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Ever wonder if the media your tweens and teens are watching influences their moods and mental health? Consider this. In the month following the release of the critically acclaimed but controversial Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” the suicide rate among Americans ages 10-17 jumped by nearly 30 percent! The series, which began streaming on Netflix in 2017, follows the story of a teenage girl who took her own life and left behind 13 audiocassettes for her friends that unravel the reasons why she did it.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, analyzed five years of suicide rates among people between the ages of 10 to 64. Although there was no change in suicide rates for adults in the month after the show’s release, the rate among those under 18 rose dramatically. And it was particularly evident among boys.

These findings are troubling and should be a wake-up call for parents.

Young Brains Still Under Construction

Young people’s brains are still developing until their mid-20s, with girls’ brains typically developing faster than boys’ brains. In particular, the prefrontal cortex is the last area of the brain to mature at about age 25.  

This brain region is involved in judgment, planning, forethought, and impulse control. So, you can understand why teens—and especially male teens—are more likely to make rash decisions. Even car insurance companies know this. It’s why they charge more until a driver reaches their mid-20s.

Troubled Teen Brains

Sadly, suicide is a growing problem in our society. The overall rate of suicide has increased 33 percent since 1999. It is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34. And teens today are more likely to have suicidal thoughts or to suffer from depression compared with Millennials when they were the same age.

Reducing the Teen Suicide Risk

There are many things parents can do to help protect their kids from falling victim to suicide.

1. Monitor their media consumption.

Parents need to understand that what your kids and teens watch on television, online, and on social media can play a role in the development of their brain. Set limits, use parental controls, and talk to your kids about what they’re watching.

2. Don’t let adolescents smoke marijuana.

Research shows that using cannabis as an adolescent raises the risk of depression and increases suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts when they become young adults.

3. Encourage healthy sleep habits.

Did you know that teenagers who average just one hour less of sleep at night are 38 percent more likely to feel sad and hopeless, 42 percent more likely to consider suicide, and 58 percent more likely to attempt suicide?

4. Protect their brain.

Head injuries and concussions—even mild ones that are never diagnosed—increase the risk for suicide. Make sure young people always wear a helmet when riding a bike and don’t let your kids hit soccer balls with their heads.

5. Seek help for mental health issues.

If your child is experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or ADD/ADHD, it’s critical to seek help for those issues. Be aware that medications don’t always work, and in some cases, they can make a teen worse. Getting a comprehensive evaluation is key to finding solutions that work.

At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of teens and tweens overcome feelings of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, as well as to gain control over impulse control issues. We believe in using the least toxic, most effective treatments based on comprehensive evaluations that include brain imaging, lab work, and cognitive testing. If you have concerns about your teen, reach out today by calling 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.

The post Teen Suicide Spike Linked to Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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Did you know that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression? Historians discovered that our 16th president actually considered suicide and couldn’t even get out of bed on some days. Does this sound like you or someone you love? You may take heart in knowing that as Lincoln aged, he learned to use laughter to help overcome his dark moods. He found that when he told jokes and laughed, it helped him keep the bad feelings at bay.

Today, if you tell your healthcare professional you feel depressed, you’re likely to walk out of their office with a prescription for antidepressants. But these medications don’t always work, and in some cases, they can make you feel even worse. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve the chances of getting medication that works for you. And like Lincoln, you can also take advantage of other ways to push sadness and negativity away. 

1. Eliminate foods that drag you down.

Jeff, 53, had spent years suffering from depression as well as other issues. After attempting suicide, he went to several healthcare professionals and was put on a variety of medications, but they weren’t helping. He eventually eliminated potential allergens—such as gluten, soy, corn, dairy, sugar, and MSG–from his diet.

When he added the foods back one by one, he realized that one of them was triggering his suicidal thoughts. When he ate corn—popcorn, tortilla chips, corn chips—he almost immediately got an image of putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, something that had not happened since before he went on the diet. By kicking corn out of his life, he greatly improved his moods. You can boost your moods too by eliminating foods that are potentially harmful for you and only eating those that serve your health.

