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Kathy Marshack News

Optimism Is Good Medicine

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Recent studies show that optimism can have a powerful impact on your health. It seems that those who have a positive view of their health often fare better. It has not be proven "how" this works in the body, but studies show interesting results. For a more detailed look at a recent study, read Skip the Vitamins, Use Optimism to Lift Immune System.

If you are not a naturally optimistic person, don’t be discouraged. Here are a few tips to help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective:

1. Start off each day with a positive thought. It will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day.

2. Smile, smile, smile. Smiling will draw others toward you creating a positive exchange and will guarantee to lift your mood.

3. Live one day at a time. Stop worrying about the past and the future. Focus on the present and make that day the best it can be.

4. Find a good support system. Pick associates that are going to encourage positive thinking and will help you work through your negative feelings.

If optimistic thinking still feels difficult, seek professional help. A mental health care professional will be able to help you uncover the cause of your negative thinking and provide working tools to guide you through the change.

Coping Techniques for Divorce

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Statistics show that 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce and it is considered one of the most stressful events in life. Emotional and physical side effects of divorce are becoming more and more common. For instance, depression and anxiety can easily set in and even more serious health problems like cancer and heart disease become a greater risk. The question then becomes, what can help you cope with a divorce?

1. Find a hobby
A hobby can become a pleasant distraction from your thoughts. Choose something that makes you happy and that you can easily turn to when you find yourself going down a negative train of thought.

2. Reorganize
Clean out your home and get rid (or put away) items that will bring up painful reminders of your ex. Instead of "our stuff" replace it with "your stuff." This can sometimes be a slow process, but a healthy one. It can also help you to remember the good, but put away the bad.

3. Make new plans
Planning is a great tool to keep yourself busy and productive. Planning helps you to set goals and reach them which will help promote self-worth and success.

Coping with a divorce is a process and one that cannot be rushed. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, please visit my website for additional coping techniques. I also have information on how to cope with high conflict divorce.

Help and Healing for Victims of Verbal Abuse

Monday, February 08, 2010

What is emotional abuse? According to the United Stated Department of Justice, emotional abuse is defined as, "Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children."

Being a victim of emotional or verbal abuse can cause serious side effects such as depression, post traumatic stress, and anxiety. What can you do if you have been a victim to heal and move forward? What about reformed abusers, how can they move on to a healthier life?

Patricia Evans, author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, and Mack at MEVAC, founder of Men Ending Verbal Abuse and Control, have teamed up to develop Survivors Empowered. This program is designed to help victims and reformed abusers heal from their past and transform their physical and emotional lives. For more information on this fantastic program, visit

If you live in the Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR area, and have been a victim of verbal abuse or are a reformed abuser, please feel free to contact my office to set up an appointment for one-on-one therapy. Therapy will give you personal empowerment – heal your body and mind and open up a whole new world of choices.

What’s Behind Recent Trend of Sleep Deprivation

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Waking up feeling refreshed and alert is a rarity for many today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of Americans have not had adequate sleep for two weeks in the past month and one third of adults are not getting the right amount of sleep every night. What is behind sleep deprivation these days?

There was a great article on this topic on -  Sleep-Deprived Nation - which examined a number of factors that can cause or contribute to sleep deprivation. With the recent troubles in the economy, many are working overtime or taking on a second or even third job in order to make ends meet. What gets cut is time to sleep. Then the added stress of working extra can make the time you have to sleep not restful.

Technology can also play a role with sleep problems. Our cell phones have become personal hand held computers that stay by our nightstand, but are constantly blinking from an incoming text message or email. Watching television before bed keeps the mind stimulated and active which makes it hard to shut down at bedtime. Then there’s the time drain of surfing the Internet instead of going to bed! The list could go on and on.

As a psychologist, one of my major concerns about sleep deprivation is the long terms affects it can have on a person. Sleep deprivation can easily escalate into more severe sleep related illnesses as well as psychological disorders like depression and anxiety.

If you find yourself relating to this information, I recommending speaking to a mental health care professional who can help you identify the cause of your sleep deprivation and give you the proper guidance to deal with it. Sleep is a necessity for humans and it is the body’s way of healing. Also visit my this page on my site for a discussion on Overcoming Depression.

Chronic Worrying – When Controlling Gets Out of Control

Monday, January 11, 2010

We all worry. Sometimes it’s good to worry because it helps us to problem solve or avoid trouble in the first place. But when does worrying become unhealthy?  It’s a good question because according to leading experts 19 million Americans are “chronic worriers”.


Dr. Borkovec who developed the Penn State Worry Questionnaire defines unhealthy worrying by three main components: overthinking, avoidance of negative outcomes and inhibition of emotions. Basically chronic worrying stems from a craving for a sense of control, yet that is something worriers can never really find.


Sadly, by trying to be ready for the worst, worriers are actually compromising their body’s ability to react to a real crisis. Too much time worrying undermines the body’s ability to react to stress. Not only that, it also weakens the cardiovascular system and disrupts normal emotional functioning.


So what’s a worrier to do? The first step is identifying whether your worry is really productive.  Will worrying help you find a practical solution to your problem? If the answer is no, then you’re damaging your emotional and physical health if you continue fretting.


More insight can help you manage your worries and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Follow these links for more advice on coping with stress and anxiety. One more note, cognitive-behavior therapy can be a very effective treatment. If you’re having difficulty getting worries under control talk to a mental health professional and get some help.

