10 Ways Brain Imaging Changes Depression Treatment

10 Ways a Brain Scan Can Help with Depression

Is depression interfering with your daily life? Are you tired of trying antidepressant after antidepressant without results? Are you curious about how our approach is different than others you’ve tried?

Brain SPECT imaging provides us with a detailed map of your brain that supports the creation of a customized treatment plan based on your scan results.

Ariel had been experiencing symptoms of depression for over two years. She was tired, had trouble sleeping, was filled with negative thoughts, lacked motivation, and was beginning to have suicidal thoughts. The symptom that was most difficult for her husband though, was her complete loss of interest in sex. He was ready to leave her because he thought she wasn’t interested in him anymore.

Having her brain scanned using a technology called SPECT changed everything. The brain scan showed that a part of Ariel’s brain called the limbic system was working way too hard, which is common in people with depression. With this information, her husband realized Ariel hadn’t fallen out of love with him. She had a brain imbalance. The brain scan helped identify find the most effective solutions for Ariel and together, she and her husband kept her on track with her treatment plan, and their relationship eventually grew even stronger.

A SPECT brain scan changed Ariel’s life.

10 Ways it can Help You with Your Depression

1. Brain scans show that depression is a brain disorder.

Seeing your brain scan helps you understand that depression is not a “mental” health condition, but rather a brain health issue.

2. Brain imaging shows there are 7 types of depression.

Many people, including those in the medical field, believe that everybody with depression can be treated the same way. Wrong! Thanks to brain SPECT imaging research, it is now known that depression is not a single or simple disorder. In fact, there are 7 types of depression, and they each need targeted solutions. The 7 types of depression 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. Seeing your brain scan reduces stigma.

In a 2018 survey, 31% of respondents agreed that a weak personality causes depression. Sadly, the stigma surrounding what causes this condition can prevent people from seeking treatment. Seeing on brain scans that depression is a brain issue—NOT a personality weakness—can help you move past the shame you may feel to get the help you need.

4. Brain imaging helps families get more involved in healing.

Just as people with depression may think a character flaw is the cause of their condition, family members may have the same belief. When loved ones—like Ariel’s husband—finally understand that depression is a brain problem, they are much more likely to be forgiving and supportive in helping you through the healing process.

5. Brain scans can show evidence of the root cause of your depression.

Depression can have many causes. For example, concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are associated with an increased risk for the condition, and hormones that are out of balance can lead to symptoms of depression. Brain imaging tests can point to the root causes of your depression and help find the best-personalized solutions.

6. Brain scans encourage better compliance.

Although depression is a treatable condition, many people don’t follow through on their treatment plan. They may skip or drop out of therapy sessions, neglect to fill prescriptions, or take medicine inconsistently. Research shows that depression treatment non-adherence rates are as high as 52%. When people are able to see on brain scans that there is abnormal activity in certain areas of their brain, it increases compliance with treatment plans.

7. Progress can be seen on brain scans.

Brain imaging follow-up scans provide an opportunity for you to see improvement in the health of your brain. When you have visual confirmation that the efforts you are making are paying off, it encourages you to continue with the treatment plan. And brain scans let you know if treatment needs adjusting to speed up your progress.

8. Brain imaging can show co-occurring conditions.

People with depression often have other conditions, such as anxiety, ADD/ADHD, or addiction. Brain scans provide vital clues to the existence of co-existing conditions, so you can get a comprehensive treatment plan personalized for your needs.  

9. Brain scans take the guesswork out of psychiatry.

Psychiatry remains the only medical field that rarely looks at the organ it treats. Because of this, the traditional treatment strategy involves a lot of guesswork. Brain imaging provides visual data to take the guesswork out of diagnosis and treatment.

10. Before-and-after brain scans help you believe you can change your brain and change your life.

Viewing the brain scans of people who have overcome depression and improved their quality of life is a powerful motivator that gives you the belief that you can do it too.

At Amen Clinics, brain SPECT imaging is performed as a component of a comprehensive evaluation for people with symptoms of depression. The Amen Clinics Method takes an integrative 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.

If you’re suffering from symptoms of depression, call 888-288-9834 to talk to a specialist today or schedule a visit.


