What Your Brain Type Says About How You’re Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic

What Your Brain Type Says About How You’re Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Are you one of those people who are hoarding toilet paper and face masks? Are you freaking out from all the scary news or feeling completely depressed from all the social distancing? Or are you like those Spring Breakers flocking to the beaches like nothing’s wrong?

The way you react in a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic depends on your brain type. After studying more than 160,000 brain SPECT scans at Amen Clinics, it’s clear that not all brains are the same. SPECT is a brain imaging tool that measures blood flow and activity and shows areas of the brain with healthy activity, too much activity, or not enough activity.

Based on our brain imaging work, we have identified 5 primary brain types that influence who you are, how you behave, and how you relate to others. Here’s a look at how each of the brain types tends to respond during times of crisis and pandemics.

Brain Type 1 — Balanced

On brain SPECT scans, the balanced brain shows full, even, symmetrical blood flow in most areas.

If you have the Balanced Brain Type, you’re likely to be focused, flexible, and emotionally stable. You’re one of those people who shows up on time, follows through on promises, and copes well with life’s ups and downs—even with global pandemics.

In times of extreme stress, you tend to have healthy levels of worry and anxiety, which means you’ll be prepared but won’t go overboard by hoarding or panicking. In general, you aren’t much of a risk-taker, so you listen to what the government and experts say and follow the rules regarding social distancing. You stick to getting information about the virus from reputable sources like the CDC, and you also follow sound advice to boost your immune system to minimize your risk of developing COVID-19.

Support your Brain Type: Eat a healthy diet; get regular exercise; and take multi-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D.

Brain Type 2 — Spontaneous

This type typically has lower activity in the front part of the brain in an area called the prefrontal cortex (PFC).

The Spontaneous Brain Type tends to be creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who would rather do things on the spur of the moment than have a set schedule. You may struggle with a short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, and impulse control problems. These people are often adrenaline junkies—think of firefighters, for example, who are more likely to run toward a fire than away from it. Spontaneous types often don’t believe that rules apply to you, so in this pandemic, you might not be adhering to social distancing recommendations. You may even be one of those people crowding the beaches in Florida or having a “coronavirus party” with your other spontaneous friends.

These are the “Don’t worry, be happy” type of people. This means you aren’t worried about the pandemic, but you likely aren’t taking the precautions that could help you prevent exposure to it. And you may not be doing anything to enhance your immunity since you aren’t afraid of catching it. Unfortunately, a longevity study found that “Don’t worry, be happy” people die the earliest from accidents and preventable causes. This type is often seen in people with ADD/ADHD.

Support your Brain Type: Engage in lifestyle strategies that boost activity in the PFC, including eating a higher-protein diet; taking supplements, such as green tea, rhodiola, and ginseng; and doing cardio exercise.

Brain Type 3 — Persistent

People with this brain type often have increased activity in the front part of the brain in an area called the anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG).

People with this brain type are like a dog with a bone. You tend to be strong-willed, don’t take no for an answer, and think it’s your way or the highway. With frontal lobes that work hard, you’re always on alert, so in a crisis or pandemic, you go into overdrive. In an effort to prevent the virus, you may wash your hands so much your skin cracks, which actually increases your vulnerability for infections. You’re a natural prepper who likely has a storeroom stocked with every conceivable emergency supply. You may even be one of those people stockpiling face masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. It isn’t because you lack empathy for others; it’s because you worry so much you need to feel like you have some control over the situation.

You also tend to thrive when you can follow a routine, so suddenly being out of a job, having to work from home, or having to self-isolate can cause you to get bent out of shape. You may struggle more than others with a new schedule. When the brain’s ACG is overactive, it also means you can get stuck on negative thoughts, which can be associated with anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s critical for people with this type to disinfect your thoughts. Mental hygiene is just as important as washing your hands.

Support your Brain Type: To calm an overactive ACG, boost serotonin in the brain with healthy carbs (such as sweet potatoes and hummus), salmon, turkey, eggs, nuts, and seeds; supplements like 5-HTP and saffron; and burst training.

Brain Type 4 — Sensitive

This type often has increased activity in the limbic system, the emotional centers of the brain.

