Can Healing Your Mind Boost Your Memory?

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When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll do anything to help that person. Dr. Daniel Amen recounts a story that really brought this to light in his family:

I know because a number of years before David, a 62-year-old pastor, became my father-in-law, he was told he had Alzheimer’s disease.

I convinced my wife, Tana, that we should evaluate her dad and scan his brain. We’re so glad we did: It turned out that instead of Alzheimer’s, David had pseudodementia, a form of depression that masquerades as Alzheimer’s. The medications he was on at the time only worsened his symptoms. With treatment, David’s depression and mental confusion lifted and his life was renewed.

Mental illness is still such a taboo subject in the U.S., many people don’t know that depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic stress and other problems affecting the mind can wreak havoc on the brain and memory. A well-respected study on depressive symptoms and cognitive decline, for example, found that elderly women with six or more depressive symptoms had a 230 percent risk of cognitive deterioration. In fact, failing to seek early treatment for depression is one of the key factors that, if controlled, could prevent one in three cases of dementia, according to recent research published in the Lancet.

Getting your mind right is critical if you want to get your memory back, and your whole life will benefit—your energy, self-confidence, and outlook will all improve.  

You can heal your mental health issues and strengthen your memory by following Amen Clinics new BRIGHT MINDS Program. This research-based program identifies and provides treatment for the 11 risk factors that damage your mind and memory.

The risks are summed up in the words BRIGHT MINDS, which makes it simple to remember them:

B – Blood Flow

R – Retirement/Aging

I – Inflammation

G – Genetics

H – Head Trauma

T – Toxins

M – Mental Health

I – Immunity/Infection Issues

N – Neurohormone Deficiencies

D – Diabesity

S – Sleep Issues

The most important step is to get treated for any mental illness you may have. Schedule a visit to your health-care provider to discuss your mental health and decide whether you need to be evaluated by a local therapist or psychiatrist.

Addressing your problem doesn’t necessarily mean taking psychiatric drugs. At Amen Clinics we recommend natural treatments whenever possible. However, if they aren’t working, it’s important to consider medications. We have found that neurofeedback and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can also be helpful for depression and other mental health issues.

One lab test we recommend is the Omega-3 Index, which measures the red-blood-cell levels of EPA and DHA, two fatty acids critical to the brain and emotional health.

You can do a lot to improve your mental and emotional health. Here are easy steps to take:

Start every day with the phrase, “Today is going to be a great day”; positive self-talk has a powerful influence on the brain

  • Write down three things you are grateful for every day
  • Learn to meditate; a loving-kindness meditation is especially effective
  • Take a daily walk in nature
  • Stop the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts): When you’re feeling mad, sad, nervous or out of control, note down your negative thoughts and talk back to them
  • Take a good multivitamin/mineral, vitamin D, magnesium and an omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement daily

For general mental health support, use more saffron (which helps mood and memory), turmeric, peppermint and cinnamon (attention) in your cooking. And boost your diet for these specific issues:

  • If you’re a worrier or moody: Consider taking 5-HTP and saffron; eat more tryptophan-containing foods (eggs, turkey, seafood, chickpeas) with healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and quinoa
  • If you lack focus: Consider taking Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and ginseng; have more dopamine-rich foods/drinks, such as turmeric, green tea, lentils, fish, lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, nuts and seeds, high protein veggies (broccoli, spinach) and protein powders
  • If you are anxious: Consider taking GABA and theanine; eat more GABA-rich foods, such as broccoli, almonds, walnuts, lentils, bananas, beef liver, brown rice, halibut, gluten-free whole oats, oranges, rice bran and spinach

In the video below, Dr. Daniel Amen discusses toxins and the role they play in rescuing your memory today!

Be vigilant about your brain health and you could be rewarded with excellent recall and many dementia-free years. To learn more about Amen Clinics Memory Program based on Dr. Amen’s BRIGHT MINDS approach, check it out HERE.


