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Kathy Marshack News

Are You a Survivor of Survivors?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How do you describe a person who has been traumatized by another person's trauma? I would describe them as a "survivor of survivors." Whether it is from PTSD, alcoholism, Asperger Syndrome, or something else, the actions of that person will affect their loved ones, sparking a cycle of re-traumatization. This type of cycle is vicious and harmful to say the least.

It's hard to explain why a person will feel traumatized by the behavior of another person, but those feelings are very real and should not be minimized. If those feelings are not addressed, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem will set in.

The key is to try and stop the cycle so no one else turns into a survivor of survivors. For the cycle to stop, both parties must seek professional help. There are a variety of effective therapies now available. In addition to therapy, joining a support group is an excellent way to gain comfort and strength from those in a similar situation.

If you have a family member with Asperger Syndrome and live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I invite you to join Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. On March 19, 2011, we will be discussing "Are You a Survivor of Survivors?" and exploring this topic in detail.

If your loved one is suffering from another type of trauma or disorder, please contact my office for more information. Do not delay in stopping the cycle!

What You Feed Your Children Impacts Their IQ

Monday, February 28, 2011

A parent’s natural desire is to give their child the best. Healthy, happy children that grow into happy, healthy adults is the ultimate goal. Sad to say, in our society, parents are struggling. We are living in the era of convenience. The problem with convenience is that it is taking a toll on children especially in one particular area…food!

Children are consuming large amounts of food rich in sugar and fat. The culprit is primarily processed foods. Parents may say that it’s no big deal, it's easy and convenient, so what's the problem? The problem according to a recent British study is that there may be a correlation between what young children eat and their IQ. A processed food diet may result is a lower IQ.

So, what lesson is there for parents? Parents, what you feed your children may have a serious impact on your child's future. Take the time to prepare healthy meals for your children. A well balance diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish is recommended. One way to improve eating habits is to eat one meal a day together as a family. It can help the family to eat a healthy and balanced diet. You will be able to observe any unhealthy habits that your children may be developing. Another benefit is it improves family communication.

It’s well worth your while to make the necessary changes in your family’s eating habits – it will only lead you closer to your ultimate goal.

For more information, visit Am I a Good Parent?

How to Find the Right Support Group

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Joining a support group can feel intimidating. The idea of sharing intimate stories with people you don’t know can make even the most outgoing person anxious. A lot of times, fear of joining can be dispelled by doing your research to see if the group fits you and your needs.
Here are a few thing to keep in mind when searching for a support group:
Join Online
Many support groups have websites that include the members, message boards, and meeting information. Joining online before going to the group in person will give you some time to get to know the members and their personalities. You can also get a clue as to what they are discussing and see if it will suit your needs. Don't feel bad if it is not a fit. Remember, this is about you and it's okay to be picky!
Ask Questions
Contact the group facilitator and ask questions about the group. Think of the questions ahead of time and be specific about what you are looking for. Ask about location, price, meeting format, and confidentiality.  
Avoid Negativity
Look for a support group that is solution-oriented. Having a safe place to “vent” is important but beware of groups that turn into a pity party or a place to constantly spew negative emotions. The goal of a support group is to walk away feeling refreshed. A sign of a healthy group is when there are regular members attending and you see friendships budding. If arguments are a regular feature, then walk away.
I have been facilitating a support group for the last couple of years –  Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. This group has continued to grow because members realize that in order to cope effectively with their unique situation, they need love and support from others who can completely relate. I have been receiving many messages from our members sharing their feeling about our group. Here are some of the latest comments:
"Thank you for this site and your ongoing support. I have only been a member here for exactly one month, but it has meant more to me than all the counseling I've attempted over a 30-year marriage. I just can't emphasize enough what a relief from profound confusion, invalidation, and loneliness this experience of being heard and guided here has been. I think I'm finally making some real progress in regaining myself."
"In starting this discussion group, you are truly creating something big. Out of your pain and life lessons, you are giving others life through awareness and the chance to express and feel. . .normal again. Further, your continued presence on this site is amazing since you already have a business to run yourself."

Thank you to all who have shown your support to our group. If you are interested in joining, please take the leap! We would love to meet you. Click here for more information about Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.

