10 Ways Looking at Your Brain Can Help with Anxiety

10 Ways a Brain Scan Can Help My Anxiety

Marsha was 36 when she had her first panic attack. It hit unexpectedly in her familiar neighborhood grocery store. Right there in one of the aisles, her heart started racing, she had trouble catching her breath, and it felt like the world was closing in on her. She abandoned her shopping cart and raced outside to her car, where she sobbed for over an hour. Over time, the anxiety and panic attacks became more debilitating, and Marsha eventually gave up her job as a critical care nurse and basically stopped going outside her house.

She tried going to a counselor, who taught her relaxation techniques and strategies to overcome her negative thoughts, but it didn’t help. Marsha refused to take any medication because she had seen how her mother, who had also suffered from panic attacks, had become addicted to Valium. Marsha thought the drugs had changed her mother’s personality and made her mean. She also thought she should be able to tough it out and handle the problem on her own.

In an effort to help his wife, Marsha’s husband took her to a psychiatrist for a brain scan. The SPECT brain imaging study indicated increased activity in the right side of her basal ganglia, an area involved in setting the body’s anxiety level. Marsha’s setting was too high.

When Marsha saw her brain scan and realized that her problem was biological, not psychological, it made her willing to try medication along with other therapies. After two months on her treatment program, Marsha was feeling good enough to leave the house and return to work. Eventually, she gained control over her anxiety and panic attacks and was able to go off the medication.

A brain scan helped Marsha get her life back.

Here are 10 ways SPECT brain scans can help you with your anxiety.

1. Seeing is believing.

For Marsha, seeing her SPECT brain scan convinced her that her condition wasn’t something that she should be able to control on her own. It made her realize that taking medication might be necessary.

2. Brain scans show that anxiety is not just one thing.

Most people assume that those with anxiety all have the same symptoms and issues. This isn’t true. Brain imaging reveals that anxiety is not a single or simple disorder. In fact, there are 7 different brain patterns associated with the condition, and each one requires a targeted treatment program. The 7 types of anxiety are:

Type 1: Pure Anxiety

Type 2: Pure Depression

Type 3: Mixed Anxiety/Depression

Type 4: Over-focused Anxiety/Depression

Type 5: Temporal Lobe Anxiety/Depression

Type 6: Cyclic Anxiety/Depression

Type 7: Unfocused Anxiety/Depression

3. Brain imaging helps minimize feelings of guilt.

Many people with anxiety feel like their condition is a sign of weakness or a personal failure. This can prevent you from seeking help, which compounds the problem. When you realize that anxiety isn’t your fault, it’s much easier to seek the help you need.

4. Brain scans give your loved ones better understanding and empathy.

Some family members may have a hard time understanding your struggles with anxiety or panic attacks. They may think you aren’t trying hard enough to get over it. Seeing your brain scan can help them realize that your condition is biological in nature.  

5. Brain imaging can reveal unsuspected causes of your anxiety.

Anxiety can be caused by many things, such as neurohormonal imbalances, post-traumatic stress syndrome, or head injuries. Brain scans can offer clues to potential root causes of your anxiety, which can help find the most effective treatment plan.

6. Seeing your brain can give you brain envy.

When people see their own brain scan compared with a healthy brain scan, it can prompt them to develop brain envy. Wanting a better brain makes you more inclined to follow a treatment plan. It also encourages you to make simple yet powerful lifestyle changes that optimize brain function.

7. Brain scans can reveal if anti-anxiety medications are harming your brain.

Brain imaging has shown that some anti-anxiety pills are actually damaging to overall brain function. For example, benzodiazepines lower brain activity is associated with memory and cognitive function problems, and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Finding treatments that don’t impair brain functioning is critical for better health.

8. Imaging tests can reveal other conditions.

Did you know that 75% of the time anxiety and depression occur together? SPECT brain imaging offers important information that helps you see if you may have depression (or other issues) in addition to anxiety.

9. Brain imaging takes the guesswork out of treatment.

When it comes to treatment in the field of psychiatry, providers basically throw darts in the dark at conditions. Brain imaging offers objective data for more targeted and effective solutions. And looking at your own before-and-after SPECT brain scans offers an ideal opportunity to see how well your treatment is working. Seeing improvement in your brain imaging tests offers motivation to stick with your program. And imaging lets your doctor know if adjustments could enhance your progress.