2. Eat foods that boost your moods.

On the flip side, getting your diet right can help you feel better. For example, omega-3 fatty acids—found in foods like wild salmon or in nutritional supplements— have been found to reduce symptoms of depression. Similarly, several studies have found that a saffron extract was as effective as antidepressant medication in treating people with major depression.

3. Start every day by saying, “Today is going to be a great day.”

This is a simple way to start training your brain to focus on things that are going right in your life rather than on things that are going wrong in your life. It also sets a positive tone for the remainder of the day. At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What went well today?” This helps you end the day on a positive note. This strategy is quick—only about 3 minutes our of your day—and helps decrease symptoms of depression in just 30 days. 

4. Check for biological issues.

Did you know that there are many biological issues—such as hormonal imbalances and blood flow problems—that can cause mood issues? Having a full workup that includes lab work is one of the keys to determining the root cause of your depression. With this important information, you are more likely to find the right treatment for your specific needs. In some cases, taking care of the physical issue can decrease depression symptoms.  

5. Know your depression type.

How can you know what’s happening inside your head if nobody ever looks? Psychiatry remains the only medical field that rarely looks at the organ it treats. It doesn’t have to be this way. Brain imaging technology called SPECT offers psychiatrists critical information about the overall functioning of your brain. It also shows that depression is not a simple or single disorder. In fact, brain scans reveal that there are 7 types of depression.

Type 1: Pure Anxiety

Type 2: Pure Depression

Type 3: Mixed Depression

Type 4: Over-focused Depression

Type 5: Temporal Lobe Depression

Type 6: Cyclic Depression

Type 7: Unfocused Depression

When you know your type, you are much more likely to find the targeted solutions that will work for your specific needs.

With the world’s largest database of functional brain scans — 150,000 and growing —Amen Clinics physicians are able to more accurately diagnose and more effectively treat the 7 types of depression than any other healthcare professionals.

If you’re looking for the least toxic, most effective ways to treat depression, contact the Amen Clinics today at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit. We take the guesswork out of psychiatry.

The post 5 Ways to Stop Feeling So Depressed appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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Rachel, 42, had gone to six alcohol addiction treatment programs and failed every one of them. She really wanted to follow the programs and quit drinking, but she was so impulsive she couldn’t stop herself if she was around alcohol. When she had her brain scanned using technology called SPECT, it revealed abnormal activity in an area called the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is involved in impulse control. It’s like the brain’s brake, making you stop before engaging in risky or unhealthy activities.

After seeing her SPECT brain scan, Rachel remembered that as a child she was kicked in the head by a horse. Because of this, the part of her brain that was supposed to keep her behavior in check wasn’t working right. If the underlying problem with her PFC wasn’t addressed, she would never be able to follow any recovery program. With treatment to improve her PFC function, Rachel was finally able to stick with a program and stop drinking.

Here are 10 ways SPECT brain scans can help you understand and treat addictions. 1. Brain scans don’t lie.

SPECT brain scans can clearly show toxic exposure from drugs and alcohol. These addictive substances negatively impact areas of the brain that play an important role in your ability to live your best life. To see the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain, look at the following poster, which hangs in over 100,000 schools, prisons, and therapist’s offices around the world.

2. Revealing the effects of everyday drugs.

Brain imaging shows that substances like marijuana (now legal in some states), nicotine, caffeine, and even too much sugar compromise brain function.

4. Brain imaging reveals there is more than one type of addiction.

One of the most important things brain imaging shows is that addiction is not a single or simple disorder. There are 6 types of brain patterns associated with addiction, and each type requires individualized treatment. The 6 types of addiction are:

Type 1: Compulsive Addicts

Type 2: Impulsive Addicts

Type 3: Impulsive-Compulsive Addicts

Type 4: Sad of Emotional Addicts

Type 5: Anxious Addicts

Type 6: Temporal Lobe Addicts

5. SPECT brain scans reduce shame and stigma.

If you’re like most people who struggle with substance abuse, you probably think it is all your fault or that you are a bad person. Brain imaging helps erase these untrue and unhelpful thoughts. When you see that addiction is a brain disorder, it helps lift the stigma that typically comes with addiction.

