Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness

by Daniel G. Amen
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Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness by Daniel G. Amen

In this breakthrough bestseller, you'll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You're not stuck with the brain you're born with. Here are just a few of neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen's surprising—and effective—"brain prescriptions" that can help heal your brain and change your life:
To Quell Anxiety and Panic:
¸  Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil
To Fight Depression:
¸  Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
To Curb Anger:
¸  Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage
To Conquer Impulsiveness and Learn to Focus:
¸  Develop total focus with the "One-Page Miracle"
To Stop Obsessive Worrying:
¸  Follow the "get unstuck" writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812929980
Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Publication date: 12/28/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 337
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Daniel G. Amen, M.D., is a clinical neuroscientist, child and adolescent psychiatrist, and medical director of the Amen Clinic for Behavioral Medicine in Fairfield, California. The recipient of awards from the American Psychiatric Association, the Baltimore-D.C. Institute for Psychoanalysis, and the U.S. Army, Dr. Amen is a nationally recognized expert on the relationship between the brain and behavior and on attention deficit disorder, and is the author of several books, including Windows into the ADD Mind and Firestorms in the Brain.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: For Those Who Have Eyes, Let Them See:

What is SPECT? An acronym for single photon emission computerized tomography, it is a sophisticated nuclear medicine study that "looks" directly at cerebral blood flow and indirectly at brain activity (or metabolism). In this study, a radioactive isotope (which, as we will see, is akin to myriad beacons of energy or light) is bound to a substance that is readily taken up by the cells in the brain. A small amount of this compound is injected into the patient's vein, where it runs through the bloodstream and is taken up by certain receptor sites in the brain. The radiation exposure is similar to that of a head CT or an abdominal X ray. The patient then lies on a table for about fifteen minutes while a SPECT "gamma" camera rotates slowly around his head. The camera has special crystals that detect where the compound (signaled by the radioisotope acting like a beacon of light) has gone. A supercomputer then reconstructs off line images of brain activity levels. The elegant brain snapshots that result offer us a sophisticated blood flow/metabolism brain map. With these maps, physicians have been able to identify certain patterns of brain activity that correlate with psychiatric and neurological illnesses. SPECT studies belong to a branch of medicine called nuclear medicine. Nuclear (refers to the nucleus of an unstable or radioactive atom) medicine uses radioactively tagged compounds (radiopharmaceuticals). The unstable atoms emit gamma rays as they decay, with each gamma ray acting like a beacon of light. Scientists can detect those gamma rays with film or special crystals and can record an accumulation of the number of beaconsthat have decayed in each area of the brain. These unstable atoms are essentially tracking devicesthey track which cells are most active and have the most blood flow and those that are least active and have the least blood flow. SPECT studies actually show which parts of the brain are activated when we concentrate, laugh, sing, cry, visualize, or perform other functions.

Nuclear medicine studies measure the physiological functioning of the body, and they can be used to diagnose a multitude of medical conditions: heart disease, certain forms of infection, the spread of cancer, and bone and thyroid disease. My own area of expertise in nuclear medicine, the brain, uses SPECT studies to help in the diagnosis of head trauma, dementia, atypical or unresponsive mood disorders, strokes, seizures, the impact of drug abuse on brain function, and atypical or unresponsive aggressive behavior.

During the late '7os and '8os SPECT studies were replaced in many cases by the sophisticated anatomical CAT and later MRI studies. The resolution of those studies was far superior to SPECT's in delineating tumors, cysts, and blood clots. In fact, they nearly eliminated the use of SPECT studies altogether. Yet despite their clarity, CAT scans and MRIs could offer only images of a static brain and its anatomy; they gave little or no information on the activity in a working brain. It was analogous to looking at the parts of a car's engine without being able to turn it on. In the last decade, it has become increasingly recognized that many neurological and psychiatric disorders are not disorders of the brain's anatomy, but problems in how it functions.

