He’s a leading psychiatrist and is the associate medical director of the esteemed Amen Clinic. And today he’s on The AllMomDoes Podcast with Julie Lyles Carr, where they discuss how to talk about mental health with kids, how we as people of faith should walk alongside those grappling with thoughts of suicide, and how we can support our mental health through physical and spiritual changes. Don’t miss this important conversation with Dr. Daniel Emina.
- Find Dr. Emina Online | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
- Book: The Suicide Solution: Finding Your Way Out of the Darkness
Purposely. Your life. God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com..
Julie Lyles Carr: Hey there I’m Julie Lyles Carr of the AllMomDoes podcast where we are in a series on mental health and mental wellness. Let’s jump right into the next episode.
Today on the AllMomDoes podcast I am bringing to you somebody eminently qualified to talk to us about some things, mental health, some concerns, some trends we’re seeing and what you can do about it as a parent, to be paying attention and to know what resources are out there. Dr. Daniel Emina is with me today. Thank you so much for joining me.
Dr. Daniel Emina: Thank you so much, really for having me on thank you for having me on your platform. Uh, it’s a privilege to be on, um, you have an amazing community that you’ve nurtured. So I’m looking forward to chatting with you today.
Julie Lyles Carr: Tell listeners what you do, how you got into it. The amazing clinic that you’re associated with. We, we want all the details. So fill us in.
Dr. Daniel Emina: So I tell people I’m a brain coach first. I’m a neuropsychiatrist.. I trained at UCLA and also spend some time at the university of Hawaii. I’m double board certified in general psychiatry. And also in child and adolescent psychiatry. So I tell people, I see kids from four to 94 or something. So I see the gamut.
I do enjoy seeing younger clients, but I also enjoy seeing clients in, in different stages of their life. Um, I work at the Amen Clinics. Uh, Daniel Amen known for, uh, the many books he has written, um, and the way he is been foundational in changing the way we think about psychiatry in general, um, shifting it from, uh, mental health issues to brain health issues.
And one of the reasons he has been a pioneer in that is that we’ve believed in neuroimaging. So we’re actually looking at the brain having a better sense of what the brain is doing, which then informs our treatment practices. So I’ve been at the clinic now for about eight years. And there just recently, um, had the privilege of working on a book, uh, with a core author of mine, Rick Lawrence, and we wrote a book together called The Suicide Solution, and I’m really, really excited to talk to you about it and talk to you about the principles we share in there. And, uh, just a new way of thinking about mental health today.
Julie Lyles Carr: I love talking about brain health. Now, I think mental health, we, we get it, we understand the term, but so often you’re so right. We overlook that our mental state does come from a place of this incredible organ that God gave us in the brain and all of the amazing things it can do.
And I don’t, you know, my, one of my degrees is in psychology, but it’s from many years ago and neurosciences were very, very nascent to some degree. At that point, we were a lot more theoretical. We didn’t have a lot of great imaging at that time of the brain.
Where some dots really got connected for me in this lane of brain health is several of my listeners probably know my seventh child when she was born experienced in neonatal stroke, an ischemic neonatal stroke. It was in the right hemisphere of the brain. Very close to ventricle. What was interesting with her is when we started the whole process of PT and OT and orthotics and all of the things that you do, I began to realize that she was having these outbursts of behavior sometimes and beyond just my usual experience with toddlers or with kids who were moving into those ages, where they wanted to be a little more independent, four or five, six years old. I mean, she really would get in a loop.
And who really helped me out was someone who I contacted. I kept talking to her doctors and her therapist about this and, and everybody kind of handled it almost like a behavior issue. And I was able to speak with someone who was doing some real pioneering work with kids who are stroke survivors.
And he told me. No, no, no, you, you, you got to back up. We you’re looking at this purely as behavior. You’re not looking at what happened to her brain and the way her brain is rewiring and the things that you’re asking her to do and requiring her to do in habilitation on her left side, that influences her behavior.
It was like a light bulb went on. I don’t know why I hadn’t connected the dots to that point. I had looked so much at what she was doing as almost a willfulness or something along those lines. And just, that was a big aha moment. So tell me about aha moments that we should be having all the time when it comes to brain health.
