The Profile Dossier: Daniel Amen, the Psychiatrist Offering Practical Tools for a Healthier Brain
“Don’t believe everything you hear — even in your own mind.”
After conducting more than 225,000 brain scans on patients from 155 countries, psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist Daniel Amen knows a thing or two about the brain.
As the founder of Amen Clinics, Amen has pioneered a brain imaging study called SPECT that looks at blood flow and activity patterns that could evaluate the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
“We must relabel mental health as brain health,” Amen writes in his book Change Your Brain Every Day. “Changing the discussion from mental health to brain health changes everything. People begin to see their problem as a medical and not moral, lowering their shame and guilt and eliciting understanding and compassion from their families.”
Fame, he says, produces a lot of dopamine. But there’s a dark side. “If you’re not careful, it’ll wear out your pleasure centers, and then you feel off,” he says. “Many of my young stars start to medicate with alcohol or marijuana or other drugs.”
The brain, Amen says, does not do what is best for it. The brain does what it has always done. “This is why you have to be very careful with what you allow your brain to do because it’s going to get dopamine and it’ll go seek to do it again,” he says.
He recommends patients take control of their brain. They can do that through protecting it from injury, feeding it nutritious foods, partaking in “accurate thinking” to squash negative thought patterns, learning something new every day, and more.
Remember that there is no elixir that will solve a medical or psychological issue. In learning more about Amen, my biggest takeaway that there is no “quick-fix cure” — the cure is a well-rounded lifestyle of good, consistent habits day in and day out.
In this Profile Dossier, we can learn about some of the brain health techniques Amen offers after 40 years of clinical practice.
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