Are These “Mental Dragons” Dragging You Down?

Hopeless and Helpless Dragons

Content updated from previous publish date.

Has your sunny disposition recently turned dark and stormy? Have your occasional blue moods become your everyday norm? Or have you been feeling fearful for months or even years? It could mean that your brain is listening to Dragons from the Past. These inner “mental dragons” breathe fire on the amygdala (the almond-shaped structure on the inside of your temporal lobes involved in emotional reactions), driving depression, anxiety, anger, irrational behavior, and automatic negative reactions. This concept of mental dragons comes from Dr. Sharon May, a world-renowned relationship psychologist. Your brain is always listening to these Dragons from the Past and unless you recognize and tame them, they will steal your happiness.

Is your brain listening to Dragons from the Past? These inner “mental dragons” breathe fire on your emotional brain, driving depression, anxiety, anger, irrational behavior, and automatic negative reactions. Click To Tweet


Over time, Amen Clinics has identified 13 different Dragons from the Past that can continue to haunt your present and sabotage your emotional well-being.

  1. Abandoned, Invisible, or Insignificant Dragons—feel alone, unseen, or unimportant
  2. Inferior or Flawed Dragons—feel inferior to others
  3. Anxious Dragons—feel fearful and overwhelmed
  4. Wounded Dragons—bruised by past trauma
  5. Should and Shaming Dragons—racked with guilt
  6. Special, Spoiled, or Entitled Dragons—feel more special than others
  7. Responsible Dragons—need to take care of others
  8. Angry Dragons—harbor hurts and rage
  9. Judgmental Dragons—hold harsh or critical opinions of others due to past injustices
  10. Death Dragons—fear the future and lack of a meaningful life
  11. Grief and Loss Dragons—feel loss and fear of loss
  12. Hopeless or Helpless Dragons—have pervasive sense of despair and discouragement
  13. Ancestral Dragons—affected by issues from past generations

Almost all of us have at least one of these Dragons from the Past. If you’re like most people, you may have multiple mental dragons dragging you down.


Some of the most common Dragons from the Past are the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons, which fuel depression, withdrawal, and even suicidal thoughts. When your brain is always listening to the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons, it can drag you down into the dumps. How can you tell if these dragons are filling your brain with their negativity? Look for these common signs:

  • Feelings of depression
  • Social isolation
  • Resignation
  • A tendency to see the bad in situations—glass half-empty
  • Negative mindset
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Powerlessness
  • Blaming yourself and others
  • Lack of self-efficacy
  • Suicidal thoughts


Sadly, the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons are far too common among us. Even before the pandemic, these dragons were assaulting our brains. However, with illness and deaths due to COVID-19, months and months of isolating lockdown, and economic troubles, the ranks of this army of dragons are skyrocketing. Check out these alarming statistics:

  • Twice as many people reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic compared with a survey from 2014.
  • Prescription fills for antidepressants and anxiety medications reached a record number in 2020, according to a survey by GoodRx.
  • 63% of people with pre-existing depression or anxiety surveyed by GoodRx said their symptoms were worse or much worse since the pandemic began.
  • At Amen Clinics, which has treated tens of thousands of people from over 150 countries, patients are saying their depression symptoms are more severe due to the pandemic.


The Hopeless and Helpless Dragons are often born when stresses stack too high. They can also originate from chronic frustration. It’s a concept called learned helplessness. This is where you try to feel better, but it doesn’t work, so you try again, but it still doesn’t improve. You keep trying until eventually, you feel helpless and lose hope that your situation will change. These dragons can also come from a family history of depression, a pessimistic mindset, or a loss of control.

This breed of Dragons from the Past can be triggered in situations that remind you of feeling overwhelmed by stress or times when you felt powerless. Living through a pandemic, feeling like you aren’t in control of your life, or being stuck at home without being able to visit your family and friends can all trigger these sad dragons and rob you of your joy.


The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics—over 200,000 brain scans and growing—reveals a lot about depression, which is common in people who are always listening to the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons. Overactivity in an area called the deep limbic system is often seen with major depressive disorder.

An Amen Clinics study on 15,000 patients found that when there is excessive activity in this brain region, people are more likely to say they have feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, in addition to a tendency to be negative, to be wracked with guilt, or to have crying spells.


It is possible to overcome the blue moods and depressive symptoms associated with Dragons from the Past. Some of the natural treatments that promote positive moods and help tame the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons include:

  1. Create a positivity bias. Purposefully start each day on a positive note. As soon as you awaken or your feet hit the floor in the morning, start the day by saying, “Today is going to be a great day” out loud. Since your mind is prone to negativity, unless you train and discipline it, it will find stress in the upcoming day. When you direct your thoughts to Today is going to be a great day, your unconscious brain will help you uncover the reasons why it will be so.
  2. Train your brain in gratitude. Gratitude directs your attention to positive feelings and away from negative ones.
  3. Get physical exercise. Breaking a sweat increases the release of feel-good neurotransmitters.
  4. Take nutritional supplements. Nutraceuticals such as fish oil, saffron, and curcumins promote positive moods.
  5. Try bright light therapy. Using an indoor light box has been shown to enhance moods and boost energy.
  6. Write down your accomplishments and strengths. Rather than focusing on what is wrong in your life, pay attention to what is going well. Odds are, you will feel much better.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. I pre ordered this book thruamazon. do i still quailfy for free bottle of Saffron? Thanks.

