Neuroplasticity: How Your Brain Can Rewire Itself


Many people think our brains are set in stone, but in fact our lifestyles and life circumstances always affect that three-pound organ in our head. Brain changes result from many causes, including developmental experiences, emotional traumas, substance abuse, physical brain trauma, infections, and many other things. Your brain can and does change because of stress—for example, we know that cells in the hippocampus die when an individual experiences prolonged stress—and therein lies the risk of more negative changes in a person’s life when they don’t listen soon enough to their too-busy brains. In fact, according to a comprehensive survey conducted by the National Institutes of Mental Health, more than half of Americans are expected to develop a mental illness in their lifetimes. Calming your busy brain reduces the chance that things will get worse.

But if brain change can be for the worse, it can also be for the better. The great discovery of what we call self-directed neuroplasticity is that the brain is not fixed, but rather in constant flux, and that you can actually change your brain for the better. Circuits can be rewired; brain maps can be redrawn. New neural pathways can sprout to accommodate new functions or new environments. Whatever your experiences in childhood and beyond, it is possible to learn new ways of thinking, reacting, and behaving; new patterns can be established.

In my new book, Reclaim Your Brain—How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind, and Bring Your Life Back Under Control, I show you how to rewrite your negative stories, how to slow down your busy brain with mindfulness techniques, how to create healthier relationships, and ultimately how to bring your brain and life back under control, all of which increase the likelihood for success and joy in life. We also explore how to manage conditions that contribute to a busy brain, such as anxiety, mood problems, ADHD, “stuckness” and OCD, addictions, and emotional traumas.

Though I am a psychiatrist and I believe wholeheartedly in the use of psychiatric medications where appropriate, my treatment doesn’t begin or end with my prescription pad. Many times it is better to start with more natural and integrative interventions such as lifestyle changes, mindfulness exercises, neurofeedback, and nutritional supplements. In Reclaim Your Brain, I discuss the many natural interventions that allow the reader to calm a busy brain without professional assistance or medication. Throughout the book, I give many case examples, approaches, exercises, and suggestions to help you understand your brain function and find the best ways to manage your mind and balance your brain. No one solution is right for everyone.

Adapted from Reclaim Your Brain (Introduction). You can purchase the book here.

Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.

Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.

Chief Psychiatrist at Amen Clinics
Dr. Joseph A. Annibali graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Senatorial Scholar, and from which he received an Honors award for studies in Biological Chemistry. Author of Reclaim Your Brain—How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind, and Bring Your Life Back Under Control
Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.

Latest posts by Joseph A. Annibali, M.D. (see all)

  • Teresa

    I am diagnoised with mild cognative Impairment/decline, frontal lobe/executive function deficit (right frontal dysfunction) and also ptsd and bi-polar and depression. My mom died at 58 with picks disease . What causes picks disease and do i have a chance of getting it? I am 49 now i do have history of drug use in my past.

    • Chris Carmona

      Teresa, my mom was diagnosed with Picks disease at 65 but in retrospect the symptoms were much earlier. We have her on a ketogenic diet. I dont know if its heridtary but i am not taking any chances.

      • Teresa

        I have memorary issues and migraines and mental health issues. I am taking prozac and valium what symptoms are you having

  • jaxairedale

    In your research, is there any connection between “Busy Brain” and Migraine Headaches? I have suffered with Chronic Migraines for 7 years. A MRI showed I have a lesion on the top of my brain left of center. My Migraines start at the left base of my brain and travel to the top left of my brain where the lesion showed up on the MRI. Doctors said this is not uncommon for a Migraineur. I suffer from Anxiety and have been told all my life your just “High Strung”…. I am starting to think there is more going on…

  • carlos1968

    What about one who made a really stupid mistake (in the past)? He finds it really, really hard to get past this mistake so that his thoughts are filled with anger, bitterness and vengefulness to the extent that he sometimes can’t do anything positive and move forward in his career or job? Can this ‘form’ of mental disorder or disturbance be altered?
    it’s really getting bad. It’s caused cancer already (in our opinion).

    • benchwarmer93

      This doesn’t sound like a brain chemistry thing, rather a heart thing. Don’t you know about the unconditional love, forgiveness and grace that can only come from God? Once you seek and understand what only He can give will you find peace .

      • carlos1968

        Much appreciated. Thank You!

    • Katy808

      I was there once……..and woke up one day and realized that I can choose my life, my feelings, etc…..really. It is about forgiveness of self and others. Just decide today that your only goal is to be happy. Smile when you don’t feel like it – it will make your brain think you are happy and help rewire those happy transmitters. You can climb out of this place……best of luck dear Carlos.

      • carlos1968

        I appreciate your feedback. And, it does make sense. Thank You!

  • Sid Mehta

    Whoa! Is this an ad for your book or an editorial article? You present it as an article but it’s nothing more than an advertisement for your book. This kind of misrepresentation shows a complete lack of ethics and integrity. Never do that again.

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