Hi, I’m Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist. Ask me anything!
I am Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist, brain disorder specialist, founder of Amen Clinics, and a 10x New York Times bestselling author. My new book The End of Mental Illness is out 3/3 and can be purchased here: https://endofmentalillness.com/
Here’s my proof: https://imgur.com/a/d7r7u2c
Over the past 30 years, I’ve performed over 160,000 brain SPECT images on patients from 120 countries, I've studied the brains of 175 active and retired NFL players, marijuana smokers, drug addicts and psychotic patients.
Today I’m here to answer any of your questions on mental health, anxiety, depression, PTSD, brain health, optimizing your brain, or how you can, in fact, change your brain and change your life! Let’s chat. Ask me anything.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/doc_amen/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/DocAmen/
EDIT: Thank you everyone for your amazing questions - I had a great time!
Talking to children or adults and linking them to current symptoms. It is a technique I call bridging. Ask yourself when is the first time you ever had that symptom. It is often very instructive.
I had my brain scanned at the Bellevue clinic and it made no difference in my life at all. I take the same medication and have different diagnosis than just what my spect showed.
Can you explain what benefit a person like myself reaped from the experience aside from the amount of money spent (in case you all didn't know, insurance isn't a player typically in this activity)?
I am sorry to read this. We published a study showing the scan changes what the doctor does 8 times out of 10. Not always, but more often than not. Without knowing the details I cannot comment further, except to say if you call the clinic and tell them you were on this chat, i will look over your case.
The study can be found here: https://www.amenclinics.com/the-science/peer-reviewed-studies/ (2012 - Amen D, Highum D, Licata R, Annibali J, Somner L, Pigott HE, Taylor DV, Trujillo M, Newberg A, Henderson TA, Willeumier K (2012) Specific ways brain SPECT imaging enhances clinical psychiatric practice
What effect do the class action lawsuits pertaining to overprescribing antipsychotics like risperdal have on the future of the science of treatment?
The class action lawsuits prevent pharmaceutical companies from wanting to develop more medications. There have been very few new medications. Mostly, because the paradigm in psychiatry needs a radical shift from symptom based diagnoses to biologically based ones.
They prevent them from wanting to develop more medications? Maybe they should just market them responsibly, thus avoiding needless legal exposure from selling themselves dishonestly. Effective medications with realistic outcome expectations will be profitable in the long term.
Totally agree. I am not a big fan of the drug companies.
Hi, I have a question that I’ve always been too afraid to ask. I’m 50 (female if it matters). When I was 4 I sustained a hard blow to the front of my head by being in the front seat of my mothers car (no seat belt, natch) when she had to suddenly slam on the brakes, sending me into the sharp edge of the dashboard.
I still have the scar (maybe an inch above where the bridge of my nose starts). In general, do you think such a blow, in that area of the skull, at such a young age, could have long-term repercussions, maybe unknown at the time?
Without going into my mental health history, I’ve often wondered about it.
Thank you! Any tips on where to go with that information? In general, of course, realizing that may be an impossible question in this forum.
I do. There is a whole chapter on head trauma in my new book. I like multiple vitamins, omega-3s, and brain enhancing supplements, such as ginkgo and PS. I also like HBOT therapy.
what are some good foods for the brain? are there any supplements I can use besides caffeine to help me concentrate?
Think colorful fruits and vegetables, high quality protein, healthy fats. In The End of Mental Illness there is a chapter called Food Made Insanely Simple.
Not a fan of caffeine :). Supplements I like for focus - EPA omega-3s, rhodiola, ginseng, green tea extract, theanine.
Can you expand on the bit about caffeine? I recently quit drinking it, and (after a zombie-like two week washout period), now I feel so much better.
Why do you dislike caffeine, and what, if anything, do you recommend as a healthier energy boost?
Caffeine constricts blood flow to the brain, is addictive, and decreases sleep for many. I recommend Brain Boost on the Go.
https://brainmd.com/brain-boost-on-the-go - is what I take and recommend.
Hi, thank you for doing this! I don't have many questions, and I don't want to take too much of your time.
How can one break free from being very introverted?
Are there any exercises you know of that can help someone feel more confident in initiating interactions with strangers?
Have you ever studied a brain that was under the influence of LSD? Could you describe the effects you observed?
Is there any way to inhibit cortisol (I think) production so that a person with fibromyalgia can function normally again?
Lastly, do you know if it's possible for someone that has PTSD and has been addicted to opioids for 10+ years for chronic pain to be able to mentally transition back into being a productive member of society? If so, any tips on how to help them achieve this?
Thank you for your time.
For introverts - if you want to break free, progressively spend more time with others, short times at first and slowly increase it, while you are doing relaxation exercises.
Never knowingly studied the brain under LSD, but have with ibogaine, and it seemed to hurt brain function.
Yes, people who have been sick for a long time can be better if they put the brain in a healing environment.
I have seen many people successfully get off benzos. It takes time, a very slow taper, and put the brain in a healing environment.
I have been diagnosed schizo-affective bipolar disorder. I have been on risperdal and depakote for over 25 years. In your book Healing Depression and Anxiety I think you suggested taking something like Prilosec to protect my stomach. I have have esophagitis, diverticulitis and GERD. My question is should I take Prilosec every day? I hear bad things about taking Prilosec.
I am not a fan of daily antacids, because the stomach needs acid to digest your food.
If you don't use your brain you can lose some of its function. Start working it more and it will work better.
Dr. Amen big fan of you and your wife Tana!
Two questions -
- I heard one can detox lead, mercury, aluminum from the brain via a cilantro/chlorella chelation detox. According to research heavy metal chelation using cilantro and chlorella can naturally remove an average of 87% of lead, 91% of mercury, and 74% of aluminum from the body/brain within 45 days. How safe is this and would this help someone who is suffering from brain fog/ADD/ADHD?
- A study suggests that iron deficiency may contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Does this apply to adults and how high would say your ferritin/total iron need to be to see improvements?
Thank you again for existing you've been a tremendous help on my journey to brain health!
These are great questions!
I am just not sure about the answer, but am a fan of doing what you can to eliminate toxins. I recommend supporting the 4 organs of detoxification ... kidneys (water), liver (brassicas), gut (fiber), sweat (exercise and saunas).
Agree completely! Get ferritin level above 50.
Do you see many cases where you can predict behaviour based on specific damage/pathology in the brain?
Yes, many, that is why using brain SPECT imaging at Amen Clinics, to help us understand and direct treatment.
Hello Dr. Amen Is mesofonia a real disorder? Or is it just what it’s called when you are irritated by certain noises IE: chewing loudly/ crinkling wrappers and people talking. My mother claims that she has it to the point where my dad is not even allowed to be in the same room with her at dinner time. I just need to know if this is all real or if it’s just common discomfort being exaggerated by confirmation bias.
Yes, it is real.
Hi Dr. Amen. If I don’t suspect I have any brain issues or mental illness, are there any treatments to make a normal brain better? Better memory, more focus?
Yes, by doing all the BRIGHT MINDS strategies I wrote about in The End of Mental Illness. Such as: Hydrate better! Drinking at least 5 glasses of water a day could decrease your risk of hypertension Drink more green tea Limit salt intake Take a good multivitamin/mineral, vitamin D, magnesium and an omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement daily Support your memory with ginkgo biloba extract Enjoy an ounce of dark chocolate every day (for the cocoa flavanols) Eat more beets, green leafy vegetables, berries, pumpkin seeds, and cayenne pepper Increase your intake of foods high in magnesium, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds Eat more foods loaded with potassium, such as spinach and sweet potatoes Limit alcohol, fruit juices, and sodas (including diet sodas) Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, and if you have sleep apnea, get it assessed and treated And, of course, exercise
Anything new for treating chronic insomnia?
There is a chapter on this in my new book. Avoid anything that hurts sleep (caffeine, alcohol, exercising at night, cell phone usage, bright lights, TV), and engage in sleep enhancing habits (routine, relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, music), magnesium, melatonin, GABA, etc. We have a sleep course at Amen University that may be helpful. You can find here: https://brainmd.com/overcoming-insomnia-course
Hi. I want to know the negative effects and damages on the brain from neurotoxins & spores from stacybrochys, every doctor says there are non, but I can see my daughter never was the same. Are they permanent? How to heal the brain?
