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How Justin Bieber is Using Brain Science to Fight Depression

How Justin Bieber is Using Brain Science to Fight Depression

“No one has ever grown up in the history of humanity like Justin Bieber. No one has ever been that famous worldwide in an era of social media where every year of your adolescence you were the most Googled person on the planet.” 

In Justin Bieber’s new docuseries, “Seasons,” that’s how his manager Scooter Braun describes what it was like for the superstar to grow up in the public eye. The “Baby,” “Sorry,” and “Love Yourself” artist was discovered at age 13 and shot to instant fame, becoming the world’s biggest YouTube sensation, a social media phenom, and an international chart-topper.

Despite his enormous talent and the adulation that came with fame, he faced some serious struggles like so many people do. “Being human is challenging for everybody,” he says in the docuseries. “We’re all struggling to some degree. We all have our individual pains, and fears and anxieties, worries.” Justin knows this only too well because while his career was soaring, his personal life was spinning out of control into anxiety, depression, and addiction. And his brain was under assault.

Drugs, Rock ’n’ Roll, and the Adolescent Brain

The adolescent brain is a remarkable work in progress, with billions of connections called synapses being created at lightning-fast speeds, and an important process called myelinization underway. With myelinization, brain cells are coated with a protective sheath that increases the brain’s processing speeds. The process begins at the back of the brain and works its way forward, with the prefrontal cortex (the area involved in impulse control, forethought, judgment, and empathy) the last area to gain the protective covering, usually around a person’s mid-20s.

Certain things like alcohol, drugs, and even fame can disrupt this important process. A brain imaging study appearing in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed that heavy marijuana use among young adults and adolescents may affect normal brain development. The study found brain abnormalities in areas involved with decision-making, memory, and executive functions—the regions in the front of the brain that are the last to undergo myelinization.

Substance use and fame at a young age can also disrupt the reward system in the adolescent brain. In a healthy brain, whenever we do something enjoyable, it’s like pressing a button in the brain to release a little bit of the neurotransmitter dopamine to make us feel pleasure. Pushing these pleasure buttons too often or too strong reduces dopamine’s effectiveness. Eventually, it takes more and more excitement and stimulation to feel anything at all.

In the YouTube docuseries, Justin reveals he started smoking marijuana when he was just 13. Then he moved on to harder substances, including a mind-numbing cocktail of cough syrup (hydrocodone) mixed with alcohol and prescription medication. The concoction was so potent, his security team would creep into his room in the middle of the night to check his pulse and make sure he was still breathing. With the substance abuse and all those screaming fans, Justin’s reward system was getting worn out. He was addicted not only to the drugs but also to fame. And he was in a downward spiral.

It became so overwhelming for him that he canceled the final dates of his “Purpose” world tour in 2017, and the media announced that he was having issues and it seemed like he was “falling into another dark place.” They were right.

What Justin Bieber’s Brain Scan Showed

In Episode 5 of the docuseries (which is currently available on YouTube premium), Justin reveals that he has been coming to neuropsychiatrist and brain imaging expert Dr. Daniel Amen at Amen Clinics for 5 years for help with the issues he’s been struggling with.

Justin bravely opened up to Dr. Amen about the trauma and instability he experienced in his childhood, his addictions, and his anxiety and depression. To find the root causes of his issues, he underwent brain SPECT imaging. SPECT measures blood flow and activity in the brain and shows 3 things: areas with healthy activity, too much activity, or too little activity.

Before coming to Amen Clinics, Justin had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that is often misdiagnosed. In fact, 57% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder don’t actually have the condition, according to a 2008 study from researchers at Brown University. Justin’s brain scans showed something other than bipolar disorder, and it changed the course of his care. You can see more about what his brain scans revealed in the episode.

Justin’s Journey to Healing

Drawing on our brain imaging work and the latest neuroscience, Justin made the commitment to get on a path to better brain health. To help heal his brain, the young man started doing hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a noninvasive treatment that involves breathing 100% pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The increased oxygen is picked up via the bloodstream and transported to damaged tissues to facilitate the healing process.

HBOT has been used to improve many issues including, but not limited to:

Justin has told Dr. Amen that he loves HBOT therapy so much he got a hyperbaric chamber for his home, and he uses it on a daily basis.

When Dr. Amen informed Justin how important nutrition and supplementation is if you want to change your brain and heal your mind, the musical artist cleaned up his diet and also started doing IV nutrient therapy on a regular basis. IV therapy provides more potent doses of important nutrients than oral supplements, and because it bypasses the digestive system you get 100% absorption without any gastrointestinal issues.

HBOT and IV therapy are only part of the brain-based plan that has been helping him cope with the anxiety, depression, and other issues he faces.