We, we so quickly skid into more of a morality side, sometimes the behavior, which you and I are both believers. And I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a morality side, but man is a mom I just went headlong into, oh, she’s, you know, being stubborn and she’s being this. And I just didn’t think about that beautiful organ the brain. I didn’t think about it.
So unpack that for us a little bit and what you’re seeing and what are some of the trends and the changes you’ve seen in the last few years?
Dr. Daniel Emina: I think I would have thought the exact same way you thought about it. You would think, okay. We spent a lot of time talking about the brain would be able to make that distinction of like, okay, how much, what percentage of this is brain versus, um, choice in some ways, or just, um, a learned behavior.
And we, we don’t always do that. And we don’t always bring it back to that and say, well, let’s start at the brain first. Make sure that’s healthy. Make sure that’s working well before we start putting other things on top of it. Um, that aha moment element is when I probably the first couple of times I saw a patient, had my own thoughts related to their diagnoses and what may have been going on and then looked at their scan and saw an extremely poorly functioning brain.
I, um, especially, you know, some people who get labeled with like personality disorders and all these things, and then, or, or they’re violent, they’re all these things. And then you look at their scanning. You’re like, whoa, why does your brain look so unhealthy? Why does it look toxic? Why is there damage in this scan?
And then when you look at the function of those particular regions, then you see, wait, the function of those regions impact behavior in this particular way. Oh, that does help explain why you’ve had these particular challenges, this challenges and manage your impulsive anger, um, because you’ve had injuries to your frontal lobes.
You’ve had injuries around your temporal lobes, where your amygdala resides and you it’s hard for you to, to manage aggression or even anxiety. So for me as a clinician, having that knowledge, it changes how I practice and how I view patients and how we create treatment plans. But imagine for the individual who gets to see it and they’re like, wait, it’s not because I’m a, I’m a bad person.
I’m a bad Christian, I’m lazy or whatever else society labels you with. Right. It’s because it’s a medical thing. And that’s the thing we’re missing. We’re missing out on that element. That there’s a huge component of medical. Now don’t, don’t get me wrong. That there’s volition. There’s an element of volition.
And, uh, you know, when I meet with clients, I will start to break it down to, it was like, all right, how much of this is what, what percentage of this is brain versus, um, your choice? So let’s say you twist an ankle. Right. It’s going to impact how quickly you run down the street. Let’s say you break that ankle, break that leg.
It’s really going to impact how quickly you get up to go do things. But there’s also that volition that says, okay, I’m going to still try to hop over. I’ll hop at this rate, right? There’s still certain things you can do, but you can recognize how an actual injury can change, how you get that task done, how quickly you get down that road.
Now imagine that for every brain-based region, everything that the brain controls, how you manage your day, how you manage your money, how you manage your relationships. If there parts of your brain that are not working effectively, even if you want to do things right, it’s going to impact how you get those things done.
That’s a big thing too. When we start to consider anxiety disorders, mood disorders in general, because you may have all the faith and read all the scriptures and have it all. But if it is a part of your brain that generates anxiety that is misfiring, it will feel empty at times. You’re like, well, I’m, I know all this stuff, but it’s still doing it.
Why is it still doing. Right. At that point, you just start considering biology.
Julie Lyles Carr: You know, sometimes we hear things like, well, if there’s an issue with the brain and we think, oh, well then that’s it. And there are certain cases, for example, in my daughter’s case with the brain injury that she had from the stroke, that’s not something that we can recreate that part of the brain for her, however, I’ve learned a lot about neuroplasticity in the last several years with this daughter of mine as well. And the incredible ways that the brain can change the way that the brain can accommodate certain things.
So back us up to the place, because obviously not, everyone’s going to have something as evident as Merci’s situation with her ischemic stroke and. Of course, there are a lot of practitioners and very well-intentioned family, doctors and pediatricians who this is just not something they’ve been considering yet.
The kid seems to be on par with what he’s supposed to be doing at certain stages of growth and on and on and on. And so some of these things, well, it’s just a discipline issue or it’s a mom issue, or it’s a whatever issue. So tell me how we can do our best to be healthy in our brains. And then. Talk about what we can do if we do end up knowing there’s something that’s gone on, what we can do to help the brain be as healthy as it can be, even if it has had some issues along the way.
