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Kathy Marshack News

The Impact of Perceived Empathy on the Common Cold

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


What does a patient want from a doctor? Knowledge and experience are of course a must, but what about empathy and compassion? According to current studies, empathy plays a vital role in the recovery of a patient.    


Physicians, Dave Rakel and Bruce Barrett, led a study about perceived empathy. Patients with a common cold were studied. There were three groups of patients. Group one had no interaction with a doctor. Group two received "standard" care from a doctor. The focus was on the examination with little eye contact. The last group received PEECE. PEECE is the Perception of Empathy in the Therapeutic Encounter: Effects on the Common Cold. Doctors focused on showing empathy and building a connection with the patient.    


The results were astounding. The patients who rated their encounter with the doctor as "perfect" recovered from their cold quicker than those who felt a lack of empathy. Dr. Rakel comments, "Compared to earlier findings, this shows even more powerfully how patients’ perception of empathy can support their immune function's ability to recover from the common cold more quickly and with fewer symptoms. This study gives us a lot of hope that relationship-centered care really matters. There is power in the process before the pill even takes effect.” To learn more about this fascinating study, read - Final Study: Physician Empathy Helps Patients Overcome Colds Faster   


Lack of empathy goes beyond helping the common cold. I believe lack of empathy to be related to many of the problems we see. Stay tuned – I will be writing more on this topic. 

Develop the Element of Surprise in a Marriage

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Do you remember the beginning stages of your marriage? Often times they are described as exciting, blissful, and passionate. Research shows that on average that lasts around 2 years.   


But what happens after? That period is often called "the slump." It's interesting to note that if couples push through the slump, they usually rekindle that initial phase after the children leave the home. Life becomes new, fresh, and exciting once again.    


Long-term passionate love is not realistic. It comes and goes. When it is gone, many couples suffer. It's not necessarily the passion they are missing, it is the element of surprise. Surprise stems from the brain. It affects the positive emotion in our brains, promoting a stronger emotional reaction.   


How can you develop the element of surprise in your marriage? One simple way is by doing new and exciting activities together. Pick an activity that you both would consider exciting. The fun and excitement you experience together as a couple will only bring you closer. If you do the same-old, same-old date night every week that is bound to be boring and keep you both complacent. Another way is to look for little opportunities to surprise your mate. How about slip a note into their briefcase? Or take your husband out to a ball game? When something is unexpected and loving, your bond will only grow closer. It takes thinking ahead and hard work, but it will be worth your while! (Read The New York Times article - New Love: A Short Shelf Life.)   


For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Maintaining a Strong Marriage



Help Your Children Cope with Tragedies

Thursday, December 20, 2012


In light of the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few tips for parents. Whether you live in Connecticut or on the other side of the world, we are all effected. Parents often times struggle to find the right words to explain tragedies to their children. Children are not blind to what is going on in the world. They watch it on TV, read it on the Internet or hear adults discussing it.   


Here are a few tips to help you discuss these sensitive issues with your children:   


Draw them out. Ask them what they have heard and how it makes them feel. Be prepared to give brief and honest responses, but avoid going into detail.


Stay calm. Wait until your emotions are under control before speaking with your child. They will pattern their own behavior after yours. That doesn't mean you have to be devoid of emotion, but if you are overly upset, they may not listen to a word you are saying.    

  

Be available. Let them know you are there to talk whenever they need you. Get back into a routine as quickly as possible and spend some quality time together as a family. Maybe as a family, look for a way to memorialize those who have lost their lives. 


Reassure them. Help them appreciate that these tragedies are not common, but they do happen. Explain to them what is being done to prevent these types of things from happening again. Focus on the positive things that can come out of a tragedy. 


At times, children might need the assistance of a mental health care professional to help cope with a tragedy. Click here to read how to pick a therapist for your child. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, contact my office to set up an appointment. 

