Shame or embarrassment

A hoarder feels a sense of comfort and safety by hoarding. What is the reason for hoarding? There isn’t one specific reason. For some, hoarding is a side effect of OCD. For others, it can be an emotional response to a tragic event or upbringing, loss of a loved one, or genetics. Regardless of the reason, hoarding is dangerous. It can destroy relationships and cause serious health complications. If you or someone you love is a hoarder, seeking professional help is a necessary step in overcoming the disorder. Therapy is very beneficial because it can help to uncover the real reason why someone is hoarding. With intense treatment and a lot of hard work, a hoarder can learn to keep their hoarding tendencies in check. If you would like to set up an appointment to discuss these issues, contact my office in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, WA to setup an appointment.

Protect Your Health – Don't Be Afraid to Say "No"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life is filled with stress. While a measure of stress can be healthy, uncontrolled stress can be dangerous. Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like your life is too hectic with no breathing room? If that is the major source of your stress, then you may be doing too much. When you find yourself in this situation, it is likely you have a hard time saying no. There is a preconceived idea that saying no is a bad thing. In reality, it is actually a good thing.

People tend to be afraid to say no because they think that they will appear to be selfish. They want to do everything and be all to everyone. By doing everything and running yourself ragged, you aren't really doing yourself or anyone else a favor. By spreading yourself too thin, you won't enjoy yourself or give anyone the quality time that is deserved. If you focus on spending quality time versus quantity, you will be much happier and your friends and family will appreciate that.

Being overwhelmed is also bad for your health. Stress can weaken your immune system which leaves you more susceptible to sickness. This is an important one to remember when it comes to saying yes to extra work projects. You may be concerned about job safety or pleasing your boss, but if you overwork yourself, you may likely find yourself sick and unable to accomplish anything. Look at saying no as an opportunity for someone to step up to say yes. It may be the opportunity that they need.

There is a fine line between saying no just because you don't want to or saying no because you need to. Ask yourself these questions when you are contemplating whether to say yes or no:

· What are my priorities in life?

· Will this invitation or opportunity further my priorities or take away from what is truly important?

· What would I say if guilt didn't exist?

· Can I still participate, but maybe in a simpler way?

You can also ask for advice from a trusted companion. Sometimes they can see things that you don't. It's also best to not make a decision when you are feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Rest and then decide when you have a clear head.

Saying no is not always easy, but you will be happier and healthier in the long term in you say no every now and then. If you struggle with managing your stress, saying no, feeling guilt, or being perfectionist, you may want to seek help from a mental health care professional. For more information, visit Managing Stress or if you’re looking for a psychologist in Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon contact my office to set up an appointment.

Are You a Neuro-Typical in an Asperger Relationship? You Are Not Alone!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Loneliness is common for those who have an Asperger partner or family member. I am constantly reminding my clients who are in this position that they are not alone. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD now has 298 members. Our members are from all over the world. I wanted to share a few thoughts from our overseas members to remind all of you that you are in fact NOT ALONE.

"Thank you for welcoming me in your group. My husband and I met met over 25 years ago and his defense all those years was blaming me for everything that went wrong in his or our life. It was an eye opener that he was diagnosed with Asperger's and now it is time to become ME again. The ME I was when I was just a teenager. I can't battle autism (and I am not in war with autism) but I refuse to let me be overruled by it."

"Hi Kathy, thanks for your welcome. Its a great relief finding this group. My husband is an aspie - nobody understood me. Being isolated and unbelieved made me feel crazy. Then one day I found your book and I realized "this is my story - this is my life."

I appreciate the personal thoughts and comments from our members. The topic for the next Meetup is "You are not alone. Let's play!" It will be held on September 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon. It's time to reaffirm your friendships and reaffirm your right to be alive. We all deserve some time to have some fun! Are you a Neuro-Typical in an Asperger relationship? You are not alone – join us!

Click here for more information about the book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?"

What Your Smile Says About You

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The smile has been studied and researched for years. It is one of the first things we notice about a person. A smile has the power to change how other people feel and has the power to change how we feel.

An interesting tidbit that I recently stumbled upon was a study performed last year by Wayne State University. By analyzing the span of baseball players smiles, they determined that those with a larger smile span actually lived longer. Hmmm...Good reason to smile! Of course, this isn't true in every instance, but it should make us think about what message we are sending out into the world.

When someone smiles, they are exhibiting positive emotions. Those positive emotions can affect the way a person acts and feels. Since the body and mind work so closely together, it is only natural that those positive feelings will affect the body in a positive way.

You can't fake a smile though. Well, you can, but it won't have the same affect. For a smile to have good results, it must be sincere. To tell if someone has a sincere smile, look for a wrinkling around the eye area. A genuine smile contracts a muscle called orbicularis oculi. Smiles are also contagious. If you take note to be happy, positive and smile, it is most likely that those around you will too.