Having the Sensitive Brain Type means you tend to have great empathy for others. On the downside, it means you can be deeply impacted by frightening news and distressing social media posts. In a global crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, you may be feeling so overwhelmed that you retreat from everything and everyone. You may go beyond healthy social distancing and self-isolation by completely removing yourself from any contact with anyone, which only exacerbates feelings of sadness and loneliness.

Many people with this brain type struggle with moods, can feel overwhelmed and are likely to have lots of automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). You’re a glass half empty type who tends to see doom and gloom in our future. Being highly sensitive can make you more vulnerable to depressive disorder, addiction, and cyclic mood disorders like bipolar disorder.

Support your Brain Type: Calm the emotional centers of the brain with healthy fats, such as avocado, almonds, and salmon; take omega-3 fatty acids (the kind with more EPA than DHA), s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), and vitamin D; get some sunshine or try bright light therapy; and do physical activities like dancing. Be sure to reach out to connect with loves ones, whether it’s a phone call, a video conference, or Face Time.

Brain Type 5 — Cautious

Heightened activity in the anxiety centers of the brain—such as the basal ganglia, insular cortex, or amygdala—is seen in this type. This is often linked to low levels of the neurotransmitter GABA.

If you have the Cautious Brain Type, you’re likely to feel anxious, which typically makes you more prepared. You probably already had extra rolls of toilet paper and paper towels on hand before the pandemic even arrived. People with this type tend to have such busy minds that it’s hard to relax. In stressful situations, it’s common to have trouble sleeping or to experience physical symptoms from anxiety, such as headaches, muscle aches, or an upset stomach.

You may be so anxious about what’s going on that you watch the news constantly for the latest updates, but this just fuels your anxiety. You typically follow the rules, so in a pandemic, you’re doing what the experts recommend. You may even be going further by wearing a face mask at all times in your own home or preaching to your followers on social media to make sure they take things seriously.

People with this brain type are more vulnerable to anxiety and panic attacks, and substance use disorders. This means you may be turning to a glass of wine—or 3 or 4 of them—to self-medicate in times of stress. This may work in the short-term, but it boosts anxiety in the long run. There are healthier ways to soothe your nerves.

Support your Brain Type: Calm the brain’s anxiety centers by avoiding caffeine, booze, and sugary sweets; supplement your diet with GABA, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids (higher in DHA than EPA), and theanine from green tea; and try calming activities like meditation, hypnosis, deep breathing, and yoga.

To discover your brain type and get targeted recommendations to boost your brain type, take our free online Brain Health Assessment quiz. It only takes about 5 minutes to complete and your answers are strictly confidential.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or other mental health issues, you aren’t alone—45% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their mental health. Just because you’re sheltering at home doesn’t mean you have to wait for the pandemic to be over before seeking help. In fact, during these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting to get treatment 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

13 Comments

  1. I am in desperate need of dr amends help and advice
    I am.49 years old and I am struggling terribly and destroying and sabotaging my own life and my family basee in my co dependency struggle as well as anxiety and depression.
    I feel.so stuck
    I dont know where to turn
    My mother passed at age 28 from suicide
    My brother the same at age 19
    I am the sole provider to a household of 7 including my 11 month old grandson and a little boy 11 that I adopted. please help me dr amen

    Comment by Lisa Lennon — April 18, 2020 @ 9:40 AM

  2. I’m brain type 8. Do you have any information on my type in the article

    Comment by Karlygash Abuova — April 24, 2020 @ 5:52 AM

  3. None of these sound like me.

    I like routines because following routines helps me not forget to do things, but if my routine is interrupted, or I can’t follow it for some reason, oh well. I tend to just go with the flow.

    I am not concerned with this ‘pandemic’. I take supplements to keep my immune system strong, but I’d just as well catch whatever’s going around and get it over with than live in fear of catching it. I don’t do vaccines.