Two technological advancements have encouraged the use, once again, of SPECT studies. Initially, the SPECT cameras were singleheaded, and they took a long time-up to an hour-to scan a person's brain. People had trouble holding still that long, and the images were fuzzy, hard to read (earning nuclear medicine the nickname "unclear medicine"), and did not give much information about the functioning deep within the brain. Then multiheaded cameras were developed that could image the brain much faster and with enhanced resolution. The advancement of computer technology also allowed for improved data acquisition from the multiheaded systems. The higher-resolution SPECT studies of today can see into the deeper areas of the brain with far greater clarity and show what CAT scans and MRIs cannot-how the brain actually functions.

SPECT studies can be displayed in a variety of different ways. Traditionally the brain is examined in three different planes: horizontally (cut from top to bottom), coronally (cut from front to back), and sagittally (cut from side to side). What do physicians see when they look at a SPECT study? We examine it for symmetry and activity levels, indicated by shades of color (in different color scales selected depending on the physician's preference, including gray scales), and compare it to what we know a normal brain looks like. The black-and-white images in this book are mostly two kinds of three-dimensional (3-D) images of the brain. One kind is a 3-D surface image, looking at the blood flow of the brain's cortical surface. These images are helpful for picking up areas of good activity as well as underactive areas. They are helpful when investigating, for instance, strokes, brain trauma, and the effects of drug abuse. A normal 3-D surface scan shows good, full, symmetrical activity across the brain's cortical surface.

The 3-D active brain image compares average brain activity to the hottest 15 percent of activity. These images are helpful for picking up areas of overactivity, as seen, for instance, in active seizures, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety problems, and certain forms of depression. A normal 3-D active scan shows increased activity (seen by the light color) in the back of the brain (the cerebellum and visual or occipital cortex) and average activity everywhere else (shown by the background grid).

Physicians are usually alerted that something is wrong in one of three ways: they see too much activity in a certain area; they see too little activity in a certain area; or they see asymmetrical areas of activity that ought to be symmetrical. In the rest of the book, I will go into greater detail about how this remarkable technology has touched people's lives. For now, however, I will simply offer a sample of five common ways in which SI'ECT studies are utilized in medicine. r. To male early intervention possible. Ellen, sixty-three, was suddenly paralyzed on the right side of her body. Unable even to speak, she was in a panic and her family was extremely concerned. As drastic as these symptoms were, two hours after the event, her CAT scan was still normal. Suspecting a stroke, the emergency room physician ordered a brain SPECT study that showed a hole of activity in her left frontal lobe caused by a clot that had choked off the blood supply to this part of the brain...

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Paperback Edition
1: For Those Who Have Eyes, Let Them See Images Into the Mind
2: Carving Knives and Tooth Fairies A Prelude to the Brain and Behavior
3: Looking Into Love and Depression The Deep Limbic System
4: Enhancing Positive Thought Patterns and Strengthening Connections Deep Limbic System Prescriptions
5: Looking Into Anxiety and Fear The Basal Ganglia
6: Mastering Fear Basal Ganglia Prescriptions
7: Looking Into Inattention and Impulsivity The Prefrontal Cortex
8: Becoming Focused Prefrontal Cortex Prescriptions
9: Looking Into Worry and Obsessiveness The Cingulate System
10: Getting Unstuck Cingulate System Prescriptions

What People are Saying About This

Robert D. Hunt

Opens the door to assessments and interventions that can change your life.
— Robert D. Hunt, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt School of Medicine

Martin Stein

Revolutionary. Dr. Anem shows how your brain can become your worst enemy, and how with the proper treatment, your best friend.
— Martin Stein, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor or Psychiatry, George Washington University