Obesity Now Linked to Emotional Problems

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Obesity is known to cause serious health problems, but studies now show that it is also connected to emotional problems. A study performed in Australia targeted middle-aged men and women who were overweight and found that they are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. For a more complete look at their study, read Being Overweight Tied to Anxiety, Depression.

If you find yourself relating to the situation described, it is vital that you take action to tackle both weight control and anxiety/depression. You may not realize it, but enlisting the help of a mental health care professional is a necessary step to get the help you need. A mental health professional trained in the area of weight control can be helpful in re-educating your habits. They can assist you in getting over the rough spots and redirecting your thinking. They can also help you determine if there may be medical reasons for being overweight.

Do not delay in seeking the help you need. By taking this first step of seeking professional help, you will be on your way to being a happier and healthier you! For more information, visit Weight Control on my website or contact us for an appointment if you live in the Portland/Vancouver area.

Happiness Is Up To YOU!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happiness is something that all humans desire, but some find it hard to find. New research is now showing that the level of your happiness is largely dependent on you and your choices. Researcher Bruce Headey of Melbourne University, in Australia, and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences state, "Life goals and choices have as much or more impact on life satisfaction than variables routinely described as important in previous research, including extroversion and being married or partnered."

The study also highlights that those who place high priority on family life are also happier than if they place priority on their work or money. For more on this study, read the article, "Key To Happiness Lies in Choices You Make." If you are looking for happiness in your personal life, what are you going to do? Honestly evaluate your life and what you choose to prioritize. If you see that you need an adjustment, then diligently work to make the necessary changes. The outcome will be worth the work!

If you continue to struggle with personal problems, you may need to seek professional help and that’s okay. For more information, visit When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems.

How to Manage Work Related Stress

Monday, January 03, 2011

What is a major complaint for most working Americans? Stress! Work related stress can leave you exhausted, frustrated, and angry. It will affect your overall sense of well- being, your physical health, and your productivity.

If it feels like your life is spinning out of control then it’s time to call a psychologist or other mental health professional. However, most of the time there are a few simple things that you can do to manage your work stress:

Get sufficient rest.
Sleep is non-negotiable. In order for you mind and body to function properly, you must rest. If you are not getting enough sleep, whatever negative thoughts you have will only be aggravated. The average adult should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Establish a healthy lifestyle.
General health and stress resistance can be enhanced by a regular exercise, a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and by avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

Keep perspective and look for the positive.
Work to reverse negative ideas and learn to focus on the positive. For example, in today's economy, even having a job is a blessing. Even if you find that the positives are few and far between, make a conscious choice to focus on them.

Be balanced with yourself and your workload.
You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. You cannot do everything. Are you the one actually putting too much pressure on yourself to perform in a certain manner? Can you delegate some of the work to someone else? Set clear boundaries with yourself and your work. Establish what your job requirements are and if it is reasonable, then stick to it.

Have a sense of humor.
Keeping a sense of humor is a common recommendation. Laughing releases the tension of pent-up feelings and helps you keep perspective. Research has shown that humor is a very effective mechanism for coping with stress.

Express your feelings.
If you are having problems with someone at work and that’s the cause of your stress, talk to them about it. The goal of the conversation should not be to attack the person, but to come together and create a solution. Holding on to negative feelings will progressively get worse and many times the problem grows out of proportion.

These are just a few steps to take to help ease your work stress level. If problems persists, you may need professional help. Click here for more information on Managing Stress.

How to Support a Loved One Whose Depressed

Monday, November 29, 2010

Depression is an illness that affects millions of Americans every year. Most likely you know someone who is dealing with depression. It can be very difficult to support your depressed loved one and  it can even take a toll on your emotional state.

If you have a loved one who is depressed, here are a few things that you can do:

Educate Yourself - Like any type of illness, it is important to educate yourself about it. Knowledge is very powerful. Once you have learned about what they are dealing with, you will be more equipped to support them. Be alert to symptoms and any changes in their behavior.

Know Your Role - You must acknowledge that depression is an illness and you can't cure it! Do not be the hero and strive to fix the problem or even sound like you are the authority on the matter. Your role is to be supportive and sincere. You want to gain their trust not turn them away.

Don't Withdraw - As humans, we have the tendency to remove ourselves from people who are depressed because they are trying to withdraw or isolate themselves from us. As hard as it may be to stick around, it is exactly what they need. They may tell you that they don't need anyone, but they do. This is going to take a lot of persistence on your part, but isolation is detrimental to a depressed person. Remember that this behavior is not personal, it is the illness speaking.