Dr. Daniel Emina: Okay. When we all born, none of us are born with an operating manual. Right. I, I usually often tell my clients is joke that it’s not like you plop out and then the, the operating manual comes behind you and like, okay, these are the foods you should eat. In case of emergency or in case of injury in this particular area, do this particular thing. None of that happens. Exactly. None of that. We don’t know any of that. So we go about just trying to figure things out and keep in mind were raised by people who had to also go about just trying to figure things out, right?
Who were raised by people who had to do the same thing. They might’ve gone through trauma. They might have had their own challenges. They might’ve had their own brain health issues or injuries that may have impacted the way that they behave and the way that they parent. Which then impacts this new baby that’s coming out and what’s told to that new baby. Now the way we are we’re in many ways like computers and we actually ended up using this analogy, obviously we’re more beautifully made than computers, of course.
Um, but there we do use that analogy quite a bit in the, in the book of hardware and software. The hardware elements is the biology. It’s that brain element, right? Um, it’s what we inherit, what genes are turned on and off even based on just what the parent dealt with in their lifetime. Right? If someone who had trauma, it impacts the genes of the baby, which then turns on the threat, detecting genes for that baby.
Right. So which genes are turned on and off, so it can impact how that baby is built in some ways, right? Then the other, um, uh, environmental exposures are toxin exposures and such that can impact how that baby is developing. Now growing into a toddler 3, 4, 5, 6, oh, diet. Our nutrition, right? How important it is as part of our care of ourselves to feed and nourish and take care of this temple that we’re given and honor it with the right types of foods.
Right? Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we’ve put into our body can be toxic to our body. They can impact our gut health. Um, they can be directly toxic or indirectly toxic, and just, uh, the lack of nutrient. Right. And it impacts how we function. So that’s our hardware element. There’s things that can occur to the hardware of our brain, how it comes together, that can impact how we focus, um, how we get tasks done, how quickly we learn things, how quickly we learn from our errors.
We take it for granted. We’re like, why can’t they figure it out? They keep doing the same thing over and over again. Right. And it’s not just that easy. The brain doesn’t. Your brain processes its reality, but needs to create a firm picture of that reality and, and make those appropriate connections. If your hardware isn’t working right, then it makes it difficult to be able to do that.
The next layer of that is a software. Okay. And if you think about like how a child learns over the years, based on experience, what they’ve seen, what they’re doing, what is taught to them? That’s like writing code. Okay, but the thing is you can write bugs into your code, just like we do when we’re creating computers, we can accidentally have some code that makes the software glitch at times, right?
And that glitch for us can relate to things we call schemas. The way we perceive and process our world and our environment and the narrative we tell ourselves, it’s actually how we refer to it in the book, the story you tell yourself about yourself, right? I am this type of person. And often that is planted in you in those first eight years of development, based on how you were taught.
Based on your interactions with your caregivers. That could be primarily your family of origin. That could be some, um, teachers and such. Um, it can be your environment what’s said to you that can impact how you start to define yourself. Right. Are you the hero of your story or are you the victim of your story?
Are you the one that always gets it wrong? Right? Are you the one that’s likely to fail? And it becomes code. And then on top of that, we write other software that looks for evidence to back up our code. We call those cognitive biases. So we look for evidence to back up what we already believe. Um, and unfortunately that can entrench you in negative ways of thinking, right?
And then we tend to find evidence that consistently backs up. I am not good enough. Right. So if someone says, Hey, you did great in this task, but you know, there’s an area you could improve. What did you hear? What did you fixate on? I didn’t do it well enough. And then it starts to change people’s trajectory in life.
They find roles that are lower than where they need to be. They settle for relationships and settle for, and unfortunately get involved in traumatic situations, not of their own doing per se, but, um, maybe they allow it to go on longer because of this belief of maybe this is all I deserve. So to answer a question of like, well, how, how do we work on making these changes?
That’s why in many ways it’s the book is there, right? It, it relates to how do we get better at understanding these variables? What hardware components are leading to our symptoms? Part of, of improvement is shining that light on it. Right. It’s knowledge. You can’t grow without that knowledge, you can’t improve something if you’re not measuring or aware of it.
So when you educate yourself on it, and then the next layers of it is starting to find what could be going on. Not only in a psychological side, don’t just dive deep, only on one particular side or only on the faith side. Um, look at it all. We consider bio-psycho-social-spiritual. Okay.