10. SPECT brain scans offer a sense of hope.

Seeing the scans of patients who have overcome anxiety and regained their life can be so powerful in giving you the hope and belief that you can get your anxiety under control.

At Amen Clinics, we use SPECT brain imaging as part of a comprehensive brain-body evaluation for people with anxiety. Our integrated approach to diagnosis and treatment includes looking at the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of your life to identify areas that can be optimized. To learn more, call 888-288-9834 to talk to a specialist today or schedule a visit.


  1. What is the cost of a brain scan?

    Comment by Lu — May 24, 2019 @ 3:54 AM

  2. call them

    Comment by ELIZABETH Deland — May 29, 2019 @ 8:03 AM

  3. I do not have the problem explained but I will pass the information on to a friend that does. I have really appreciated your work. I am concerned about my brain because my father and sister have been diagnosed with dementia.

    Comment by Sheila Mehigan — May 29, 2019 @ 8:25 AM

  4. I am inquiring about the cost of a brain scan?? How does one go about the process of questioning if their health insurance would
    cover it????

    I have listened to Doctor Amen many times on PBS and am in awe of his work. I just keep thinking about what he says about when we
    have symptons of other illnesses that our Doctors order tests to determine what is the problem and the one Doctor that does not order
    tests is mental health doctor to look at the brain.

    I have struggled for many years with PTSD , depression and anxiety. I have gotten ( and still do ) much help and I am sick and tired
    of being sick and tired. There are so many professionals and meds that I have seen over the years that I keep thinking I just
    want to live out the rest of my life in a healthier manner than what I am and have been for years.

    Thank you for listening!!

    barbara curry pfister

    Comment by barbara pfister — May 29, 2019 @ 10:36 AM

  5. I can sympathize with you. I was given a CT Scan and no one discussed the results with me. I have taken benzos for a long time for sleep so know I have problems.

    Comment by Daisy Johnson — May 29, 2019 @ 5:51 PM

  6. I know that you are based only in United States but is there a way to get a SPECT brain scan done or other similar ones done in Australia and discuss the results via email or skype or something with one of the doctors from the clinic? I have Generalised Anxiety for as long as i an remember and I am seeing someone who helps but still feel like their is an underlying problem that we’re missing to fully understand what is going on…


    Comment by tina — June 15, 2019 @ 6:35 PM

  7. Hello Tina, thank you for reaching out. One of our Care Coordinators will reach out to you to help in any way we can.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — June 17, 2019 @ 3:17 PM

  8. My daughter loves you!
    Where are you?

    Comment by Joan LaMarra — November 13, 2019 @ 1:47 PM

  9. Hello Joan, we currently have 8 locations in the U.S.: https://amenclinics.com/locations/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — November 14, 2019 @ 8:10 AM

  10. I would like to know if Spect can help my son he’s 27 and has been diagnosed with bi polar skitzo affective disorder it has crippled his life and he struggles every day with obsessive thoughts it has stopped his life for 7 years . He has been on a rollercoaster of medications that don’t work . I’m running out of options for my son . Cheers Neale

    Comment by Neale — November 10, 2021 @ 11:53 PM

  11. Hello Neale, thank you for reaching out. You can learn more about SPECT on our website (https://amenclinics.com/services/brain-spect/). For more information about scheduling, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — November 11, 2021 @ 3:48 PM

  12. I need to go for MRI brain scan , I m having anxiety , I think so . How should I do ? How to go about ? I m feeling a bit of tremors and feet sometimes is cold and sweat pls help

    Comment by Leeli — March 16, 2022 @ 8:04 PM

  13. Hello Leeli, thank you for reaching out. At Amen Clinics, we perform SPECT Scans (https://amenclinics.com/blog/how-does-spect-differ-from-other-brain-scans/). For more information, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 17, 2022 @ 8:45 AM

  14. I’m interested in learning about how to get a SPECT scan.

    Comment by Molly Perry — December 28, 2022 @ 4:10 PM

  15. I’m in desperate need of help. I suffered extreme betrayal trauma almost a year ago. I’ve been diagnosed with complex PTSD. I have involuntary muscle movements getting increasingly worse. I’m now having difficulty walking and speaking.

    Comment by Dawn McEwan — April 15, 2023 @ 1:53 PM

  16. Hello Dawn, thank you for reaching out. For more information about SPECT scans and our services, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://www.amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — April 17, 2023 @ 9:20 AM

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