How to End Mental Illness | Dr. Daniel Amen

There’s a certain stigma around mental illness, one that can, unfortunately, keep people from feeling empowered that they can change their brain health and get the care they truly need. But think about it—would we ever shame someone with cancer, autoimmunity, or dementia for needing help? Of course not. Unfortunately, the past methods of treating mental health disorders didn’t actually look at what was happening inside the brain. It was a guessing game based on symptoms without knowing the real cause, location, or severity of the imbalance. The good news is that now, with technology like brain scans, we can get a clear picture of what is happening in the brain to get real solutions.

My guest on this week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. Daniel Amen, has been paving the way for a new type of psychiatry, looking at the actual brain and using an integrative approach to prevent disease and successfully treat it. The Washington Post called Dr. Daniel Amen the most popular psychiatrist in America and Discover Magazine listed his brain imaging research as the top neuroscience story for 2015. He is a double board-certified psychiatrist and ten-time New York Times bestselling author, with such blockbuster books as Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Healing ADD, Memory Rescue, Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades, and The Daniel Plan, co-authored by Pastor Rick Warren and myself. In March 2020, his book The End of Mental Illness will be published (and I highly recommend it).

This episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy is brought to you by ButcherBox. Now, through November 17, 2019, ButcherBox is offering its new customers a free, completely traceable from farm to fork, animal welfare certified turkey plus $20 off your first box. To take advantage of this special offer from ButcherBox just go to OR enter promo code FARMACY at checkout.

Dave McKinnon

  • Marcelo Oleas says:

    Huge fan of both of you! Having you guys together is always priceless 🙌

  • Shans Bo says:

    This is an excellent podcast. I agree with the vitamin deficiencies point mentioned here. Most doctors don’t check for vitamin deficiencies, which is sad because your brain and body needs sufficient vitamins and minerals to function properly.

    • Pat C. says:

      Most traditional doctors hardly check for anything. They have tunnel vision and don’t care about people only $$$. That’s why I love Dr. Hyman and his guests they really care about helping people. The information they share transforms lives.

    • Juha Saranpää says:

      @Pat C. Ååqqj

    • Anne McCarron says:

      I live in Alaska where it is cold and dark 9 months out of the year. Few doctors order vitamin D levels on patients. Vitamin D deficieny can exacerbate asthma & precipiate osteopenia & osteoporosis and many other physical problems.

  • Luis Sarti says:

    Thanks so much Dr. Hyman for yet another great program. Just when one seems like the best one, the other out does the previous. Dr. Amen is phenomenal! I will certainly follow him and keep up on his methods. This podcast was incredibly timely. Thank you again.

  • Laury Hammer says:

    Hi Dr. Hyman! I am a Cleveland Clinic employee in the Nuclear Medicine Department. I would love to do more brain SPECT scans on patients. It’s one of our more interesting studies. Although, insurance doesn’t cover it for the conditions Dr. Amen says that it is useful for in diagnosing. Maybe you could push for it to be covered by our insurance and maybe other insurance companies would follow suit.

    • Anne Fuselier says:

      Laury Hammer yes. PLEASE!!! Start with Medicare

    • Art and Culture says:

      Laury Hammer Pharma gets endless dividends for scripts that don’t heal.

    • Beth B says:

      one problem with the testing is that it puts alot of radiation in your body…..wish there were safer tests

    • Sharon R says:

      Laury Hammer….I just watched 60 minutes last night and they had a segment on MRI head scans for autism and depression. I would love to be a candidate for that study, since I already have a baseline MRI brain scan.

    • SARA says:

      They don’t do that, I’ve been diagnosed since early on in age I’m now 46 yrs old and still suffer greatly from wrong meds and it sucks

  • Michelle Graham says:

    Seriously one of the best podcasts on mental health issues I’ve ever heard! I can relate to so much of it. I downloaded the think dirty app he talked about and it’s surprising how toxic all my cosmetics and cleaners are even though they’re marketed as healthy!