 


Parents: Help Your Child Fight Obesity

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.5 million children between the ages 2-19 are obese. If you are a parent, these number are frightening. Childhood obesity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and emotional pain  


How can a parent help a child ward off obesity? Here are a few simple tips:


Make it a family affair. Even if the rest of the family is healthy, all family members must be on board. If the child feels isolated and is the only one who has to exercise or eat differently, it will only add to their low self-esteem. Talk about "family goals" and how to implement them. This includes diet and exercise.    
  
Associate food with fuel. Teach your child that food is fuel for their body. The better they eat, the better their bodies will work and they will be able to do more fun things. 

Make if fun! Changing a lifestyle into a healthier one isn't always easy or fun to say the least, but in order for it to resonate with children, it must be fun. Can you make exercise into a game? 

Give choices. It's easy to start patrolling your child's food or exercise choices. Give your child some measure of freedom. You can do this by giving them choices. For example, they need to exercise. Ask them if they would like to go for a walk or ride their bike. Exercise is not an option, but what they do for exercise can be. 
 

CNN.com had an inspiring story about a young girl who lost 65 pounds. I highly recommend the article! The parents set a fine example in helping their daughter and I also appreciated the suggestions from Dr. Denise Wilfley, director of the Weight Management & Eating Disorders Program at Washington University School of Medicine.   


For more information, visit Mind and Body Health - Healthy Weight Control

Remedy for Holiday Stress

Monday, December 10, 2012


Do you feel stress this time of year? If you do, you are far from alone. Often times people do not acknowledge that this time of year is stressful. Financial strain, family tension, poor diet, darker days, and missing loved ones are all factors that contribute to stress.

What causes you stress? The first step to resolving or lessening of stress is identifying the triggers. For example, are you anxious about seeing a relative that you have had conflict with? Are you worried about racking up credit card debt?

When you have identified what is causing you added stress, ask yourself: What can I do to resolve it? Ignoring the problem is not the solution. Tackle the issue. If it involves another person, then do what is in your power to fix it. Even if nothing changes, you can change your attitude and the way you look at things.

Remember to also take time for yourself. Self-care is not selfish. It is vital for your well-being. Whether it is taking a bath, reading a good book, going for a walk, or even making an appointment to see a mental health care professional, do whatever you need to do to get back on track and handle your stress. By taking care of yourself, you will enjoy your time with family and friends and they will enjoy your company as well.

For more information, visit Managing Stress.

Parents: Are You Aware of the Dangers of Social Media to Generation M2?

Friday, November 30, 2012


Is your child highly tech-savvy and between the age of 8 – 18? According to a new article on CNN.com this makes him/her a member of "Generation M2". A 2010 Neilsen survey estimates that the average teenager sends an astonishing 3,400 texts a month – or more than 100 a day!   


Concerned parents want to know if all this time using technology, especially on social media, is healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics' has the same concerns. Their council on communications and media led a panel called "Social Media: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," at their last annual conference. Chairman-elect, Dr. David Hill, stated, "As pediatricians who are trying to help children behave in ways that keep them healthy and safe, we have to pay a lot of attention to what's happening in social media."   


 There are two main concerns that parents need to monitor when it comes to their child’s behavior on social media.   


The first concern is too much time being drained away from other activities. 

Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show youth spending close to eight hours daily in front of various electronic screens. This can take time away from more important activities like sleeping, homework, exercise and family time. Parents need to set limits on the amount of time their kids spend online, on their phones and playing video games.

 

The second concern is inappropriate behavior such as bullying, sexting and revealing private information.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to monitor their children closely, especially during early adolescence. According to Dr. Hill, ”It's fair to say at any given moment, 'I can look at your computer; I can look at your phone’."  Older adolescents need regular communication about what is acceptable and what isn’t. They also need to be made aware of the long-term negative consequences of posting something inappropriate online.  


Parents, talk to your children about the positive and negative impact technology and social media can have on their lives. Explain to them the dangers that are involved. If your teen seems withdrawn or depressed, seek the assistance of a mental health care professional. Visit Am I a Good Parent for five key areas to master to be a good parent. These steps will help you deal with many challenges that may arise when you’re a parent.

