The 6 Steps To Ending Mental Illness

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

While the incidence of cancer has been experiencing a decline, the incidence of mental illness continues to trend upward. Why is this? In the third episode of a series based on Dr. Daniel Amen’s recently filmed PBS special “Change Your Brain, Heal Your Mind”, Dr. Amen outlines the 6 steps to ending mental illness, and how to take these steps to help you or your loved one get on the right track.

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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 BrainMD, 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. We're talking about Change Your Brain, Heal Your Mind, aka The End of Mental Illness. Do you have a review you want to read?
Tana Amen: I do. "I couldn't do anything about my adult child's addiction, other than finally getting out of the way and let God work, but I could step in for my granddaughter, to find a way to help her combat bullying and sexual harassment. Because of life events, and the emotional abandonment of both her parents to destructive tendencies, she carried a victim mentality. I am a seeker, and using that, God brought to me the right people, Tana and Dr. Amen being two of them, to help heal my life, so I could help her. That's where I found my purpose. Nancy [Beehr 00:01:34]."
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow.
Tana Amen: Isn't that awesome? That just touched me, because we were just talking about that with our nieces and helping when you can, and my book, Being the Reluctant Healer.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's so helpful. We've been talking about the book in the show, and step number one to ending mental illness is we have to stop calling these things mental illness, and call them what they really are, brain health issues that steal your mind. No one is shamed for cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. No one should be shamed for bipolar disorder, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia.
Tana Amen: And yet, it affects your insurance. It affects your ability, like certain jobs. It affects so many things.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you diagnose them with a brain health issue, and you don't write down the code, now they may not get reimbursed, because you have to have codes to get-
Tana Amen: Isn't that weird?
Dr. Daniel Amen: You have to have diagnostic codes-
Tana Amen: It's so sad.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But when you get a diagnosis of depression, it can affect your life insurance, your long-term care insurance, your disability insurance-
Tana Amen: So messed up.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And sometimes health insurance. No one is shamed, but if we don't fix this stigma, we're going to have continued problems. Suicide went up 33% since 1999, while cancer declined 27%. Why? We're working on the wrong paradigm, seeing these thing as mental rather than brain hurts people, because mental is like, well, what is that? It's your fault. It's vague. It's hard to define, and it sort of means, well, you should be able to snap out of it. When you went through your period of depression, because they took away your thyroid, you couldn't snap out of it.
Tana Amen: No.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You would've given anything to snap out of it, right?
Tana Amen: Right. Instead they made it worse-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Instead they made it worse.
Tana Amen: By putting me on the wrong medication.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. In the show, I talk about Jared, who was hyperactive, restless, impulsive, aggressive, diagnosed with ADD from the time he was small. Five meds didn't work, made him worse. When we saw him, he had the ring of fire, and it's like, please don't stimulate this brain. There's a fun part in the show where I talk about if Jared had lived in the past, how would they have treated him, from drilling a hole in his skull to release evil spirits in ancient times, to putting him in an asylum, to sterilizing him, to putting him on Freud's couch, to giving him electric shock therapy, to the constant medication that they tried on him. It's... We can do better when we see the brain as an organ that needs to be treated, and so step number one, we've got to get rid of the term mental illness.
Step number two is you need to fall in love with your brain. I mean, what a concept, right?
Tana Amen: It's pretty simple.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Freud was wrong. Penis envy is not the cause of anybody's problem. I've not seen one case in 40 years of being a psychiatrist. The only time I saw a case of penis envy was when I was at Broadway, and it was intermission, and the girls' line was around the building, and the boys' line-
Tana Amen: Yes, then you have penis envy, yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It was-
Tana Amen: Yes, I understand.
Dr. Daniel Amen: There was nobody in the boys' bathroom.
Tana Amen: Yeah, no one's [crosstalk 00:05:10], so unfair.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You have to fall in love with your brain, and once you fall in love with it, you treat it better. That's just absolutely critical. Step three is preventing or treating the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind. Those of you that listen to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast know we have a mnemonic, BRIGHT MINDS, and blood flow, retirement and aging, inflammation, genetics, head trauma, toxins. You have to go after those things. A large part of the show was that, and there's so many great stories.
Step number four is first, do no harm. Use the least toxic, most effective treatments. Head-to-head against antidepressants, exercise is equally effective. Omega-3 fatty acids have a better effect than antidepressants. Learning not to believe every stupid thing you think.
