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Kathy Marshack News

Science Proves How Hope Helps

Thursday, April 25, 2013

When life throws you a curveball, we are often told to have hope. But is there any scientific proof that hope works? Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of The Anatomy of Hope, says there is truth to hoping. He writes, "Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry. Belief and expectation -- the key elements of hope -- can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. In some cases, hope can also have important effects on fundamental physiological processes like respiration, circulation and motor function.

Hopeful people are happier, less stressed, and healthier. How can you develop a hopeful attitude? According to the research of Duane Bidwell, an associate professor of practical theology at Claremont School of Theology in California and Dr. Donald Batisky, a pediatric nephrologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, there are five pathways to hope: maintaining identity, realizing community, claiming power, attending to spirituality, and developing wisdom. To learn more about these pathways, read the article How Hope Can Help You Heal

Hope should not be confused with denial or wishing. Hope requires moving forward actively not passively waiting. If you would like assistance in developing a hopeful mental attitude, set up an appointment with a mental health care professional who can guide you through this process. 

For more information, visit Mind and Body Health - Holistic Health

Feeling Anxious? How to Find Out if You Have Sleep Apnea

Monday, April 22, 2013

Do you struggle getting a good night’s rest? Do you feel anxious, stressed, and/or depressed? You may be experiencing a sleep disorder. It is estimated that one in fifteen Americans have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when the airway in the body is obstructed and then breathing is compromised. When this happens, the body does not achieve the deepest levels of sleep. This can lead to a laundry list of problems including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, weight gain, and even cancer and diabetes. 

Sleep apnea often goes undetected. How can you find out of you have sleep apnea? The first person you can talk to is your dentist. A common indicator of sleep apnea is teeth grinding. Your dentist can look for signs that you are grinding. Then make an appointment with a sleep specialist. They can give your diagnosis. (For more information, read the article - Dental Screening That Could Save Your Life

Getting good sleep is vital to healthy living. One of my clients was experiencing psychosis and when he got help for his sleep apnea, he regained his normal healthy self.  As a psychologist I always check the physical health issues of my clients to make sure I am treating the right problem. The mind and body are interconnected and in order to experience overall well-being, we must look at the both areas. If you are looking to improve the quality of your sleep, don't delay in seeking assistance! It will make a difference.   

Be Alert to Recognize and Treat Phobias

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

After tragedy strikes like it did yesterday at the Boston marathon, it is normal to feel fearful. It's a natural and healthy reaction to certain situations and at times can serve as a valuable protection. What isn't healthy is when that natural fear becomes a phobia.

Even if were are not directly involved in a tragic event, it is easy to still feel it. All we have to do is turn on the TV or go online and we see the horrific images and it immediately touches us. We place ourselves there and think about how we would have felt and reacted to the situation. What individuals have to be careful of is turning those natural feelings into irrational thoughts and feelings. Irrational thinking is what triggers phobias.

What is irrational thinking? When thoughts become exaggerated and illogical. The next step is for a phobia to set in. Phobias are serious and can handicap your life. The good news is that phobias are treatable. Lengthy therapy delving into the origin of the fear response is often unnecessary. Effective methods include therapies that focus on treating the symptoms are the most effective. Deep relaxation, systematic desensitization and “flooding” are all behavioral techniques that have proven remarkably effective with phobias.

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, do not delay is seeking practical assistance. For more information, visit Conquering Fears and Phobias

New Research on Genetics and Mental Disorders

Thursday, April 04, 2013

What does autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD have in common? Genetics! New research says that these disorders share multiple "genetics glitches" that can move the brain toward mental illness. For a disease to actually develop would depend on additional environmental and genetic factors. Keep in mind that this involves hundreds of genes and variations. (Read the article for the latest research - 5 Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors, Study Finds)

I found this research astounding! The wealth of research that is pouring in has the power to transform how we think and feel about these disorders and how they affect the people we love. On April 20, 2013, the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD will be meeting to discuss "Using Research as Therapy." Knowledge is power. Ignorance is oppressive. Let's use the wealth of data that is coming out of ivory tower labs and use it to heal our hearts and minds. 

If you are not able to make it in person, please join us as an online member

Human Connection - A Lost Art?

Monday, April 01, 2013

How would you answer this question – Are people today more in tune with people or electronics? The answer is obvious when you look around you. You may be at a party, grocery store, doctor’s office and people everywhere are connected to their phones. Electronic devices offer many valuable services, but they can also cause some biological damage.

Barbara L. Fredrickson is a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill contributed a fascinating article to the New York Times about this very subject. Fredrickson highlights the biological science between the brain-heart connection. The bottom line is that we need to exercise our ability to connect with others. If we focus on building human connections, our physical health improves. That's a win-win!

In the article, Fredrickson comments, "When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your healthIf you don’t regularly exercise this capacity, it withers."

Let's work hard to build a human connection. If we don't, we might just lose it!


Mental Health Diagnosis Debate - You Don’t Have to be Sick to Get Better

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sadness or depression? Common question, but mixed responses. Many are beginning to question the diagnosis of depression and mental illness. Some are claiming that doctors are too quick to prescribe medication and that medication is too often the first line of defense regardless of what the problem is whether it is clinical depression, mental illness, or life changes. The article, Are we over-diagnosing mental illness? provides an interesting look at the claims of the skeptics and the response of the medical community. 

Life changing events (death, illness, divorce) can lead to moments of sadness, grief, and frustration. Learning to effectively sift and sort through feelings and emotions is a vital part of coping with these emotions. You do not have to be clinically depressed or suffering from a mental illness to seek out psychotherapy. In fact, by being more proactive about your mental health you can often head off problems before they take root in your life. 

