Col. Oliver North Interviews Dr. Amen on the “Global Amygdala Hijacking”
In late May 2020, Dr. Daniel Amen was featured on retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North’s Real American Heroes series. A political commentator, television host, author, and military historian, Col. North is perhaps best known as a National Security Staff member during the Iran-Contra affair in the late 1980s. In this fascinating interview, North revealed that he is a patient of Dr. Amen’s and has been getting treatment for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The pair discussed what Dr. Amen calls a “global amygdala hijacking” that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
WHAT IS THE AMYGDALA?
The amygdala, an almond-shaped structure within the temporal lobes, is the part of the brain that senses fear. Due to the pandemic, we’ve all been scared beyond belief. How you respond to that fear depends on the activity level in your amygdala. People who have a sleepy amygdala, meaning there is low activity in this brain region, tend to have less fear. They’re the ones who are crowding the beaches without masks or physical distancing. On the flip side, people who have an overactive amygdala are likely to feel high anxiety. These individuals are more likely to be holed up at home, too afraid to venture out to the grocery store. Due to the pandemic, millions of us have had our amygdala hijacked, cranking up its activity levels and making us feel more frightened.
WHAT’S THE CURE FOR THE GLOBAL AMYGDALA HIJACKING?
On the Real American Heroes series, North and Dr. Amen examine what you can do to liberate your amygdala from being hijacked. Here are 5 things that can help balance activity in this brain region.
- Mental hygiene is as important as washing your hands. During the pandemic, everyone is so concerned about handwashing, but few people realize the need to manage their mind. Letting your fears run wild in your mind will drag you down and can make you feel depressed. You need to start thinking about your thinking.
- Disinfect your thoughts. You don’t have to believe every thought you have because thoughts lie, they lie a lot. Whenever you have a sad, scared, anxious, or fearful thought, challenge it. Ask yourself if it is true? When you stop believing every frightening thought you have, you can start to regain control of your amygdala.
- Start with the positive. Every morning, start your day by saying, “Today is going to be a great day!” This simple sentence causes your brain to look for why the day will be great. Basically, it frames your outlook to be more positive.
- End on a high note. Similarly, at night, ask yourself, “What went well today?” Even during the pandemic when you may be struggling with your emotions, or you may be worried about finances or having relationship issues, there are good things happening every day. Train your brain to search these out and create your own nightly highlight reel. It will set up your dreams to be more positive and will help you sleep better, which will enhance your mood and energy levels the following day.
- Keep one question in mind all day long. Throughout the day, before making any decision, ask yourself, “Is this good for my brain or bad for my brain?” The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics has shown that the mind is created by the brain. If your brain is healthy then your mind will follow. But if you have trouble with your brain, you’ll have trouble with your mind.
In the interview, North and Dr. Amen also discuss:
- Specifics about what you can do during the pandemic to keep your brain—including your amygdala—healthy.
- How your moment-by-moment thoughts affect your immune system
- Why Americans are at greater risk of serious illness and of dying from COVID-19 than other countries
- The wrong ways to soothe an anxious and fearful brain
- What “pandemic squared” means and why you need to know about it
- Why the end of mental illness begins with a revolution in brain health
- And much more.
You can listen to the full interview at Oliver North’s Real American Heroes.
If you feel like your amygdala has been hijacked, it’s okay to ask for help. Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever, and waiting to get treatment until the pandemic is over is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.
At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples, as well as in-clinic brain scanning and functional medicine evaluations to help our patients. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.