Change Your Brain, Change Your Life was a breakthrough bestseller by renowned neuropsychiatrist and brain expert, Dr. Daniel Amen. Now it’s back with 50% new content in the revised and expanded edition. In this book you’ll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures work in your brain. You’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with. Learn how to help heal your brain and change your life with Dr. Amen’s effective “brain subscriptions.” Read on for a Q&A with Dr. Amen and click here to see the trailer for his PBS special, On the Psychiatrist’s Couch, airing nationwide this week.
What can readers of the first edition of Change Your Brain Change Your Life expect out of the new revised edition that they don’t have in the first?
When I first wrote Change Your Brain Change Your Life we had performed about 5,000 brain SPECT scans at one small clinic in Northern California. Now we have a database of 115,000 scans on patients from 111 countries. We have learned so much in the interim that it was important to update the book and include our latest thinking, many more natural ways to optimize the brain, three completely new chapters on brain types, brain healthy nutrition, and a very specific plan to decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Why is now the right time to come out with this new edition?
The first version still sells very well, but it was outdated. Our thinking has changed and I wanted my readers to have the latest information.
There is a lot valuable information and tips on how to lead a healthier lifestyle in the book. If you had to pick 3 things to tell someone they should do to help improve brain health, what would those things be?
- Brain envy – I hope to get readers to really care about their brains.
- Avoid anything that hurts their brains: some are expected, such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, and brain injuries. Some things not expected at all, such as obesity, hypertension, sleep apnea, and chronic stress.
- Engage in regular brain healthy habits, such as water, sleep, new learning, exercise and great nutrition.
What are the most common mistakes people make when it comes to their brain health?
They don’t care enough about the 3 pounds between their ears.
What is the most frequently asked question from your patients and how do you answer them?
Can I really change my brain? Is there hope for me? Absolutely, we see people change their brains and their lives on a daily basis.
Do I have to take medicine if I am depressed, ADHD, etc.? We are not opposed to medication, but we believe first do no harm and use the least toxic, most effective treatments. There are many natural alternatives to help health the brain and boost your mind.
Should I let my child play football? No. The brain is soft and the skull is hard with sharp boney ridges. The brain is not finished developing until you are 25 or so. Contact sports are not smart for developing brains.
What is one of your favorite success stories with a patient that has followed your “brain prescriptions”?
Nancy came to our clinic from Oxford, England. Three years earlier at the age of 80, she bought a copy of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life in a used bookstore for 50 cents. In her own words, “The book just laid around for a year or two, but when I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. Up to that time I had been obese, prone to depression, unmotivated, and uninspired. Little by little I added some of the things recommended.”
First, she started to drink more water. By reading the book she learned that her brain is 80% water, and staying hydrated was an important brain exercise. After a few days she noticed her energy improved.
Next, she started to take brain healthy supplements, including a multiple vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D (her level tested low), ginkgo biloba, acetyl-l-carnitine, and phosphatidylserine. “They made a big difference,” she said.
As her energy increased she began to exercise more, including walking, which helped her mood, and she started to dance and play table tennis.
Motivated by her progress, she completely changed her diet, to one just like the Brain Warriors Way diet described in the last chapter. She became serious about her food and noticed the weight begin to drop away.
New learning was her next strategy. She started taking French classes and learned to play to the guitar. When we met, she was learning 3 different languages.
Then she started teaching her family how to love and care for their brains. When they saw their mother get off the couch and shed her weight and depression, they felt it was important to pay attention to what was happening. She said, “The best thing I can do for my children is keep myself healthy for as long as I can. I never dreamt that I could be this happy and have so much fun at this time in my life.”
When we met Nancy she had saved her money to come and get a scan. It was her 83rd birthday present to herself. Hearing Nancy’s story, our staff invited us to meet Nancy. When we talked to her both of us started to cry. Nancy is the reason we do what we do. She was so sweet, so grateful, and so funny. She told us she had lost 5 stones.
“How much is that?” Daniel asked.
“Seventy pounds, without counting calories, without depriving myself of anything I wanted,” Nancy replied. “I used to be like this (she made a face like a blowfish), now I am not. I am off the couch and feeling better than I have in 40 years. My energy, mood, and memory are remarkably better. My life totally changed. I started by eating the good things first, so I lost my cravings for the things that were not good.”
Nancy’s SPECT scan looked stunningly beautiful. It looked like a much younger person. She cried when she saw it and said she knew it didn’t look anything like that just 3 years earlier. You are not stuck with the brain you have, you can make it better, no matter what age you start.
The main reason for Nancy’s success was that she was serious, even relentless for her brain health. She never felt deprived or had the feeling that her new way of living was hard. Being a couch potato was hard. Being depressed was hard. Feeling isolated and alone was hard. Plus, she developed the daily habits and routines that propelled her success forward. In the chapter, we will discuss the daily habits and routines that ensure success with the Brain Warrior’s Way. Like Nancy, it is OK to start with just one thing until you master it, then move on to the next habit.
What is the most important message you hope people get out of this book?
You are not stuck with the brain you have, you can make it better, and we can prove it.