6. Brain scans help break denial.

Addicts are usually the last one to admit that they have a problem. Take Chase, for example. At 18, he was drinking and using OxyContin, coke, meth, and more, but he didn’t think he had a problem. His mother eventually took him in for a brain scan, which revealed a very toxic brain. When Chase saw his brain scans, it hit him hard. Even though he didn’t think the drugs and drinking were a problem, he couldn’t deny the damage he saw in his scans. That was what he needed to finally get clean and sober.

7. Seeing your brain scan helps your family understand better.

Parents of substance abusers often feel like it’s their fault, or they blame each other for their child’s addiction. Seeing that addiction is a brain disorder eliminates these feelings and helps the entire family get focused on helping the substance abuser heal their brain.

8. Brain imaging reveals co-morbid conditions.

It is common for people with addictions to suffer from other issues, such as depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, or head injuries (like Rachel, who was kicked in the head by a horse). In order to heal from addiction, these other issues also need to be addressed.

9. Seeing your brain motivates you to follow a treatment plan.

For many people, like Chase, seeing how toxic their brain looks is one of the greatest motivators for treatment. When they understand that it is their brain health that is the key to having success at school, at work, and in relationships, it increases that motivation.

9. Follow your progress.

Seeing before-and-after SPECT brain scans is the best way to objectively know when an addiction treatment plan is working effectively or when it should be adjusted to promote faster healing.

10. SPECT scans give you hope.

The before-and-after scans of substance abusers show some of the greatest improvements in brain health. When you see these, it gives you hope that no matter what you are addicted to—drugs, alcohol, smoking, or even overeating—your brain can recover too.

At Amen Clinics, we use SPECT brain imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to help people of all ages heal from all types of addictions. We use an integrated brain-body approach to treatment that includes biological, psychological, social, and spiritual elements to identify areas of your life—or a family member’s life—that can be optimized. To learn more, call 888-288-9834 to talk to a specialist today or schedule a visit.

The post 10 Ways Brain Scans Can Help with Addictions appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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Do you have intrusive thoughts that keep looping in your head? Do you check the stove 20 times before you can head out the door to go to work? It could be obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). An estimated 2 to 4 million people struggle with OCD, a condition that is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsions that can be debilitating. Just look at how they were making Gail’s life spin out of control.

Gail’s OCD Obsessions and Compulsions

On the surface, it seemed like she had it all. Married to her high school sweetheart, she had a couple of kids and a good job. But every night after work, Gail spent hours obsessively cleaning her house. If she saw anything out of place, she would scream at her family and become hysterical. She also felt compelled to wash her hands over and over and over again and insisted that her husband and kids wash their hands at least 10 times a day. Gail’s OCD was ruining her life and seriously impacting her family.

What Gail’s OCD Brain Scan Showed

To get an accurate diagnosis, Gail underwent a leading-edge brain imaging technique called SPECT. Her brain scan showed marked increased activity in the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus, an area involved in shifting attention. When there’s too much activity in this area, it causes people to get stuck on thoughts and actions.

Gail’s OCD Brain Scan: Note increased activity in an area called the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (arrow).

Healthy Active Brain Scan:

Within six weeks on a targeted treatment plan, Gail was much more relaxed, greatly reduced her ritualistic hand-washing behavior, and stopped making her kids wash their hands every time they turned around. Her husband couldn’t believe the change and said Gail was more like the woman he had married.

If you have similar symptoms as Gail, you may have OCD like Gail, and you can get unstuck too.

5 Ways to Reduce OCD Symptoms

Here are 5 simple things you can do to minimize obsessive thoughts and decrease compulsions.