Medication, although often necessary, should not be considered the first and only treatment option, especially in the case of grief and life changes. Psychotherapy is an effective wellness tool without harmful side effects. There are many psychotherapy options that are now available and have proven effective. To learn more about psychotherapy and overall mental wellness, visit Personal Growth - Psychotherapy Options

Virtual Reality – Can It Make You More Empathetic?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm sure we would all agree that we would like the world we live in to be more empathetic. Empathy, compassion, and fellow feeling are not as common as they used to be. What can make the world more empathetic and altruistic? A possible solution may lie in the world of virtual reality. 

Stanford University experimented with this theory. They created a virtual reality and gave the participants a mission – deliver insulin to a diabetic child in the city. One group was given super powers like Superman and were able to fly through the city. The other group were passengers in a helicopter. Afterward each participants was interviewed. The interview was a test to gauge empathy. During the interview, the interviewer "accidentally" dropped a cup of 15 pens. The idea behind this is to see how the participant responds. Who would act to assist picking up the pens? The group who pretended to be Superman responded quicker and picked up more pens than the group who rode in the helicopter. In fact a few who rode in the helicopter didn't even respond and did not pick up any pens. 

What does all of this mean? According Jeremy Bailenson, one of the experimenters and Associate Professor of Communication summed it up nicely. He said, "It's very clear that if you design games that are violent, peoples' aggressive behavior increases. If we can identify the mechanism that encourages empathy, then perhaps we can design technology and video games that people will enjoy and that will successfully promote altruistic behavior in the real world." To read more about this study, read the article - Stanford experiment shows that virtual superpowers encourage real-world empathy  

I know many parents are concerned that video games make their children more aggressive. It would be fantastic to see games that actually promoted healthy social interaction. Please visit the Parenting section of my website for more tips. 

Minimize Stress by Creating a More Workable Schedule

Monday, March 11, 2013

Do you feel like there are just not enough hours in the day? It's a common complaint to hear someone say they need more time. And if you constantly feel anxiety and stress because you’re too busy there can be mental and physical health repercussions. By following a few simple time management tips, you might just be able to feel like you are accomplishing more during your day.

Here are a few simple strategies worth implementing:

1. Schedule your day thoughtfully. Write it out on paper or electronically. Distribute activities evenly throughout the day. If it starts to get too hectic, focus on the most important tasks and move the others to another day.

2. If you must reschedule, do it as soon as possible especially if it involves someone else. You want them to have the opportunity to shift around their schedule. This is just common courtesy.

3. Identify opportunities to multi-task. This requires creativity. Look for ways to merge tasks. Make phone calls while getting your car service...throw in a load of laundry and then run to the grocery store. 

4. Be flexible. Things come up, mistakes are made, and not everything goes as planned. When you are more prepared to go with the flow you won’t feel so out of control.

Creating more time in the day will give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. If these strategies are just not working and you continually feel overwhelmed, you may need to learn stress management techniques. A mental health care professional can assist you in this regard. Contact my office to set up an appointment. 

Click here to learn more about Managing Stress. 

Cutting Health Care Costs

Monday, March 04, 2013

Are you struggling to pay your medical bills? If so, you are not alone. In 2011, 48.6 million Americans were uninsured and out-of-pocket healthcare costs average out to $3,280 for a family of four. Many feel powerless against the rising costs. Can anything be done? posted an encouraging article entitled - 4 Ways to Control Your Health Care Costs. Here are a few of the practical tips they suggested to help lower your health care costs:   

Ask - Ask your doctor what the cost of the procedure is. Is there a less expensive alternative or a generic option? Are all the tests they are running necessary for diagnosis? Explain your cost concerns and look for alternatives. Dr. Jeffrey Rice, creator of commented, "(People) frequently overpay for services just because they don't know that there's price variation -- that you can get the exact same care at a different facility across the street for a fraction of the cost."

Stick to Your Provider - Going outside of your network's providers will add on extra money. Sometimes it’s worth it to you to get a doctor you know and trust but make sure you think it through.

Talk to Your Pharmacist - Talking to your pharmacist is free. They are highly educated and knowledgeable. They may be able to recommend alternatives and generics to help save you money.  

Research  - Use online tools like, and to compare prices for insurance, medication, and health care services. If you have problems or questions in regard to your health insurance, use Consumer Assistance Programs available through  

You need to be proactive about healthcare. It is your life and your money. For more information, read - A Fight for the Right Kind of Health Care

The New Face of Bullying

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bullies, who are they? The answer is not what you most likely expect. According to a 2011 study focusing on 700 students in Long Island, New York, 56% of the students had been involved in victimization and aggression. Many of the victims are in fact the bullies.

How does this work? Students are involved in what has been coined "social combat". There is a social hierarchy happening in schools and students are working hard to be at the top. They do this by bullying others. In the meantime they are also being bullied by others trying to get to the top.

Times have changed and bullying is much more stealth. Bullying does not have to be physical. It can take the form of insulting rumors and gossip. These vicious verbal attacks are happening all over social media and text messaging. Rumors boost social status and is an effective method that bullies use to climb the social ladder. (For more information, read - Could Your Child Be a Bully?)  

Thursday February 28, 2013 on CNN will premier "The Bully Effect." This show is examines how social media has changed the face of bullying. I highly recommend this for parents. Understanding what is really going on in our schools can better equip parents to helping their children dealing with bullying whether as a perpetrator or as a victim. 

For additional visit for parents, read Parents - Be Alert to Signs of Bullying

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