    Comment by Marie Olympia Grillo — February 24, 2021 @ 3:39 AM

  2. I would like to pre-order your book.

    Comment by Jo Ellard — February 24, 2021 @ 4:16 AM

  3. Is there audiobook?

    Comment by Anita Buschbascher — February 24, 2021 @ 5:57 AM

  4. The email I received said that this book about Mental Dragons was available for pre order, which would include a bottle of Saffron…. I don’t see anywhere on the website where I can preorder the book.

    Comment by Kathleen Holtz — February 24, 2021 @ 6:25 AM

  5. I ordered the booklet have not recievedit yet!

    Comment by Sandra Fraser — February 24, 2021 @ 10:17 AM

  6. I am looking forward to the webinar the 12 steps to recover my mind! Thank you ao much or helping me to recover my mind.

    Comment by Sandra Fraser — February 24, 2021 @ 10:23 AM

  7. Where can I get a lite for sadness relief–hopefully. My son had a brain scan several yrs ago and this pandemic isolation
    is really a problem for him–lately especially. He says he is taking his meds and supplements–he is sleeping an unhealthy
    amount. He works w/ Dr Emina on his meds–I really would like him to talk to him but he seems reluctant.

    Comment by joan kelly-wallace — February 24, 2021 @ 11:15 AM

  8. How do you get the book and how much does it cost

    Comment by Linda — February 24, 2021 @ 11:22 AM

  9. Hello Jo, for more information on pre-ordering Dr. Amen’s newest book, check out the website:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 24, 2021 @ 2:05 PM

  10. Hello Kathleen, for more information on pre-ordering Dr. Amen’s newest book, check out the website:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 24, 2021 @ 2:06 PM

  11. Hello Sandra, thank you for pre-ordering the book. The book is set to release on March 2nd.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 24, 2021 @ 2:07 PM

  12. Hello Linda, for more information on pre-ordering Dr. Amen’s newest book, check out the website:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 24, 2021 @ 2:07 PM

  13. Hello Joan, we’d be happy to contact you directly to help coordinate this. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 24, 2021 @ 6:05 PM

  14. Hello Marie, yes you qualify. Any pre-order purchase qualifies, simply use the order number you received and enter it on the website here to redeem your bonus gifts:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 24, 2021 @ 6:06 PM

  15. If I buy the audiobook “Your Brain is Always Listening” through audible, do I still qualify for the free supplements?

    Comment by Cheryl — February 27, 2021 @ 11:16 AM

  16. Hello Cheryl, thanks for reaching out. For more information on getting the gifts for pre-ordering “Your Brain is Always Listening”, please go to the link:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2021 @ 12:27 PM

  17. Dear Dr. Daniel and Tana,
    Blessed day to you both! I have read a number of your books and regularly listen to your podcast. I am a nurse and have shared your books, information and work with many people. One of the staff I work with was able to go to your clinic. Thank you for your perseverance, you continued struggle to share your knowledge, experience and expertise. It is of great value to anyone who is blessed to receive it. May the work of you hands continued to be blessed.
    Pax, Diana

    Comment by Diana — March 3, 2021 @ 4:39 PM

  18. I wanted to give the two of you a shout out for making my day! I just flicked on the TV and it was on PBS. The two of you were on and you were talking about depression and dragons. I kept watching because my family members and I, like most families, are familiar with depression.

    It was mid program, and you were talking about gratitude. You described a technique where you reach out to at least one other person daily and share your gratitude for them. Right then, Mrs. Amen turned to you, looked you in the eye and told you how much she appreciates you. all of a sudden, I felt so happy watching that. My spirits were actually lifted and I felt my chest begin to swell with joy! Then, you looked at her and told her that you appreciate her right back, just as you were leaning in for a kiss. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel any happier, it felt like my heart was going to explode. I was overcome with happiness.

    I kept watching, and at the same time, I went to the internet and typed in the words, “the lonely dragon and depression,” which brought me here. I decided to leave a comment because I wanted to tell you what happened and to thank you for introducing me to the various dragons. This information will be helpful not only for myself, but also for my father, who is nearing the end of his life. His life has been a very hard one, ever since his childhood. He suffers mightily and I hope that what I learn here can help him. I hope I will be brave enough at this late date to try to introduce these ideas to him and I hope as reluctant as he may be, that he will listen and be able to hear. Thank you again.

    Comment by Robin — December 9, 2021 @ 3:40 PM

  19. I preordered with Amazon and when I went back to paste order No. it said page no longer exists.

    Comment by Nancy Blanchard — December 14, 2022 @ 8:19 AM

  20. Hello Nancy, thank you for reaching out. You can revisit our webpage here – – and enter your order information to claim your four (4) free bonus gifts.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — January 9, 2023 @ 10:51 AM

  21. excellent article!

    Comment by Doug Morris — October 31, 2023 @ 2:37 PM

  22. I've been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

    Comment by gralion torile — December 2, 2023 @ 2:49 PM

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