1. Notice when you are stuck.

Becoming aware of looping thoughts is essential to learning how to stop them and gaining control over OCD. Whenever you notice intrusive thoughts, imagine seeing a traffic stop sign in your head and silently say to yourself, “STOP. THIS IS MY BRAIN GETTING STUCK!”  For some people, the more they actively stop these thoughts, the more control they develop over them.

2. Distract yourself.

When you notice you are getting stuck, get up and do something else. If you actively distract yourself from repetitive thoughts or ritualistic compulsions, they will gradually begin to lose their control over you. Try any of the following to distract yourself:

  • Take a walk.
  • Sing a song that makes you happy.
  • Listen to music that makes you feel positive.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Meditate.
  • Do a household chore (unless the chore is part of a ritualistic compulsion for you).
  • Focus on a single word—for example, “love” or “one”— and do not allow any other thoughts to enter your mind. If other thoughts try to creep in, imagine a broom sweeping them out of your head.
3. Focus on foods that boost serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can help calm the overactive parts of the brain. Eating complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, is a healthy way to boost serotonin. Avoid consuming simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, cookies, pretzels, and popcorn. Although they boost serotonin, they also contribute to increased feelings of anxiety, which is common in people with OCD.  

4. Get moving.

Exercise can be very helpful in calming intrusive thoughts and can help shift your attention when compulsions arise. Exercise works by increasing serotonin in the brain. In addition, it may distract you from obsessive thoughts and ritualistic behavior and compulsions.

5. Consider supplements that boost serotonin.

Helpful supplements that raise serotonin and calm overactivity in the brain include 5-HTP.

Since 1989, Amen Clinics has helped thousands of people, including Gail, get an accurate diagnosis and overcome OCD with targeted solutions that are proven to produce higher than average success rates.

If obsessive thoughts or compulsions are controlling your life and holding you back, don’t wait to seek professional help. Schedule a visit today or call 888-288-9834 to get a comprehensive evaluation.

The post 5 Simple Things I Can Do If I Have OCD appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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One of the hottest—and most controversial—topics in the field of health and wellness right now is CBD. At every mental health conference, an audience member inevitably asks, “What about CBD?” The same question pops up every day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you’re like most people, you may be wondering if CBD can decrease your anxiety, help your aging mother’s chronic pain, or even help your dog’s arthritis. What it can and can’t do is still being explored.

To delve into the pros and cons of CBD, Dr. Rebecca Siegel, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist, recently joined Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen on the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. In this 4-part series, you’ll find the answers to many questions about CBD, THC, and medical marijuana, such as:

  • Can CBD minimize chronic pain? Alleviate anxiety? Improve your sleep issues? Decrease PTSD symptoms? Can it help with other conditions?
  • What is CBD legally approved for?
  • What’s the difference between CBD and THC?
  • What’s the difference between CBD and medical marijuana?
  • Is CBD addictive?
  • Can CBD make you feel stoned?
  • Is CBD bad for your brain?
  • Is it helpful for people with mental health issues or does it make people worse?
  • What does cannabis do to the teenage brain?
  • What does the research say about CBD?

Click here to tune into the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast series with Dr. Amen, Tana Amen and special guest Dr. Rebecca Siegel from Amen Clinics New York.

Part 1: http://brainwarriorswaypodcast.com/lets-talk-about-cbd-with-dr-rebecca-siegel/

Part 2: http://brainwarriorswaypodcast.com/cbd-use-what-does-the-research-say-with-dr-rebecca-siegel/

Part 3: http://brainwarriorswaypodcast.com/medical-marijuana-whats-medically-correct-with-dr-rebecca-siegel/

Part 4: http://brainwarriorswaypodcast.com/is-cbd-good-for-your-health-with-dr-rebecca-siegel/

If you’d like more information or you’re struggling with mental health issues and are wondering about treatment options, understand that at Amen Clinics, we believe in using the least toxic, most effective treatments available. Speak with a specialist today by calling 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit.

The post The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast Tackles Pros and Cons of CBD appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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If you love your children and want to help them grow into stable, thoughtful, productive, loving adults, here are 10 things you should avoid doing.

