Maria Menounos

4 Ways To Overcome Anxiety With Dr. Daniel Amen

Today, we revisit our episode from during the pandemic that features spectacular brain specialist Dr. Daniel Amen. He brings his expertise to help arm people with the tools to overcome anxiety and depression naturally. Here’s some of his extremely helpful tips to overcome anxiety that have made the difference even in my own life!

4 Ways To Overcome Anxiety With Dr. Amen
1. Try natural remedies first. 

Before jumping straight into asking a doctor for antidepressants, Dr. Amen advises to try implementing easy natural treatments into your self care practices first. Take some Omega 3 fatty acid supplements, particularly fish oil. Additionally, he says everyone should optimize their Vitamin D, as low levels are associated with depression and immune system compromise. There’s also saffron, which he notes has been found in 21 randomized controlled trials to have the same positive effectiveness as antidepressants. Curcumins also boost mood and memory, as well as decrease inflammation. Dr. amen recommends the scent of lavender too, inhaling it a few times a day. Of course, regular exercise and eating a blanched diet of fruits and vegetables are crucial. Lastly, try bright light therapy, a lightbox that is typically sold on sites like Amazon. Even just half an hour in the morning can help mood, focus, energy, and sleep, and it’s especially helpful for those that have seasonal depression. Tried and true, these are all very effective. If your mood and sleep are still negatively affected after trying these things, then it’s time to talk to your doctor about medicine and test your thyroid and Vitamin D levels (which should be somewhere around 70). Dr. Amen suggests this recommendation because once you start antidepressants, it can be hard to stop. 

2. Be conscious of your feelings & thoughts. 

Dr. Amen coined the term “ANTS” — automatic negative thoughts, the ones that invade your mind automatically and ruin your day. This is directly tied to the chemicals your brain releases: happy thoughts lead to feel good chemicals, whereas sad thoughts release chemicals resulting in feelings of sadness. He says to develop “an internal ANTeater” so your mind isn’t infested, that the “Raid” is to write down what you’re thinking whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control. It’s very easy to be consumed by negativity instead of having a bias toward positivity, directly feeding depression and anxiety disorders. “Learning how to discipline your thoughts is critical to being happy, being purposeful and not being overwhelmed with negativity,” Amen says. “Where you bring your attention determines how you feel.” Train your brain to look for what’s right and the wonderful things in your life. As the doctor says, our anxiety, depression, panic, and fear is driven by our unquestioned, undisciplined thoughts. This will help integrate the information stored in your brain, as you process trauma wounds and get them emotionally unstuck. 

3. Incorporate new healthy habits in your daily life. 

Start your day off with an affirmation: “Today is going to be a great day.” This should always be on the top of your to-do list as it leads your unconscious mind to figure out why today will be a good day. Opposite of this, when you’re getting ready to go to bed, ask yourself “What went well today?” Reviewing all the good things from your day sets up for more positive dreams and outlooks on life, even if the day was stressful. Develop little things like this along the way so when things like a pandemic come — including issues like a divorce, an illness diagnosis, financial problems — it doesn’t run over you like a bus. We need to disinfect our thoughts because “mental hygiene is just as important as washing your hands.” Learn how to properly manage your mind on a day-by-day basis, including limiting your news media consumption to about 10 minutes a day. Negativity too often steals our attention from things far more important and worth investing our time in. 

4. Consider the “havening” technique — feel & stimulate your thoughts. 

You have to be truthful with yourself about negative thoughts you are experiencing. Similar to EMDR, havening is a simple technique used specifically for psychological treatment for trauma. Take your hands, cross your arms, place them on your shoulders, and stroke down for 30-60 seconds. From his own experience, Dr. Amen was able to transform a terrible final image of his late father into something more beautifully reflected, saying things like “My dad’s at peace. I’m so grateful I had him. He will always live through me.” After a minute, the picture held no power over him and became something he loved. Instead of blocking those downer emotions, feel them, and then stimulate. Holding your left side of your body stimulates the right side of your brain and vice versa, so doing it together calms the fear center in your brain and activates your frontal lobes. Change your mindset into thinking you can manage anything that comes your way and watch your stress levels drop. Addressing grief and the concept of death in your own healthy way is so important to make things easier. Dr. Amen brings up psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who is famous for her book on death and dying, stating that she “wrote that it is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty meaningless lives, because when you think you’re going to live forever, you don’t do the things you know you must do today.”

Maria Menounos guest Dr. Amen on Overcoming Anxiety

To hear more from Dr. Amen, check out the full episode!

For more episodes, check out Heal Squad x Maria Menounos. Subscribe on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple.