The Next Epidemic Will Be a Mental Health Pandemic

The Next Epidemic Will Be a Mental Health Pandemic

While most people are focusing on ways to fight the coronavirus pandemic, few are prepared for the other pandemic that is already spreading more rapidly around the nation and across the globe—a mental health pandemic.

Recent reports show:

  • 45% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic is impacting their mental health
  • 34% jump in prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications during the pandemic
  • 19% increase in prescriptions for antidepressants during the pandemic
  • A sharp rise in calls to suicide hotlines
  • Healthcare workers are being traumatized (sadly, one ER doctor in New York who was treating patients with COVID-19 recently died by suicide, and experts anticipate she won’t be the only one)

And that’s just the beginning.

An article in the April issue of JAMA Internal Medicine warns of an impending mental health epidemic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors write, “These consequences are of sufficient importance that immediate efforts focused on prevention and direct intervention are needed to address the impact of the outbreak on individual and population-level mental health.”

The outlook for our mental wellbeing is grim with spikes expected in anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorders, and other issues.

What can you do now to avoid falling victim to this impending crisis? Start taking care of your brain and body by addressing your BRIGHT MINDS risk factors.

Change Your Brain, Heal Your Mind with BRIGHT MINDS

In Daniel G. Amen’s book The End of Mental Illness, he reveals that it’s time to discard the term “mental illness” and recognize that these conditions are actually brain health issues that steal your mind. When you understand that your brain is the organ that creates your mind, you can take the necessary steps to change your brain and heal your mind.

B is for blood flow.

Low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also associated with depression, schizophrenia, and ADD/ADHD. Did you know that as blood pressure goes up, blood flow to the brain goes down?

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: To boost blood flow, exercise, eat foods that enhance blood flow to the brain (such as beets, cayenne pepper, oregano, and rosemary), and take supplements like ginkgo biloba.

R is for Retirement/Aging.

When you stop learning your brain starts dying. The older you get the more likely you are to struggle with your memory, and as the brain deteriorates with age it leads to a greater risk of mood problems, anxiety, irritability, temper flare-ups, and irrational behavior.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: The older you are the more serious you need to be about your physical, cognitive, and emotional health.

I is for Inflammation.

The word inflammation comes from the Latin “Inflammare” which means “to set on fire.” When you have inflammation in your body, it’s like a low-level fire that’s destroying your organs, including your brain. Inflammation has been linked to depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, personality disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (take a high-quality supplement like Omega-3 Power), try probiotics to promote better gut health (ProBrainBiotics), and floss your teeth to avoid gum disease.

G is for Genetics.

If you have a family history of mental health problems, understand that your genes are not your destiny. Think of it as a wakeup call.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Don’t use genetic vulnerabilities as an excuse to give in to bad habits, such as overeating or excessive drinking.

H is for Head Trauma.

Mild traumatic brain injuries are a major cause of mental illness, but nobody knows it because traditional psychiatrists never look at the brain. Head injuries are associated with depression, anxiety and panic disorders, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol abuse, ADD/ADHD, memory problems, and more.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: If traditional treatment for a psychiatric condition isn’t working, consider brain SPECT imaging to see if you have underlying brain trauma that is contributing to your mental health symptoms.

T is for Toxins.

Drugs, alcohol, mold, chemicals in household cleaners, and other toxins are major causes of brain health/mental health issues that traditional psychiatrists almost completely ignore. Exposure to toxins increases the risk of depression, ADD/ADHD, memory problems, autism, temper outbursts, psychotic behavior, dementia, and more.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Detoxify your home as much as possible. Read the labels of the disinfectants you’re using during the pandemic and choose products that aren’t toxic.

M is for Mind Storms.

Abnormal electrical activity in the brain has been associated with temper outbursts, depression, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, distractibility, and confusion.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Avoid things that increase mind storms, such as high stress, lack of sleep, drug and alcohol abuse, and skipping meals.

I is for Immunity and Infections.

Things like Lyme disease and autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis) cause multiple brain health/mental health issues.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Strengthen your immune system and seek treatment for chronic infections like Lyme disease.

N is for Neurohormones.

