Christian psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen says mental hygiene is just as important as biological hygiene when fighting the coronavirus, saying "we need to disinfect our thoughts so they don't ruin our immune system."
Dr. Amen, who helped develop Saddleback Church's "Daniel Plan" program to help people choose healthy lifestyles, is the author of the new bestselling book The End of Mental Illness. This week President Trump said he's concerned about people committing suicide because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak and the nationwide shutdowns. Dr. Amen says that's a real concern as phone calls to suicide hotlines have already risen by 300 percent.
"People are Googling anxiety, depression, panic attacks way more than before. This is stressful for our whole nation," he explained.
Dr. Amen addressed these growing concerns about the mental health fallout on Thursday's 700 Club.
"People need to turn off the news. Maybe look at it two or three times a day for 20 minutes," Amen said, noting that the news increases our fear levels.
"Whenever you have a negative thought, a fearful thought, an anxious thought, an angry thought, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel bad that actually can decrease the effectiveness of your immune system," he explained. "But whenever you have a happy thought, a hopeful thought, a grateful thought, it strengthens your body."
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"I went to Oral Roberts University, and they taught about us these Four Circles. We have to understand someone's Biology, you need to wash your hands. But you also have to understand their Psychology - how they think. I talk about killing the A.N.T.S. - the automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness."
"But there's also a Social Circle - who do you hang out with. And now we're socially isolated but we don't have to be totally isolated. We can be talking to people over the phone, over Facetime, and so on."
"What a lot of psychologists never talk about there's a Spiritual Circle," he said. "Staying well means we address all four of those circles."