Stressed? New Research on How to Retrain Your Brain

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"The way we live our lives now is like running marathons. ... In some ways, that's great, but you can't run marathons all the time." - Dr. Leslie Sherlin, neuroscientist and chief science officer of Neurotopia.   


I'm sure you would agree with the statement above. Life is increasingly stressful. That stress leads to a weakened immune system with an increased risk for serious health problems. How can this problem be combated? Brain retraining. To learn how this is being done, take note of athletes and soldiers.    


Sports psychologists are using brain mapping and neurofeedback when working with athletes to help train for peak athletic performance. Once they find out an athlete’s optimal brain wave pattern, they then teach them to techniques to control their thinking especially when under stress or as recovery. 


Virtual reality is being used to help soldiers prepare for the stress for combat. Some of these therapies are done before the fact, but others focus on after, taking the soldier back to the scenario, helping them to deal with what happened. (Read CNN.com Training the Brain to Stress Less)   


These stress "tools" are not available for the public, but hopefully will be in the future. Even though they are not now, the core principles are there. Work now to train your brain to deal with stress. There are many methods that are being used with the help of a trained mental health care professionalSeek out their assistance today to learn how to cope with stress!   


Visit Managing Stress for more information. 

New Addition to Recommended Links

Sunday, November 04, 2012


As a convenience for visitors on my website, I have a feature called "Recommended Links." I have compiled links that I recommend for additional information outside of what I provide for my clients. ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Depression & Anxiety, and Alcohol & Drug Abuse are all topics that I have included.    


I have added a new topic in Recommended Links - Smartphone Apps. I recently blogged about Smartphone Apps being used as supplemental psychotherapy. I do not recommend that these Apps replace psychotherapy, but I believe they can be used in addition to psychotherapy. I will be adding Apps to this area of my website. Please check periodically for new additions.     


If you have found any Apps to be effective mental health tools, please contact me or add a comment. 

Fish Oil and the Brain

Thursday, October 25, 2012


What makes fish oil unique? Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which is also found in the brain. Research shows fish oil can have a powerful affect on the brain especially after brain trauma. 

 

What are some of the benefits of fish oil? According to Dr. Nicolas Bazan, director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health in New Orleans, "We have strong data that suggest omega-3 will activate good proteins to cope with brain damage and turn off proteins that cause neuroinflammation,"

 

The article, Fish Oil Helped Save our Son, contains an amazing story of 17 year old Bobby, who was in a coma after a tragic car accident and had experienced severe brain trauma. The doctors administered large amounts of fish oil and two weeks after the treatment, he came out of the coma. His recovery has been slow, but steady and his doctors and parents attribute his recovery to fish oil. Dr. Michael Lewis, founder of the Brain Health Education and Research Institute, commented by saying, "In my opinion, and this is pure speculation, he never would have come out of a coma if it hadn't been for the use of omega-3s to allow that natural healing process to occur. In the end, the brain has to heal itself. There are no magic cures for brain injury."

 

I look forward to hearing more about the healing power of fish oil. Talk to your doctor about how to effectively add fish oil into your life. 

Can You Adjust to Life's Big Changes?

Monday, October 22, 2012


Change is a natural part of life. Nothing ever stays the same. Getting married, getting divorced, moving, kids graduating, getting promoted, getting laid off, retiring – the list of life changes goes on and on. For some individuals, adjusting to change comes easily, but for others it can cause an inordinate amount of stress. 

 

How can you effectively adjust to change? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

 

  • Let go of the idea that life has to be a certain way. 

 

  • View each change as an opportunity to grow. 

 

  • Identify the different strengths and different weakness that the change brings out in you. Maximize the positive.

 

  • Don't ignore the emotions that change cause. Feel the emotion, but learn to let it go. 

 

  • When you decide to accept the change, the process to moving past it will feel much quicker. 

 

  • Avoid placing blame on yourself or others. 

 

If you find that you are not able to move with the change in your life, you might be dealing with Adjustment Disorder. This is a short-term disorder that occurs after a major change. The individual is unable to cope with that change. If this sounds like you, seek out the help of amental health care professional. They will be able to guide you through this adjustment process. 

 

For more information, visit Depression and Stress




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