  • Michelle Wright says:

    Love this conversation!! Thank you! I’ve had a major problem with the word “illness” for years. Generally speaking, if we as humans all experience similar symptoms, how can it be an ‘illness’ rather than a symptom to our environment or experience? The DSM was created to identify which medication to prescribe, and pharma did an amazing job marketing the idea we need those medications. I was told multiple times I would probably need to be on an antidepressant for life for generalized anxiety but I’ve been off for 2.5 years now only to realize I have C-PTSD. Such important conversations!!

    • Erica Malast says:

      Tell her to Claim disability

    • Ghost of Stacey PopAlina 👻 says:

      Our bodies can function with so much more “ease” when we cut out the S.A.D. ~ Standard American Diet

      I am 5 yrs cancer free from Stage IV Grade 3 cancer; AND, I mitigate my cPTSD symptoms & triggers well. I no longer lose days, when I experience big triggers. It’s more like moments or hours. I was extremely grateful to find better mental health as a “side effect” of getting physically healthier! 🌞

  • Critical Thinker says:

    I just wanted to say how beautiful it was to see a doctor of psychiatry talking about real life scenarios. Actually giving his own family as an example. Being able to relate to a person one-on-one is the most genuine connection that two human beings can share. It brings hope in a world of chaos.

    I myself am a 46 year-old woman who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when I was 28. I have had a lot of therapy since then. I have spent years doing any sort of research I can. I’ve always been open to anything that will help. I figured the only way I would be able to do that is by educating myself. I have just started to get into the physical health of the body and nutrition. I know everything that I need to be doing but it is difficult to follow through with my disorder. I recently moved a year ago and have had difficulty finding someone who can treat me physically and emotionally. The basics are just not enough. I’m basically trying to take care of myself by using self-help.

    I know that I need to fix my body and I just want a chance to do it. I just want to have a chance to get my life back before I get any older.

    There is a big part of me that feels empathic and extremely intuitive. Almost to the point of feeling psychic at times. This is something that I would be interested in exploring as far as the brain is concerned.

    Once again thank you so much for being so down to earth. ♥️

    • Deni Bre says:

      Can I contact you Mac?

    • colleen reid says:

      Thank you for sharing your story. You’ve been through so much. I pray that you will find a way through .🙏🏼

    • Shift Happens says:

      Touching comment 💟 I urge you to take a deep dive into Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work. There are tons of YouTube videos and he has multiple excellent books. Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough. Best to you dear 💫

    • jitaftwt says:

      My best friend from high school is a borderline and I know what a challenge it is. I’ve been back in her life a couple times but it just doesn’t work. I pray 🙏🏻 for healing and that you have support and love.

  • Treasuretree Reynolds says:

    As a former psychiatric R.N., I always wondered why we never scanned our patients brain.To me it just made common sense. I didn’t think the food we fed them was particularly healthy either. But, insurance companies don’t want to pay for scans. My area of specialty was working with children and adolescents. Gosh, it was both rewarding and heartbreaking. I’m glad we as a society are working towards diminishing the stigma. Fingers crossed.

    • question everything says:

      I was diagnosed with depression about 35 years ago. I talked to my aunt about it. She was completely put off by the fact that they did not do any tests only talked to me to come up with that diagnosis and serve me those pills. This whole thing has been a big pharma sham from the beginning

    • Sherry Lewis says:

      It great to hear testimony of hearing heartbreaking as well as rewarding thats the nurse I would want.

    • Treasuretree Reynolds says:

      @Sherry Lewis ~ TY 💜

    • Treasuretree Reynolds says:

      @question everything ~ I hope you are doing much better. 💜

    • lova wilson says:

      Thank you for ur wk w/young people n adults w/mental issues! Blessings to you from above!

