Are you Caring For Your Female Brain?

Unleash the Power of the Female Brain is an informative book by Dr Daniel G Amen. With the fall of bikini medicine, women are getting better health information, and not just the research, stats, and anatomy based on the average man.

Unleash the Power of the Female Brain is one such resource. This book includes information on hormones, diet, supplements, and other ways for girls and women to boost their brain health. It also includes the six types of ADD Dr Amen has discovered through brain scans. This is important as each type requires a different approach and inappropriate treatment can worsen the condition. Girls and women are often under diagnosed because most people only know the most common symptoms, which are not always exhibited by girls and women.

Why the Female Brain?

In working with his patients, Dr Amen uses his brain-smart evaluation and treatment strategy called “Four Circles Approach” – biology, psychology, social connections, and spiritual health. Because Dr Amen realizes that not everyone has physical or financial ability to visit his clinics in the US, he provides free resources through his books and websites. This book is a particularly useful resource for girls and women. Dr Amen believes that empowering women with brain-loving information can transform their lives, their community, and beyond. Underlying all his work is his use of Single Photon-emission Computed Tomography or SPECT scans. These show the brain’s activity patterns and blood flow.

Now more than ever, we need thoughtful, intelligent, powerful, “brain-smart” women to guide and redirect their families, communities, churches, workplaces, nation, and world.

Dr Amen ¹

How is the Female Brain Different?

Early in our development, everyone has a female brain. Around 26 weeks into a pregnancy differences between a female and male brain can be detected using ultrasound.

Women have busy brains; men’s are a lot quieter. One pattern is not better than the other; they are just different.

Dr Amen ²

Based on his work with SPECT scans and other research, Dr Amen shares that there are indeed differences between the female and male brain on the whole. This, of course, does not mean all female brains are the same or all male brains are the same. Some interesting finds include:

  • The male brain has more neurons and more volume; though some areas of the brain are bigger in the female brain. The amygdala, parietal lobes, and hypothalamus are bigger in the male while the frontal cortices, limbic cortices, and hippocampus are bigger in the female.
  • The female brain has more gray matter, the primary brain cell bodies and the male brain has more white matter, the brain cell tracks. Women have more white matter in the areas relating to intelligence. While females use more of the whole brain, males have more localized processing.
  • Using limited information and gut feelings, the female brain is quicker at assessing other people’s thoughts.

The Strengths of the FEmale Brain

Dr Amen shares that there are five special strengths. These are :

  • intuition
  • empathy
  • collaboration
  • self control
  • a little bit of worry

He believes that these traits make women especially good at making positive changes in their own health and that of their family and community. “I know that women have a unique capability to optimize the potential of their brain.” ³

These strengths however can also become our dark shadows when our biology, psychology, social connections, and spiritual health are out of whack. Women struggle with anxiety, worry, depression, eating disorders, and perfectionism more than men in general.

Intuition, for example, can be disturbed by a lack of sleep, high levels or chronic stress, illness and pain, personal space being breached, a lack of appreciation, low blood sugar, and hunger.

So it is important to understand how the various factors in our lives play a role and we can see them through the Four Circles Approach – biology, psychology, social connections, and spiritual health.

Caring for the Female Brain

We’ve probably never been taught to care for the brain. Now there are a thriving marketplace for brain-health supplements. This, however, is only one part of a brain-smart lifestyle. According to Dr Amen, there are 16 brain types and most people have a mix. You can get an idea with his brain assessment questionnaire. Of course getting an actual SPECT scan done is better. I had a friend whose child had it done and it explained so much!

Biology
genetics, diet, environment, injury, exercise, overall health
Psychology
emotional traumas, thinking patterns and styles
Social Connections
family and friends, stressors, community, how you spend time
Spiritual
purpose and meaning, what is important to you, motivations

The Four Circles Approach looks at our biology, psychology, social connections, and spiritual health. Research shows that, for example, having a strong social network is important for our health. Take some time to consider each of these areas and where it may need more attention and support.

What’s also generally good for the brain includes an appropriate diet, learning new things, exercise, stress management, having enough sleep, and healthy thinking habits.

Tips on Caring for the Female Brain

Thinking Right

It’s important that we approach our life and change with right thinking. This means, for example, that we are making choices not for deprivation and for pleasure and health. Dr Amen suggests asking “then what?” How will you feel if you gorge on that pizza? Or if you stay up into the early morning hours watching Netflix? This is not guilt-tripping ourselves; it’s to be clear how we want to feel and decide if our actions will sabotage or support that.

Balancing Serontonin – Soothe the Brain

Estrogen inhibits the calming neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), while testosterone boosts it. Because women generally produce less serotonin aka “the happy chemical”, women may be more prone to anxiety, depression, and an unhealthily busy mind.

Since simple carbs boost serotonin, women may fall into the trap of getting these quick fixes. Choose healthier simple carbs such as apples and blueberries and opt for complex carbs such as sweet potatoes. According to Dr Amen, the best supplements to calm the brain and increase serotonin are omega-3 fatty acids, 5-HTP, tryptophan, and St John’s Wort. Since exercising raises brain levels of l-tryptophan, it is also a healthy way to sooth the brain and worries.

The ANT Therapy

ANTs stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts. We all have them. They are what drives depression and fuels negativity, Dr Amen writes. The body responds and we correspondingly feel worse. They also affect our brain, including how well we make decisions, learn, and remember. And they can tank our self-esteem.

However, because of its strengths, women can also be prone to ANTs when hormones, for example, are out of balance. The crux of the ANT Therapy is to practice how not to believe every single one of our thoughts and so not to react to them.

According to Dr Amen, there are nine types of ANTs – labelling, blaming, fortune-telling, guilty-beating (should must, have to), focusing on the negative, personalizing, the “always” thinking (overgeneralization), mind-reading, and thinking with feelings (or believing without questioning).

Sit down with a piece of paper and create three columns with the headings ANT, ANT Type, and ANT Killing (or I prefer Bye bye to ANT). To eliminate ANTs, write down how you can talk back to it in the third column. Bring yourself evidence or another perspective and show that the ANT is not true.

HALT

This is an easy-to-remember and helpful acronym.

Don’t get too Hungry
Don’t get too Angry
Don’t get too Lonely
Don’t get too Tired

With greater self-awareness and access to brain-smart information, we can use these general guidelines to make better decisions about our health and well-being.

Women make up over 50% of the world population and yet it is rather recent that we are gaining health information that is more specific to us. Of course, this too is generalization, from which we can draw more specific and individual actions. Unleash the Power of the Female Brain brings together comprehensive information that brings clarity on how to be brain-smart.


Sources
1 Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. Dr Daniel G Amen. Harmony Books, 2013. pXViii
2 Ibid. p27.
3 Ibid. pXX.

Information is taken from Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. Please consult the Amen clinics or your health practitioner before taking any supplements or making any changes to treatment or advice given by your doctor. This article includes affiliate links; should you purchase through these links, What Therapy earns a commission which supports its work of bringing you divergent health and wellbeing information. This work takes tremendous time and resources and we thank you for your support.

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