The brain runs every aspect of your life, from your relationships, work, money, health and spirituality. When the brain works right, you work right, and when your brain is troubled, you are much more likely to have trouble in your life. When other parts of the body are troubled they send signals, such as chest pain or trouble breathing. The brain in trouble, however, is more subtle not like a toothache or a sprained ankle.
Too many people wander around with large parts of their lives in ruins because they are unaware of their own brain dysfunction
1. Poor memory: One of the most important questions in diagnosing early dementia is whether or not your memory has deteriorated in the past 10 years. If your memory is worse than it was 10 years ago you need to be concerned. With the aging population, Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the coming decades and there is no cure for it on the horizon. Of course, there are other causes of memory problems, such as low thyroid or testosterone levels, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, past brain injuries and learning disabilities, but the key symptom is a change or worsening of memory
.2. Poor judgment/impulsivity: The quality of the decisions you make are a direct reflection of the health of your brain; and it is the quality of your decisions that determine your success in life, whether it is in your relationships, work, money, or your physical and mental health. When the brain is troubled, for whatever reason, decisions are often more impulsive and less thoughtful
3. Short attention span/distractibility: In order to obtain long term success in anything you do it is important to be able to stay focused on the task at hand. Having a short attention span or being easily distracted is often a sign of brain dysfunction and can wreak havoc in your life. Short attention span and distractibility are hallmark symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD), also called ADHD, which is associated with low activity in the front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex. Physicians generally think of ADD as an inherited illness that first shows itself in childhood, often together with hyperactivity and impulsivity, although not always. The major symptoms of ADD are short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, poor handwriting, and forgetfulness that last over a long period of time. ADD often persists into adulthood and wreaks havoc on a person life, causing underachievement, academic, work, and relationship problems. People with ADD use medical services more than others, and because of the distractibility and short attention span have more accidents and traffic tickets than others.
.4. Depression: Depression is one of the greatest killers of our time, affecting 50 million Americans at some point in their lives. Nearly all of us have either suffered from depression or known someone who has. Two of my best friends had fathers who killed themselves. Depression, all by itself, is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer and obesity. From time to time all of us feel sad, but when the sad or depressed mood stays for weeks at a time, we call it clinical depression. The hallmark symptoms of depression are a sad mood, trouble sleeping, feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless, suicidal thoughts, low energy social isolation, and often foggy thinking.
In one of the more severe types of depression, we see severe overall low activity in the brain. There are many potential causes of this depression type, including:
5. Overweight or obese: Obesity is a serious national crisis with two thirds of us now overweight and one-third obese. Being overweight increases your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, depression, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There is horrifying new research studies that show as a person’s weight goes up the actual physical size of their brain goes down. That should scare the fat off anyone
7. Erectile or sexual dysfunction: As strange as it sounds, erectile problems in men or sexual dysfunction in men or women is often a sign of brain dysfunction. The brain gets 20% of the body’s blood flow. I often say whatever is good for your heart is good for your brain. When your heart is healthy it can pump blood to the brain. So anything that hurts your heart, such as hypertension, hardening of the arteries, heart arrhythmias, or diabetes, also hurts the brain.
8. Chronic insomnia/sleep apnea: Another sign that your brain is in trouble is a lack of sleep or having sleep apnea. Research suggests that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep at night have lower overall blood flow to the brain and poorer cognitive functioning. Sleep apnea (snoring loudly, stop breathing at night, or feeling chronically tired during the day) increases a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease and looks toxic on the brain SPECT scans. If you have insomnia or sleep apnea, it is critical to get it under control. If you have problems with cognitive function and are not sure if you have sleep apnea, it is important to get it checked.
The good news, is that most people are not stuck with the brain they have. Through a brain smart program, you can make it better. And, with a better brain, everything in life is better as well.