  • Debbie says:

    Thank you so much to both of you for sharing this important information with the world. I am a hospice volunteer mainly for Alzheimer’s patients and I get to see the end result, the last 6 months of their life. When I started this work and saw them curled up in their bed in the fetal position I said a prayer to God, asking him what can I do for them and I heard “pray”. I verbally say a prayer over each one and I know that at a spiritual level they know that I prayed for them because on rare occasions they have said “thank you” and I have even seen a very slight smile. They do feel the love I have for them. I am so grateful that I am able to do this type of volunteer work, God has truly blessed me. I am grateful. Debbie

    • James Andriulaitis says:


    • Sayusayme🦋 says:

      You’re an Angel, I volunteered for awhile and had to stop. Perhaps visions of my Tb I.

    • Linda Sartori says:

      My mother had alzheimers and was in a nursing home for 10 years. I did not want volunteers or staff praying over her out loud. I do not have to explain.
      Keep your religion to yourself. I am serious.

    • Shift Happens says:

      God bless your precious heart and strong spirit! Thank you for sharing Love with people in such vulnerable situations. 💝

  • Michele Seven says:

    My dear brother has suffered for years and NOBODY believed it was physical, only mental/emotional despite several concussions since age 2 and many food allergies. He’s now 51 and in jail where he has no physical contact, only interactions with other unhealthy people and atrocious food options. We desperately need to address the prison system and overhaul it using these techniques and information.

    • Lisa Curtis says:

      yes, we should take care of that. but the people in jail and prison are the last ones that anybody wants to help. I don’t have any friends or family in jail bit I feel adament about not forgetting them. most of the people there had very abusive childhoods and their hippocampus is small, they run on cortisol. the food they are fed make it worse.

    • C B says:

      I suspect there are many people with mental illness that have trouble being understood who are unable to fit into a “pleasant societal slot.” So away we must go. It’s really tragic. I’m sorry for what you and your brother are going thru. Addiction, anger, violence are often signs of mood disorders and we need light, calm, good human connections, healthy foods and good sleep to even have a chance at repairing our brains. There but for the grace of God go any of us! It’s eeny, meeny, miney, mo! People with mental illness need kindness and holistic help, not incarceration, and not always psychotherapeutic drugs. We need to be understood and loved and a chance to move back into wellness. And it’s a long road, but with some understanding and willingness it can be done. It’s just most unfortunate that self-discipline is in short supply when one is mentally ill. I think they should check all incoming prisoners’ neurotransmitter levels in their brains via their saliva. Without proper levels it’s hard to feel healthy motivation, get quality sleep, hold down responsibilities, feel pleasure and love appropriately. And many with PTSD are just in fear a lot, and have many triggers that keep them in survival mode to fight or run. I really wish police got training in handling encounters with suspected PTSD, or simply approach all suspects/criminals as if they have PTSD. Honestly, I heavily suspect many cops have PTSD and are walking around with loaded guns. Maybe we should also test their neurotransmitters after certain traumatic events on the job, even months afterwds, because they have their adrenaline elevated daily and it’s got to take a toll on them, too! And maybe then there will be yet more sensitivity around mental illness in this society. May God bless you and all of us.

    • Noah Daughhetee says:

      Absolutely. I agree. So sorry to hear about your brother.

    • Diane Ibsen says:

      That’s in it self is criminal. I am so sorry. Don’t ever give up. People with chronic illness are treated like lepers.

  • Sheri Medford says:

    I was diagnosed at 20 as bipolar and put on meds. By 40 I was on disability. then I stopped gluten and dairy and processed foods for my husband who got cancer and in one month I not only got rid of my bipolar symptoms I also cured my autoimmune system. I lost 50 years of health (I am now 70)

  • Angela Holinka says:

    As a grandmother of four adopted grandchildren (none are sivlings), who all went through tremendous childhood traumas; would love to hear more about childhood traumas and getting them healthier, so as not creating future dysfunction. Obviously their home, love, support, therpy, and school life have greatly improved since being in our family; but what else can we do as grandparents to support them?? LOVE being grandparents!

