Learn from Dr John Arden

This course includes a video by Dr. John Arden as part of a larger webinar. To gain CEU points please follow the link below.

CEU Points

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About This Course

This lesson describes how self-care practices can undermine health and mental health leading to anxiety and depression.  Failure to maintain self-care represents more than merely symptoms of psychological problems, it is often the cause and leads to aversive epigenetic effects, including the shortening of the telomeres.  

Psychotherapy by necessity promotes a firm foundation of a balanced diet, sleep architecture, and regular aerobic exercise. The psychoneuroimmulogical affects underlying these factors either support or undermine health and mental health. Regular aerobic exercise serves as a powerful antidepressant and anxiolytic.  Exercise also delays cognitive decline and dementia through a variety of processes including significantly lower inflammation.  Exercise promotes a healthy brain in many other ways too, including the release of neurotrophic factors, which promote healthy capillaries, glucose utilization, and neurogenesis.  

Mental health is profoundly affected by diet.  For example regular consumption of simple carbohydrates, transfatty acids, and the wrong fats create insulin insensitivity, chronic inflammation, and diminished neurotransmitter levels.  A diet high in simple carbohydrates increases Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), accelerating the formation of plaques and tangles. Prior to developing dementia people become depressed and have cognitive deficits, often seeking psychotherapy. A poor diet also changes gut bacteria, which is associated with leaky gut, inflammation, and depression.  
Though there are literally hundreds of different types of bacteria in the gut, 90% fall in two broad categories: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. If the F/B ratio is skewed in the direction of the Firmicutes (fed by simple carbohydrates) leaky gut tends to occur with increases in inflammation.
While sleep accounts for roughly one third of our lives, poor quality sleep architecture can either destabilize mood and cognition.   Poor quality sleep dysregulates the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which at high levels impairs the hippocampus and the frontal lobes.  There are adverse epigenetic effects, a marked increase in inflammation, as well as shortened telomeres associated with impaired sleep

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Introduction

  • 2


    • Self-Maintenance Webinar

  • 3

    Next Steps...

    • Before you go...


Senior Instructor

John Arden

John Arden, Ph.D., is the author of 14 books including Mind-Brain-Gene (2019, W.W.Norton & Company). He has a background in neuropsychology and is the director of training for mental health for the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers in Northern California. In this capacity, he oversees one of the largest mental health training programs in the world, operating in 22 different medical centers throughout Northern California. Dr. Arden also practices part-time at Kaiser Permanente in Petaluma and San Rafael, and he served for several years as the chief psychologist at Kaiser Vallejo. He has taught in colleges, professional schools and universities.


Toward Psychotherapy Integration

If you would like more resources on this topic, please consider reading Dr. John Arden's book Mind-Brain-Gene. This book contributes to the sea change in how we conceptualise mental health problems and their solutions. Mind-Brain-Gene describes the feedback loops between the multiple systems contributing to the emergence of the mind and the experience of the self. It explains how our mental operating networks "self"-organise, drawing from and modifying our memory systems to establish and maintain mental health.