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Quarantine fatigue, family stress, and political/social division are leading to skyrocketing rates of depression in the United States. And with all the stress in our lives it can be all too easy to ignore the warning signs and leave your depression unchecked. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to counteract those COVID blues. In this episode, the Amens give you strategies for getting your mood back on the right track to feel and function better now.
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.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We are talking about depression during the pandemic, how to know if you have it, what are strategies to cure it? In the last episode, we talked about what are the signs and symptoms? Sometimes they’re more obscure than you might think. How do you know when to be concerned? Also, caregivers, when do caregivers… What’s the sign that you are just taking on too much? But in this episode, we’re going to talk about what you can do. What are the strategies you can do to take control of your life again right now? But you have something you want to read.
Well, whatever you learn in these podcasts, please write it down and then take a picture of it and post it on any of your social media sites and hashtag Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, or go to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. Leave us comments, questions, reviews. We are grateful and-
In fact, that’s our antidepressant.
And so we’re going to read a review from LH40. And this is why we do it, to make a difference in your life. “Wow, I’m a single mom, and these podcasts have helped me so much understand myself, my 14-year-old daughter, who is also a brain cancer survivor, and I have a 10 year old that struggles with anxiety and ADHD. These podcasts are amazing. Dr. Amen, his wife, and their guests have helped me understand so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you abundantly.”
Oh, I love that.
Yeah, no, that’s what makes us feel good. And there’s actually a treatment for depression called interpersonal psychotherapy, which is basically teaching other people how to get along better. Because the more you and I get along, the better each of us feel. If you struggle with one of your kids, with your partner, with the people at work, it just is a downer, and learning how to be empowered in relationships, how to notice what you like more than what you don’t like, is just incredibly helpful. So, treatment strategies, and when we gave away your book, The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook, it’s actually a treatment strategy-
It really is.
Yep. So in our house, and it’s really interesting because everyone thinks, “Oh,” not everyone… A lot of people think that there’s one way to eat, and it’s everybody. And the truth is, there are principles and ways to eat that fit pretty much everybody, like getting rid of trans fat. That’s a principle pretty much everybody should follow. We know that. Trans fat goes into your cells, and it never leaves, not ever. So, and it’s very toxic, can cause aggressive behavior. Minimizing sugar, a hundred percent, that’s something that everybody should do if you want to be really vibrantly healthy. But the same food doesn’t affect everybody the same way.
So, for example, I got a little lazy during the pandemic because of the same reasons we talked about with everybody else. I was so stressed, so busy trying to take care of so many people that it was just like, “Ah, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to have rice today.” And, for some people rice, like brown rice, might be great or sweet potatoes might be great. But I know that for me, having even complex carbs, but like sweet potatoes and rice, I can’t have very many of them. I don’t feel as good. I do really, really well mentally, physically on a sort of a paleo style keto type of program where it’s high fat, high protein, high fiber, but really almost no sugar, even in the form of fruit. I always have done, but not everyone in my house does well with that. We’ve got a couple of kids with busy brains, and if they’ve got busy brains, they need those smart carbs, like sweet potatoes-
…brown rice, things like that, that really help them, quinoa, those types of things, help them settle down that busy brain. My brain is sleepy, so I feel overwhelmed sometimes. And for me, eliminating those foods and increasing fat and protein boosts my energy and my focus. So, it’s really important to know, and in The Brain Warrior’s Way we talk about that. The cookbook makes it pretty simple. But all you have to do, and people are like, “Well, you’ve got two different diets now in the same house.” No, we don’t. We eat the same things. So last night made fish and broccoli.
Yeah, super. It literally took me 20 minutes because we do everything simple. When you’re eating healthy, you don’t have to do a lot of sauces and things. So, fish and broccoli, everybody gets that. For the kids, you make sweet potatoes or brown rice or whatever. For me, I don’t. I just have extra of the other stuff.
So, the first strategy to manage your depression is you have to eat right. And The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook is just perfect for that, basically eliminate processed foods. Colorful fruits and vegetables, in fact, there is a linear correlation between the number of fruits and vegetables you eat a day, and your level of happiness, up to eight, right? If you get to 15, probably not going to be any better than eight, but really think about how can I get colorful fruits and vegetables into my diet? And more vegetables than fruit because, as you said, because of the sugar.
And for kids, a little bit of fruit is fine if they’re running around. Right now, they’re not. But you can still get that colorful… I still eat some bell pepper. I eat a lot of greens, a little bit of berries, but not a lot. And so if you’re doing a keto style like me, you can still get that color in your diet. You just need to minimize the fruit.