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Change Your Brain, Change Your Life 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 160 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a pretty good book that appeals to the broad audience of just about anyone who has suffered from at least mild mental distress, and that includes about everyone. I agree with the doctor's philosophy that most mental disturbances can be attributed to metabolic abnormalities in different regions of the brain, though there's nothing too earthshaking about this idea. Many of the cognitive therapy excercises seem to be derived from ideas that Aaron Beck and David Burns have had, though the doctor does a good job summarizing and presenting these ideas in a practical, easy to use manner. This book also is not anti-medication, in spite of presenting these non-medication methods for improving mental health. Overall, a good read for anyone suffering from any type of mild mental distress.
odavila More than 1 year ago
I was working at a book packing company when I saw the cover to this book. I didn't think much of it as the time. I suffered from Panic and anxiety and was really confused with were to go with my life. So when I read the cover to this book and opened it up I skimmed threw it only to find myself being fired for reading on the job, (was a crap job anyway). I picked up the book at a barns and noble not to far from my house and only took 2 days to read it. after I was done it took a couple months to apply it. This book did change my life. I thought I was alone in my feelings but found out there are MANY others with similar issues to mine. The information given in this book saved my sanity and my life. I'm back to who I used to be, only better. I have a more positive outlook on my life. I eat right, exercise everyday, Call my family everyday, hug my lover and let him know I love him and look at life in a brighter state. I stay away from what pollutes my mind and actually enjoy gaining more knowledge by challenging my brain everyday with number and word problems, puzzles, and my behavior. If you feel depressed or have personal conflict issues check out this book! not by any means a cure all but it will try and help to put the pieces together for the self help you have been looking for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely interesting, and probably a breakthrough nonfiction about the fragility of the brain and its relationship to the environment and to the person. The author explains areas of the brain and their performance along with many SPECT images in 3D of the areas of the brain and what the brain damaged areas look like compared to a healthy brain. There are many SPECT images (that look like a combination of thermal imaging and xrays) in the book where the reader can see the areas of the brain affected by different substances and how these damaged areas negatively affect the person--they go along with case studies of many people that suffer from all sorts of brain damage (from mild to severe) from everything from a fall from a cycle, a stroke, different types of substance abusers, and those affected by pollution, ADD victims and more. The author even mentions that his own SPECT was not too good due to his eating junk food (though his SPECT was not included in the book). The author states that these brain damage problems can cause problems in relationships such as leading to divorces and poor performance on workplaces, road rage and more serious crimes and other social problems (thet he details in his case studies). The good news is that the author states the brain does repair itself with a healthy well balanced diet with additives such as green tea, fish oils, chicken, potatoes, relaxing classical music such as Mozart, exercise, and learning a subject such as taking a course at a university--all that are generally known to be good for overall health. He also offers synthetic medication advice suggesting that prescriptive medications are often known not to succeed because of what he calls misdiagnosis--that someone may be diagnosed with depression and given prescriptives, but may actually suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. What is not really answered is that repairing the brain from synthetics such as prescriptive medications--whether the repair is a real repair or an invisible funky repair--it looks okay, but is it really? The author is sometimes on public television in the USA. On one aired last year, he said of all of the thousands of people that he did brain scans on (what would appear to be the typical person), only 3% had healthy, normal brains. Other literature suggests that if the brain is damaged in an area, another area of the brain takes over the damaged areas responsibilities. This book reveals that it may not necessarily be all true since some people that he works with sufffer from some problems and go to him for help. The author does not really push anything, just to be aware of what one is exposed to, and what/how it can negatively affect one. He does not state how much radiation is emitted from SPECT scans, but he does not say SPECTS are necessary. One becomes more aware of what some sports people might have to deal with--such as boxers and football players that receive blows to the head. I gave this book five stars because it is such a complex subject, and the author made it such easy reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Amen's understanding of how the brain impacts the mind and emotions is an important addition to two ground-breaking books on mental and emotional competence. I tried his strategies for dealing with impulsiveness and anxiety and they worked. I also had a remarkable breakthrough when I implemented the strategies in Optimal Thinking. Read this book along with Emotional Intelligence by Danniel Goleman, and Optimal Thinking by Rosalene Glickman to get the full picture.