    • Hiroshouse says:

      🙏🏼the world is lucky to have you taking care of these children. Hell to the monsters who hurt them before 😭🙏🏼

    • Jd Knight-Mark says:

      Any outdoor activities…start an informed garden.
      Include composting and study the plants and what conditions they prefer, etc. An ongoing project.

    • Heather Smith says:

      God bless you precious Grandma for not only changing the lives of these sweet babies. But the generations that come after them will be changed bc you CHOSE to love these precious kids well. This is how we change the world. Invest in our kids and all the kids God puts in front of us. What a gift you are to the world.

    • Ravenheart says:

      Teach them meditation. It sounds trivial the way most people think of it, but meditation is actually communion with the source of all that is. For anyone that communion would be the greatest gift, but most especially for anyone who is overwhelmed by any kind of suffering, like trauma, addiction, even addiction to negative thinking. That communion is the same reason that 12 step programs are so effective for any kind of addiction, and the depth of that communion determines the level of success in those programs. I’m mentioning addiction here because that is what often follows childhood traumas.

    • Mary West says:

      Children like toys and pets. Rabbit, bird, small dog.

  • O K says:

    I will always follow a doctor who says that medications are not always a solution. Thank you, Doc!

    • Dennis Delfina says:

      Amen 🙏 🙏 🙏
      My son is on medication for bipolar disorder and believe me medication is not the solution. I pray to God for my son’s deliverance from this disorder of 8 years 😢 He is now 33 years old and still struggling 😢😢😢

    • Ryan Frizzell says:

      @O K, I agree that medication is not always the solution. Best!

    • Mariah says:

      Yep! I’m not on any meds am I doing okay? Not really lol but I do all the necessary things that I need to to stay mentally healthy. Progress not perfection though. I also don’t eat out at resturants anymore. Trying to give up bread which has been hard. But yes medications aren’t for me and sense I am trying to change my behavior my friend has been wanting to change theirs he doesn’t want to be on any meds either. Keep us in your thoughts.

    • WPRPN PirateRadioPodcasts says:

      Aye, MEDI-tation OVER MEDI-cation. JACKPOT!!!!! Meanwhile: Q – WHO doesn’t suffer from some form or degree of mental DIS-order, or DIS-ease? You’d literally need to be a BUDDHA, or other worldly CELESTIAL being.
      Mental challenges & suffering are central to the human experience.

    • Catholic Women Disciples Presents says:

      Me too

  • Andromeda says:

    Getting my final mercury amalgam fillings out next week. To know I have been poisoned for the past 30 years is utterly infuriating. The dentists said that the “mercury was bound up” with the silver. Which it is not… I saw the “smoking tooth” videos recently which showed mercury constantly off-gassing from 20y old teeth and it was like watching a horror movie knowing that was in my mouth. Everyone in my family who has had mercury amalgams all have mental issues – my dad who grew up poor and thus never went to a dentist is 86 and sharp as a tack. He wears dentures now but I’d rather have dentures and a good brain instead of amalgams and brain decay! We are all so betrayed by professionals we trusted😢

    • George says:

      Make sure your dentist knows how to safely remove amalgam.

    • George Mooyman says:

      @Andromeda  Good on you I am 70 now and 10 years ago I was almost ready to go into care. I had all the amalgam and root canals removed and had a couple of years of detox with supplements and homeopathic remedies.
      I am now doing very well and enjoying my life once again.
      The process was expensive but worth what I now have.

    • Suzanne Ward-Crowe says:

      @George Mooyman what is wrong with root canals?

    • Hanagloria Edelblum says:

      Root canals, delicate operations, leave thousands of microscopic tubules around the tooth exposed to toxins. You can survive and be tired and think nothing is wrong, or nerve degenerative diseases will bite! My brother died in pain and misery from ALS. His symptoms started about two years after he had major dentistry performed. He had been a big, strapping, healthy young man in his 50’s, who took exceptional care of himself. But impoverished. My sister pressured him to go to the dentist. Then when he was diagnosed she bought into the dying narrative. I wish I had been more involved. I tried. Who knows.