1. Ignore their brain.

Their brain controls everything they do—how they think, how they behave, how they relate to others. When their brain works right, they work right. When they have trouble in their brain, they have trouble in their life. And if they have trouble in their life, you have trouble in your life. Leading edge brain imaging technology called SPECT shows the health of the brain. In the images below, you can see a healthy brain, a brain damaged by trauma (such as falling off a bike), and the brain of someone with ADD/ADHD. Seeing is believing. If you want your child to be their best, you have to take care of their brain and teach them how to do so.

Healthy SPECT Brain Scan: full, symmetrical activity

Head Trauma: damage to right frontal lobe

Classic ADD/ADHD: low activity in prefrontal cortex

2. Rarely spend quality time with them.

Relationships require special time. The most effective exercise you can do is spend 20 minutes of quality time a day with your child—listening and doing something they want to do (within reason).

3. Be a poor listener.

When your kids are trying to talk to you, don’t speak over them. Learn to be an active listener. Let them say their piece and then repeat back what you heard so they know you have heard them.

4. Use name calling.

Don’t tell your child, “You’re a spoiled brat.” This is not helpful, and they will internalize these negative names and begin to believe them.

5. Be overly permissive.

Letting your child do whatever they want may make them “happy” in the moment, but it can be detrimental in the long run. Children need clear boundaries. Kids who have the most psychological problems usually have parents who didn’t set boundaries for them. Be firm and be kind.

6. Fail to supervise them.

The human brain’s frontal lobes—which are involved in planning, judgment, and impulse control—are not fully developed until about age 25. You need to be your children’s frontal lobes until theirs develop. This means checking in on what your kids are doing and with whom they are doing it. This doesn’t mean being a helicopter parent, it means you care.

7. Do as I say, not as a I do.

If you’re a poor role model, your kids will pick up on that and follow your lead. If you say, “eat your vegetables” but you constantly snack on candy or potato chips, they will likely opt for the foods they see you eating.

8. Only notice what they do wrong.

Try to notice when your kids do things you like—cleaning up their room, finishing their homework, or brushing their teeth.

9. Ignore their mental health issues.

On average, it takes 11 years from the time kids develop symptoms of a mental health condition to first evaluation. This is just wrong. Struggling with symptoms of ADD/ADHD or anxiety and depression can negatively impact their ability to succeed in school, in their friendships, and in life.

10. Ignore your own mental health.

If you are suffering from a mental health condition—whether it’s PTSD, bipolar disorder, or something else—it can devastate your children. Remember the saying, “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” You need to take care of yourself and be the best version of yourself to be the best parent.

At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of parents and children enhance their brain health and improve their performance at work, at school, and in relationships. If you or your child are struggling with a mental health issue or consequences of head trauma, schedule a visit or call 888-288-9834.

The post 10 Things Parents Should NEVER Do appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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Sally was 40 years old when she sought care for mental health issues. During her clinical interview, it became clear that she had many symptoms of ADD/ADHD, including a short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, and restlessness. But she didn’t think adults could have ADD/ADHD, so she wasn’t interested in hearing about treatment. When Sally was asked if she wanted to get more information about her brain by undergoing a brain imaging test called SPECT, she was intrigued and said yes.

Sally’s brain was scanned twice—once at rest and once while she performed a concentration task. The results showed good overall brain activity when she was at rest. When she tried to concentrate, however, there was actually a decrease in activity level brain, which is the opposite of what you want to see. The decrease was especially pronounced in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an area involved in attention and organization.

When Sally saw her scans, she burst into tears and asked, “You mean, it’s not all my fault?”

No, it wasn’t Sally’s fault that she was easily distracted and disorganized. Having ADD/ADHD is just like needing glasses. Are people who wear glasses stupid, lazy, or just not trying hard enough to see better? Of course not! Similarly, people who have ADD aren’t stupid, lazy, or not trying hard enough. They just need help to get their PFC to power up rather than powering down so they can focus better.

