This is the book that will forever change the way we understand and treat mental health. If you or someone you love is affected by mental illness, it might change your life.
We are in the midst of a global mental health crisis, and mental illnesses are on the rise. But what causes mental illness? And why are mental health problems so hard to treat? Drawing on decades of research, Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Chris Palmer outlines a revolutionary new understanding that for the first time unites our existing knowledge about mental illness within a single framework: mental disorders are metabolic disorders of the brain.
Brain Energy explains this new understanding of mental illness in detail, from symptoms and risk factors to what is happening in brain cells. Palmer also sheds light on the new treatment pathways this theory opens up—which apply to all mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, alcoholism, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, autism, and even schizophrenia. Brain Energy pairs cutting-edge science with practical advice and strategies to help people reclaim their mental health.
This groundbreaking book reveals:
- why classifying mental disorders as “separate” conditions is misleading;
- the clear connections between mental illness and disorders linked to metabolism, including diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, pain disorders, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy;
- the link between metabolism and every factor known to play a role in mental health, including genetics, inflammation, hormones, neurotransmitters, sleep, stress, and trauma;
- the evidence that current mental health treatments, including both medications and therapies, likely work by affecting metabolism; and
- new treatments available today that listeners can use to promote long-term healing.
Palmer puts together the pieces of the mental illness puzzle to provide answers and offer hope. Brain Energy will transform the field of mental health, and the lives of countless people around the world.
“Brain Energy is a dramatic breakthrough in understanding mental illness by a leading Harvard psychiatrist who provides a revolutionary road map for people suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, in fact, almost any brain disorder.”
—Mark Hyman, MD, senior advisor at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and 14-time New York Times bestselling author”Brain Energy provides a long-awaited unifying mechanism underlying a vast spectrum of mental illness conditions. And this new paradigm will undoubtedly usher in potent therapeutic interventions for pervasive psychiatric conditions for which standard pharmaceutical approaches have proven minimally effective.”
—David Perlmutter, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain
“Dr. Palmer takes a provocative and insightful look into the origins of mental disorders, which have profound implications for how we treat the disease . . . and for our diet.”
—Jason Fung, MD, nephrologist and New York Times bestselling author of Live Life in the Fasting Lane
“Not since the foundational theories of psychodynamics (Sigmund Freud) and behaviorism (John Watson) has a bold and potentially transformative new proposition emerged to explain the mounting epidemic of mental illness throughout the world and across the age-span. Dr. Palmer’s ground-breaking theory is that abnormalities in brain energy metabolism are likely root causes of psychiatric conditions and that dietary and metabolic approaches can be exploited to benefit patients, and even the general population at large.”
—Jong M. Rho, MD, professor of neurosciences and pediatrics at the University of California San Diego
“Brain Energy calls for a much-needed revolution in how we think about and treat mental illnesses. This book integrates decades of science in mitochondrial biology with clinical experience to provide a rational theory for the origin of common psychiatric conditions, carving a path towards better mental health.”
—Martin Picard, PhD, associate professor of behavioral medicine (in psychiatry and neurology) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
“After a bipolar episode at age 19, our son was seen by more than forty mental health practitioners and prescribed twenty-nine different medications. But it was not until he started on a ketogenic metabolic therapy under the guidance of Dr. Chris Palmer that he got his mind and his life back. Dr. Palmer’s metabolic approach has the potential to radically impact the world’s mental health epidemic.”
—David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox and cofounder of the Baszucki Group & Jan Ellison Baszucki, author of A Small Indiscretion and cofounder of the Baszucki Group
“Psychiatry will never be the same . . . Christopher Palmer poses the hypothesis, supports it with data, and in my humble opinion nails the treatment—feed the brain what it needs.”
—Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL, emeritus professor of pediatrics at UCSF and author of Metabolical
“If you have ever been dissatisfied with the rather hard-to-defend explanations of mental illness, this groundbreaking book is for you . . . An exhilarating intellectual journey to reveal the new beginnings of psychiatry.”
—Zoltán Sarnyai, MD, PhD, professor and head of the Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroscience, James Cook University, Australia
“Dr. Christopher Palmer has written a must-read primer for anyone considering understanding and treating mental health. The book will guide you to understand why metabolism and mitochondria are fundamental to keep your brain healthy . . . a call to action to transform mental health treatment.”
—Ana C. Andreazza, PhD, professor of pharmacology and psychiatry, University of Toronto and founder and scientific director, Mitochondrial Innovation Initiative
“Dr. Palmer is uncanny in his synthesizing extant literature and providing a prescient thesis on the pathoetiologic and potentially therapeutic role of metabolics of neuropsychiatric conditions. The thesis and framework proffered by Dr. Palmer provides for many prevention and therapeutic opportunities in psychiatry and take us one step closer to disease-modifying possibilities.”
—Roger S. McIntyre, MD, FRCPC, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, Canada
“Brain Energy is a book that cannot be read and incorporated into policy soon enough: mental disorders are an accelerating crisis, especially among children. This is not rocket science, it’s neuroscience.”
—Susan A. Masino, PhD, professor of applied science and neuroscientist at Trinity College
“Kudos to Dr. Chris Palmer for penning a thought-provoking and superb book on the revolutionary breakthroughs occurring in psychiatry, a discipline in medicine that has suffered far too long and from too much stigma.”
—Sanjiv Chopra, MBBS, MACP, FRCP, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and bestselling author
“It is clear to me from clinical practice that what we eat and drink affects our brain function and mental health but I never understood why. Dr. Palmer brilliantly connects the dots to explain why this is true.”
—Eric C. Westman, MD MHS, director of the Duke Keto Medicine Clinic
“Brain Energy is a book all psychiatric professionals should read as a useful criticism of our field’s major deficits. It is a book all people should read to understand how much they can do (and not do) for the sake of their mental health. Basic health is self-evident but takes courage to commit to taking exquisite care of your body and by extension your brain.”
—Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, MEd, director of the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
“Dr. Palmer’s Brain Energy seemed to take me by the hand and gently walk me through the most complex of medical journeys—arriving at the most fascinating yet incredibly logical conclusions. Though not a scientist, I was able to follow and actually become riveted during every step of the journey.”
—Jim Abrahams, director of The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies
“Brain Energy, by Dr Chris Palmer, is THE much-needed new perspective on mental health that could revolutionize the way we think about, research, and treat mental health conditions . . . Filled with brilliant analogies, jaw-dropping statistics, fascinating scientific details, and moving patient stories, this book is an absolute must-read.”
—Nicholas Norwitz, PhD in neurometabolism (University of Oxford) and student at Harvard Medical School
About the Author
Dr. Christopher M. Palmer is a Harvard psychiatrist and researcher working at the interface of metabolism and mental health. He has developed the first comprehensive theory of what causes mental illness, integrating existing theories and research into one unifying theory—the brain energy theory of mental illness.
He is the Director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. For over 25 years, he has conducted neuroscience research and worked with people who have treatment-resistant mental illness using standard treatments. He has been pioneering the use of the medical ketogenic diet in the treatment of psychiatric disorders—conducting research in this area, treating patients, writing, and speaking around the world on this topic. More broadly, he is interested in the roles of metabolism and metabolic interventions on brain health.