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Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana answer listener questions about topics ranging from how to handle living in a trauma filled environment, to advise on how to deal with a broken heart.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics. Where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit AmenClinics.com.
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Welcome back. We are answering questions today. This is episode four of this week, and we love it when you send us questions. We love it when you leave us reviews. In fact, we will enter you into a drawing if we read your review. You’ll get a signed copy of either my book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, or Daniel’s new book, Your Brain Is Always Listening. You get to choose.
About the dragons from the past, that breathe on your emotional brain. Here is the ancestral dragon.
So we would love it if you would tell us what you learned, screenshot it, tag us, tag people you know, who might benefit from this. And we’re going to answer your questions now.
Let’s do it.
So I like this question, I like this because it hits close to home for me. “If an environment like a home has been a place of trauma, then what are some mind tools to develop in order to heal from the trauma, while still living in the home? The daily face of being and seeing the things that reminds us of those traumas. The home brings up on the daily, the memories.” That’s interesting, because I grew up with a lot of trauma and a lot of chaos in my home. And I still notice the triggers, even though it’s not even the same house, but some of the same triggers are there.
So for example, my mother moved, but there are still certain triggers when I go to see her. And so even though my mom, was like one of the heroes in my book, the environment was chaotic when I was growing up. And so when I go to her house, there are just certain things in that house that are just like they were when I was a kid in a different house and it triggers me. The difference is, now I’m aware of it. I think awareness, getting EMD therapy.
I mean EMDR therapy was really helpful to me. So helping me process that trauma so that I’m now aware of it. I can still feel myself starting to get anxious, but I know either when to remove myself or at least step back. Do a prayer, meditation, those types of things when I start to feel that way. And just recognizing it is helpful.
Well, and there are also probably good things that happened. And if you can bring your mind, so know when you’re triggered or cue’d, know when it comes up and then with my patients, I’m always talking about, “Be curious, not furious, learn about it.” And then when you see a trigger, therapy like EMDR can be helpful. Havening, which we talked about before. Just something as simple when you get triggered, to rub your hands together like this or stroke down your hands from opposite shoulders can just be so helpful to begin to drain the negative emotional energy from that place. And then consciously put a more positive or happy memory. Because if you’re home with your mom, you have lots of happy memories. Why are you looking at me like that?
Because it wasn’t until I wrote my book, that I actually was able to come up with them.
Interesting. So the negative memories actually-
They crowded out, they completely put just this dark cloud over everything else. And it wasn’t until I was writing that all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about that.” And I started to remember some of the positive things. So one of my suggestions was going to be to write down your story.
So helpful. And your brain is always listening, they’re actually directions on how to do that. All right. “What is the effect from a few years of heartbreak, trauma and distress and disappointment on your brain?” Well, I know more about this than I want to-
Stress hormones are not good.
So when you have your heartbroken cortisol spikes and it stays high and it actually shrinks the cells in your hippocampus. Which can negatively impact your mood and your memory. And so you just don’t think right. And if you’re not thinking right, your decision making is not as good as it can be. And so putting brain healthy habits is critical. Sometimes taking a little bit of oxytocin can really help with heartbreak. Using good supplements, like serotonin mood support, or Happy Saffron, GABA Calming. All of those can help rebalance your brain and be helpful to you. So yes, grief can have a lasting impact on brain function. And your brain is always [inaudible [00:05:54] there’s actually the grief and loss dragon. Talk about how to tame. And that one gets tamed by one, fixing sleep first and often, just like you said with the other question, journaling what happened. And then correcting the story because often there’s a whole bunch of ands [crosstalk [00:06:15].
Well, and sometimes we get stuck on heartbreak because we only remember the good things that we miss. And if there’s heartbreak, then it means that there were some bad things too. So it’s really important to be realistic about why the relationship ended. What was wrong in the relationship. Be realistic. You don’t need to go overboard and make it something it wasn’t. But write down the things that were wrong in the relationship. Be realistic about it, because for you to recall and remember and realize, maybe it’s time to move on.
The next question is “Best ways to focus my brain. I need to follow through with tasks instead of jumping onto the next one.”-
Sounds like ADD?
Could be, or it could be you have your gadgets on when you’re trying to get stuff done. And often it’s great if you turn off your email or put them on airplane mode so that you’re not constantly being distracted. With my executive team every morning, I have a huddle for 20 minutes and I often recommend you do that with yourself. Just go, “So what did I do yesterday? And what’s the one thing I want to accomplish today?” And do that first. And the more you focus, the more you’re going to be able to focus. And then know your ideal time for doing things. For some people it’s first thing in the morning for other people it’s later in the afternoon. And get things done that fit your circadian rhythm.
For me it’s morning.
Next question. “I have a remarkable bipolar one brain and Amen clinics has scanned at twice. I’m curious if the brain has ever been scanned during a manic episode or psychosis?” Many times, and often we see too much activity in the deep structures of the brain, basal ganglia, thalamus, insular cortex. It’s sort of like a storm, but their thoughtful brain is sleepy during those times. So they can’t control the emotional storm.
“Dr. Amen, you’ve spoken before about the poor effects of marijuana to the hippocampus. Once a person stops use, is it possible to improve that area of the brain?” The answer is yes. I mean, that’s sort of the cool thing. The hippocampus is one of the few areas of the brain that continues to make new cells throughout life. And once you stop poisoning it, it’s much more likely to rebound and be healthier.
You want to read the last one?
“My 18 year old daughter has severe anxiety. Where do I start to get her on the road to freedom and a healthy, happy life?” That is just so hard when we’re teenagers…
It’s so common.
Especially right now, especially right now. Yeah. If they’re vulnerable already, they’re being triggered like crazy. Because we’ve got a couple of those in our house, the kids that are anxious. So we’ve been going through lots and lots of serotonin mood support and GABA.
And Happy Saffron.
So take the brain health assessment, brainhealthassessment.com. Know what type of brain the teenager has. Maybe type five, which is cautious brain. And we’ll recommend the particular supplements that might be helpful. Clearly things like hypnosis, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, exercise. But you also want to check their important health numbers if their thyroid’s off, that could be a problem. One of the kids I treated recently had high levels of mole in her body.
So important to know.
My book, The End of Mental Illness could be really helpful.
There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration. Things like birth control and make a difference. They make girls very anxious.
Such a big difference.
So it’s really important to know all these things because that becomes really critical to replace things like B vitamins, magnesium, what’s some of the other things that are depleted by birth control pills?
Serotonin, the big one, obviously. So really important. But that’s critical. One thing with our daughter, what we did, we got her into meditating. Before that she’d have been resistant the word meditation freaked her out. But she got so anxious and depressed during COVID she finally was willing to learn how to meditate. That was really crucial for her. She started yoga and then she’s a little like me, she’s a little high strung. So cycling was great for her, learning how to do cycling and just really do that high intensity type of workout, settles her down really nicely.
And also learning not to believe every stupid thing they think. You know, the mental discipline habits that we talk about.
She she journals for that.
So learning to kill the ants with the five questions-
Yeah this is something we know a lot about in our house, kids with anxiety.
So I hope this has been helpful to you. Send in your comments, your questions, your reviews. We appreciate them deeply. What did you learn in this episode? Write it down. Post it, take a picture of it. Post it on any of your social media sites. Hashtag Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. Stay with us.
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