Sally did very well on an ADD/ADHD treatment plan that helped turn her life around. But if she had never seen her brain scan, she probably never would have gotten the help she needed.

Did you know that psychiatry is the only medical field that doesn’t look at the organ it treats? This means people like Sally often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years while their symptoms worsen. Because doctors don’t look at the brain, it means they have to rely on guesswork to diagnose and treat patients with symptoms of ADD/ADHD. It doesn’t have to be this way. The SPECT brain scans that Sally had measure blood flow and activity in the brain and can take the guesswork out of psychiatry.

Here are 10 ways SPECT brain scans can help you understand and treat ADD/ADHD.

1. Brain scans show brain function.

While MRI and CT brain imaging studies show the structure of the brain, SPECT brain scans show how it functions. Basically, SPECT shows three things—healthy activity, activity that is too high, and activity that is too low. In Sally, it showed that the activity was too low while she was concentrating. It can also reveal signs of head trauma, exposure to toxins, and drug and alcohol abuse—all of which can contribute to symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD.

2. How can you know unless you look?

The health of your brain plays a major role in your ability to focus, pay attention, and be organized. There is no way to know about the health of your brain unless you look at it.

3. Brain scans offer a more accurate diagnosis.

Most psychiatric illnesses are diagnosed based on symptom clusters—the same way they have been diagnosed for over 100 years. SPECT brain imaging adds an objective, biological component to give doctors important additional information for a more accurate diagnosis.  Common symptoms of ADD/ADHD include short attention span, poor impulse control, organization problems, being easily distracted, procrastination, and trouble with follow-through.

4. Brain imaging reveals there are 7 types of ADD/ADHD.

Brain imaging shows that ADD/ADHD is not a single or simple disorder. In fact, there are 7 types of brain patterns associated with the condition. Each type needs a distinctive treatment. Knowing your type, or your child’s type is the key to getting the most effective treatment. The 7 types of ADD are:

Type 1: Classic ADD
Type 2: Inattentive ADD
Type 3: Overfocused ADD
Type 4: Temporal Lobe ADD
Type 5: Limbic ADD
Type 6: Ring of Fire ADD
Type 7: Anxious ADD

5. SPECT brain scans reduce shame and stigma.

Seeing the brain helps people like Sally with ADD/ADHD understand that their lack of impulse control, inattention, or disorganization aren’t signs of weakness or a personal failure. Realizing that these symptoms are biological in nature can help people overcome feelings of guilt and shame.

6. Brain scans help break denial.

When people see their brain scan, they can no longer deny that they have ADD/ADHD. It helps them understand that their condition is real.

7. Seeing your brain scan makes you want a better brain.

When people see their SPECT brain scan results compared to healthy SPECT brain scans, they tend to develop brain envy. That’s what happened to Sally. Wanting a better brain motivated her to start taking better care of her brain, which helped minimize her symptoms.

8. Brain imaging helps to get the most effective treatment.

With a comprehensive evaluation that includes brain imaging, there is no need for guesswork. People with ADD/ADHD can get a treatment plan that is personalized for their individual needs. Sally’s treatment plan included nutritional interventions, an exercise plan, a sleep program, and targeted supplements and medication.

9. Brain scans encourage compliance.

After seeing her brain, Sally was more encouraged to follow her treatment plan, which helped decrease her symptoms of ADD/ADHD.

10. SPECT scans offer hope.

Seeing before-and-after scans of patients who have improved their brain health and overcome ADD/ADHD offers hope to people who are struggling with symptoms that are holding them back.

 

If you or your child are struggling with poor impulse control, lack of focus, disorganization, or a short attention span, don’t wait to seek help. About 40% of kids with ADD/ADHD symptoms and 80% of adults with symptoms don’t get the treatment they need.

At Amen Clinics, we use SPECT brain imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose and treat ADD/ADHD. Talk to a specialist today about how our personalized precision psychiatry approach can help you. To learn more, schedule a visit today or call 888-288-9834.