Feelings of happiness and well-being are a choice. If you have not been smiling much lately, have you figured out why? By working with a qualified therapist, you will be able to identify what’s bothering you and take positive steps to ensure that you start smiling again.

The Negative Side Effect of Bitterness on Your Health

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and can cause many physical health problems. Perhaps it’s not surprising that new research from Concordia University suggests that feelings of bitterness can have a negative impact on a person's physical health.

Researchers took note of the connection between failure and bitterness. According to psychologist Dr. Carsten Wrosch, "Persistent bitterness may result in global feelings of anger and hostility that, when strong enough, could affect a person’s physical health. When harbored for a long time bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease." For more information on this research, read the article - Bitterness Can Make You Sick.

Bitterness can stem from a wide range of events in one's life. It could come from a failed marriage, being a victim of abuse, being laid off or fired, or parenting a disabled child. Whatever the reason may be, you could be left with feelings of bitterness. If that bitterness is left unresolved, you will begin to see the negative affects not only on your physical health, but your entire life. Therapy is a wonderful tool to help someone overcome feelings of failure and bitterness. It will require hard work and an honest assessment of one's self, but you can conquer those emotions. Beat it before it beats you!

For information about therapy, visit Therapy FAQ.

How to Pick a Therapist for Your Child

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Most parents would love to create an ideal world for their child to live in. But the reality is that more and more children are in need of mental health care. There are many reasons why a child might need therapy – divorce, abuse, loss of a loved one, learning disabilities, bullying just to name a few.

When a parent recognizes that their child needs help, the parent has two options. Sweep it under the rug like it doesn't exist or take action. The correct choice is option two. Many parents choose option one and live in denial which will only lead to more problems in the future. Because these issues will reappear – often later in life when it’s not only more difficult to address but more damage has been done. If your child needs help you may need to relinquish control and accept some professional help!

If you do decide to seek professional help for your child, then the next step is to find the right therapist for your child. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making that choice:

- Gather information. Take note of why you feel like your child needs help. What are his/her symptoms? How long have these symptoms been in existence? When gathering this information, talk to your child's teachers, school counselor, pediatrician, and any other caregiver who can give you insight into what is going on in your child's life. The more you know, the more you will be able to communicate to the professional you choose.

- Ask for referrals. The pediatrician, school counselor, or any other close friend/confidant might be able to point you in a good direction.

- Research licenses and credentials. Once you have list of therapists, research them. Make sure they are licensed to practice! I cannot stress that enough. There are people who call themselves child therapists without the proper credentials. So, do your homework before making an appointment.

- Approach and experience. Before sending your child off to therapy, find out the style and approach of the therapist. How long have they been working with children? What type of methodology do they use? What type of treatments do they offer? What do they specialize in? What is their availability? What can be expected relationship between parent and therapist?

- Insurance, price, & fees. Check with your insurance to see what options they provide for child therapy. When making an appointment with the therapist ask about prices, fees, payments plans, and cancellation policy.

- Communicate. It is very important for the parent to be involved with the therapist and the treatments. So work to build a good rapport and be available to assist them in any way necessary. Also, communicate with your child. Do they feel comfortable with the therapist? If you sense that the relationship is not working, then don't be afraid to make a change.

Taking care of your child's emotional needs are just as important as taking care of their physical needs. You are not a failure of parent if you enlist the help of a mental health care professional. It is actually a sign of true love and concern for the welfare of your child.

If you live in Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon and are looking for a therapist to work with your child visit Therapy FAQ.

Why PTSD Sufferers Should Seek Help

Monday, July 25, 2011

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can affect anyone. It can strike after someone experiences any type of traumatic or serious event. Natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, or accidental disasters, such as car accidents, airplane crashes, fires, collapses of a building, or deliberately caused disasters, such as rape, assault, kidnapping, torture or combat are all events that could cause PTSD. Though the trauma may have occurred months or years ago, the survivor continues to have problems because they keep re-experiencing the traumatic event, or avoid stimuli associated with the event.

If you are a survivor of a trauma experiencing one or more of these symptoms you may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tendency to react under stress with survival tactics
  • Psychic or emotional numbing
  • Emotional constriction
  • Loss of interest in work and activities
  • Survivor guilt
  • Hyper-alertness
  • Fantasies of retaliation
  • Avoidance of activities that arouse memories of traumas
  • Suicidal feelings and thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Fantasies of destruction
  • Cynicism and distrust of government and authority
  • Alienation
  • Concern with humanistic values overlaid by hedonism
  • Negative self-image
  • Memory impairment
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Hyper-sensitivity to justice
  • Problems with intimate relationships
  • Difficulty with authority figures
  • Emotional distance from children, spouse and others
  • Self-deceiving and self-punishing patterns of behavior, such as an inability to talk about war experiences, fear of losing others, and a tendency to fits of rage.

