Before You Try Anti-Anxiety Medication, Try This

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

9 times out of 10, a psychiatrist will prescribe anti-anxiety medications to a patient struggling with anxiety without first trying more natural methods of treatment. If you or someone you love is having anxiety issues, you should look at the least harmful options first. In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give their advice on the surprisingly effective treatment methods for anxiety that don’t involve resorting to medication.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 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
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back to skills or pills. Question Mark Week. Today we're going to talk about anxiety. What's the one thing you do that decreases your anxiety and who is the one person in your life that increases your anxiety?
Tana Amen: We all have that person.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm sitting next to the one that increases my anxiety, but I'm like-
Tana Amen: I increase the functions of your frontal lobes. That's what I do.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, they say when you have speaking anxiety that people's hearts go fast and they have trouble breathing and often that's a sign of excitement. So if you can just switch your mind and when I see you, my heart goes fast. I have trouble breathing so I've just switched it. No, I'm not anxious. I'm, in fact, excited, which I am all the time. You have a testimonial?
Tana Amen: I do. So this one is life changing knowledge, superior intelligence by S. L. [Britski 00:01:51]. Daniel and Tana Amen are world changing medical minds who have created a free podcast to share information to help heal the world. Their lives have changed the mood of my family, oh my life and the future of my generations to come. Keep up the great work. And thanks for sharing the love with others. I love that because that's our goal. Our goal is to help heal future generations.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Absolutely.
Tana Amen: Yeah. Thanks.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So when do you feel anxious? Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders in the world. At any point in time, it affects 7% of the population, but over lifetime, it affects almost a quarter of the population. So if you struggle with panic attacks or just feeling anxious, tense, nervous, welcome to the world. I used to be very anxious, used to pick my scin and bite my fingernails and feel super anxious before I'd get up and give a talk. I remember when I would hold notes to speak, they would shake and so I learned I have been have to memorize this so I they don't shake.
Tana Amen: Yeah. There's a difference between it happening acutely like that and when it's chronic, when it's like ongoing. And one exercise that I learned that I found really helpful was usually like when someone is happy it's because their life circumstances matches their expectations, right? There are certain circumstances you live in match how you think the world should be, your blueprint of the world. So when those line up it creates happiness, right? That's when you feel happy. But when those are not lined up, then usually it creates either depression, anxiety, or just unhappiness in general. So one exercise I learned is to figure out like what is it that you think should be happening in that area of your life and what is actually happening. And it helps you to identify whether or not it's realistic, whether that thing is, so you either have to change what your expectations are or you have to change the circumstance, right? So that really helped me to figure out, is this something I can change or do I need to change the way I think about it? So that was helpful for me.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So when I think of anxiety, I often think of what happened to you when you were nine and your mom wasn't coming home and you began to have panic attacks and-
Tana Amen: I'd throw up.
Dr. Daniel Amen: separation anxiety. And the one thing that would have been the most helpful is your mom-
Tana Amen: My mom being home.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? And you wouldn't have that abandonment fear but think about, talk to us about what would have made the anxiety worse. And now that you can look back on it from a 50 year old woman who's a great mom, what would have made it better?
Tana Amen: Okay, so-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So if you saw a nine year old Tana in the clinic, what would make it worse and what would make it better?
Tana Amen: Well, I think one thing that would make it better is someone having helped my mother to understand what was actually really happening. Because as a nine year old, I really do think that parents, they have an responsibility for their kids. So having her understand what was actually happening would have been really important. As far as-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So her staying out late at night-
Tana Amen: And not calling.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And not communicating-
Tana Amen: She'd stay out all night
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... with you was devastating.
Tana Amen: It was devastating because I thought something, she was dead somewhere. So that that would've been really important. As far as things I could do, I don't know if what I did was correct or not, but it just happened naturally that after that happened a couple of times or a few times, what ended up happening is it was so painful to me because I was so attached to my mom was that I ended up beginning this little exercise that I did of what is the very worst thing that could happen, which was my mom dying. So I ended up doing this crazy exercise of, if I found out right now that my mom was dead, what am I going to do? And I would like literally replay this in my head so much that I sort of became desensitized. And it sounds kind of morbid, but that's what I would do. I'd picture the very worst thing I could think of because I couldn't handle what was happening.