So biological. Psychological. Right. The social environmental. And the spiritual component. Any, any concern that someone comes into in with, we need to be thinking about all those variables, right. And especially if it leads to thoughts of suicide, right? Because that’s when all the defense mechanisms, all the things that are in built into us to keep us alive has failed.
Our brain is arrived at the conclusion that death is the only answer and what a sad conclusion, right?
Julie Lyles Carr: I’m interested that this became this passion project for you. Um, the book is called The Suicide Solution, finding your way out of the darkness. And, you know, the stats are just really startling that we look at suicide rates continuing to rise between an age group from the age of 10.
I mean, that needs to just kind of stop us in our tracks for a minute. From the age of 10, up to 34, we’re seeing suicide rates increasing to the point that they’re, it’s the second leading cause of death for those in that age category. And then historically, we also know that men in particular, in middle age are one of the groups that really has some startling numbers when it comes to this.
I have an, you know, it’s been a really sad thing for us, but we’ve had a couple of friends in that age group who that is the choice that they have made or. That’s one way of saying it. Right. But we also know now there could have been other things afoot when it comes to brain health, we often think of it as a choice moment and there are reasons we think of it that way as people in faith, but to your point it’s important that we begin to exercise the vocabulary of understanding that there can be more going on there. There can be a lot of components in those factors that you just laid out between hardware, software, social environment, and spiritual experiences that inform all of this. How did this become a topic that you decided you wanted to explore?
You know, because it’s one of those that it’s, it’s tough for people. It’s like, oh, wow. Are we going to talk about this? Because it’s scary. For parents, it can make parents feel like they are just spinning, trying to figure out. We often place a lot of blame sometimes if we are someone who has been closely associated with someone who commits suicide and we feel like we do all the things, oh, I should’ve seen the signs.
Oh, that one day they called me and said this. I should’ve seen that as the moment that they were evaluating, if they were going to do this. And I didn’t say the right thing, or I diagnostically went the wrong course or whatever. How did you decide this as a topic that you wanted to explore?
Dr. Daniel Emina: It was a God thing. Actually, let me even start, I’ll go back and further before I, even this book even came up, it’s just impressive how God opens these doors that you, that you would’ve never considered. I think he definitely wanted to make it clear to me that this was not my doing. That this was His glory. Basically.
It’s fascinating to learn about people. It’s fascinating to understand all the depths of, of the miracle of cognition or the miracle of even how we put together reality. Like we don’t even recognize how much literally today you’re a miracle. Like everybody has listened to this is literally a miracle starting from that point. I became fascinated with it doing this work for quite a bit.
Growing, I mean, and, and of course doing this work, you, you meet clients who are suicidal and then doing the work at the Amen Clinics you start to understand that it’s just not one thing. So by the time someone gets to the point of. I want to end my life. It’s a whole bunch of variables that led to that, right?
It’s that final common pathway based on failures of multiple defense mechanisms, they usually keep you from that. So I’m going on my way, doing my work. Head down. Privileged to get to do this work. And the opportunity came up. Really? It was, I was approached as a potential uh co-author with Rick Lawrence. Rick Lawrence has already written multiple books.
He was touched. He already had this, this in his heart. He lives in Colorado. Unfortunately, um, based on his area, he was very close to a bunch of people who had committed suicide. So like actually committed, not just, you know, attempted, and it, it impacted him and impact his life. And he had, it was his burden and it’s his heart to write something on this to make a change.
So he started the process of writing it and he wanted to get, um, a physician perspective. Through working at Amen Clinics, working with Dr. Amen who’s written multiple books. It eventually got to me. Now, the only reason I said yes was again, here’s the God thing.
My mom is believes in ongoing education. So she was doing this master’s program and part of her, uh, uh, her project, her was to look at suicide in the church. And suicide prevention in church. So this had nothing to do with me. She was already doing that. And then, so she asked me questions about it. She even had, had me do a talk about it. I was like, okay, mom, I’ll help.
You know, so we, we did something with it. So by the time it came up, I had already done all this research. I had already presented on certain, certain things. So I was like, well, I, yeah, I guess I’ll, let’s do it. But at that point I felt like the decision, the decision was already made and I spoke with Rick about it and it was set it, God just opened the doors and it became very clear that this was what we needed to do.