If you are experiencing PTSD, it is vital that you seek professional help immediately. Divorce, depression, physical illness, alcohol and drug abuse are often the tragic result of undetected or untreated PSTD. PTSD is very responsive to a variety of psychotherapies. In individual therapy, the survivor can learn a new perspective on the past. With the gentle support of an experienced psychotherapist, you will find new and healthier ways to put old memories to rest. In couples therapy, you and your spouse will learn to help each other through the stressful periods. And group therapy with other survivors gives you an opportunity to learn from, and help other, who’ve “been there.” If you or someone you love is experiencing PTSD, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How a Psychologist Can Help You Manage High Blood Pressure

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blood pressure is the pressure at which blood is pumped around our body by the heart. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is considered to be a very serious health issue. It is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and medical crises such as heart attacks and strokes. It may even contribute to hardening of the arteries. It is estimated that 20% of Americans have some form of high blood pressure. It is further estimate that only half of these cases have been recognized, and less than half of those are treated.

Most cases of high blood pressure are called "essential hypertension," meaning there's no obvious medical cause or the hypertension. Emotional factors are known to play a role in most cases of essential hypertension. Blood pressure may rise dramatically during very stressful situations, but for it to remain high the stressful events must be continuing and unrelenting. Often a person with hypertension will be living or working in a situation where he is frequently very tense or angry, but does not have the option of leaving the situation or expressing his true feelings. After blood pressure remains high for some time it is thought that special receptors in the body that monitor blood pressure become adjusted to the high levels; the body may then lose its ability to lower the blood pressure to a safer level. Fortunately, it appears that the body can return to maintaining a lower blood pressure with proper treatment.

The most effective overall treatment for high blood pressure involves working with a mental health counselor on the emotional and stressful issues in your life; learning methods of stress management and biofeedback; and working with a physician to monitor blood pressure levels and oversee medication. Blood pressure medication can be a life-saving part of treatment for high blood pressure, but some may have unpleasant side effects, including tiredness and sexual difficulties. If blood pressure can be lowered under medical supervision with the assistance of counseling methods, then the person might require less medication. However, it is important to state that blood pressure must be controlled with medication until an alternative is found to lessen the need for the medication. Your family doctor would likely welcome the use of counseling to assist his or her efforts to help you control your blood pressure.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA area and would like counseling, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Managing High Blood Pressure and Managing Stress

Health Insurance Companies are Booming Even in Economic Downturn

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How do you feel when you hear the term "health insurance?" After reading the New York Times article, Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care, I shutter!

Due to the economic state, many Americans have chosen to abandon or postpone medical care. They are more conscious of costs because gas and food (other necessities) are more expensive. Because of this, health care (especially mental health care) goes out the window. Insurance companies have since increased their premiums and are now racking in record profits. They claim it is largely due to the fact that they are protecting themselves for when Americans have the money to spend on health care again. Many who are in need of health care are scared that they cannot afford what is prescribed.

This is a case of the big bad companies playing into the fears of the little guys. They are exploiting the natural fear that humans have and are using it for their financial gain. Greed is ugly! This is the reason why privatization of health care does not work. If you are shopping for health insurance, make sure to find out about mental health care benefits. Click here to read a blog about what you need to keep in mind when you are in this situation.

Do You Feel Alone in an Asperger Relationship?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Do you feel alone even though you have a family? This is a common feeling for neurotypicals (NTs) who are in an Asperger marriage or have a family member with Asperger Syndrome. Even though you have a family, you can still feel very alone. Rest assured that your family member loves you, but they are blind to the emotional needs that you have. This is known as "mind-blindness." You may logically be able to comprehend this fact about your loved one, but after time, it can take a toll on you emotionally and even physically.

Your family may not understand what you are going through, but there are others who do. There are many men and women who are in the same situation, coping with the loneliness that comes from being in an Asperger relationship. How can you find each other ? By joining Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Time and time again, I hear our members refer to this group as a "family." Its intent is not to replace the family you have, but rather extend it by filling the emotional needs that each individual has. I find it an honor to be a part of this unique family circle.

If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I encourage your attendance. Some upcoming topics for discussion are: Is your body taking a beating? Is Asperger’s a disconnect between cognitive and emotional empathy? Is your Asperger partner or loved one a survivor?

If you do not live locally, look for a support group for families of Asperger Syndrome in your area. You are also welcome to join our site and participate on the message boards. We have lively discussions and would love to hear from you. Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Also you may find my book helpful. Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is available for purchase. The book primarily focuses on the NT in the relationship and how to guide yourself through these unique relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

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