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Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give advice on helping maintain focus and happiness in individuals with ADHD.
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 in our happiness challenge, and we’re talking about secret number six, which is notice what you like about others, more than what you don’t like within acceptable boundaries. And the question is, am I reinforcing behaviors I like or behaviors I don’t like?
But before we get started, I have a review I want to read. This is from Gaiman and fun penguin, super energetic podcast, and awesome info. Just found your podcast and learning from all the info you share. Love Tana’s passion. And thank you for sharing what you say to your daughter. Life is not fair. It’s what we do to be healthy. I enjoy how calm Dr. Amen is. Can you get into more parenting tips also? Looking forward to more great shows. Thank you. That’s fun.
Well, there’s another one I wanted to read as well. Overcoming ADD. I love Tana Amen’s, no nonsense approach to nutrition. And listening to the podcast has taught me many valuable lessons to help my brain, my life, especially when it comes to dealing with my ADD. We should probably spend more time talking about ADD. It’s just such a common issue for a lot of people who listen to the podcast. So let’s transition in to that. People have ADD, notice what they don’t like more than what they like. And I learned about [crosstalk [00:02:34].
Well, and hold on, because we talked about ACE scores. Did you know if you have chronic childhood trauma, it affects your frontal lobes, makes them sleepier.
Means more likely to be diagnosed with ADD. And if you have children who have ADD, you have adult trauma. Oh, when I had Kaitlin,
She is awesome. But as a child, hyperactive, restless, impulsive. I’m like where are you going?
That’s so funny. And now she’s got a couple of kids like that.
Always trying to get away. And you know, with her kids, the old one, the younger one, you got to keep your eyes on them all the time.
Oh, they terrify me. Terrify me.
So that’s what makes your limbic brain hyperactive. So when I had Kaitlin and she was my third, there was never a time I could have her out of my eyesight.
And just relax. Yeah.
I remember one day she was in the back seat. I was in the front seat. She was strapped in. And when I parked, she’d got out of her car seat, open the door and ran across the parking lot. Right as I got… And I’m like… Just think about what that does to your nervous system. If you like your child.
[inaudible [00:04:06]. If you don’t them it’s a different story. But I liked her. I knew I would be in deep trouble if she died. And so I had so many episodes raising a hyperactive child where as an adult, my trauma brain was just on fire because you have to… And some of you out there who have ADD children, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s funny because I had the opposite experience. I can’t relate to it at all. Mine was so overly cautious about everything like terrify. She was terrified of everything.
No, not Haven. My granddaughter.
Oh, she’s terrifying.
Not Kaitlin when she was young. I mean, now she’s awesome and she’s good mom and all that, but I was chronically stressed. And I remember whenever I’d go to the mall, she’d always try to get away from me. I mean, I would hold her hand. And for those watching on video, I would hold her hand and I’d take my pinky and wrap it around her wrist because I’m like, I need a good grip.
Didn’t you put her on a leash one time?
No, because I wrote a column in the daily Republic, the local newspaper,
Oh I see.
In Fairfield. And so whenever I went to a mall,
You wanted to put her on a leash.
People recognize me.
And I just couldn’t deal with, Dr. Amen, I love you. Why is your child on a leash? I just, couldn’t deal with that. So what I used to do is put her in her stroller and tie her shoes together so she couldn’t get out. And she would look at her shoes and look at me, give me that sour face.
And I’m like deal with it. Because I’m here to have a good time. I’m not here to chase you. It’s like, where are you going? We’re out being together. I remember one time we were at a picnic and I didn’t have my eyes on her for like 30 seconds. And she’s literally headed toward the street.
Oh my gosh.
And I had to run at a dead sprint to get her so she wouldn’t hurt herself and-
Never had those issues. I had the opposite. Chloe wanted to be carried everywhere.
Things like this activate your nervous system. So you don’t notice what you like more than what you don’t like. And it was a conscious effort.
Yeah, because that’s like a survival. You’re always in survival mode.
And parents who have ADD children, it reshapes,
That sounds exhausting.
Their brain. It’s totally exhausting.
I mean just when the grandkids are over, I’m exhausted. I adore them and I’m exhausted when they leave because I’m so scared. I’m constantly terrified because they are just, they have no fear. None.
You have to watch all the time, which resets your nervous system. And now you begin to notice what’s wrong. Because of that,
I see accidents,
And also, the people with ADD because they have sleepy frontal lobes. When you notice something you like, it’s nice and it raises oxytocin and probably a little bit of serotonin. When you notice what you hate, it raises dopamine. So people with ADD often use,
So its like fight or flight.
Negativity as a stimulant. It was very early in my career and I was seeing Betty a couple of times a week. Loved her. But she started every session with how she was going to violently, gruesomely kill herself. And I was always off balance with her. Because I,
That’s so sad.
Don’t want her to kill herself. I used to have the belief that somebody killed themselves, then I was a failure. And I realize I can’t control what other people do, but I can be really helpful.
But as we often say, sometimes the illness wins. Anyways. With Betty, I was just always anxious until one day I’d scanned her. She had really low frontal lobe function and she came in and she started the, how I’m going to kill myself. And I don’t recommend psychiatrists do this unless you really know someone very well. And I went, okay, you need to stop that. I said, you’re no more going to kill yourself than I am. You have five children. You love them. You know if you kill yourself, you’ve just gifted them a 500% increase chance of killing themselves. You use those horrible thoughts as a stimulant. You stimulating yourself with those visualizations.
And she like took a step back and she’s like, she’s paying me. And I’m basically telling them to stop talking about suicide. And she goes, I do that. I notice what’s wrong about myself. I notice what’s wrong about my kids. And I had no idea that it was because I was using them as a stimulant. And over the next year, she just got so much better. We of course worked to balance her brain. But bad thoughts can be a bad habit. Bad thoughts can be a bad habit. And you break bad habits by noticing them, by being curious, by seeing what triggers them, what cues them, and try to understand the reward. The reward for her was unconscious, was biochemical, if you will. And then come up with a new routine. So when I think about suicide, I really don’t want to die because I’m not gifting that to my children. Let me do something else. And the thing she did was notice what she liked about other people more than what she didn’t.
I think that’s why I love exercise so much. And I discovered that when I was a kid. Because it stimulates my brain. Exercise has been shown, especially intense exercise for people who have sleepy brains, right, to release those chemicals, to increase blood flow to the brain, to make you feel happier. And figuring that out for myself was one of the most important things that I’ve done. And I hear other people with ADD say the same thing, lots of them. And it’s one of the things we tell our patients, is intense exercise, short bouts of intense exercise can really help.
To make happier.
One has to wonder if your quote ADD didn’t come from the chronic stress you experienced as a child that made your frontal lobes sleepier. That just as you said, people with high ACE score have an activated limbic brain, emotional brain, but sleepy frontal lobes. Anyways, we hope you find this helpful. Again, your homework is, whether you’re listening to this at work or home, is the next person you come in contact with, say something nice to them. Notice what you like more than what you don’t.
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