Can Having a Mental Disorder Affect Your Memory?

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

Roughly half of the population will be affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives. In Part 8 of a series on Memory Rescue, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen take a look at how mental health affects your memory, and the importance nutrition plays in maintaining optimal health.


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Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Doctor Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit,

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit, Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.

Welcome back. We are still talking about memory rescue. As part of memory rescue, we're talking about bright minds, how do you have a bright mind?

Daniel Amen: Well, and just to review, the way you rescue your brain or keep it healthy, is you eliminate all of the risk factors that steal your mind. The mnemonic for that is bright minds.

Tana Amen: I love what you came up with bright minds. We went all through bright, B-R-I-G-H-T-

Daniel Amen: Bright, so blood flow, retirement and aging, inflammation, genetics, head trauma. We just finished toxins.

Tana Amen: Now we are on M in minds. The M in minds is mental health. I wanted to start off today because as I looked at the list here of risk factors, I realized, this list has touched, like, everyone of these risk factors has touched my entire family. It's really deeply woven into my history. Chronic stress, depression, ADD, PTSD, bipolar, and schizophrenia.

It was like a big wake up call to me because this is ... I never really thought of my family, like, I don't think of my family as being this family that suffers from mental health issues. I really don't think of us that way. We have suffered from all of these. I really want people to think about this because, the reason this is important to me, we've got to do a better job of decreasing stigma around this.

Families suffer from these issues and if you were suffering from heart disease, if you were suffering from diabetes, it wouldn't be a judgment. It would be like something we help you deal with. This is life. This is what we have. There's many reasons these issues come up and we need to do a better job.

Daniel Amen: Well, and as a psychiatrist, what I realized, if I'm going to help you with your addiction or I'm going to help you with your depression, or with your PTSD, or ADHD, I have to help your brain be better. In doing memory rescue, and I've known this for a long time, is having a mental health issue increases your risk of a cognitive health issue, or of dementia.

I'm just not okay with that. That if you want to rescue your memory, you also have to rescue your mood. You have to rescue and stop the addictions. You have to get these things optimally treated and I agree with you, we definitely have to do a better job of decreasing stigma. That's why I fell in love with imaging. We have to do a better job of treating these illnesses and this bright minds approach is a smart way to do it.

Tana Amen: Oh, no, I have to tell you, I mean everybody who listens to us now knows that I thought psychiatrists, when I first met you, I'm like, I don't want to date a psychiatrist. I think they're idiots. Pardon me for if you're a psychiatrist and you're listening to this, but the whole industry ... because my family had been hurt by this, by psychiatrists. I love what you do and I fell in love with your story and what you did. I'm like, "God, it's so different." Like it's such a different approach and I really liked that.

In a million years, I would never have realized that the chronic stress I grew up in and the fact that I suffered from pretty severe depression, even though it was not a long time, it was pretty severe. That would affect my ... that's a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

Daniel Amen: Yeah, depression in women doubles the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Tana Amen: Isn't that crazy?

Daniel Amen: Depression in men quadruples the risk.

Tana Amen: Who would have known?

Daniel Amen: How do you know if you had this risk factor? In the book, there's actually questionnaires to help people know if they have things like PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD.

Tana Amen: Say that again. There's a questionnaire in the book.

Daniel Amen: In the book to help them-

Tana Amen: That's really important.

Daniel Amen: ... know if they have any of these disorders. There're so many things you can do. They're not really lab tests for them, we still make diagnosis based on questionnaires. At Amen Clinics we use imaging to help us understand and treat our patients. I like the Omega 3 Index because if your Omega 3 fatty acid levels are low, you have high inflammation, and you're more like to get depressed. The interventions ... There's so many things that we do. I'm just going to give them some of the highlights from the books. We talked about this in Brain Warrior's Way. Start every day with today is going to be a great day.

Tana Amen: Absolutely.

Daniel Amen: Today is going to be a great day-

Tana Amen: Mindset.

Daniel Amen: ... because then, your mind will help you find it. Write down three things you're grateful for. Learn to meditate, especially a loving, kindness meditation that we talk about in Brain Warrior's Way. Take a walk in nature, it's been shown to help your mood. Learn to kill the ants, the automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness. Having your children's book out, I'm so excited about-

Tana Amen: It's so good.

Daniel Amen: ... called, Captain Snout.

Tana Amen: Yeah, it's really cute.

Daniel Amen: A super power questions. I mean, just get your kids started early with the right brain healthy atmosphere.

Tana Amen: Remember when we were cleaning out books and we were donating books and I was getting all Chloe's books out from when she was a kid, I used to read to her every single night. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I never realized the types of books we were reading to her when she was little." You know, about the four questions and about the seven habits of highly effective children, and who moved my cheese. The kid's versions of these. It's so important because you plant those seeds early.

Daniel Amen: Because mindset matters.

Tana Amen: Mindset matters.

Daniel Amen: Brain health matters, mindset matters, and if you have mental health issues in your family, like you do, I do too. It's important to take brain health even more seriously because I actually believe optimizing someone's brain, really helps them to break their addictions or depressions.

Tana Amen: I was just saying that because I really love the new children's books.

Daniel Amen: Thank you. Let's talk about supplements and food. If you're a worrier and have mood issues, I really like 5-HTP and saffron. We put them together in serotonin mood support. One of the most popular supplements that we have. You have a fun story of someone you been dealing with and pulling your hair out.

Tana Amen: This is actually hilarious. It's a family issue. We've been helping someone in our family to get a lot better. The story's been miraculous. The turn-around in the family dynamics have been great, but we had one person in the family that ... two people in the family, couldn't get along. One of the people a little OCD, a little bit OCD and a little over-focused, to say the least. She knew it. She was acknowledging that she couldn't let things go at all. Even the smallest things.

