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Show 1204: How Brain Function Affects Mental Illness

Dr. Daniel Amen argues that a healthy mind needs a healthy brain. How can you help your brain function more effectively for good mental health?
Show 1204: How Brain Function Affects Mental Illness
Daniel Amen, MD, author of The End of Mental Illness.
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How Brain Function Affects Mental Illness

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Mental health problems cause widespread disability in today’s world. Large numbers of people suffer with depression or severe anxiety. While these ailments are real, we may not be considering their causes carefully enough. Our guest, Dr. Daniel Amen, suggests that the trouble underlying most mental illness is disrupted brain function–poor brain health.

SPECT Scans of the Brain:

Dr. Amen has been using SPECT technology to assess brain function since 1991. He has found that this single-photon emission computed tomography reveals the specific functional impairments in the brains of people suffering from poor mental health. Brain health coaches can use this imaging to devise individualized ways to help the brain with functional medicine.

Major Risk Factors for Reduced Brain Function:

Traumatic brain injuries are a serious problem affecting brain health, and there are three million new head injuries a year. In reviewing healthy brain function, Dr. Amen likes to use the memnonic BRIGHT MINDS. It stands for: Blood flow; Retirement/aging; Inflammation (due to gum disease, for example); Genetics; Head trauma; Toxins; Mindstorms (electrical activity); Immune system dysfunction (as happens, for example, with an infection like Lyme disease); Neurohormonal imbalance; Diabesity; and Sleep (too little, or in rare cases too much). Find out how these problems can be addressed to improve brain function and reverse mental illness. As one instance, blood flow may be improved with treatment in a hyperbaric (high pressure) chamber.

One small but important habit we should all adopt: before we do anything, we should ask ourselves, is this good for my brain? If we care about our brains, we can actively avoid harm and embrace help. Dr. Amen describes how we could benefit from supplements such as saffron, cocoa flavanols, magnesium, theanine, curcumin or ginkgo.

This Week’s Guest:

Daniel Amen, MD, is a physician, double board-certified psychiatrist and ten-time New York Times bestselling author. The Washington Post called Dr. Amen the most popular psychiatrist in America and Sharecare named him the web’s #1 most influential expert and advocate on mental health.

He is the Founder and Medical Director of Amen Clinics, which have the world’s largest database of functional brain scans relating to behavior, totaling more than 125,000 scans on patients from 111 countries.

Dr. Amen is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the highest award given to members, and is the lead researcher on the world’s largest brain imaging and rehabilitation study on professional football players. His latest book is The End of Mental Illness: How Neuroscience Is Transforming Psychiatry and Helping Prevent or Reverse Mood and Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, Addictions, PTSD, Psychosis, Personality Disorders, and More.   The End of Mental Illness

His website is http://danielamenmd.com/

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date (3/16/20). The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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