Julie Lyles Carr: Are we seeing raising numbers and the church now? I know from the years that I was pastoring, it felt anecdotally to me that I was seeing this, we were experiencing it as a church community far more often than anything I could have remembered previously, but I don’t have the data to back that up. What are you seeing from the data when it comes to people of faith that this is the outcome for them?
Dr. Daniel Emina: Specifically, for people of faith, it always runs a little bit behind general society, but because we, sometimes we actually consider faith a protective factor, but it still followed the overall rise over the last 20 years.
Right. There’s been a 35% increase over the last 20 years. And there’s a multiple reasons for that, including just even our hyper-connected world. Right. Um, where no longer the village that raises you now, it’s you, you get all this influences and all these other pressures that come external. Um, the fact that you hear about it.
Right. So then the brain goes, wait, that’s an option. And it starts to become this thing. And that can be thought about and considered. We’re just not as supportive as society to each other. It’s it’s clear. Even in, even at church, we can feel alone at times in relation to our depression anxiety or whatever it may be.
It’s well, you’re not being Christian. Well, you’re not doing Christian life well enough, in some ways it becomes there. What are you doing beyond, you know, I, you sending somewhere out there, we find some way to, um, stigmatize it, unfortunately. So it’s stigmatized in general population and good Lord in a church.
It’s like a whole nother. Like a whole nother level. So even if someone is willing to say I’m depressed or anxious in the church, they’re probably significantly less likely to go, oh, by the way, I’ve been having these suicidal thoughts. I don’t know where they’re coming from. What is this about?
Julie Lyles Carr: Well, and, you know, I can tell you from being on a church staff, when you have someone show up saying that they’re having some thoughts like that, you know, the only kind of training that you really have in terms of what you have to do legally is at least in the state where I am, you have to report.
So we also had this issue that was very challenging because when someone would say something, then we were also kind of putting them through another trauma, almost in a sense, you felt like. Am I breaking confidence, except you knew legally you had to do something. And so we would have to report, which meant that police officers would need to show up and there would be medical interventionists involved, and those can be great things, but it was a very, it would make things very dramatic. It was, it was problematic. And that sometimes I felt like it could feel like somebody was just trying to talk through something, but I knew what I needed to do.
It just, it was very complex. Always, you know, follow the letter law did exactly what we were supposed to do, but it, it was just difficult because it didn’t feel therapeutic. Um, in some ways it felt very emergent, which in some cases it was, but just the way we even have put together, the way we expect school officials, medical, spiritual leaders to respond is a challenge. And I think it can make people feel very reticent to say anything because they don’t want to trip into all of the dominoes that fall that direction if somebody says anything. So that’s a very interesting issue. I think, culturally, that we need to be figuring out as well.
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Have you had the opportunity to compare brains of those who are really wrestling with suicidal thoughts versus what you would consider a healthier brain? And what are the differences that you see?
Dr. Daniel Emina: Excellent. Um, we’ve done studies at the Amen Clinics. There’s actually other studies that have been done externally neuroimaging studies against, or taking pictures of the brain, getting a sense of the brain at work studies.
There’ve been structural images. Um, so just looking at the structure of the brain and seeing if things are different and as other types of images called functional images, which is, which is what we do at the Amen Clinics,, looking at the brain, literally at work, um, blood flow patterns and how that correlates with activity patterns.
And yes, the brains are different. Okay. So there will be differences in activity levels and their frontal lobes. That’s a part of your brain that, that is executive functioning that helps manage impulses. That helps also problem-solve. Okay, so it helps you problem solve and then also weigh out risk and reward.
Um, and also, um, look at the potential hope of the solution in some ways, being able to kind of, uh, appropriately assess where you’re at now and appropriately see, uh, the potential solution or the potential pathway. Right. Cause often when say someone gets into, uh, that depressive, suicidal spiral, their brain literally can’t see it.
It’s like you could calm down, even try to like, show it to them and say, Hey, this could happen. And they can’t, they can’t experience that. The brain literally will. It’s almost like a color they can’t see. Right. The brain will not allow them to process it to that level. And there changes in activity levels in that frontal lobe that can impact that.