They can be damaging to the brain, we have seen that on our scans. But the brain can heal.
I’m a 35 year old female who suffers from serve motor tics. I feel like a ping pong ball with Drs because no one can send me to someone who understands TS & Tics!! I live in South GA. What advice if any do you have that I could have for relief, meds to discuss with my dr or someone who specializes in this disorder????
I have a loved one with Tourette's. He responded to Tenex and an elimination diet, especially stopping gluten, dairy and processed foods. You could see someone in our Atlanta Clinic. Here is how to get ahold of us: https://www.amenclinics.com/locations/atlanta/
Recommendations to support a 2 year old through separation and having 2 homes, especially with parents not having peaceful relationship?
Work with the parents to get along better because children play the stress of their parents. If that is not possible, make sure the child's sleep and nutrition are the best it can be.
Hi Dr Amen, followed you for a while and will be getting your book for sure. My question relates to drug use specifically MDMA. I find I need quite a lot of MDMA to get the same effect as others and this has substantially increased over time. So, what would be the time frame at which the receptors would resensitize if that is the mechanism and any idea on permanent damage?
Great question. That is my experience with MDMA ... over time the need goes up, which is why i try to support the brain without drugs or medications if possible. It is not always possible.
Do anti psychotics shrink your brain? And what do you suggest for most people that have psychosis in general?
I have not seen antipsychotics shrink the brain. For psychosis, I always want to ask why -- infections, toxins, genetic risk, etc.
What is the best way to get rid of addiction by yourself?
Fall in love with your brain. Work everyday to keep it healthy.
Is there a connection between people that have mthfr and prolonged tbi symptoms? Specifically teenage girls?
30% of people have MTHFR gene abnormalities, and it is associated with poor response to antidepressant medication. I am not sure about prolonged TBI symptoms.
What do you think are the most effective/safest treatments to Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder (specifically marijuana-induced). There isn’t much research on these disorders open to the public and much debate on what helps/doesn’t help. I know that DPD/DRD can last for months, years, and even for life. Would you recommend any specific supplements to deal with the driving anxiety?
EDIT: also (sorry for asking so many questions), would DPD/DRD be considered a form of PTSD? Just for some context: I have currently been experiencing some pretty intense symptons and it started after a really bad experience with weed. Am wondering what steps I should take to help reassure me/accept this new mode of perception.
This is often related to low activity in the temporal lobes. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help in my experience.
Thank you so much! I’ll definitely look into this! I’ve been meaning to try supplments/fish oil but am slightly hesistant because I am afraid of any negative effects or setbacks.
I'm a big fan of BrainMD those are the supplements I take and encourage my patients to take: https://brainmd.com/supplements
What is your recommendation for epa and dha for fish oil to have a healthy brain?
About 1400mg a day of EPA + DHA. Both are important for a healthy brain.
I have a cyst in my pineal gland. The doc wants to repeat MRIs every three years to see if it grew. Should I repeat the MRIs ? Is there a way I can eliminate the cyst myself?
You should repeat the MRIs to make sure it is not growing or putting pressure on other important structures.
Have you done any research on the link between nutrition- specifically low carb diets- and inflammation in the brain, and the potential to use them to slow or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s?
Eliminating sugar and processed foods decreases inflammation; colorful fruits and vegetables decrease inflammation; eliminating gum disease decreases inflammation. You have to be careful with low carb diets and inflammation. If it is all meat, it may increase inflammation.
my husband..2 step sons and just last week my oldest son had his spec scan done. spec scans have saved my families lives! but..mu husband did have 11 etc treatments before he went to amen clinic. he still suffers w memory loss. do you think etc treatments are or are not effective..and why?
So pleased we could help.
ECT can be lifesaving for suicidal thoughts. It is not the first thing I think about, but many people have benefited from it. But it can also cause significant memory problems. Likely his brain can be better!!
In your opinion, what is the most effective way to diagnose and treat childhood trauma that has been suppressed by a client?
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