She went online, took the quiz for her brain type and they you talked to her. We sent her some serotonin mood support and a couple of other basic supplements. It's so funny, I get a call from the other person in the family who couldn't get along with her, to the point where we were going to have to move them separately. They were not going to be able to live together. I mean, it was that bad.

We were trying to make arrangements, living arrangements. I get a call and she's like, "I don't want to do that. I'm actually, like, I love her." They're family members. I'm banging the phone on the counter and I'm like, "What? Say that again." She's like, "No, I don't know what it is." She goes, "I've actually never had this kind of relationship with this person. In my family, I've never been able to get to know her even the way that I'm getting to know her now." She's like, I go, "What do you think the different is?" She goes, "I don't know, except that the only thing I can think of is it started about a month ago when, shortly after you sent the serotonin mood support."

And then I get an email and she goes, "Please, please, please overnight me serotonin mood support. I didn't realize she's almost out." She was doing this for the other person in the family. She's like, "I've got to have more of this stuff. I cannot run out of it." It was just hilarious. It made a huge difference for them.

Daniel Amen: I love that. For people who struggle with focus, we make something called Focus and Energy, Rhodiola green tea, Ashwagandha, Ginseng. For people who are anxious, GABA Calming can be really helpful. There's also-

Tana Amen: I want to add something here before you move on. I cannot tell you how many people that I've worked with that get better by adding probiotics. The brain probiotics. We deal with so many people who have been eating so poorly or who have been on antibiotics and their guts are so messed up, and if 80% of the serotonin, 80, 90% of the serotonin in your body is made in your gut. You will be anxious and depressed if your gut is messed up or you are likely to be. Probiotics make a massive difference for people who are struggling in many cases. Had to throw that in.

Daniel Amen: All right.

Tana Amen: It's one of my go to.

Daniel Amen: Well, so let's then, talk about foods. Let's talk about the foods that increase your risk of mental health issues. That would be processed foods, sugar, the standard American diet.

Tana Amen: Cheap oils.

Daniel Amen: Cheap oils. The foods that support mental health-

Tana Amen: Let me, really quick, because people always write and ask, what are cheap oils. Vegetable oils like safflower-

Daniel Amen: Corn.

Tana Amen: ... corn oil, soy bean oil, those types of oils are highly inflammatory. Canola oil.

Daniel Amen: Foods to use. Spices, especially saffron, tumeric, peppermint, and cinnamon. Cinnamon has been known to help attention.

Tana Amen: Why are you looking at me with that look? I know what you're about to say. Because you think it's an aphrodisiac.

Daniel Amen: That's why you make it for me every day.

Tana Amen: I don't think I need to, but.

Daniel Amen: Dopamine rich foods to help with focus and motivation. Tumeric again, green tea, lentils, fish, lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, nuts, seeds, especially sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. High protein veggies like broccoli, spinach, protein powders. Protein actually helps to increase focus.

Tana Amen: Right. That's why we often tell parents, their children, if they are struggling with attention, getting in trouble in school, stop giving them these crazy, simple carbohydrate breakfasts, like cereal and pancakes for breakfast. Give them a ... Or, if you're going to give them pancakes, do Tanana pancakes, which are in the Brain Warrior's way cookbook. Give them protein-rich breakfast if they're struggling with attention. If they are struggling with anxiety, it's different. Go on.

Daniel Amen: Okay. I was just thinking about the Tanana River, I learned about it today in Alaska.

Tana Amen: Okay, sidebar.

Daniel Amen: The Tanana pancakes are phenomenal.

Tana Amen: But they're wheat, they're flour free.

Daniel Amen: They're called Tanana pancakes because your grandchildren call you Tanana.

Tana Amen: Tanana. They're flour free.

Daniel Amen: Serotonin-rich foods to help your mood. Combine tryptophan containing foods, so tryptophan is the amino acid building block for ser-

Tana Amen: Like chicken or turkey.

Daniel Amen: Eggs, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, with healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and quinoa, they alisted a short-term insulin response that actually drives tryptophan into the brain. It's really interesting. There's an interesting book called, Potatoes, Not Prozac." They really weren't thinking about long-term health, which is why-

Tana Amen: They were just thinking about serotonin.

Daniel Amen: ... they were going up and they were thinking about serotonin.

Tana Amen: Right. Which is why women crave things like chocolate and wine when they have PMS.

Daniel Amen: Correct.

Tana Amen: It's that instant boost.

Daniel Amen: And then, GABA rich foods to help with anxiety, such as broccoli, almonds, walnuts, lentils, wholegrain, not wholegrain, gluten-free whole oats, oranges, spinach. The point of all of this, in memory rescue, is there are so many things you can do. There is no suffering in getting well. Our podcast is called the Brain Warrior's Way because we know you're in a war for the health of your brain.

Everywhere you go, someone is trying to shove bad food down your throat that will kill you early. You can live a vibrant, healthy, focused, motivated life, and the food tastes awesome. I mean, that's been one of the biggest blessings I've had in my life. Is have a wife who knows how to take super healthy food and make it taste awesome. I get to live within the mission and purpose of my life, and I never suffer.

Tana Amen: Right. We just want you to be prepared-

Daniel Amen: Except when you're mad at me, I suffer.

Tana Amen: We just want you to be prepared, aware, armed, and empowered. That's what we're doing.

Daniel Amen: Armed, prepared, and aware. I love it. Stay with us, we're going to talk about immunity and infections next.

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