The other part is about around the amygdala and around the temporal lobes. The amygdala is a part of your brain that responds to the threat, like it’s part of that whole fight or flight system. Okay. And it’s a system, so it’s not just the amygdala, the amygdala response to the lion in the room. Okay. So if a lion jumped into the room, you should, you should be like, uh, and run off, right. Or get angry and be like, you’re not eating me lion and try to fight it off. If your system is working correctly, it should light up when they’re true lions there. If there’s not a real lion there, it shouldn’t be lighting up. But for some people they can’t control when that thing lights up, it just goes off at random times and it shows them the lion eating them.
Okay now. And what I mean by that is the threat eventually overwhelming them and even leading to death kind of stuff. Right. So you can already see that’s a pathway towards anxiety. That’s one mechanism. There’s multiple mechanisms towards anxiety, but also. The brain does this for a reason, actually. It’s not because it’s trying to hurt you.
It’s if there were really lions, you need to be thinking, oh, the lion could eat me. So I better run off like your brain supposed to do that arrive at that conclusion. Right, right. Yeah. You should arrive at, in that setting, but what if it’s doing it all the time and what if it’s doing it in a context of some other struggle, you’re having some other brain-based illness that you’re having and now it’s throwing up thoughts of death.
And you’re like, why am I having these thoughts of death? Why is it intrusive into my head? Just coming in there, maybe I want to do it. Maybe I do want to do it. Maybe I should research this. This is actually what can happen. You can have a mechanism in your brain that almost like a hiccup that will trigger some people.
This is one mechanism that would trigger some people to continuously have these intrusive thoughts of maybe I should just do it. That’s one group. There’s other groups too, where you, that frontal lobes being really down in activity. And then God forbid you throw on a substance of abuse there, alcohol or something, you drop that frontal lobe and you disinhibit yourself.
And you’re already having that thought. And then boom. Most suicides are completed with people intoxicated in some way, shape or form. Most suicides are completed. So completed suicides with a gun, right? If someone actually has a gun, they’re more likely to actually the status you’re 90% likely to succeed in ending your life.
If you, if you have a gun, it other suicide attempts without a weapon it’s only 6% of the time. Okay. So you can see why one of the first things usually is like, all right, are there weapons at home? Let’s get rid of all of them. Right. Let’s get rid of dyes, alcohol, get rid of all that off right before we, we, we really fix what’s going on there, let’s at least get the things out of the way that that could make this more likely to occur.
Julie Lyles Carr: How do you handle? Because I want to be very responsible and give, give actionable things to people. If someone’s listening and either they are having those intrusive thoughts or they have had someone say to them, I’m having these intrusive thoughts.
What do you find is a, is a great approach for getting people to the resources they need without creating more panic or trauma or concern, like how, what is the best way to handle that?
Dr. Daniel Emina: Yeah. Um, so there’s so many layers to this, but I always start with. Do it in the context of relationship, and this is the same way you would do it if you’re like even parenting your kid about getting, trying to get them to do dishes or come home on time or whatever, um, do it in a context of relationship. So, uh, if someone is shared with you, that’s big right there. That means they already trust you to a certain level. Or if you have a concern with them that they might have those thoughts be thinking about how do I nurture relationships so that it may come out?
Don’t always be afraid to ask the questions, by the way, if someone’s like, you’re kind of worried about it. You saw something that they were looking at on their phone or whatever. Sometimes you just got to ask because it’s more important to have that discussion than not to have that, that discussion. And don’t worry that you’d you’d place that thought in their mind.
That’s actually, one of the things it’s been researched for, is it like, does that put them at greater risk? We put it in your mind. No. If they were really going to do that, they’re already thinking it. Okay. So it’s not that you’re going to plant it in your mind. It’s actually important that they feel comfortable being able to express it.
Cause it’s more problematic when it just sits and bounces around in the head and they don’t, they don’t have a way to hear himself say it out loud and go wait, that doesn’t match what I really want to do. Work on just listening. And this is, there’s a process called active listening you can even look it up online, but it really just comes down to how do I listen well?
And how do I listen well, without trying to tell them, oh, it’s going to be all right, don’t over. I mean, you can eventually do that. You can eventually pray with them, but be very careful to not say that too early, it can be very dismissive to people and it shuts them down and it makes them feel like, okay, let me just give you the answer you want to hear so that I can go away. And then you can go away.
Right. Sometimes you don’t say much. Sometimes you just listen and you just repeat what they said to you and you just, you don’t even have to provide the answer of like, okay, this is how to fix it first. You just encourage the conversation. You encourage them to get it off their chest. At some point you can go, I want to be of support. Is there something I could do to help support you?