And so I would desensitize myself to the worst thing that could happen. It's not like I wouldn't have been freaked out and upset, but I had to prepare myself for it. And so, and honestly, that's what I do with my whole life. I mean, I prepare for the worst.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So that's why you were so hard to catch for me.
Tana Amen: Probably. Maybe.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because you began to detach from connecting to people who could abandon.
Tana Amen: Well, and even when I was attached, I would, there was no way I was going to let it destroy me if something happened. Does that make sense?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So now a lot of times when people are anxious-
Tana Amen: Now, just FYI, I'm attached. And if you intentionally do something to mess it up.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh, I think even if I do something unintentional ...
Tana Amen: No, I will hurt you. Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, I know you're-
Tana Amen: I'm attached.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I get it. All right, let's help them with, so if that nine year old girl went to most child psychiatrists offices, they would have put her on medication which changes the chemistry of her brain to in fact need that medication in order to function. In my mind, before you put that little girl on medication, you want to see why is she anxious, what's going on in the social circle of her life. And clearly, you were being abandoned on a regular basis.
Tana Amen: And she didn't see it that way.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Of course she didn't. But looking at it from a child psychiatrist perspective, looking at it from a nine year old's perspective, you were being abandoned. It was not a good thing. Then teaching you not to believe every stupid thing you think like she's going to die, would be really important. Teaching you-
Tana Amen: Well, it's not that I thought she's going to, it's like if I find out she, if I found out right now that she had died, what am I doing?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, but letting your mind go to the worst possible outcome is a prescription for panic. And yes, it's good maybe once to go, if this happens, this is what I'll do. But by playing that over [crosstalk 00:08:29] and over and over again, what you're doing, because your mind often doesn't know the difference between what is real and what we imagine.
Tana Amen: But then why did it actually help me not to panic? Because I would do. it-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it caused you to become dissociated from the connections in your life, which then played out later on in your life as you tortured many men, including me. So, so I would argue that's probably not helpful. So whenever you play out the worst possible thing that could happen and then your brain makes it worse, that is the prescription for people have panic disorders. They're masterful at making things worse. And I tell my patients, the only people who should be playing it out to the worst possible consequences are contract lawyers. They should be playing out, what's the worst possible thing that can happen and protecting you against that. But even those contract lawyers, they'll often blow up a relationship because they end up asking for things that are unreasonable.
Tana Amen: So let me just tell you something. One of the things that caused me to get therapy wasn't that. The thing that caused me to initially get therapy was because when I became a mother, I couldn't do that. I would panic. I went into full blown panic mode every time I would think of something happening to my child.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And you lived with that chronic anxiety that something would happen-
Tana Amen: Non-stop.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... to Chloe, and then your life would be over.
Tana Amen: And so I had to get therapy because that that little technique that I used to use, the absolute, I couldn't even bring myself to think that. So there's just no way.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, no, I would say not helpful. If I was seeing you as a nine year old girl, I mean we'd talk about the stress. I would talk to your mother, I would teach you diaphragmatic breathing. We'd use some relaxation, some hypnosis. I would teach you some eye movement techniques as a way to sort of calm and soothe the anxiety. And then you have to deal with, well what's the reality [crosstalk 00:10:46] of the situation, which was driving the anxiety. But 90 psychiatrists out of child psychiatrists out of a hundred have put you on medicine.
Tana Amen: Just put to medicate you into compliance.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And that's skills first. And if they don't work then pills. But unfortunately 85% of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by non-psychiatric physicians. So your mom may have brought you to the family doctor or your pediatrician, who now has you on Lexapro, which is changing your brain and you end up with no skill. You're just numbing your brain.
Tana Amen: Well, and I'm grateful for the oxytocin that forced me to fix that because I have you now. And I'm attached. [crosstalk 00:11:41] so the oxytocin from childbirth, like, yeah, that could I just go.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So what are the things? So what's the one thing you learned from this podcast? We dearly love you to write that. Write to us, send a review. You leave a review. That's our payment for doing these podcasts. We'd love that, but also share the one thing you've learned from this podcast.
Tana Amen: And if you would tag us.
Dr. Daniel Amen: On any of your social media channels, #brainwarrior'sway or ...
Tana Amen: And you can tag our Instragram and our Facebook.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And yours is Tana Amen.
Tana Amen: Yeah, and we love to read testimonials and read your comments. So yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We'll do more. Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast, please don't forget to subscribe, so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.