Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s…But It Was Something Else

They Diagnosed Him With Alzheimer's

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:

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.


  1. I have a question. By the grace of God , I have been clean from drugs ( marijuana) and sober from alcohol for the last 35 years . Doctors here say I have dementia as a result. And I know that I do not have dementia as well . GOOD NEWS !!!! I have been on many many medications since 2007 , and now am off all of the medications with NO withdrawal symptoms. Over all these years , I kept asking doctors, why are you putting me on this garbage. There is nothing wrong with me . I have been right. Doctors say I’m depressed . I would say, of course not. Was I depressed, my blinds would be closed , not answering the phone having antisocial problems.

    Comment by Wayne Lozo — May 1, 2019 @ 2:33 AM

  2. Love you guys..thank you for sharing so much !!

    Comment by Carla Potter — May 1, 2019 @ 3:11 AM

  3. While you have good info, I find it distracting and off-putting that Tana keeps interrupting you to speak in every video I watch of the two of you. Yikes.

    Comment by Jenny Smith — May 1, 2019 @ 8:46 AM

  4. Thank you for continuing to bring new views on so many of our long-standing perceptions of mental (brain) issues, Dr Amen! As always, it seems the more we learn, the less we know.

    Mom died nearly 23 years ago after being confined to her bed for over 6 years in an Alzheimers facility. I have long suspected that her dementia/Alzheimers-like symptoms may well have been a direct result of her many years of a pharmaceutical drug regimen. Unfortunately, her lack of English-speaking skills resulted in our family pharmacist providing her with years of a methamphetamine-based drug that was supposedly only prescribed to her as a one-time treatment for depression. Because she managed to continue going back to the same pharmacist for refills who kept refilling her prescription to avoid any confrontation because of her lack of communication skills, Mom took those drugs for years. Her brain deteriorated over those years and I’ve long suspected it was mostly due to drug effects rather than illness. Of course, this was back in the 60’s when we certainly knew so much less about the brain. Sad.

    Clearly an example of brain damage from drugs and poor diagnosis by a “medical practitioner.”

    Comment by Robert Lee — May 1, 2019 @ 2:30 PM

  5. Tana has lots of positive energy. Its hard for her to be quiet! She is excited to share her knowledge with you. Why dont you just let it go? Be kind

    Comment by Judy Bouch — May 2, 2019 @ 8:00 PM

  6. I have a question regarding the SPEC testing. If my husband already had a spinal tap that indicated he has Alzheimer’s is there any reason to schedule the SPEC testing?

    Comment by Britt — June 24, 2019 @ 3:01 PM

  7. I have to back Jenny on this one. Distracting and off-putting is the kindest way to say it. I find the same thing. It is significant because it detracts from the message.

    This need not be seen as pointless bullying, but rather should be taken in the spirit in which it was meant – frank feedback that can hopefully be used to adjust her approach and improve the service being provided

    Comment by JD Sartre — November 1, 2019 @ 4:59 AM

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