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's all common sense. It's so funny. Do you know what's so funny? When I was at the gym... I used to work out at 4:00 in the morning. I mean, I used to get up at 4:00 in the morning. I was at the gym by 5:00, and there's this whole group of people that are always there at the same time. They're the morning people that are always there. Do you know what they all say? We have one thing in common. I don't feel normal if I don't work out first thing in the morning. It's like a medicine. You just feel it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's the-
Tana Amen: If everybody would do that when they don't feel right, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Maybe not at 4:00 in the morning, but exercise for you-
Tana Amen: It's because we start our day that way.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You are so much more normal-
Tana Amen: And nice.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And nice, when you exercise, and you're not hangry. When you have a low blood sugar, I give you grace, and nuts.
Tana Amen: And nuts, yes, lots of nuts.
Dr. Daniel Amen: First, do no harm. Use the least toxic, most effective treatments. Think skills, not just pills, and I talked about how, as a society, we're nutrient deficient: magnesium; choline; omega-3s; vitamins B, C, D, E; potassium.
Tana Amen: This is such an important point, the nutrient deficiency. Someone asked at the filming, at the taping, “If I eat a really clean diet, do I really have to take supplements?” It's a really good question. Here's the problem. Everyone thinks, well, I'm just going to eat clean. Well, number one, most people don't eat that clean. In this society, they just don't. Let's be honest. Now, if you do, if you're one of those really ultra-clean foodies, you're eating raw foods, you're eating enough protein, you're eating the right balance of fat, protein, fiber, okay, but one of the things that I brought up in that question was it's not just food that is depleting us of our nutrients, okay? It's the environmental toxins. It's not sleeping enough. It's stress. There's a whole... It's our lifestyle in general.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's pollution.
Tana Amen: Pollution, the environmental toxins. It's all of those things that are depleting. Medication, birth control, statins, so many different medications will deplete you of nutrients. That's why we recommend taking that buffer. It's the thing that bridges that gap.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I also talked about the scientific evidence for things like magnesium, GABA, and theanine for anxiety, or green tea, zinc, and Rhodiola for focus. In The End of Mental Illness, there's a whole chapter on my meds versus nutraceuticals, and what does the science say? There's 286 scientific references. This book is the best reference book I've ever done, except for Memory Rescue, because both of those books have over a thousand references, because I just get so irritated when people go, “Oh, there's no science behind his work.” It's like, “Do you read?”
Then there was a really fun thing about, well, before you take medicine for anxiety, what are six other things you can do? At some point, that would actually be worth a whole podcast by itself.
Tana Amen: Is psychedelics on there?
Dr. Daniel Amen: No.
Tana Amen: Just had to ask. It was one of the questions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Marijuana's not on there. LSD is not on there.
Tana Amen: That was actually one of the questions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Ketamine is not on there. Step number five was get the whole family involved.
Tana Amen: Community.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That was just absolutely critical for [Omalee 00:09:42] and [Alizea 00:09:42] and [Tamara 00:09:42].
Tana Amen: Our nieces, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: There's this really funny line in the show that I liked. “If you spend time with people who have ANTs,”... All of you know what ANTs are, automatic negative thoughts. “If you spend time with people who have ANTs, your ANTs will mate with their ANTs, and you'll create mutant ANTs, infesting the relationship with negativity.” That's why, when you and I first got together, I took you to a Byron Katie conference, just so that we have clean thinking.
Tana Amen: Yeah, my first two gifts from you: going to meet Byron Katie, and 10 sessions of EMDR. I'm like, “You think I'm really screwed up.”
Dr. Daniel Amen: No, I thought you were amazing. I loved you, love you. I just wanted you to have good programming, given that you had a fair amount of trauma when you were young.
Tana Amen: I thought I was fine, fouled up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It was a gift to our relationship.
Tana Amen: Oh, for sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which is 14 years. You are the best thing that ever happened to me.
Tana Amen: Aw, and vice versa.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Five is really about family support, and six is you've got to get started today. Tomorrow never comes. People will go, “Oh, I'll start tomorrow,” and it's like, no, tomorrow never comes. Anyways, I hope you look forward to when the show comes out. We'll talk about the book a lot, between now and March, when it comes out, but I think it's the best thing I've ever written.
Tana Amen: You've written some really good books.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I know, but nothing quite like this.
Tana Amen: You remind me of John Maxwell now.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, thank you. That's a huge compliment.
Tana Amen: No, I literally, as soon as I heard him say, every time he's writing a book, it's the best book he's ever written, I'm like, oh my gosh, that's you completely, because he's in love with whatever he's writing.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you learned something, please post it on any of your social media channels. Go to Leave questions for us. We'll try to answer them. We're going to do that in the next podcast. Leave a review. We would love that, too. We're so grateful you're part of our brain warrior community. You're the reason we do this.
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. 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 considering coming to Amen Clinics, or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code PODCAST10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.