Brain In The News: Which Country Consumes The Most Antidepressants?

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

It’s time for more Brain in the News! In this episode, the Amens contribute to the discussion of the brain health topics in the recent news cycle. This episode features a study on the world’s biggest consumers of antidepressants, a study on ashwagandha and schizophrenia, QEEG for concussions in junior hockey players, a teen who went blind from a bad diet, and a study on how eating fish can make you live longer.


Click here for ashwagandha and schizophrenia study.

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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
Welcome back. We've been talking about toxins this week; toxic products, toxic household products, and now we're going to talk about brain in the news. What have you got for us?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So much, but first I want to read a review. "I found all the Brain Warrior's Way podcast today. I scrolled down and started listening. There's so much out there about these topics, but I felt I was finally listening to the truth. I love your honesty, the way you two compliment each other, and real solutions or healthy alternatives that you offer. Thank you. I look forward to listening tomorrow so I'm informed and can help myself, my family, and my friends." That's what brain warriors do. They give this away. "Tana, you are brave for sharing your story and I'm sure you have and will continue to give others hope." This is Sam [Gaoma 00:01:44]. We are so grateful ...
Tana Amen: Thank you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That you listen. Brain in the news, there's so much in the news related to the brain. We have this whole stack of studies. Somebody sent me a graph yesterday of the world's biggest consumers of antidepressants.
Tana Amen: Oh, so interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The USA actually wasn't in the top 10.
Tana Amen: Really?
Dr. Daniel Amen: The number one was Iceland.
Tana Amen: Really? Do you think it's because of lack of sunshine?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Absolutely.
Tana Amen: Oh, interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And, they live in Iceland.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's probably not that much fun.
Tana Amen: But, it's beautiful there, I hear.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Stunning.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The next one is Australia.
Tana Amen: Now, they do have sunshine, so I'm confused now.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, I just finished watching Vanished.
Tana Amen: Yeah, but you're going to get yourself in trouble. Be quiet. Just don't say anything else. Just don't. Just don't.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's a series on Amazon, but there was a high incidence. I mean, you know, they sent the criminals from England over to populate Australia.
Tana Amen: I knew you were going to do it. I knew you were going to do it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, just think about that because, you know, here at Amen Clinics, we've scanned over a thousand convicted felons, and when you look at someone who gets into trouble with the law, there is often-
Tana Amen: Yes, but if you watched it, not all of them were actually in trouble for legitimate reasons.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's true, no. But, there would be a higher percentage of the population that perhaps struggle with mental health issues, which is what got them in trouble with the law. Now, Portugal is next. Why Portugal? I don't know, because there's plenty of sun and Portugal, and then the United Kingdom.
Tana Amen: That makes more sense.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, I've been there, the weather sucks.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sweden, so again, north. Canada, north. Denmark, north, and Australia you could really think of as south because it's deep in the Southern hemisphere. Also, New Zealand and then Spain. But, Portugal and Spain started don't make sense because they're both on the Mediterranean.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, and South Korea. Now, probably the biggest consumers of antidepressants also go with how much money the pharmaceutical companies are pouring into marketing in those states.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Anyways, we should have Heather post a link to that on the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Brand new study just out yesterday on ashwagandha.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I saw that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I loved it because it's a thousand milligrams a day of ashwagandha, we actually have ashwagandha in focus and energy because it relaxes you but also helps you focus. But, this study actually showed that adding ashwagandha to regular treatment for people with schizophrenia. What we think of as one of the worst mental health issues, decrease their stress and decrease the number of positive symptoms they had and decrease the number of negative symptoms they have. So, positive symptoms in schizophrenia are things like hallucinations, delusions, agitation. Negative symptoms, sort of the lack of motivation and the lack of energy. I just thought that was really interesting. You know, you go to your doctor, most of them say, "Oh, supplements have no science." This is a randomized double blind placebo-
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Controlled trial showing significant benefit from basically an herb, in 66 patients. Another study came out this week on utilizing QEEG, so quantitative EEG that we use here in the clinic, to objectively document the nature and severity of concussions in junior hockey players. You know, concussions are a major concern for hockey teams. During one winter, all players on two junior hockey teams were assessed in order to establish a baseline for concussions. Then at the end, the QEEG uses a measure of brain function. The results indicated that of the players assessed, so they assessed 46 players, two-thirds tested positive for concussions.