  • Lola Yancey says:

    I agree! This doctor should have the Nobel Peace Prize! I can see this readily after watching only one of his videos! It all makes sense!

  • Melissa says:

    I have been diagnozed with depression/generalized anxiety disorder and bipolar. I have been on Lexapro for so many years. I have always said I wanted to get off my meds. I absolutely love this podcast because everything the drs are saying is exactly how I feel. A dr should get to the ROOT cause of the issue instead of just throwing someone on meds. There has to be a reason why we have these issues. Drs need to look at the person as a whole instead of just the diagnozist. But insurance does not cover all the scans. I have even considered going to an all natural dr just so I can get off my meds.

    • Curvyblue says:

      I got two opinions and was diagnosed with bipolar 2. I never felt comfortable with the diagnosis because I feel what I go through is due to CPTSD but they ask about 5 questions and boom! You’re bipolar. Doctor put me on an antidepressant that made my knees hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I felt numb and lethargic. I got curious and Googled the ingredients and was coloring, clear coat and propylene glycol! That’s the base in engine coolant or whatever…can’t think of the name right. I quit taking them and felt better. I get depressed because of isolation, things of this world but I’m made to be believe something is wrong with me.

    • Fisherman Doug says:

      They should get to the root cause. You’re right.

    • Cherryl Smith says:

      WE as a whole need to address the stigma too. I feel so judged by Doctors and staff, even dismissed! At times I feel humiliated even. Rejected for having an ailment. 😮😢

    • Vivian says:

      Going to naturopath doctors can really help you if you can afford it or if you can find one that is able to take insurance.

    • Universal Love says:

      @Curvyblue daily meditation and prayer helps ☯️

  • GodsgalMN says:

    I totally agree. 👍🏼 For years I’ve been calling my “mental” illness = a Brain illness. This makes a difference, not only to my brain health, but to others in my life. Very powerful shift! Let’s call it what it is. Ty. 🙏🏼

  • Jennifer says:

    Psilocybin saved my life. I was addicted to heroin for 15 years and after Psilocybin treatment I will be 3 years clean in September. I have zero cravings. This is something that truly needs to be more broadly used in addiction treatment.

    • Elizabeth Williams says:

      Psychedelics definitely have potential to deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, I would like to give them a try but haven’t found any legit grower to get it.

    • Elizabeth Williams says:

      Micheal Harris Is he on instagram?

    • Anjelo Valeriano says:

      The Trips I’ve been having have really helped me a lot,I finally feel in control of my emotions and my future and things that used to be mundane to me now seem incredible and full of nuance on top of that I’m way less driven by my ego and I have alot more empathy as well

    • Patriacia Smith says:

      Micheal Harris Does dr.sporess ship?


      Shrooms was the best trip I had. It was an amazing experience.

  • Bianca says:

    Psychedelics saved me from years of uncontrollable depression, anxiety and illicit pill addiction.imagine carrving heavy chains for over a decade and then all of a sudden that burden is gone.Believe it or not in a couple years they’ll be all over for treatment of mental health related issues

    • Wizard says:

      Psychedelic are just an exceptional mental health’s fascinating how effective they are against depression and saved my life

    • Tessymitch says:

      Please does anyone know where I can get them? I put so much on my plate and it really affects my stress and anxiety level .I would love to try to shrooms.

    • Donyflox says:

      I live in Michigan….suffering for awhile now but didnt realize how serious I may have it until recently – probably bc of @self medicating” with alcohol

    • Sherri Mandel says:

      Please how do I find him?
      Is he on insSta?

    • Vicky Tony says:

      Saw some reviews about him, actually a friend referred

  • Pure Living Family says:

    One of our most favorite podcasts of all time. As someone who took antidepressants for almost 10 years I love Dr. Amen’s new approach. We need a restructuring in the psychiatric field.

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