They might say I don’t know. Well, you know, here’s what I know that I’m in my skill set I’m able to do, but if I it’s not in my skillset, what if I help? Maybe if I go with you to talk to somebody else that is it near skillset again, everything’s a context of relationship.
Right. We’re not telling them there’s something wrong with them. We’re not telling them their faith isn’t good enough. We’re not saying I’m trying to appease our anxiety and say, it’s going to go away. It’s just a phase. It, we believe in faith, they will be better, but you’re careful how you present it in that moment because people can feel unheard or minimized and minimized, judged.
Exactly. Right. And let me give some, some people, some other very practical things. I call it the four C’s. ‘Cause, this is really the shift. Okay. There’s so many levels to it. So I don’t want to minimize like how to support somebody for this, but I want to just talk about the four C’s. And this is part about part of what we kind of express in the book.
That C number one is Connect. It should be part of your daily practice, your, your life practice to connect. And for my clients who are extroverts, that they got to do that all day, twice a day or something. For my clients who are introverts, they might need less. They might just need to have good two to three good quality connections in person heard and seen.
Right. They need that. If, if we’re miss out too much in connection, there’s a part of our brain that goes something is wrong. It’s it goes back to that, you know, almost like a caveman version of us that knows that if we’re in a tribe, things we’re more likely to survive lions. Uh, so connection is important.
The next other one is Creativity. Um, find ways to create, find ways to use whatever talents, capabilities, and skills. Just even if it’s cooking, even if it’s something with your hands, you’re building something, you’re working on something channel some of that anxious energy. Some of that powerlessness into, I built this, I made this.
Right. It’s amazing. How so many people during the pandemic went to refurbing their houses, doing a garden, learning new recipes. That was part of it. It was innate. We knew that. Okay. I feel so out of control. I need, I need my project, right.
Another one is Contribute. One of the ways that’s been said to even treat someone’s own depression and anxiety and is get up from wherever you’re doing right now. If you’re in a moment of panic or distress and despair and find the first person you can help. Right. Just to switch our focus from ourselves to external, right. Cause our brain will drive us down into I’m powerless. I’m depressed. It’s not gonna work out. It’s all of this stuff and continue to push us there. So we have to be, be mindful of like, how are we contributing?
And then the last one is Cultivating wellness, right? And that’s part of this process why people will listen to your podcast to learn and grow. Cultivating wellness is how you educate yourself. But then also how you intentionally consider your health, that temple that God has given you. And how do you make it better? How do you exercise? How do you eat? Find different strategies that start to help bolster you. In the cultivate section I talk about this, you know, we, we talk about this more in the book, but there’s also this, um, uh, discovery of kind of like purpose and finding what, uh, your own personal statement would be in some ways.
Right? Um, our purpose statement, like a business statement in some ways, because it also impacts that interior narrative. So I simplify it as again, as those four C’s, they are deeper, we talk about it more in the book and, but that idea of connection. Creating. Contributing. Cultivating. They just become so important in how we intentionally sustain ourselves and sustain those around us.
Julie Lyles Carr: Talk to me about how parents can do the best that they can not blame themselves. Not, I want to be very careful because when it comes to feeling like we have tried to do everything we can for our kids and then sometimes outcomes are not what we expected and maybe their mental health is not what we had hoped it would be. Maybe they struggle in ways that are difficult for us to understand. But what are some things that parents can do without sliding into feeling like they should be judged? If something goes differently? But things they can be doing for their kids to really talk about brain health, to consider activities and nutrition and those kinds of things about making the brain healthy and how to find in their own communities, those healthcare providers, those educators, those therapists who understand a lot about this, because not everybody’s going to be able to go to California and have access to the Amen Clinic and all of that. But just making sure that we are putting people around ourselves and around our kids who honor brain health and, and understand more about it. So things that mom and dads can do simply at home, uh, to really inspire better brain health. And then what we should be looking for in the practitioners that we engage in our families health journey.
Dr. Daniel Emina: So the example I gave for this is, um, It is one that we all get when we go on a plane, right. They, they do the emergency stuff in the beginning and they, um, they teach you that if you need to put that, you know, there’s a loss of oxygen or something, put that mask on yourself first. Before even putting it on your child, there’s a reason you do that because if your child is like fighting you and all that, and then you pass out, then you both, you both going to have a hard time, right?