The post 10 Ways Brain SPECT Imaging Can Help Understand and Treat ADD/ADHD appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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Have you ever banged your head and seen stars for a fleeting moment or blacked out? Have you ever fallen off your bike, had a car accident, taken a helmet-to-helmet tackle in a football game, or experienced an explosion in military combat? If so, you may have had a concussion, even if you never got diagnosed with one. Unfortunately, many mild concussions go undiagnosed. But any kind of head injury—even one that doesn’t make you lose consciousness—can lead to lasting problems that ruin lives.

Many people are aware of concussion symptoms—such as headache, confusion, and passing out—that can occur immediately. But very few people realize that many things we consider to be signs of a psychiatric condition are actually concussion symptoms. Look what happened to Will.

Will: Concussions Changed His Mental Health

At age 16, Will was such a good soccer player, it looked like he was on a path to becoming a professional. But then he got kicked in the head during a match. It wasn’t the first time. In fact, it was the fourth concussion he had sustained from playing the sport. The other three times, he had eventually gone back to playing and everything seemed normal. But this time was different. He became irritable, moody, and easily distracted, and he started making poor decisions. It got so bad, he had to take a year off from school.

What Will’s Brain Scan Revealed

Will underwent brain imaging technology called SPECT that showed significant damage to his prefrontal cortex, which is located in the front of the brain, as well as damage to his occipital lobes, which are in the back of the brain. Seeing his brain scan made Will rethink his future, and he made the decision to give up the game he loved so much. “I love soccer, but I know I’ll love my future wife and children more. I have to do a better job of protecting my brain,” he said. Using a concussion treatment protocol, Will improved over time and his mood, irritability, and decision-making dramatically improved.

Will’s Concussion Brain Scan: The holes indicate damage to the front and back of his brain.

Healthy Brain Scan: Full, even, symmetrical activity.

Here are 5 concussion symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as simple mental health symptoms: 1. Anxiety:

Many people who have a concussion develop increased anxious feelings and distressing thoughts—sometimes months or years after the incident. Research shows that people who have had a head injury are more likely to develop anxiety and panic disorders.

2. Depression:

In the first and largest brain imaging study on active and retired NFL players, high levels of brain damage were evident. In addition, depression was very common in the NFL players in this study—four times higher than the national average.

3. Problems with focus and organization:

After a concussion, people often struggle with attention and have trouble with organization. This can affect your performance at work or school, and it can have negative consequences in your personal relationships. Research reveals that head injuries increase the risk of ADD/ADHD.

4. Memory problems:

Having trouble remembering things is very common in people who have had a head injury, such as a concussion. The risk for memory issues is even more likely in those who have suffered multiple concussions.

5. Anger and irritability:

Some people, like Will, tend to become more aggressive or have angry outbursts in the months and years following a head injury. People often don’t realize this is connected to a concussion they suffered in the past.

Unfortunately, many doctors treat these symptoms as simple psychiatric disorders. They don’t ask about previous head injuries or concussions and don’t actually look at the brain with imaging, so they don’t understand the root cause of these symptoms. And traditional psychiatric treatment alone is not going to heal the brain. Treating the underlying biological problem is key to the healing process.

At Amen Clinics about 40% of our patients, including Will, have experienced head injuries. But many of them don’t remember suffering a concussion until they see the damage in their brain scan. Seeing the underlying biology of the brain allows us to create an individualized treatment plan that helps heal the brain to address the root cause of symptoms.

If you think a concussion may be contributing to your symptoms, don’t wait to seek professional help. Schedule a visit today or call 888-288-9834.

The post 5 Symptoms That You Have a Concussion appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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When Tana Amen’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she wasn’t sure what to do. She didn’t have a relationship with her father. He had left her family when she was just a baby, started doing drugs, and very rarely dropped in to see his daughter as she grew up.

When Tana reached the age of 18, she made it very clear to him she never wanted to talk to him again. She was done.

An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

More than a decade had passed when Tana got the call from her sisters that their father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They were really worried, and they wanted Tana’s help.

