Are These “Mental Dragons” Dragging You Down?

Hopeless and Helpless Dragons

By Daniel G. Amen, MD

Has your sunny disposition recently turned dark and stormy? Have your occasional blue moods become your everyday norm? Or have you been feeling depressed for months or even years? It could mean that your brain is listening to the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons. These are inner dragons that breathe fire on your emotional brain and drive depression, withdrawal, and even suicidal thoughts.

These common dragons are some of the most prevalent of the 13 “Dragons from the Past” I write about in my new book Your Brain Is Always Listening. In the book, I reveal how your brain is always listening to these dragons and unless you recognize and tame them, they will steal your happiness.

Is your brain listening to the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons? These inner dragons breathe fire on your emotional brain and drive depression, withdrawal, and even suicidal thoughts. Click To Tweet


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 are reporting symptoms of depression during the pandemic compared with a survey from 2014.
  • Prescription fills for depression 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 are 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 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 160,000 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 these dragons. Some of the natural treatments that promote positive moods and help tame the Hopeless and Helpless Dragons include:

  • Physical exercise
  • Supplements like fish oil, saffron, and curcumins
  • Bright light therapy

In my book, Your Brain Is Always Listening, I share several other powerful science-backed strategies, including one called positivity bias training, that you can use to tame these dragons.

Your Brain Is Always Listening is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and New York Times bestselling author Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, Dr. Amen equips you with powerful weapons to battle the inner dragons that are breathing fire on your brain, driving unhealthy behaviors, and robbing you of your joy and contentment. When you pre-order the book here, you’ll receive a FREE bottle of Happy Saffron, a BrainMD supplement that contains 3 nutraceutical ingredients designed to improve mood, help cope with anxious feelings and enhance focus while under mental strain.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of Amen Clinics patients who have already tamed their dragons and overcome their symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, and more, speak 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

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