GrammaKathie More than 1 year ago
I have discovered it is possible to change my life by changing my brain! I bought the book because I saw Dr. Amen on PBS and I recongnized myself as one of the people he was describing. The book helped me to realize that most of what was causing me to be unhappy wasn't caused by the people around me or by the circumstances of my life. It is caused by the way my brain works. The book taught me what I needed to do to turn my life around. It takes work, but is well worth the effort!
ogo More than 1 year ago
Great book explaining how the brain works, what might be wrong, how to identify problems, & how they can be treated. And NEVER take a seemingly harmless head injury for granted! All-around open-minded & hollistic (addresses pharmaceutical treatments as well as natural alternatives & psychological/emotional tips & advice). I first learned about Dr Amen & his work on a PBS show & he was very articulate, experienced & informational. Getting this book has been very helpful. I recommend it to those who care about the health & well being of their brains, & also those who are wondering why they or their loved ones continually behave a certain way that can't seem to be changed or stopped. Covers such issues as ADD/ADHD, OCD, anxiety/fear/panic disorders, agression/violence/anger, negative thinking/suicidal thoughts, various types of depression, Alzheimer's/dementia/memory loss, physical brain injuries, drug/alcohol abuse, even the effects of smoking/nicotine/caffeine use & other medications or nutritional deficiencies. Very comprehensive & thorough work. Written in very clear & easily understandable language. Dr Amen makes you feel at ease & gives much peace of mind, confidence & hope.
johnbattle More than 1 year ago
Daniel G. Amen, M.D., is a clinical neuroscientist and medical director of the Amen Clinic for Behavioral Medicine in California. Dr. Amen has pioneered and developed a unique way of assessing and then treating a host of behavioral problems, using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a technology that measures and pictures the level of blood flow and activity levels in real time in the brain. The book is fascinating, as it includes many helpful images of the SPECT results for healthy brains and then for those with various personality difficulties. The images graphically show the results of brain trauma (such as accidents), drug or excessive alcohol use, or even inherited characteristics. When various parts of the brain are under-performing, or over-performing, distortion in normal thinking, attitudes, and reactions will follow. Particular problems Amen discusses include depression, hyperactivity, anxiety, inability to focus, obsessiveness, anger, and violence. This book is especially helpful, not only help for people with family or friends who have a clinical condition, but also for all of us who have some of these problems to a more limited degree. For more extreme cases, medications are suggested that normalize the brain parts affected. For the rest of us, each chapter includes clear and detailed signs to recognize the problem and a series of exercises and practices to help clear it up. We can change our brains! Occasionally Dr. Amen refers to his previous paradigm learned from his religious training, that these are spiritual defects or are the result of spiritual forces. He now concludes that they have a physical cause, a cause that can be treated medically or psychologically. Since I teach theology in a seminary, this aspect of his book particularly interested me. I believe in the biblical teaching that there is a nonmaterial soul, but I think the soul uses the brain as its "interface" to interact with the environment. When the brain is damaged, the result is a distortion of the way the soul expresses itself. Repeated choices can affect the brain physically; such effects are consequences of those choices. The relation of the spiritual to the material is a mystery, but I think that Amen's research does not disprove there is such a mystery. Other researchers have explored this phenomenon from a brain imaging perspective (see my review of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary). I found this book very interesting and helpful. In counseling situations we often come across such behavioral problems, and it is helpful to recognize and categorize them. The suggested exercises and ways of thinking constructively are in line with the best wisdom of my own Christian tradition, as well as being demonstrated to be effective in the practice of Dr. Amen and others.
cathy2 More than 1 year ago
