As of January 2023, there are over 5 million podcasts with 464.7 million listeners. That's a large number to sift through to find the best ones focusing on mental health and neuroscience, so we've narrowed it down to the top three for you.
Suffice it to say, the mental health tools shared in these podcasts are by no means a replacement for professional help. Nonetheless, they can certainly offer valuable advice and strategies to help us navigate difficult times while also providing a sense of understanding and reassurance that we’re not the only ones experiencing what we’re experiencing.
But there are so many podcasts out there, and figuring out which is a worthy investment of our time can take time and effort. We've cherry-picked these top three mental health podcasts based on the valuable and actionable content they provide to listeners, their popularity on Reddit, and their rating on podcast platforms.
Here are the top three mental health and neuroscience podcasts to listen to in 2023:
The Huberman Lab: Hosted by Dr. Andrew Huberman, breaks down complex neurobiological concepts and offers easy-to-use tools to help you with physical and mental health, sleep, and cognitive function.
The Mental Illness Happy Hour: Comedian and host Comedian Paul Gilmartin shares conversations with mental health professionals, as well with celebrities, and non-celebrities, who open up about living with and managing mental health issues.
1. Huberman Lab
The Huberman Lab is hosted by neuroscientist and Stanford University School of Medicine professor Dr. Andrew Huberman. Huberman uses analogies and metaphors to break down complex neurobiological concepts so that the general audience can visualize and understand them. But he also offers easy-to-use tools to help us with health, sleep, and cognitive function.
Additionally, the podcast also features interviews with experts from diverse scientific backgrounds, providing listeners with an in-depth look into the latest developments in behavioral and cognitive psychology.
Some of our favorite Huberman Lab episodes are:
Controlling Your Dopamine For Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction: This episode discusses 14 tools for controlling your dopamine release for motivation, focus, avoiding and combating addiction and depression.
Episode length: 2 hr 16 min.
ADHD & How Anyone Can Improve Their Focus: Huberman goes over behavioral training protocols that can improve focus in people with ADHD and those without ADHD and for people of different ages.
Episode length: 2 hr 18 min.
Master Your Sleep & Be More Alert When Awake: Looking to improve your sleep and wakefulness state? Give this episode a listen. It not only covers a broad range of tools for better sleep, but it also explains the science and logic behind each tool described.
Episode length: 1 hr 22 min.
2. The Mental Illness Happy Hour
The Mental Illness Happy Hour is a weekly podcast hosted by Paul Gilmartin, a former stand-up comedian turned mental health advocate.
The show features conversations with mental health professionals, celebrities, and everyday individuals, who share their stories of living with and managing mental health struggles.
The podcast also includes Paul's struggles with anxiety and depression, as well as his journey to finding his own level of mental wellness.
Some of our favorite The Mental Illness Happy Hour episodes are:
Dealing with hopelessness: Psychiatrist Dr. Christine talks about dealing with feelings of hopelessness and shares insights about finding the strength to keep moving forward even when you feel like giving up.
Episode length: 1 hr 52 min.
Episode length: 1 hr 42 min.
Narcissists & Psychopaths: Dr. Ramani, a clinical psychologist and author, provides insight on narcissists, psychopaths and how childhood emotional neglect, genetics, social media, and our contemporary culture can lead to the development of such personality disorders.
Episode length: 1 hr 35 min.
3. Mayim Bialik's Breakdown
Using her academic background and vast personal experience, neuroscientist and Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik focuses on removing the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging people to understand the importance of the mind-body connection.
For example, she explains how, when we experience stress or anxiety, our body may respond with physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and increased muscle tension. Similarly, physical activity can help improve mental health, as it releases endorphins and has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Bialik often speaks about the importance of taking time to care for oneself, both mentally and physically, in order to achieve overall well-being.
The show is updated weekly and hosts an interesting mix of guests, including comedians, actors, influencers, researchers, and activists.
Some of our favorite episodes are:
Bill Prady – Origins of Sheldon, Neurodiversity & Sensory Overload: Bill Prady, co-creator of the hit show The Big Bang Theory, talks about his journey from an awkward child and teen to a well-adjusted adult. Prady reveals his experience of being on the autism spectrum, and Mayim delves into the concept of "neuro-atypical" and the experience of sensory overload. Tune in and learn how Sheldon's own neurodiversity and struggles with sensory overload shaped his quirky personality and made him so lovable to fans all over the world!
Episode length: 1 hr 07 min.
Iliza Shlesinger – Hurts to Be Awesome: Mayim Bialik explains how our stress levels can physically affect us, while stand-up comedian Iliza Shlesinger discusses her experience being a woman in a male-dominated field, and how her intense work life eventually caused her to suffer from severe neuropathic pain.
Episode length: 1 hr 27 min.
Cheyenne Jackson – Depression, Identity & Broadway: An actor, singer, and songwriter who has starred in several on-screen and Broadway roles, reflects on his struggles with depression, anxiety, and addiction and how his journey of sobriety helped him to discover his path in life.
Episode length: 1 hr 35 min.
Apart from helping you stay up to date on the latest research, strategies, and approaches to improving your wellbeing, these mental health and neuroscience podcasts can provide you with a sense of community, as you’re hearing from people who are in the same boat as you. Tune in to discover their inspiring stories and acquire valuable tools to help make your mental health journey a little less bumpy and a little less lonely!
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About the author:
Dubravka Rebic puts a lot of time and energy into researching and writing in order to help create awareness and positive change in the mental health space. From poring over scientific studies to reading entire books in order to write a single content piece, she puts in the hard work to ensure her content is of the highest quality and provides maximum value.
About the reviewer:
Carola Tuerk is a cognitive neuroscientist and a scientific consultant for Myndlift. In her research, she is particularly interested in how early life experiences shape brain development and mental health with a particular focus on children. She has obtained a BSc in psychology, an MSc in neuroscience, and a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and is passionate about brain health.
Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 23;4:27. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027. PMID: 23630504; PMCID: PMC3632802.