The Types Of Trauma That Can Result From A Car Accident

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

Every time you get behind the wheel and strap on your seatbelt there lies the possibility of disaster occurring, and the subsequent trauma that can result from being involved in an auto accident exists in many different forms. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen share some of the various ways auto accidents can leave long term effects of trauma on the brain, as well as some of the things you can do to put your brain in a healing environment.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: 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
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Thanks for being with us on driving week, driving and the brain week. We've talked about young drivers and how important it is to be thoughtful and careful with them. Also along that line, they need to be in safe vehicles.
Tana Amen: Yes, for sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's chat about that for a little bit. We talked about older drivers and what to do when you're concerned. In this podcast, we're going to talk about other drivers, and also give you some techniques on how you can take care of your brain and calm yourself when that may not be your specialty.
Tana Amen: I have a funny, a funny tip on this one.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Think about what you can learn in this podcast. Pay attention to that, to how it affects you. Do you have a funny story or a powerful story you can share with us? You can also enter the raffle for the drawing for one of our free books, The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook that Tana will sign for you. You do that by leaving a question, a comment or review at or leaving it on iTunes.
Tana Amen: One thing I would encourage you guys to leave as well, besides your questions and comments, is think about there's so many people who have been traumatized. This is something we just hear so much about. I mean our friends who have lost children from motor vehicle accidents. I have a sister who was in 19 car accidents, so my nieces had trouble with that. I certainly was traumatized by people in my family driving either while intoxicated or certain circumstances. Think about ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Falling asleep.
Tana Amen: Yeah, falling asleep at the wheel. Think about, and as a trauma nurse, I saw it all the time. Different situations that would occur in cars. Some of them were just crazy accidents, just bizarre accidents. Think about if you know someone or you've been in a situation that you were traumatized, you can send us a question or a concern you had about that. We would love to hear from you. Think about that during this episode.
I want to read a testimonial. Today, I found out my iPhone had your podcasts. I heard about the podcast and by accident I found them. Now I'm going to be addicted to listening to Dr Amen and Tana's interesting podcasts. Thank you for trying to make us all healthy, by Dr. Donald. Thank you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I love addicted ...
Tana Amen: I know.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... to good things. I had a session today with one of my favorite patients. She was talking about cheap hits of happy versus great hits of happy.
Tana Amen: Oh, I like that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I taught her about dopamine, the basal ganglia, where cocaine works in the brain. As she's getting healthy, she's beginning to notice what really wears out her pleasure centers, what gives her cheap hits of happiness. Think cocaine, but also think television and marijuana and alcohol, gossiping, social media, shopping. Sucks with the wrong people. She goes, "Great hits of happiness, time with people who lift me up, being with healthy people, reading, learning, talking to smart people, exercise, traveling. She's beginning, and we plant these words I want you to have in your head, does it fit? Does it fit? Does what I'm going to do now, is what I'm going to do now, does it fit with the goals I have for my life? I just wanted to share this with our brain warriors audience. Are you going after cheap thrills or thrills that actually make you thrilled for the long run? That's our goal with you. All right.
Tana Amen: I like it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Back to driving. We only have about 10 minutes left to talk about driving. I remember when I met you, and I've told this story before, but I really liked you after our first lunch.
Tana Amen: They're probably tired of hearing about it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I really liked you, but I had to see your brain cause I didn't want to like you if you had a troubled brain. About two and a half weeks after we met, I invited you to the clinic. I said, "Hey, you haven't seen the clinic yet. Do you want to see the clinic?" You came. I offered you a scan. You took it, because you really want them to learn more ...
Tana Amen: Well, I was interested.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... about our work. You had a beautiful brain. I mean obviously, you're still here and you can tolerate me. It was really clear on the left side that it had been hurt. I'm like, "Did you ever have a head injury?" You looked at me like I was the craziest SOB on the planet.
Tana Amen: I was a neurosurgical ICU nurse.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And you went, "No." I went, "Are you sure?" She said, "I don't think so." I said, "Have you ever fallen out of a tree, fell off a fence, dove into a shallow pool?" "No, no, no." "Have you ever been in a car accident." "No." And then you stopped.
Tana Amen: I still didn't think it counted, because I didn't lose consciousness.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, but tell everybody what happened.
Tana Amen: So my sister fell asleep at the wheel going 75 miles an hour. She rolled two and a half times. My head, thank god I was laying back, but my head hit the center console. I walked away, so I felt so grateful that I thought it was all fine.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Except your brain is the consistency of soft butter. Your skull is really hard with multiple sharp bony ridges. Imagine this brain, your brain, beautiful brain, soft in a hard skull was sharp. Bony ridges going 75 miles an hour, and all of a sudden she goes off the road, the car flips two and a half times and then stops.