Tana’s first reaction was, “Why is this my problem? He’s never been a part of my life. Why are you calling me?”

But by then Tana had started dating Dr. Daniel Amen, the neuroscientist and psychiatrist who is a pioneer in the use of brain imaging in psychiatry. When Tana told him about her dad’s situation, Dr. Amen asked if anybody had bothered to look at his brain.

None of her dad’s doctors had done a brain scan, so they were basically medicating him in the dark.

Dr. Amen asked if he could scan Tana’s dad’s brain using a neuroimaging technology called SPECT. There are over 2,000 brain SPECT studies on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s considered one of the best tools for studying these conditions. Tana’s dad agreed to get scanned.

What Did His Brain Scan Reveal?

The SPECT brain scan showed he didn’t actually have Alzheimer’s disease. There is a certain Alzheimer’s pattern seen on SPECT scans, and he didn’t have it. He had been misdiagnosed. And he was being treated with the wrong medications.

The brain scans showed that he had a condition called pseudodementia. This occurs when people appear to have the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, but their brain doesn’t show it. The brain scans show that they’re actually depressed. Pseudodementia is depression that’s masquerading as severe cognitive and memory problems.

When Tana’s dad stopped taking his medications and started following a comprehensive treatment plan for depression, things took a really interesting turn.

Find out more about what happened to Tana’s dad on the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast:

They Diagnosed Him with Alzheimer's...But it was Something Else - The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast - YouTube

With the world’s largest database of functional brain scans—over 150,000 and growing—Amen Clinics has treated many people with pseudodementia who had been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Accurately diagnosing and treating pseudodementia helps patients reverse symptoms of dementia.

If you have a loved one is suffering from memory loss or cognitive decline, speak to a specialist today by calling 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit for a comprehensive evaluation.

The post Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s…But It Was Something Else appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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Having a child with autism can be frustrating. You want to help but may not be sure what you can do. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is considered the fastest-growing developmental disability, with an estimated 1 in 88 births affected. The condition is characterized by communication problems, abnormal social skills, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems—all ranging from mild to severe.

Here are 5 things that can help minimize autism symptoms: 1. Consider going gluten-free.

Gluten is the name given to proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Research shows there is a connection between autism and an increased risk for gluten sensitivity. Some parents of children with autism have reported that when they feed their child a gluten-free diet, they see significant improvements in behavior and speech symptoms. A blood test called the celiac panel can offer insights into gluten-related health problems.

2. Supplement with vitamin D3.

Did you know that low levels of vitamin D (and particularly, vitamin D3) have been linked to autism? Vitamin D plays an essential role in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and is important for brain development. Research in the journal Pediatrics showed that core symptoms of autism improved significantly in a 32-month-old boy after vitamin D3 supplementation. Other supplements may help too. Click to see 10 supplements to improve autism symptoms.

3. Avoid dairy.

Dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese contain a protein called casein. During the digestion process, casein contributes to the production of exorphins that bind to opiate receptors in the brain and can lead to problems with concentration, feelings of spaciness, and fuzzy thinking. For some people with ASD, eliminating dairy leads to more talking and reduced hyperactivity.

4. Get an accurate diagnosis.

Brain imaging studies called SPECT shows that autism is not one thing, it’s probably 8 to 10 things. In brain scans of people with autism, the front part of the brain often works too hard (but not always). Conversely, the cerebellum in the back of the brain, as well as the right side of the brain, often don’t work hard enough. Knowing the underlying biology of your child’s brain is critical to finding the most effective treatment.

5. Seek help early.

The sooner a child with autism gets help, the more effective treatment will be. Early intervention can help with your child’s overall development and decrease symptoms as they grow up.

At Amen Clinics, we have seen more than 1,000 people with ASD and have used brain imaging in combination with lab work as part of a comprehensive evaluation to get an accurate diagnosis and provide targeted treatments that minimize symptoms. If your child is struggling with autism, schedule a visit or call 888-288-9834.

The post 5 Things You Can Do for Your Autistic Child appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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