Worthwhile New Year’s Resolution - Change the Cycle of Unhealthy Dieting

Monday, December 21, 2009

For many life seems to be a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. Some choose the excessive approach, depriving yourself of the foods you want or your body needs then spiraling headlong into binging. The scenario seems to be diet – lose weight – develop cravings – eat compulsively – gain weight – diet again, and so on. Researchers are now finding that this type of pattern can cause changes in the brain similar to those who are drug addicts. For more information on this interesting study, visit "Dieters Face Similar Problems as Drug Abusers."

To avoid developing an unhealthy approach to food and dieting, I recommend four basic principles:

* Eat only when you’re hungry
* Stop eating when you’re not hungry
* Eat only what you’re hungry for
* Get plenty of exercise

A change in attitude and eating behaviors are required. If you feel like this is something you are struggling with, I recommend setting up an appointment with a mental health care professional who is trained in this area. For more information, visit my tip page - Healthy Weight Control.

Is it Really Going to be a Happy Holiday? Watch my Interview on KGW

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yes, the holidays are literally around the corner. Usually this time of year is full of excitement and anticipation, but with the recent economic downturn the holidays are turning into a time of stress and anxiety. I have found that people are slightly fearful of how they are going to cope with this time of year especially after experiencing a layoff or some other financial hit.

Here are a few things I recommend that will help you avoid stressing out this holiday season:

1. Accept that you may be stressed, but focus on what you can do and not on what you can't. You may have to make adjustments in how you choose the celebrate the holidays, but don't lose sight of the joys that you can still have with the right attitude.

2. Exercise, exercise, exercise. It is a proven stress buster and mood enhancer. Find what type of exercise that you enjoy most and make time for it.

3. Take time to meditate. There is an obvious connection between the mind and body and with the help of meditation, you can reduce stress, headaches and hypertension.

4. Spend time with the ones you love. Don't underestimate the power of love and friendship. A good time with friends and family is sure to enhance your mood.

I was interviewed about this very subject on KGW Portland News Channel 8. You can view the entire segment and see how myself and others have decided to view the upcoming holiday season - Make it a happy holiday. You have the power to do so!

Tips to Experiencing Happiness on a Daily Basis

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happiness…we all want it, but it sure is hard to find sometimes.  Some even call happiness elusive.  Maybe, however, we are just not looking at the problem from the right perspective.  Could it be that we are happy but just don’t know it?

Research is now discovering (yes, they had to do a study to find this out) that most people are so focused on their future, the “big picture”, that they are often blinded to small moments of happiness, such as the goodness in kind things that people are doing for them, as well as the beauty that surrounds them right outside their window.  It is an easy pitfall for entrepreneurs who seem naturally to look at the “big picture” in order to move forward with their goals.


Here are some suggestions to help experience happiness on a daily basis:

  • Focus on small moments during the day that give pleasure 
  • Cultivate positive emotions 
  • Build resources that help you rebound
  • Be open and flexible 
  • Savor the good, regardless of how small it may seem

As one practices these suggestions in their lives, they will discover that their overall mood is elevated and there is more resilience to negative events.  In turn, such appreciation for small moments will enhance our “big picture” by promoting success in jobs, relationships, and even health outcomes.   It seems that happiness isn’t all that hard to find after all.

For more information, access the study in the journal Emotion, or read the book written by Barbara Fredrickson, the lead author of the study, entitled Positivity:  Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity and Thrive, published by Crown Publishing, 2009.

Foreclosures Linked to Depression

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A startling new study links depression to the housing foreclosure situation. Apparently large numbers of people whose homes are being foreclosed are diagnosed with depression, some with major depression symptoms. Adding to the stress is the fact that these same people also may be struggling to afford medication and food, causing meals to be skipped. While it may seem obvious that a foreclosure will lead to depression, clinical depression is not the same thing as being upset about losing your house. Clinical depression is serious and can be deadly. This is a major health concern for our community.

The Portland Business Journal recently commented on the growth of foreclosures in the Portland area. They quoted "11,647 foreclosure actions affecting one in every 65 homes in the area." What a staggering statistic! As a psychologist, I have seen many times that social and economic changes are factors that can affect depression. If you are dealing with a economic difficulties like losing your home, please review a list of symptoms to see if you may be struggling with depression.

While some people sail through these difficult times, others are not as resilient. It is important to keep evaluating your mental health every so often especially as times grow increasingly challenging. When depression that is untreated, it can impair your daily life and make more difficult for you to confront and cope with your difficult economic situation.

Remember that you are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Depression is treatable. I highly recommend setting up an appointment with a mental health care professional. They will be able to give you the guidance and direction needed during these difficult times. If you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, feel free to contact me personally for more information.

New Study Shows Huge Increase in Antidepressants

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new study published in the August edition of General Archives of General Psychiatry highlighted a startling fact. Apparently the use of antidepressants have increased by 75% when looking at the years 1996 to 2005 in the US. That is a considerable increase! Another worrisome statistic is that less 32% of those taking an antidepressant have visited a mental health care professional for treatment. Most received their medication from a general practitioner. With increasing difficult times, it is realistic to expect an increase in depression. What concerns me is the how people are going about treating their depression. If you are dealing with depression or know someone who is, I strongly encourage treatment from a mental health care professional. Therapy is a highly effective way to treat depression and can be used in combination with antidepressants. I also recommend lifestyle changes when coping with depression. A healthy diet and regular exercise promotes mental and emotional health. A strong network of positive and healthy support from family and friends is important for prevention and recovery from depression. For more tips and important information, visit Overcoming Depression on my website. If you would like to set up an appointment with me, please contact my office for more information.

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