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Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems Paperback – November 3, 2015

4.2 out of 5 stars 673 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this age of do-it-yourself health care (heck, if the doctor only sees you for 10 minutes each visit, what other options are there?), Change Your Brain, Change Your Life fits in perfectly. Filled with "brain prescriptions" (among them cognitive exercises and nutritional advice) that are geared toward readers who've experienced anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, excessive anger or worry, and obsessive behavior, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life milks the mind-body connection for all it's worth.

Written by a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has also authored a book on attention deficit disorder, Change Your Brain contains dozens of brain scans of patients with various neurological problems, from caffeine, nicotine, and heroin addiction to manic-depression to epilepsy. These scans, often showing large gaps in neurological activity or areas of extreme overactivity, are downright frightening to look at, and Dr. Amen should know better than to resort to such scare tactics. But he should also be commended for advocating natural remedies, including deep breathing, guided imagery, meditation, self-hypnosis, and biofeedback for treating disorders that are so frequently dealt with by prescription only. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist Amen uses nuclear brain imaging to diagnose and treat behavioral problems. He explains how the brain works, what happens when things go wrong, and how to optimize brain function. Five sections of the brain are discussed, and case studies clearly illustrate possible problems. The accompanying brain-scan photos are difficult to read with an untrained eye. Although Amen provides step-by-step "prescriptions" geared toward optimizing and healing the different sections of the brain ("create a library of wonderful experiences"; "try meditation/self-hypnosis"), 80 percent of the patients in his case studies were given medication to treat their behavioral problems. The audience for this book is ambiguous. While it encourages readers to evaluate themselves and others, it would be more useful to a professional in the social sciences than to the general reader. Buy where self-help or brain-research books are popular.?Maria Uzdavinis, Rochester P.L., NH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Revised, Expanded ed. edition (November 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 110190464X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101904640
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (673 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Since both myself and a loved one have been diagnosed and treated at Amen's clinic, I'd like to respond to this book from the view of my actual experience.
First, I agree with most of the what is said in the other positive reviews. The book is engaging, informative, and most importantly, it offers a great deal of hope. It breaks new ground, and it allows the layman to make better sense of the complexities of brain biology, personality, and behavior. To those few reviewers who insisted that Amen does not actually tell us "how to change your brain" - this is simply not true. Amen offers a variety of options including traditional meds, (even a nice chart to help with the benefits of each), and alternative treatments such as herbal and dietary suggestions.
As many know, Amen's use of SPECT scans is very controversial. Although he has a following of professionals, he is also careful to say that the scans are NOT a primary diagnostic tool - only a way to confirm a tentative diagnosis. This may be because SPECT is not approved by the DSM, nor the APA(to my knowledge), as an accepted and reliable diagnostic tool for ADD or any of the other problems Amen discusses. Given the stodgy psychiatric mentality in the US toward new approaches, this should not be a problem in and of itself. Yet given the controversy, a serious flaw of the book is that it does not address the number and types of cases in which this approach does NOT work.
But I also want to offer some cautions to those who might be tempted to passively accept the book in its entirety.
1) In my own case, two Drs and a thrapist in Amen's own office had different interpretations of my loved-one's SPECT scan, yet there was no consultation among them to resolve the issue.
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Format: Paperback
This book shows you that there is hope for everyone! Though the title is a little silly, it is appropriate. This book actually shows you pictures of brains with different emotional/chemical imbalances. Give it to anyone who questions whether diet or medication really affect their feelings and relationships. Many people believe that medication is for weak people and that they should be able to conquer their problems through sheer will. I have known countless people who have tried everything to overcome emotional issues but actually changing their physiology. This book gives indisputable evidence that problems like depression, aggression, ADD and Alzheimers are physically based. The changes in patients' brains before and after treatment (often, but not always medication-based) are phenomenal. It demonstrates with the SPECT series brain scans that our brain chemistry rules our emotions.
I learned that even minor bumps to the head can change people's personalities and ability to learn. Dr. Amen shows pictures of brains with little or no activity in areas that have been injured, mirroring the patients' emotional or intellectual difficulties.
Amen is very clear that he always uses talk therapy and teaching communication skills before he contemplates having a SPECT series done. His point is that many people can benefit from learning new skills and ways of looking at life, but some are truly stuck because their brain activity keeps them looping on negative thoughts, reacting with extreme anger, obsessing about limited situations, or shutting down when they try to concentrate. When medication is used these patients can finally put the communication and coping skills they have learned to good use.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I admire Dr. Amen's ability to explain the complex interworkings and relationships between different parts of the brain. I also appreciate his ability to relate these concepts to practical everyday problems and common psychological pathologies such as anxiety, ADD and depression. He even talks about some case study information on relationship dynamics.

While Amen is a controversial figure in some ways, he still has much to stay about keeping your brain healthy and he has the credentials and clinical experience to go along with fact that he has scanned more brains than anyone else. This does not make him infallible, but it certainly makes him an important player in pushing the frontiers of knowledge forward. On the other hand, he seems to have a bias toward SPECT scans that is not fully warranted based on other scientist and clinician's work. It's difficult to reduce the functioning of the brain to an in the moment scan or even multiple scans over time.

Suprisingly, this book is very readable for the average layman and equally fascinating. It has a number of quizzes and checklists for determining the strength of functioning of various areas of the brain and useful supplement suggestions. While this book is about 10 years old, it certainly contains lots of useful information. If you want an updated version of this, then I recommend his other book Making a Good Brain Great: The Amen Clinic Program for Achieving and Sustaining Optimal Mental Performance. This book is aimed less at pathology and more about what you can do to improve and take care of your brain in general.
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