Brain Health & Mental health
A note from Michelle Kelly
therapist | Brain Health Coach
The relationship between brain health and mental health is undeniable. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked, minimized or ignored by doctors, psychiatrists and mental health clinicians. Although there may be a wave of folks with knowledge and understanding in this area, the general population and healthcare world remain blinded to the power of holistic health/lifestyle changes and continue to use traditional medicine as a bandaid. This bandaid treats the symptoms instead of the underlying cause, leading to many people feeling stuck, chronically unwell and hopeless.
The good news is, THERE’S HOPE! Committing to boosting your brain health by making lifestyle changes will improve your mental health and overall wellbeing. Although pharmaceuticals have their place in a variety of acute situations, they commonly create more frustration and don’t lead to sustained healing. My goal as a therapist and Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach is to support people in achieving sustained healing, optimal wellness and an improved healthspan.
Healthspan is a term used by Dr. Mark Hyman, an "internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine." (2) Healthspan refers to our quality of life, while lifespan refers to the length of our life. Who wants to live a long life while feeling miserable? I imagine this isn’t appealing to you. Living a long life while feeling healthy, strong, vibrant and joyful is one I strive to achieve and advocate for. Our lifestyle choices are directly linked to both our lifespan and our healthspan. You have the POWER to opt into meaningful decisions that will decrease your risk of disease and mental health issues while promoting enhanced wellbeing. Your past and present are not your destiny, but you’ll need to be willing to acknowledge the truth to enhance your healthspan.
Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist, brain health expert and Director of the Amen Clinics expresses, "On the surface, it's easier to try different medications, hoping for a quick fix, and not have to bother with lifestyle changes. But psychiatric medications are often insidious, meaning once you start them they are very hard to stop. They change your brain to need them in order to feel normal...Symptoms don't tell us anything about the underlying biology of the problems our patients have. All other medical professionals look directly at the organs they treat, but psychiatrists are taught to assume what the underlying biological mechanisms are for illness - such as depression, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, and addiction - without ever looking at the brain, even though our patients are every bit as sick as those with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer." (1)
Facing & Embracing the Truth
It takes fierce commitment, openness and humility to create lifestyle changes. It involves exploring learned behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve you. It requires you to shift perspective, expand your knowledge, heal past trauma and face the truth about the consequences of your current behaviors. This my friends is powerful, worth it and life-changing.
Making lifestyle changes to promote optimal wellness can be a difficult process despite the rewards. It's common to need support and education as you seek optimal wellness. If you’re noticing immediate resistance and disbelief in your ability to make lifestyle changes, you may want to consider reading Atomic Habits as an initial stepping stone. You may also want to work with a functional medicine doctor, therapist or life coach to support you in your process of change.
Myth busting is an impressive antidote to stagnation, hopelessness and a sense of powerlessness. Let’s explore a few myths that may be keeping you stuck.
Myth: My genetics determine my health.
Truth: Although genetics play a role in vulnerability to disease and illness, there's a lot more to the story. For example, it's common to hear people say and believe they're destined to develop Alzheimer's because their parents and other family members had to endure this devastating experience. The truth is, lifestyle choices are more powerful than genetics when it comes to Alzheimer's and many other life-altering medical and mental health conditions. Alzheimer's begins developing in the brain decades before symptoms manifest. Millions of people are roaming this earth while Alzheimer's is slowly taking its toll, completely undetected, because of their lifestyle choices. The earlier you make lifestyle changes, the less likely you are to develop Alzheimer's and other preventable diseases. It’s harder to create change when you can’t see or have yet to experience the negative effects of your choices.
POW Therapy partners with the Amen Clinics because I believe you deserve the best, most innovative mental health treatment. The Amen Clinics can conduct a SPECT scan if you want a brain health check-up to ensure you're on the right track for brain optimization & prevention. Seeing the physical evidence is commonly enough to motivate lifestyle changes and validate mental health experiences. For example, it’s destigmatizing when a SPECT scan reveals the physical impact of Alzheimer’s, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, brain injury, mood and anxiety disorders, addiction, autism, personality disorders etc. It’s relieving to learn there are absolutely things you can do to decrease the impact of or even heal these conditions before it's too late. Added bonus: POW Therapy clients or my Brain Health Coaching clients get 10% off SPECT scans at the Amen Clinics.
Myth: Personality disorders are lifelong diagnoses and can't be healed.
Truth: This belief is outdated, damaging and shaming. Yes, it can be difficult to understand and navigate a relationship with someone who's presenting symptoms of a personality disorder, but healing is possible and their experience isn't a moral failing. Many folks with personality disorders are taught it's a lifelong condition they need to learn to manage. I call B***S*** on this paradigm and SPECT scan imaging validates this! Personality disorders commonly manifest as a result of childhood trauma, traumatic brain injury and exposure to environmental toxins or infections. Brain health interventions along with psychotherapy can help these individuals heal.
Myth: I’m depressed and antidepressants don’t work for me. I’ll just have to suffer.
Truth: SPECT scan imaging reveals there are 7 brain types associated with anxiety and depression. The majority of prescribers are guessing what may work for their patients without even looking at the organ they're treating, the brain! Antidepressants may be necessary for some people to address acute depression and suicidality, but for some people antidepressants increase the risk of suicide, provide no relief and create other unwelcomed side effects such as loss of libido, weight gain etc. Blindly prescribing is dangerous at worst and frustrating at best. Prescriptions need to be tailored to individual brains; and commonly supplements, nutraceuticals and lifestyle changes are more effective. I know, I know. We all want a quick fix...but quick fixes don’t work.
Nourishing your brain is the key to wellness and supplements are one way to ensure you’re getting what you need. POW Therapy is an affiliate of BrainMD, Daniel Amen MD’s supplement brand. If you order through POW Therapy you can get 10% off anytime by using the code LUCKY10 at checkout. Once on their page, you can also receive any special offer they may be advertising. With the plethora of supplements to choose from, I trust BrainMD because of their deep care and respect for the human body and what it needs for optimal performance.
The BrainMD Promise: "At BrainMD, we’ve dedicated our careers to helping people like you feel better with all natural, ethically sourced ingredients. Plus, they’re free of gluten, wheat, eggs, corn, sugars, artificial coloring or flavoring, and common toxins that many manufacturers don’t check for—like dioxins.
From source to shelf, we extensively test and track every bottle, ensuring that you receive the absolute best. If you aren’t 100% satisfied with our product, you’ll receive your money back." (3)
Boost Your Brain & Reduce Risk Factors
As you've noticed, I've referenced Dr. Daniel Amen and his work and products in this post. He's a trailblazer. His commitment to utilizing brain SPECT imaging to help his clients and to research new methods for determining diagnoses and treatment is groundbreaking and meaningful. His books are incredibly useful and easy to understand. He has accomplished being a New York Time's best-selling author 10 times. I reference him because I trust his work and admire his courage to break the mold, so healing can be optimized and sustainable.
His book, The End of Mental Illness, provides a robust framework for optimizing your health. I highly recommend diving into this book to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of your lifestyle choices on your mental and physical health. If you'd like a quick glance at his program, check our this pdf to learn about his BRIGHT MINDS approach.
If you need additional guidance, POW Therapy can support you.