The Bachelorette Opens Up About Trauma and Depression

Hannah Brown

Most kids are scared of monsters—the kind that hide under the bed or in the closet at night. For some youngsters, however, monsters aren’t figments of their imagination. They are real people who do horrible things and change the trajectory of a child’s life. Just ask Hannah Brown, the star of season 15 of The Bachelorette and the winner of the 2019 season of Dancing With the Stars. In an episode of Scan My Brain, she tells Daniel Amen, MD, about a terrifying ordeal that happened when she was just 7 that changed her outlook on life, made her fearful, and led her on a path to depression.

For some youngsters, monsters aren’t figments of their imagination. They are real people who do horrible things and change the trajectory of a child’s life. Click To Tweet

WHEN TRAUMA FUELS FEAR, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION

In the Scan My Brain episode, Brown reveals a traumatic event that changed her life. It happened when she was only 7 years old, but she vividly remembers the day her aunt and cousins were brutally murdered. Brown’s aunt and uncle were kind people who believed in giving people a second chance in life. They had hired a former inmate who had been jailed for a nonviolent offense and who was on work release to work on their home and became friendly with him. Some time later, he started using drugs and needed money. Brown’s aunt got a call from him, and she invited him over. She made tea for him, but then saw him rummaging around in her purse. An altercation ensued, and her aunt and two young cousins were killed.

As a child, all Brown knew of the story was that someone had gone into their home and “hurt” her extended family and that they were now in heaven. Just that bit of knowledge scared her. “I was terrified as a kid. I thought someone was going to come in. I wasn’t scared of monsters. I was scared of a person,” she says.

It wasn’t until years later that Brown pieced together what really happened on that fateful day. In the meantime, other things added to the trauma she experienced. At age 11, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer. She underwent surgery to have an egg-sized tumor removed, and fortunately, the cancer had not spread to other organs.

Brown eventually fell into depression and sought treatment to try to feel better. “I had never been to a psychiatrist, but I’m on medication,” she tells Dr. Amen in the episode. As Dr. Amen explains to her, 85% of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by non-psychiatrists—primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—in brief, office visits. One study shows that 72% of antidepressant prescriptions are accompanied by no diagnosis in the medical charts. It’s no wonder these medications often fail, he says.

Despite her newfound celebrity, Brown continues to be haunted by dark days. That’s part of what prompted her to visit Amen Clinics to get a brain SPECT scan. She was hoping it would give her clues to why she feels the way she does and why she acts the way she does.

THE BACHELORETTE’S BRAIN SCAN

Among the findings on Brown’s brain scan, which can be seen in the Scan My Brain episode, was a pattern of overactivity that is commonly seen in people who have experienced trauma. At Amen Clinics, this is referred to as the diamond pattern, and it is often associated with worry, anxiousness, and sadness. This helped Brown understand why she felt depressed.

The good news for Brown and for anyone who has suffered from trauma or depression is that there are strategies that can help calm brain activity. Some beneficial strategies include:

  • EMDR therapy: EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a non-invasive therapy that can help eliminate the emotional charges linked to traumatic memories.
  • Killing the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts): Learning to question negative, fearful, and anxious thoughts can help you gain emotional control.
  • Optimizing gut health: Research shows that an unhealthy gut is linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, among other mental health issues. It’s important to improve gut health with a healthy diet and probiotics.
  • Nutritional supplements: A growing body of scientific evidence, including a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, points to supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids as an effective way to reduce depressive symptoms.
  • Focusing on your purpose in life: Purposeful people have better mental health, less depression, and greater happiness, according to research.

For Brown, balancing her brain is now a priority. In addition, becoming an advocate for mental health and sharing her story to help others and give them hope, is giving her own life purpose. She hopes that’s one step in the direction to greater happiness and fulfillment.

Depression, trauma, 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.

6 Comments »

  1. Very brave of the young lady to open up about her anxiety.

    Comment by richard Young saffir — January 10, 2022 @ 9:19 AM

  2. Thanks for sharing and caring about this important issue. So many times regular doctors prescribe anti-depression meds and then do no follow-up. I was given Effexor for hot flashes 20 years ago and am still on it. I guess I need to tell the doctors I no longer need it or to reduce the dosage. No one even questions why or how I came to be on the drug.

    Comment by Judy Helm Wright — January 10, 2022 @ 9:54 AM

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have depression and schizophrenia. Alot of things from my past affected my adult relationships. It’s a journey of healing which I’m in. I do yoga, receive therapy, and do my best to eat healthy. Also I’m a God fearing man who loves the Lord. Faith is a beautiful thing I believe in Jesus and his miraculous healing power also with therapy it helps alot. God bless Amen clinic and the wonderful work they do.

    Comment by Adrian J Torres — January 10, 2022 @ 2:03 PM

  4. Thank you

    Comment by Diane Conroy — January 10, 2022 @ 2:32 PM

  5. I have treatment resistant depression with severe anxiety. Anxiety has gotten worse after 3 rounds of ECT. The last being the worst. I feel I have no happiness at all. Trying to get through each day. Some days I feel I can’t take it anymore. But I keep searching for the answers. I don’t carry an enzyme called CYP2D6 it’s required to metabolize most antidepressants. I became suicidal while on antidepressants so I refuse to take them anymore. Any advice you can give me would be gratefully appreciated.

    Comment by Charlotte Jackson — January 10, 2022 @ 4:26 PM

  6. Great story. I admire her for opening up and allowing the story to become public.
    I am surprised that in your treatment recommendations you did not mention Neurofeedback. I know that it is in your usual mix of treatment options. We have been doing that in addition to all the techniques you mention.

    Comment by Hanno W. Kirk, PhD — January 11, 2022 @ 10:37 AM

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