Dr Amen takes us on a journey thru the brain that most people are unaware of. The book is well written, easy to understand and certainly holds your interest. He discusses certain behaviors in ourselves which are related to different areas of the brain and helps us understand how the use of drugs, alcohol and other stimulants can affect how well our brains operate. He then educates us to the facts of how we can change our behaviors by changing our diets and how by adding certain natural supplements we can change our thinking....and even prevent dementia. Great book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally, mental conditions are visible! This book should do much to remove the stigma from mental illness by reinforcing and popularizing the fact that mental illness has a physical basis, whether caused by genes, disease, or damage. Although fMRI's aren't easily available to the general population yet (largely because of expense and the unwillingness of insurance companies to pay for them), Amen shows--with many photos of brain scans--the functional damage to affected brain systems in different disorders and injuries. These are quite convincing. Not only could this help in difficult cases of diagnosis, but it could point the way to proper treatment. He even includes certain brain "exercises" and treatments (music, etc.)that,in conjunction with medication, can help strengthen or calm the affected parts of the damaged brain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It blew me away to find out how holding on to negitive memories can hold us back from living out our full potential and training our minds to automaticly think positive can bring us success and happiness,keep us strong and self confident.My life will never be the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a lot of interesting ideas on how to deal with your anxiety and other mental and emotional problems you could be having. I thought he wrote in a style that was easy to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the subject fascinating. Dr. Amen writes about a complex subject in a way the average person can comprehend. I believe his theory, and think the book is a good read for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book helped my daughter who was misdiagnosed with a psychosis and had been treated by an HMO with psychiatric meds for 10 weeks, get better. After feeling hopeless and then reading this book I took her to the Amen clinic in Fairfield, the doctor believed that she may have Lyme disease from going to Yosemite during the holidays, so we took her off of the psychiatric meds and gave her an antibiotic for Lymes disease. She continues to improve every day. Thank God for the Amen clinic in Fairfield.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding book - helpful, easy to read, and filled with useful facts. For those wanting a guide to how to use the mind-body connection for health and self-healing, I recommend 'THINKING YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH' by Dr. Andrew Goliszek.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Dr Amen, my first exposure was attending a brain/ADHD symposium in the late 1990's. He normalizes 'aberant' behavior by showing brain function and structure as the culprit to innapropriate or socially unacceptable behavior. As a researcher and trained therapist, I have seen the types of deep and lasting changes made, which Dr Amen describes. The Brain CAN change, and the results can be magical.
ScaryCarrie More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read that explained in detail some of the problems associated with physiological conditions in the brain. Further it also is the first time I've seen photographs showing actual physical damage caused by drug abuse which helps me to better understand people's problems during and post-addiction. This is an outstanding book for anyone with friends or family who suffer from such issues, and I think that is most of us.
BrittaBW More than 1 year ago
This book came to me with perfect timing. I think anyone that has one or more of the issues from the title will benefit from reading this book. Although the information is very scientific and specific, it is actually an enjoyable read. The author uses humor and stories from real clients to help the reader understand the research. I highly recommend this book.
SchaeferR More than 1 year ago
I actually purchased the audio book and listened to it and then lent it to a friend. I am using the paperback book I also purchased of this book to make notes from specific sections to incorporate into my daily life which are extremely helpful. It was very interesting reading and I never hesitate to share information about the book with friends and co-workers if it relates to our discussion. I recommend this book as reading for teachers of our children (all grade levels, psychology and medical students.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, so I am a little biased, as you can guess from my Headline. However, while I love books like this, I don't automatically do so. 'Change Your Brain, Change Your Life' deservedly earns an OUTSTANDING review! You don't need to have issues or problems to read this, so this isn't just for those who need 'Self Help' books. The techniques and theories in this book are very thought-provoking and result-producing. So, if you like improving your daily life, or understanding how to help others more---pick this book up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first heard of Dr. Amen on a PBS special. I watched it every time it came on and even taped it to watch again. His books include everything in his show. I would love to be able to attend his clinic, but I will have to settle for the books. Everything is well written and easy to understand. I have tried some of the supplements I read about and they really help! I have been telling everyone I know about him, the show and his books.
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