So first thing, oxygen itself, then you put it on your child. So the example here is if your child is struggling, look at the environment immediately around your child and, uh, identify potential other contributors, but then also look at self and make sure self is healthy and well. All right. So if a child is struggling, they got depression, anxiety, ask yourself, do I, do I have any of that?
Am I having, where am I at right now? And we, we, we get good, especially as parents at pushing our desires, our feelings our concerns and whatever down. And we’re like, that’s being a good parent. We just got to take care of our kid. That’s good. And that’s, but at some point it relates to that example again. If you’re not functioning well, it will impact how you can be there for your child. And at times this a really, really important point when someone else is depressed or anxious or fearful. If they see that on somebody else who’s trying to comfort them they’re not as comforted as they would be. Or as they could be. Okay?
They might actually even reject it. They will push them back. They’d be like, get away from me in some ways. Right because they are not, they will, they will sense that they’re like, are I’m already dealing with too much of this emotion myself and you’re bringing your anxiety on top of it. I can’t deal with it so often I tell parents, how are you doing, taking care of yourself if you’re already doing great.
Great. That’s great. Move to the next step two. But first step is how you’re eating, how you’re sleeping, how you take care, who are you talking to yourself? Um, where are you at brain health wise? Now, as far as finding those providers in your community, it really it’s. There are providers that will have that perspective, but it starts with what we just discussed today is, is if you meet with somebody, how are they looking at things and get a sense of them in that first visit or two. Are they thinking of things in that bio-psycho-social spiritual, right?
Um, are they talking to you about your diet? Are they talking to you about, uh, lab work and making sure your thyroid is well? Um, or are they over-simplifying it into one or two things when it might be more than that, that you need considered. It might be layered and don’t fear the layers because sometimes I think people will think of layers and they get overwhelmed.
See the layers as steps. See the layers as opportunities. See the layers as reasons why this will be, can be profound change when you work through those layers, work on yourself, work on yourself. Listen, um, be very careful to, to not dismiss, to not consider just a phase. Be very careful to not think it’s all behavioral.
But they can be behavioral. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have expectations for them, but also recognize that there may be more going on behind that than meets the eye.
Julie Lyles Carr: Well, Dr. Daniel Emina, this has been a fascinating conversation and we’ll be sure and put in the show notes where our listeners can go and find the book, The Suicide Solution..
I love that you combine all of these different facets, that it is not something that’s just super simple. And it is something that requires a deeper look at all of the things that influence this conversation. And the fact that you bring your faith to this conversation as well is so huge. Where can listeners go to interact with you to find out more about your work, to just get more of these great resources and ideas about how to do the best we can to instill really healthy brains and to make sure that we are engaged in the disciplines that can, that can help facilitate that.
Where can listeners find you?
Dr. Daniel Emina: So, um, easiest one is the Amen Clinics website to amenclinics.com. Um, and they’re going to our, uh, Costa Mesa website or a Southern California website. Uh, we actually have multiple locations, so that’s another way people can find, uh, added help or that holistic view. I think we’re going to be at nine to 10 states now, so, or nine to 10 clinics now.
So, um, people do have increased access to us, but starting on that website, um, also. Um, I have started to get into the social media thing a little bit, just because it’s increases access. I’m still not great at it. Um, but I’m on Instagram at DocEminaMD, DocEminaMD. And then that’s my, I guess my same handle for Twitter too, but I’m really not good at, so if you really want to try to access me, try the, the Instagram one and or the Amen Clinics website.
Also, the book is available pretty much anywhere. Um, whether it’s in store or Amazon. Um, you can, you can pretty much get it anywhere at this point.
Julie Lyles Carr: All the places. All right. Well, I just went and followed you. I’m going to be cheering you on and your social talk. Doctor Daniel Emina, thank you so much for being with me.
I know that this is going to be a really important conversation and really important resources for all of us as we’ve navigated an extremely traumatic stressful season. And we are just now beginning to understand more of how that impacts things. So thank you so much for such an incredible career that you are engaging in that is helping all of us understand a little bit more about why we feel the things we do, why we see life, the way it is, how we perceive things and all that it has to do with our brain.
Thank you so much.
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