Tana Amen: Ouch.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Only a minority were mild, where the majority was severe and it affected their frontal lobes and their temporal lobes. The National Hockey League is pretty much in denial about this issue. I mean, there's just no question in my mind.
Tana Amen: How could they be a denial?
Dr. Daniel Amen: They're just-
Tana Amen: The old goal is to, like, bash each other's heads in.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, no, that's not, that's the goal of football.
Tana Amen: I know. I know, but have you watched hockey players?
Dr. Daniel Amen: The goal of hockey, right and they're decreasing the number of fights, but the younger you start playing hockey, the higher the incidence of concussions.
Tana Amen: Okay, another one. Blind from a bad diet.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What?
Tana Amen: Yes, teen who ate mostly potato chips and fries lost his sight. That's interesting. Researchers in the UK say that a teen has suffered vision loss after years of eating a highly limited diet consisting of snacking on Pringles potato chips as well as French fries, white bread, and some processed pork products. That's interesting, because there are a lot of kids who have texture issues. Think about, like, autistic kids. Right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: They have a very restricted diet.
Tana Amen: Very restricted, right. A 14 year old boy goes to the doctor, complaints of tiredness, extremely picky eater, eats what we just talked about. Overall, he appears okay. He's not overweight, takes no medications. Test shows he has anemia, low levels of vitamin B12. He's given B12 injections and diet advice, but a year later he has begun to lose vision. By age 17, he's legally blind. Turns out, the boy's highly limited daily diet lacking in healthy foods, vitamins, and minerals has led to optic neuropathy. That should be common sense. Right? But, it seems like it's not for a lot of people in society. They just don't really understand.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and there are places in the US and other places that scientists called food deserts, where they don't have grocery stores and big box stores.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Where they can get fresh fruits and vegetables. With a limited diet, you know, I've seen many patients, they ate at the little mart store, the gas station.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're-
Tana Amen: And you see, like, truck drivers and things like that, they'll eat on the go and so it's harder.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Where everything is processed, everything is fast.
Tana Amen: And fiber is removed.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What this article says is that can damage virtually every organ in your body, including your eyes. People actually don't know that the eyes are the only part of your brain that is uncovered. Your eyes are brain tissue.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: In many ways, they're the window to your soul. But, if you don't get the nutrients you need, they're not going to work properly.
Tana Amen: The University of Bristol in England, that was their conclusion that it was his diet and they published a case study on this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I know. Crazy, huh?
Tana Amen: Right, so interesting. I've never heard of that being published as a case study that it was diet that led to that, so interesting. This case highlights the impact of diet on visual and physical health and the fact that calorie intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I think we've said that.
Tana Amen: Yeah, more than once.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah.
Tana Amen: So interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I mean, calories matter, but the quality of your calories matter more.
Tana Amen: Yep.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. For this brain in the news, let's do one more. Association of fish and long chain omega three fatty acid intake with total and cause specific mortality. A prospective analysis, so this means they looked forward in 421,309 individuals.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Prevailing dietary guidelines recommend regular fish consumption.
Tana Amen: We have said this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: There are a lot of people who just don't like fish.
Tana Amen: But, they can take fish oil.
Dr. Daniel Amen: However, the association of fish and long chain omega three fatty acid intakes with mortality is unclear. They took all of these people in an NIH AARP diet and health study, and they were prospectively followed for 16 years. Dietary intake was assessed using a questionnaire. A total of 54,000 men and 30,000-plus women died during this follow up time. A higher fish and omega three fatty acid intake was associated with lower total mortality.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which means, fewer of them died. Comparing the highest with the lowest quartile, so if they divide this group into four sections, the highest quartile versus the lowest quartile of fish intake, men had 9% lower mortality, 10% lower cardiovascular disease, lower cancer mortality, lower respiratory disease mortality, lower chronic liver disease mortality. While, women had 8% lower mortality, lower cardiovascular disease, 38% lower Alzheimer's disease.
Tana Amen: This is interesting. We've been saying for a long time, I mean, it helps with your quality of life. Right? So, brain health, heart health, all of those things, decreasing inflammation, so that makes sense. If you don't like fish, at least take your fish oil.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The two fish oil I took this morning means I'm going to be around longer to haunt you.
Tana Amen: Yes, well I take six so I'm going to be around a long time.
Dr. Daniel Amen: As we come up on Halloween ...
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Day one of the fall evil ruler parties, day one.
Tana Amen: Yes.
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