  1. Hi Dr. Amen, (and clan!)…

    I listen to your podcasts daily and I am a fan – to say the least!

    A little about me, I am very anxious and I had bouts of rage… I bought your Gaba Calming support… and week 1, I have to say, I feel great!

    While researching Gaba, I have heard mixed reviews about “blood brain barrier” and “leaky brain” and “leaky gut.” Are these things to be concerned about? I am only taking one pill a day so far.


    Amanda M.

    Comment by Amanda — February 7, 2018 @ 1:45 PM

  2. Would like more information

    Comment by Jorge Lamadrid — March 9, 2018 @ 10:51 PM

  3. my son thinks I have depression=I worry about everything and I cry for no apparent reason. I have your dvd’s and books from PBS,

    Comment by Dora — September 22, 2018 @ 4:13 PM

  4. Hello Dora, thank you for reaching out. If you’d like to speak to a Care Coordinator to ask questions or schedule a consultation to look deeper at your symptoms, please reach us at 888-288-9834 or by submitting this form:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — September 24, 2018 @ 8:01 AM

  5. My 5 year old granddaughter bursts into fits of crying and is aggresssive at times while other girls on her soccer team are happy and having a good time playing the game
    She lives in Nashville TN

    Comment by Walt Gorin — September 28, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

  6. is there any help or hope to reverse some one who has dropped from a score of 23 to 12?
    He has a neurologist in Columbus , GA Will addition of supplements help?

    Comment by Carolyn Talbot — March 10, 2019 @ 2:34 PM

  7. Hi Dr Amen,
    I was considering bringing both my mother and myself to your clinic, from out of state, for Alzheimers. But then I found out from your clinic’s phone rep that you inject our bodies with RADIOACTIVE substances for your brain scans. Please explain how our bodies then dispose of that (crap!!!!) , and how long it takes for their negative side effects to be gone. WHY should I allow you to inject me with a radioactive substance — not only once, but twice, for two different brain scans ??? Why is that healthy ? I emailed the rep back, asking this, but never got a response. That’s curious, and highly annoying. (I bet you won’t show this question/ answer online, will you? )

    Comment by Michelle — March 19, 2019 @ 1:42 PM

  8. Hello Michelle, thank you for reaching out.

    The radiotracer that we use for SPECT is called Technetium 99m. Its signal is detected by the scanner. Combining Tc99m with other molecules (like HMPAO – “Ceretec”) allows Tc99m to enter specific/desired tissues. This allows us to understand the functioning of that tissue.

    SPECT requires an injection of 20 to 25mCi (millicuries, the measure of radioactivity inherent to a radiopharmaceutical – in our case, Technetium 99m). The biological effect a dose of radioactivity has on tissues (effective dose), cannot be linearly extrapolated from the radioactivity of a dose of administered radioisotope, and it varies with tissues, so a total radioactivity exposure (effective dose) for the whole body is calculated. This is measured in rem (Roentgen equivalents to man) or Sieverts (one Sievert = 100 rem).

    The average radiation exposure for one SPECT scan is 0.7 rem. Two of our SPECT scans are roughly equivalent to, or a bit less than, one CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis (about 0.7, depending on protocol).

    This amount of exposure is well below the cut-off level (10.0 rem) for any known potential or observable health risks.

    About 5% of the total dose goes to the brain. About 40% of the tracer is excreted within minutes by the kidneys and the remainder by the gallbladder over about 24 hours. Tc99m has a half-life of just over 6 hours. We always encourage patients to drink plenty of water.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 20, 2019 @ 7:23 AM

  9. My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer in 2016 there’s a herbal foundation in Johannesburg they cured my husband Alzheimer’s disease . Pm me i will give their details. People can search about them on Google or youtube(total cure herbal foundation). My husband faced many difficulties and was in several depression, Trouble understanding visual image, aggression ,so many,. This thing happened to him in very crucial stage of our life. PM if someone needs info or buy direct from them they cured 100% of Alzheimer with their herbal formula .