  1. While driving to Denver I came across your radio station. Finding your radio show/website is a Godsend!
    I have struggled with depression as far back as I can remember (3 yrs old). At 16 I was in a head-on auto collision where I was thrown from the vehicle hitting my head on the road curb. Comatose for a week in ICU, skull fracture from right eye socket to occipital suture. It took me years to recover but I eventually went to college, graduated with B.S. in Health Science Information Technology, (8th grade was my last formal school experience). I was married for 10 yrs.; have 4 daughters which I raised myself while I went to school.
    My divorce was very difficult, the ex had an affair with my sister, my family chose to excommunicate me. My in-laws had lots of money n made my efforts to raise the girls very difficult. From getting courts to reduce ex’s child support ($50/child), alienating me by telling children I was lazy, on welfare, I am faking a head injury to be taken care of.. etc. My family does the same thing to me. They communicate with my daughters more than I do, in fact, my sisters blocked me on Facebook n my older daughters restrict what I can see on their fb accounts, yet my sisters all have my ex & my daughters as friends. I finally shut down my Facebook account all together. The in-laws have passed away n now the ex has inherited all the money. I am living on a modest income while my older daughters are in their careers making good money. They treat me as if I’m going to steal from them or open accounts in their names. I really hurts me that they have no respect for me! My ex drinks n drugs but that’s ok because he works for the city maintenance crew (uses synthetic urine when drug tested) n has inherited a lot of money for which he occasionally gives them.
    My problem is depression – I’m 56 yrs old! Why can’t I get out of this rut! I have difficulty working a job – I broke my hip painting in 2013 from which I fell from a 20 ft ladder. But my girls think I’m still capable of working – n I’m faking it! Please, I need advise! I am staying a week with my daughters in Orlando, Fl. Two of them live together, the Critical Care RN has taken a Government Contract to work in Baghdad for a year n is leaving within the week. I am here to ease the transition for the other daughter who has addiction issues and fears being alone. There are many more dynamics to this but for the sake of this forum, I will refrain from detail.
    Thank you in advance!

    Comment by Beatrice Lewis — July 10, 2019 @ 6:19 AM

  2. Very interesting article. Unfortunately many practicing doctor do not focus on research based information and continue to heal in ways that do more damage then improving much needed help for patients with depression causing deeper pain, hopelessness, and in many cases suicide. There are many individuals that spend years of pain, frustration and unhappiness because of poor healthcare professionals. Sad, when these individuals could live happily without such suffering.

    Comment by Ro — July 17, 2019 @ 3:01 AM

  3. I would love me and my kids (all adults) to get scans. Altho the cost like is out of reach for many

    Comment by Sue — July 17, 2019 @ 6:37 AM

  4. As a therapist, this information is so helpful. But, it’s disappointing that we dont have access to these scans for our clients. I would love to have before and after pics of my clients brains for all the reasons you mentioned. Do you see a day coming that this will be possible?

    Comment by Vicky — July 17, 2019 @ 12:19 PM

  5. Dr. Amen,
    I am sorry if this sounds judgemental to you but it is a recurring theme that I continue to read from many people about your company! You truly have a great product and I firmly believe in it !
    I see that you have some cutting-edge technology but it appears you have priced it out of the reach of many people. Are you a nonprofit Corp.? Are you are not for profit corporation yet? Do you have enough money of your own to live on? Is there a way that you can reduce your profit on your services and brains back scans to make the end result more affordable for us retired and fixed income people?!?
    Is there a way that you could possibly open up a nonprofit branch mirroring your current company that would be able to accept Medicare and or even Medicaid??

    Comment by Brad Kalin — July 17, 2019 @ 3:58 PM

  6. Hi.
    I live in Michigan. Is there any clinic in Michigan ?

    Comment by Faranak Seifoddini — July 18, 2019 @ 3:21 AM

  7. Hello Faranak, we currently have 8 clinic locations: https://amenclinics.com/locations/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 19, 2019 @ 8:01 AM

  8. Hello Vicky, we do have a professional outreach team that works with professionals that want to send their patients to one of our clinics for Scan Only Appointments. We can also bring you in for a clinic tour and teach you more about what we do so that we can be a resource to you and your patients. In addition, we offer a Brain Health Certification Course to professionals in our community: https://www.brainmdhealth.com/bhcc-course.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 19, 2019 @ 8:05 AM

  9. Dr. Amen,
    I have focal epilepsy and was diagnosed on March 3, 2022. I never had seizures until my surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor on my left temple glioma. Five days after surgery my brain hemorrhaged. I don't work and can't drive. My income is very low and I am waiting to get on disability. I can't afford to go to your clinics because you don't accept insurance. I know from your videos and books that you are very good at helping people by scanning their brains and helping them with their depression. I lost year my friend committed suicide. I am severely depressed and I know that if I could afford the cost of your clinics I would get better. I have had many MRI'S because of being diagnosed with cancer in my brain. I hope and pray that soon your clinics will help all people by accepting insurance because so many people can't afford thousands of dollars to have their brain scanned at your clinics. I do feel your way of treating people who can afford to go to your clinics is awesome. I just wish you could help people by lowering the cost and accepting insurance. I can see why your happy because you are very wealthy and are able to afford healthy foods that are organic and you eat right. Sadly people who are depressed can't afford to be see at your clinics unless they are wealthy. Which shows that if your wealthy you can get the help you need if not you can't afford to get the treatment you need.

    Comment by Tina Maynard — September 9, 2023 @ 6:34 AM

  10. I would love to see a photo of a scan of a person with depression, before and after treatment. I have seen scans of marijuana use, alcohol use, etc…

    Comment by JoAnn Bauer — September 9, 2023 @ 10:37 AM

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