Exercise, so important. When you don’t work out, you’re just not that nice.
No, it’s hard. It’s really hard for me. I learned to use exercise as medicine when I was a kid.
You did, and I think it treated your depression.
And it’s interesting, our daughter, her boyfriend, is the same way. He plays four hours of tennis a day. And quarantine really affected him because he couldn’t play tennis.
So, exercise is just critical. Certain supplements, though, before I go to medication, I use saffron. We have Happy Saffron now that not only has saffron, it has curcumin and zinc. Twenty-one randomized, controlled trials showing it helps to boost mood.
And this is interesting. I was feeling super stressed, and I never would try taking GABA because I had tried 5-HTP which, for migraine, makes me a little bit, I feel a little high. And you kind of like me when I take it. I don’t really like me when I take it because I like to be intense.
I like it because you don’t worry as much.
But I like to be intense. But I did take GABA and GABA-
Do you know what your intensity does to my seahorses, to my hippocampus? They just get scared, and they shrink.
But I can’t do what I need to do-
Right, the chronic stress.
…if I’m high.
But you want to be taking care of the seahorses in your partner’s brain. Remember seahorse, hippocampus. You want to be loving to my seahorses.
That’s so funny. So, but-
You think it’s funny, but my seahorses are scared.
Well, but when I took GABA at night, not during the day because it makes me sleepy, it was almost like having a glass of wine.
Well, and why did you start taking GABA?
Because I was so stressed. Oh, because the leg cramps.
Because the leg cramps.
I was so stressed out, I was tensing [crosstalk [00:08:48]-
She’d wake up in the middle of the night-
I had to wake you up.
…screaming, waking me up.
And I noticed I was tensing my legs and my feet, and it would cause a cramp because of the stress, and the GABA took it away.
Haven’t had one, yeah. Yeah, cool.
GABA Calming, love it. All right, exercise, supplements to support your brain, bright light therapy. We actually have our Bright Minds Light Therapy Lamp. I’m just so thrilled about light therapy. Half an hour in the morning, don’t look at it directly, about arm’s length, and it’s been shown to be a treatment for seasonal depression. Saunas, an infrared sauna has been found to have anti-depressant effects. If you have a sauna at home or you can go someplace, and you might not be able to go someplace to get a sauna, and certain scents like lavender, peppermint, jasmine, has been found to have anti-depressant qualities and, of course, kill the ants, the automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness.
So, I believe in mentors a lot, like business mentors, spiritual mentors, health mentors. And so I have a spiritual mentor who I just love. She’s going to actually be on my afternoon show that I’ve been doing on social media, and she’s an amazing human. But, anyways, she was sort of hearing and seeing how stressed I was, and she was like, “We’re going to do something.” It’s one thing to be grateful, and just in your head, think about how grateful you are. She’s like, “We’re going to text each other every day, what we’re grateful for. And we’re going to do this for 21 days straight and see what happens.” And immediately, it started to change how I felt. And I find myself in the middle of the day getting wound up again. And I would just be about to explode because I was just so frustrated over something. And I get a text from her about gratitude and I’m like, how can you stay mad? She’s sending me gratitude texts or scripture. How am I supposed to have this angry thought? And it just immediately changes how you think. So, find a partner. If you don’t have one, a friend you can do this with, writing it down. But if you can, get someone to exchange texts with every day, it’ll just keep you accountable.
Wow, kill the ants. So, we should do a whole week on ants, kill the ant week. But whenever you feel sad or mad or nervous or out of control, write down what you’re thinking. And then ask yourself, is it true? Can I absolutely know if it’s true? Learning how to discipline your mind is just a critical skill we should teach to all second graders. And on Facebook Live, our 10 year old niece and I read Captain Snout. So if you haven’t gotten Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions, it’s up there, it would be so helpful.
So, what did you learn today? Depression’s real. Depression has doubled since the pandemic, but there are natural way to deal with depression. Try the natural ways first, and then if they don’t work, think about medication. But we have it just so backwards in the medical practice these days, it’s just backwards, where they go to meds first, and then they think about adding fish oil later.
So, what did you learn? Write it down, put it on a piece of paper, take a picture of it. Post it on any of your social media sites. Leave us a comment, question, or review. We would just be so grateful. [inaudible [00:13:02] enter into a drawing to win one of Tana’s books or my books. We are here for you. Coming up, we’re going to talk about brain in the news. The brain is always in the news in a political season. Should we scan the brains of political candidates? Yes. And then after that, we’ll answer your questions. Stay with…
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