    Comment by Finlay Cedar — March 25, 2019 @ 12:21 PM

  10. Why are they risk factors and not differential diagnosis?

    Comment by Sarah Conly — April 3, 2019 @ 5:30 PM

  11. I found you on YouTube and I am very interested in promoting brain health and would love to speak with someone about diet and exercise program for that my name is Butch Heatherly thank you

    Comment by Butch Heatherly — September 25, 2019 @ 7:06 AM

  12. Is xylitol beneficial to the brain?

    Comment by Eloisa — October 31, 2019 @ 4:22 PM

  13. I am interested in what you are saying because I was injured badly in a car accident last May. I was not expected to live but I’ very alive! I spent rehab and hospital time during most of this past summer. Determination and religious beliefs (stubbornness) have helped me have the ability to walk and work on my paintings and new house. Just recently I developed lumps and swelling and numbness on both legs. I wear new hearing aids because I am losing my hearing.(a 67 year old former music teacher and musician.) I am currently taking many medicines to prevent seizure. Life has changed tremendously. Is there any way I could benefit from this program? I currently work with a top neurologist at Riverside Hospital. But no exercise or diet changes were recommended. I am trying to plan some diet changes and water aerobics when I can get transportation. Dilantin is my main med but after the accident. Levatiracetam and quetiapine were added. Are these meds ok? It has been a while since I have had a brain scan,Is, pain, there any hypnosis encorporated into the sound track of the music? How can I receive more information?

    Comment by Beth Reece — December 7, 2019 @ 11:30 AM

  14. Dr. Amen,
    I saw your show on PBS. I have a 9 year old daughter that has struggled since preschool with on going tummy problems. When she started preschool she was little and petite which is my body makeup, but between the months of Dec to May she gained 20lbs and went from size 4- 5 t in clothing to a size 7-8t by her kindergarten year. She began to struggle and complaining daily with stomach pain. She went from a free spirited, brave, and energetic soul to a reserved, shy, and emotional little girl. She was breast fed till she was about 18 months old, she ate fresh veggies from my garden when she began to eat solid foods and I have always preached healthy eating. I cook almost every night with the occasional outing to eat. When she began to gain so much weight her dr said it was most likely due to her getting ready to hit a growth spurt. She has continued to gain weigh over the years, we have been to gastro dr’s and have seen an endocrinologist at UVA who all say all test have come back normal. She continues to gain weight, she is struggling a great deal in school, we are getting ready to look at ADD/ADHD rating scales and anxiety. We live in VA, and I am very frustrated as a mother bc I feel like I can’t help my little girl. She wakes up at night with these stomach issues and at times will throw up. I am going to call your number to seek a consult but am worried about finding a Clinc near me and if insurance covers your services. We see our chiropractor regularly and just got started on the Brian Tap program which I myself have done before and loved. So I am in support of your research about natural wellness and brain health. I don’t usually seek out Information in this way but I was so impressed with your show that I had to look you up.

    Comment by Crystal Martin — March 1, 2020 @ 8:42 AM

  15. Hi Dr. Amen, I have a friend who’s 49 years old and has extremely brittle diabetes for 30 years. No doubt he makes some mistakes with diet and insulin, but he experiences wildly vascillating levels of blood sugar. In one day going from 350 down to 45. He has suffered many many low blood sugar incidents that are sort of like seizures. In the ten years I have known him his brain functioning has really deteriorated significantly. Your description of symptoms of serotonin deficiency fits him to a T. We are taking step to better regulate his Blood sugar levels using Dr. Bernstein’s book and his description of gastroparesis. We may or may not be able to stabilize that somewhat. Here’s my two questions: Here’s my two questions: with wildly changing blood sugars, will these ideas of yours help? (2) is there something particular which should be emphasized for this man, a very brittle diabetic. (He gets plenty of exercise, is outside a lot, plays a lot of music and can read music.)

    Comment by Lisa Grant — December 15, 2022 @ 12:28 PM

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