Behavioral Problems


Do you know someone who is struggling with one or more of these behavioral problems?

  • Defiance
  • Aggression
  • Impulsive tendencies
  • Compulsive tendencies
  • Irritability

Behavioral problems are often symptoms of an unhealthy brain, which, when properly treated, often shows significant improvement.

How Amen Clinics Can Help

At Amen Clinics, we know that no two people are alike, and that there are many factors, including brain activity, that play a role in mental health and its effects on behavior at school and at work. We treat each person as an individual, without judgment, and do a full personal history before performing brain scans or recommending any treatment program. 

SPECT Imaging

SPECT imaging (which stands for single-photon emission computerized tomography) is a special kind of photograph we take of the brain to help us better understand how it works and what is going on inside of it. SPECT can specifically children and adults with behavioral problems by:

  • Helping zero in on areas of the brain that are over- or under- active. People gain a better understanding of their condition through images they can see.
  • Helping determine if the treatment prescribed is working as intended.
  • Helping determine if there could be co-existing problems or conditions that need addressing.
  • Showing that symptoms and behaviors are brain-based and not necessarily the result of choice or a lack of will or moral resolve.
  • Increasing treatment compliance by giving patients actual pictures of brain activity changes.

Learn more about SPECT

Visit our SPECT Brain Imaging Page to learn more about how SPECT works.

The Amen Clinics Approach in Action: Kris

By age 12, Kris had a long history of emotional outbursts, increased activity level, short attention span, impulsiveness, school problems, frequent lying, and aggressive behavior.

At age 6, Kris was placed on Ritalin for hyperactivity but he became more aggressive and started to have visual hallucinations, so it was stopped. After he attacked a boy at school, when he was 8 years old, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. He was given the diagnosis of depression and started on the antidepressant Desipramine. It didn’t help. By the age of 12, Kris had been seen for several years of psychotherapy by a psychiatrist without benefit. Kris’ behavior escalated to the point where he became more aggressive and uncontrollable at home. When he attacked another child at school with a knife he was placed in a psychiatric hospital. With a poor response to multiple other treatments, we ordered a brain SPECT study. Kris’ scan was very abnormal at rest, showing marked decreased activity in the left temporal lobe. When Kris performed the concentration task there was marked decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

Given the temporal lobe problems, Kris was placed on anti-seizure medication as a way to normalize his temporal lobe. When Kris went back to school his behavior was much better but he still struggled academically. Due to the fact that he had two problems (the left temporal lobe disorder and the prefrontal cortex shut down) we added a stimulant medication, which helped his attention span and his schoolwork dramatically improved. With the anti-seizure medication onboard the stimulant could now work. The positive response to treatment has held for many years.

Kris’ SPECT Images

Breakthrough Discovery: Types of Behavioral Problems

There is substantial imaging research on behavioral problems that demonstrates the importance of brain scans when addressing behavioral issues, including several studies published by the Amen Clinics. There isn’t one single kind of behavioral problem—our research has shown that there are at least three different types, as reflected in brain scans, that require different treatments:

  • Impulsive issues (often from low activity in the prefrontal cortex)
  • Compulsive tendencies (usually due to high activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus)
  • Temporal lobe problems, often associated with being irritable or having memory issues
  • Knowing which type of brain pattern or combination of patterns the person has is essential to determining the best way to effect healing.

At Amen Clinics, we want to help you learn more about the brain and how to feel and do better. Call us today at 1-888-208-2057 or tell us more to schedule an appointment.