    I seem to be a good mix of all of these brain types:
    I’m a bit cautious: I don’t drive because I don’t see well.
    I have empathy for others, but, I also believe in personal responsibility. You may have an adrenal problem that makes you carry around huge amounts of water, but you won’t give up your highly toxic cleaners, so stop complaining!
    I can be like a dog with a bone on some things. There isn’t a time when I ever take a doctor’s advice without thoroughly researching it first. (And most of that research leads me to look for another doctor.)
    I can be rather spontaneous: I did go to the beach in Florida, when I lived there, during the hurricane warnings. I probably would have gone while out of work the last month or so, if I still lived there.
    I consider my self well balanced: I tend to be focused, flexible, and emotionally stable. I show up on time, follow through on promises, and cope well with life’s ups and downs—even with global pandemics. However!, I do not listen to the ‘experts’, and especially not the CDC or WHO on what to do with my health. I don’t take extraordinary precautions against contracting any disease. Disease is part of life on this planet. Our bodies were created to handle intruders. Eat right and take supplements when needed, and occasionally take appropriate medication and it will all work out.
    Death is also a part of life. We are all gonna die sometime. You can’t live in fear of death and live a full life.

    Comment by Kendra Morgan — April 24, 2020 @ 6:50 AM

  4. Copied from Amen Clinic site:

    Call 877-869-3251 or 949-266-3708. Due to recent higher call volume, expected hold times are longer than usual. We will answer your call as soon as possible.
    In these troubling times, we are committed to your mental wellness. We offer both in-person and telehealth options and have put the safety of our patients first by adhering to advanced safety practices at each of our clinics nationwide. Throughout the U.S., healthcare providers are considered an essential service and are required to remain open. You are allowed to make appointments with healthcare professionals even if “Shelter at Home” rules are in effect.

    For immediate assistance, call us Monday – Friday between the hours of 5 AM – 6 PM (Pacific Standard Time) or on Saturday between 8 AM – 12 PM (PST) to speak to a client care coordinator that will answer your questions and help you find the best solutions.

    Comment by John Koiter — April 24, 2020 @ 8:05 AM

  5. I am type 8. What should I do during this period with all that is going on. I am a caregiver for my husband who does dialysis 3 to 4 x a werk. He also has other issues. I am tired and burned out.

    Comment by Clara Stevenson — April 24, 2020 @ 9:10 AM

  6. Were the other types left out accidentally or intentionally?

    Comment by Corree Perrin — April 24, 2020 @ 10:55 AM

  7. Research into compulsive hoarding is relatively young…It previously was considered to be a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The specific cause is unknown…but I’m sure a bright psychologist will write a best seller and place everyone in the “victim”…category…Check Genesis 3:17-24. Hoarding is human nature run amok…We naturally trust things rather than in God…

    Thanks for letting me comment…even if the comment will never see the light of day…Peace…

    Comment by Dr. Henry Sinopoli — April 24, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

  8. Your advice was: “You stick to getting information about the virus from reputable sources like the CDC”.
    Sadly the CDC can not be counted on for sound advice. Multiple CDC members are profiting from this virus scare. They own many vaccine patents!
    https://www.lawfirms.com/resources/environment/environment-health/cdc-members-own-more-50-patents-connected-vaccinations
    “In total, 56 individual patents were found to be owned or shared by one or more members”.

    So they have an incentive to continue promoting a virus scare. Talk about conflict-of-interest! There are too many “dirty secrets hidden within alliances between CDC members and vaccine manufacturers”.

    David – Georgia U.S.

    Comment by david hampstead — April 24, 2020 @ 12:17 PM

  9. I was wondering the same!

    Comment by Christine — April 24, 2020 @ 11:53 PM

  10. im no dr or anything but if you need someone to talk to, im here. sorry i accidentally posted my comment on another comment oops

    Comment by Vika Keating — April 25, 2020 @ 4:21 AM

  11. Peace be unto you too, doc!
    I read it. Truth.

    Comment by Anne B — April 25, 2020 @ 5:40 AM

  12. I love your post. I trust God for my next breath! Prayer to my Heavenly Father keeps me calm & hopeful through every situation. Jesus is my peace.

    Comment by Faye — April 25, 2020 @ 9:36 AM

  13. I couldn’t agree more!
    I think this explanation still sounds like Amen is eluding to some political ideas. The more I read and listen to him, the more dissapointed I become.

    Comment by Rebecca — May 22, 2020 @ 1:52 AM

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