Hormonal imbalances of key neurohormones, such as thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone can cause symptoms—such as depression, anxiety, attention problems, and psychosis—that mimic mental health conditions.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Know and optimize your hormone levels.

D is for Diabesity.

Being obese and/or having diabetes is detrimental to brain health and leads to a greater risk of depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, addictions, agoraphobia, and more.  

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Many obese people with type 2 diabetes are able to overcome the condition with a brain healthy diet, increased physical exercise, and supplements like berberine that help support healthy blood sugar levels.

S is for Sleep.

Over time, sleep problems lead to an increased risk of depression, ADD/ADHD, panic attacks, memory problems, and dementia.

BRIGHT MINDS Strategy: Make sleep a priority and aim for 7-8 hours a night.

Anxiety can’t wait. Depression can’t wait. Addiction can’t wait. Your mental health 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 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.


  1. Will you be lowering the price of brain scans since they are not covered by insurance?

    Comment by Marie WIKSTROM — May 13, 2020 @ 3:26 AM

  2. I agree. There is a lot of mental isues with this covid-19 and a lot of it is in the Congress of the U.S. which I have said all along that the Congress needs to be checked out for drugs and have unannounced drug inspections periodically as the congress should be among the mental healthiest of all of us. Other issues is with the congress involving health too as well as the Supreme Court. If we pay attention to this, the country as a whole will fare better than if we let it slide. What a great event it would be to see if we do have a severely aflicted Congress and Court.

    Comment by D Lynch — May 13, 2020 @ 10:49 AM

  3. I am suicidal bc I cannot take another day of Trump’s lies. His sickness is killing me

    Comment by Diane — May 15, 2020 @ 9:47 AM

  4. IF is for Intermittent Fasting. Fasting helps your body break down unwanted cells through autophagy. It reduces insulin levels in the body and allows the body to regenerate. Brain neurotrophic factor is also produced at about 24 hours of fasting. Good stuff. A keystone habit that leads to all other good habits and body functions.

    Comment by Jeff Eisert — May 16, 2020 @ 8:13 AM

  5. To Diane,

    Many people have had it with Donald Trump.

    Give yourself a breather. You will feel better the less hot air that you let in.
    It’s not worth bothering yourself over.

    Look for reliable news sources that you can trust. You will find them.


    Comment by jeanne — May 31, 2020 @ 7:35 PM

  6. Your life is important don’t listen to the news do the things you like movies reading writing painting sewing please u r important to u r self to you look into u r self n fine what u happy

    Comment by Ima — June 17, 2020 @ 9:52 AM

  7. Diane: I feel exactly the same way. I can’t believe the state of the country. I am just glad my parents aren’t alive to see it though I would love talking to them about it. I have already told some of my closest friends if trump is re-elected I may just have to kill myself. I can’t believe how much hate is resurfacing in this country with the current “leadership”. He is the worst president I have ever known in my lifetime & I am 69. People who support him I don’t think are well informed. He is doing a lot of negative stuff for the environment that we may never recover from & people don’t realize it . Same for women’s health issues. People who like him always site what he did for the economy & jobs. Really?! If it was so great why r middle class people 2 paychecks away from financial ruin And sitting in food lines?! I wish people would look at fact checker when they believe what he says. He lies so much (& makes up his own reality) that I don’t think he even knows the difference between the truth & lies. He gave Rush Limba the highest civilian honor in the country. Is this what America has come to? Make America great again? Yeah. For who? The rich? I think the man is mentally ill & I am a licensed clinical social worker. But hardly anyone in his party stands up to him as they r afraid of losing their jobs. He is mean spirited, vindictive & only cares about promoting himself. He fires everyone who disagrees with . Our system of government with checks & balances between the branches is being ruined. He admires dictators & has even sai he would like to run the country like Kim Jung Yung (sp) does. One thing he told the truth about though was when he said in 2016 that he could walk down 5th ave in NYC in broad daylight & shoot someone & and his followers would still support him. It’s all heartbreaking. The country is more divided than ever. My father was aPhD political scientist (Princeton) & after teaching later became President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice (NYC). He would be devastated to see what is going on with police brutality, discrimination, race relations, government & everthing else. Yeah make America great again.

    Comment by Susan Riddle — June 27, 2020 @ 8:18 AM

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