Listen - Let your loved one talk. They may share things that are disturbing like self-injury or suicide, but it is better for you to know these feeling so you can use that information to protect them. Also, ask questions to draw them out.

Be Proactive - Don't say, "If there is anything I can do, let me know." Guess what...they won't. Take a proactive approach. Think of something specific that you can do for them and offer that instead. If you find that they are in serious danger, do something. You may have to push them to the doctor or even go to the hospital. They may be angry at you, but that is not an excuse to let them do something dangerous. You may have to get other people involved to help you.

Take Care of Yourself - As a caregiver, it is vital that you take care of yourself. You can't help your loved one if you are tapped out. Be balanced with yourself!

Helping someone overcome depression will not be an easy journey, but it is well worth your while. Be patient. In time your loved one will appreciate all your love and consideration in their behalf. For more information, visit Overcoming Depression. If you need help to overcome your own depression or support a family member with their situation and live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office.

Keep Active This Winter for Your Mental and Physical Health

Friday, November 12, 2010

Need another reason to stay physically active? A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that staying physically active is a great way to prevent catching a cold this winter. People who are physically active actually get sick less and if they do get sick, the cold is not as severe. What great news! The problem for many is that  it’s harder to stay physically active in the winter months. Especially in the Pacific Northwest with cold weather, less sunshine and a lot more rain, getting out and moving can be a real challenge.

Here are some suggestions to help you get moving this winter: 

Brave the outdoors. I know many people enjoy exercising outside regardless of the weather. If that is the case for you, invest in the proper gear. Select shoes with good traction and choose clothing with synthetic material which will keep you warmer than cotton. Winter sports like skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and snowboarding are also great options for exercise that’s fun.

Take a look at inside exercise options.
Join a gym or invest in some exercise equipment for your home. You can also purchase workout DVD's. The range and variety of exercise routines are endless. Find something that you will enjoy. If you enjoy it, you will do it!

Stick to a reasonable schedule and reasonable goals. If it’s too ambitious you probably won’t stick to it so start off slow.

Stay hydrated. Sometimes it harder to drink water when it is cold, but keeping hydrated is a must. It will help you when you are exercising as well as help you ward off those colds.

Find a workout partner
. Enlist a friend to be your workout buddy or better yet, make it a family affair.
It may be a challenge to keep an active lifestyle, but the benefits are well worth the effort. You will feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. For information on exercise and weight-loss, visit Mind and Body - Weight Control on my website.

Type D Personalities May Be at Risk for Heart Disease

Friday, October 01, 2010

If you are a Type D personality, you may have a higher risk for heart disease, according to a summary article published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Most of us are familiar with Type A and B personalities but maybe you’ve never heard of Type D. This personality  is characterized by a tendency towards worry, irritability and gloom, social inhibition and a lack of self-assurance.

Forty-nine studies with some 6,000 patients were analyzed during this research. Viola Spek, Ph.D., senior author of the study and a researcher at Tiburg University in the Netherlands stated, "Type D patients tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, irritation and depressed mood across situations and time, while not sharing these emotions with others because of fear of disapproval." For more information, read the article - Type D Personality Associated With Higher Future Heart Risk.

If you can relate to the Type D personality, you should consider seeking help from a mental health care professional. They will be able to help you work through negative feels and emotions. Visit Managing Stress on my website for specific stress management tips. You can improve your physical and emotional health!

New Study Reveals a Genetic Link Related to Migraine Headaches

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More than 30 million Americans suffer the incapacitating agony of recurring head pain or migraines. Pain of the head, face and neck is one of the most intense forms of pain one can experience, and may make it difficult to carry out normal living. The reasons for migraines have long been a mystery, but according to a new study, a genetic link may be to blame.

Scientists studied 50,000 Europeans and found that people with a variation in a particular section of DNA that regulates the chemical, glutamate. The buildup of glutamate may put you at greater risk for migraine headaches. This is the first time that a specific genetic link has been found. For more details on this study, read First Genetic Link Found For Common Migraine.

Migraines can be debilitating. If you suffer from these chronic headaches, I encourage you to visit a physician and a psychotherapist. Together they can work to improve the severity of your headaches and help you cope with the stress of chronic pain. Visit Headache Relief on my website for more information.

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