The Brain Science Behind Social Conflict And Depression

Episode 91 1h 8m


We’re living in a more divisive time than ever before. I’m not just talking about politics—we’re at aggressive odds over everything from diet (vegan versus Paleo) to sports and we’re even seeing an escalation in road rage. There’s actually a reason this is happening. We’re disconnected. Social media is actually isolating us; we ignore the importance of sleep and nature; stress is at epidemic proportions. These lifestyle disconnects cause structural and functional disconnects in the brain that lead to more divisive and angry behavior. Our ability to make good decisions pretty much goes out the window. But it’s not too late to reverse these negative effects.

I was so excited to sit down with my good friends Drs. David and Austin Perlmutter on The Doctor’s Farmacy to talk about these modern challenges and how we can detox the brain to restore better decision making and overall health. We dive into our conversation by gaining a deeper understanding of how stress impacts our decision making. In all its many forms (overworking, undersleeping, poor food choices, etc.) stress leads to inflammation. Inflammation actually kills the brain cells that help us make good decisions, and it makes those in the fight or flight part of the brain grow. This leads to anger and opposition and supports the negative behavioral changes I mentioned earlier.

There’s also another impact: structural changes of the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, leading to an increased state of “us versus them” thinking. The really good news is that the things we can do to stop this are mostly free strategies that take us back to our more natural state. Limiting social media and internet time and using them more mindfully. Getting movement and spending time outside. Prioritizing good, deep sleep. Avoiding sugar. And there’s so much more we can do.

Learn more about the book Brain Wash at David and Austin Perlmutter walk us through the solutions for modern brain challenges in this week’s episode.

I hope you'll tune in.


This episode is brought to you by Butcher Box, and Brodo. The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast works with a select group of sponsors to allow for ongoing production and allow it to be zero-cost to anyone who wishes to listen to and watch the podcast.

Topics Covered

  • How the prefrontal cortex acts as the adult in your brain

    (7:37 - 11:56)

  • The way in which chronic stress rewires your brain and affects empathy and decision making

    (10:09 - 14:28)

  • Regaining control of the ways in which our brains are being manipulated by media

    (13:56 - 18:15)

  • How making bad food decisions affects the brain, drives inflammation, creates depression, and leads to more unhealthy decision making

    (23:20 - 27:39)

  • How excessive social media use affects the brain

    (30:25 - 34:44)

  • The fundamentally important and underrated role of sleep on the brain

    (38:38 - 42:57)

  • Removing blame from our inability to make healthy decisions

    (44:08 - 48:27)

  • Why healthcare providers need to reframe their perspective and approach to working patients who do not follow through with lifestyle changes

    (48:08 - 52:27)

  • How Inflammatory food perpetuates impulsivity, aggression, and violence

    (57:10 - 1:01:29)

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Ep. 91 - The Brain Science Behind Social Conflict And Depression