Tana Amen: And skids.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What do you think is going on inside your skull?
Tana Amen: It's like shaken baby syndrome.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Shaken baby syndrome. Even though you might notice it right away, it puts you at risk for depression later on, for irritability, for having more trouble dealing with stupid people on the road.
Tana Amen: Yeah, yeah. I know. That is one of my issues. Yeah, I have trouble dealing with stupid people on the road. Thank god I have enough forethought that I keep it inside the car. I don't use hand gestures. I don't, but it annoys me.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Another secret is, did you know that sleepy drivers ...
Tana Amen: Oh, it's worse than drinking.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... cause more deaths than drunk drivers?
Tana Amen: I do.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so if you didn't get a good night's sleep, you should have somebody else drive you or take Uber. There really should be an app on how much sleep the Uber driver got.
Tana Amen: I agree. That's one of the reasons I quit working nights as a nurse, because I found myself falling asleep driving home. I'm like, "Nope, done." Between that and eating bad food to stay awake all night, I'm like, "I can't do ... This is just killing me. Literally killing me."
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay, so when you get in the car, be aware. That's one of the most important things to do.
Tana Amen: One of the things we said we were going to talk about was drivers in your family, not the very, very young and not the very, very old, but have you been traumatized by a situation, whether it's yourself, maybe you've had a DUI, maybe you were hit by someone, but do you have a situation in your family that's traumatized you? We have a situation. Someone in our family who we have been helping who does not have a good driving record and is now thinking about getting a license again and wants us to help. This person had DUI and totaled the car after we helped with that car. I have a lot of trauma around that. I have a lot of past history and trauma around it. At first, I just felt like my automatic reaction, which is frequently this way, when I'm under stress, "No. We're not doing this. Not going to do this again." But that's not the most helpful thing. Right?. We talked a lot about it. The solution that we came up with and that I really thought would be the best was for us to do some EMDR together.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So you're going to get therapy together?
Tana Amen: Yes, some EMDR therapy together.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I love that idea.
Tana Amen: Because I have trauma around her driving.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You do.
Tana Amen: I have trauma around her putting her kids in the car and her being in the car. I won't help with that until ... I'm not going to contribute to that until I have dealt with that trauma with her.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's very much like the 15 and a half year old is that you don't really get to drive until ...
Tana Amen: Until I know.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... emotionally you show the responsibility of an adult.
Tana Amen: Yes, and my gift to her is going to be defensive driving lessons. She has to show that she can do that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, that's very thoughtful. All right, so before we run out of time. Tips, when you're in the car, first thing is decrease the distractions, because you don't know the health of the brains around you. I did a study on normal. Here's my criteria for normal. No psychiatric illness, none in your family, no head injury, no drug abuse, and you're not on any medication. I had to screen 3000 people to find a hundred scans. There are not that many normal people out on the road. Let's just own it. You need to be paying attention and give a little bit more space, give a little bit more grace. Space and grace ...
Tana Amen: I like that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... is really important on the road.
Tana Amen: One thing that, this is just a tip that might help you, might not be, you can pick your own kind of music if you want. But it was so funny, because we drive to LA so often. My daughter doesn't like it when I grit my teeth and I'm grumbling and I get so annoyed. I mean, we've had so many accidents happen in front of us. People just drive so terrible. They're so aggressive. It annoys me, because it's dangerous. She hates when I grumble on the road, because she's just this little bubbly thing. She just starts playing Christian music in the car. I'm like, "That's just mean. That's mean." Because now I feel guilty. Right? But it worked. All of a sudden I did not feel so angry and stressed out. I'm like, "How can you be leaking negativity when she's playing this music?" It was really funny actually.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I've actually treated many people through the years who had driving phobias, because they got into an accident or they almost got into an accident, and it triggered a panic attack. And so every time they thought of driving, it actually triggered a panic response in them. EMDR is very helpful, especially to deal with single incident traumas. Because the longer you allow the anxiety to prevent you from driving and I fully own, we've increased your anxiety today about driving, the longer you increase the anx-, you don't deal with the anxiety about driving, the more the anxiety will control you.
Tana Amen: I don't think we're trying to decrease our anxiety. We want you to have appropriate anxiety. We want you to have appropriate anxiety, but not the kind of anxiety that's debilitating. Right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. All right. When we come back, we're going to answer your questions that you've already submitted. If you want to be entered into a drawing for Tana's cookbook, The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook, which is amazing. All of the recipes are gluten free, dairy free, sugar, really limited sugar, corn free and soy free. I mean, it's really amazing what you've done with this book, and they taste great.
Tana Amen: You can, a lot of them, there's a lot of vegan recipes in there as well, but you can interchange them. They're made to be adoptable for cavemen and vegans. Don't have a dog in that fight, so we just want you to be healthy.
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