The artist has subsequently received a diagnosis of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can lead to a vast array of neuropsychological symptoms, including:

  • Impaired attention, focus, concentration, judgment, and impulse control
  • Impaired memory and speech functions
  • Disorganization and getting lost
  • Poor problem-solving and decision-making abilities
  • Slower mental processing speed
  • Symptoms similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Psychosis and hallucinations

With a comprehensive treatment plan in place, the superstar feels like he’s on the right track to healing and getting back to the creative music-making process and performing that feeds his soul. He says it’s because he’s “in a good headspace… a better headspace.” We would say, it’s really all about being in a better “brainspace.”

At Amen Clinics, we take a unique brain-body approach to diagnosis and treatment that includes brain SPECT imaging, as well as laboratory testing to check physical health, and other important factors that could be contributing to symptoms of depression. By getting to the root cause of your symptoms, we can create a more effective, personalized treatment plan for you.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already enhanced their brain health, overcome their symptoms, and improved their quality of life at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

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COMMENTS

  1. Vance says:

    Thank you Dr. Amen for this important information. I would be very interested to hear what you think about the puberty blockers that are now being given to children who think (or whose parents or doctors think) they are transgender. This surely would profoundly affect the developing brain! And we’re giving these things to children without having even begun to investigate what they do to brain development! It seems like malpractice to me! We just don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be!

    • Katelyn says:

      I’m also curious about your opinion on this matter as well. I question how being transgender is diagnosed/if therapy might have changed some people’s minds. Children are still young and learning about themselves.

  2. Fran Vitale says:

    I just read Justin Bieber’s story . I am a Young 57 year old medical imaging professional , female , that would love to come to Dr Amens clinic for an evaluation that I know would lead me to healing and a much healthier productive life . I have struggled with an unnatural amount of life traumas . A significant brain injury and about 5 concussions . As wonderful as you are helping Justin Beiber, it all comes down to money. I wish the young man the very best and hope he continues on his healing journey . I will continue watching your shows and reading your books and hope one day to afford a visit to your clinic . Keep up the good work and I hope it will be an affordable and acceptable treatment option for the “regular people” in the future.
    Fran Vitale

    • Vicki Casson says:

      I SO agree with the comment made (on 2/5/20) — where the person said that they would SO benefit from treatment at Amen Clinic. They said that they know it would lead to a healthier + more productive life, but they CAN’T AFFORD to visit the clinic. This person went on to say that they hope that it will be an AFFORDABLE (and acceptable) treatment option for “regular people” in the near future. * I can SO relate to what this commentator said because I (desperately) “could do” to be seen at the Amen Clinic, but i CAN’T AFFORD IT ! (it’s extra aggravating, that I can’t go to an Amen Clinic, because there’s one just 3 hrs away from me — in Atlanta !)

      • Chris Mac says:

        Vicki and Fran, I took out a loan and drove to DC [from Boston] on Christmas Day 9 years ago in order to get my three kids evaluated Dec 26th and help get one of my children off medications with scary side effects. Instead of suggesting supplements, the doctor at the clinic wanted to increase the prescription medications and start giving my 5 year old prescription drugs for ADHD. He did not seem to follow what Dr. Amen preaches at all. I spent a huge amount of money and got the opposite of what I was seeking and just ignored his advice and moved forward with supplements and weaning off prescription meds. Perhaps that doctor is no longer working there, but I recommend looking for any integrative medicine practitioner. There are integrative psychologists and primary care physicians who would have similar approaches as Dr. Amen. They don’t usually do the spect imaging but you can find ones covered by insurance so it’s a good place to start. Good luck.

      • Madelyn says:

        So so sad I’m suffering And I can’t afford it either not even with payments! Of course great for Justin who can afford but what about the rest of us suffering?no fame or that kind of money for treatment it is def NOT affordable

    • Vicki Casson says:

      Since Dr. Amen is the first physician to do “Brain Imaging,” even though it went against main-stream medicine, why can’t Dr. Amen go against main-stream medicine again — and (occasionally) help people for little or no-charge ? I don’t mean for him to do this on a day-to-day basis, because he’d “go broke !” But it’d sure be nice of him to, OCCASIONALLY, help someone who really needs help but can’t afford it. It would be very philanthropic of him to, let’s say once a month, let a deserving person be treat at the Amen Clinic for little or no charge. Just ONE person, ONCE a month — that would be great ! Yes, ONE person isn’t much, but at least it’s “something !” At least it would show people that Dr. Amen REALLY cares, and it’s not all about “the money !”

  3. Kathy Jackson says:

    What is the chance of getting an appt. with dr Amen. I suffer from high blood pressure, and in order to control I am taking to much medication. With man side effects which includes, headache, confusion, blurred vision and number of stomach and intestinal issues. If not appt is it possible for someone in his organization to give some other helps that does not include massive amounts of meds. thank you so much and appreciate all your help.

    • Diane says:

      Thrilled for Justin as he continues to heal. It’s wonderful that Dr. Amen has been able to help him on his journey. I to am holding up the prayer that someday I will meet Dr. Amen and find the truth to what really is going on in my brain! He’s on my bucket list!!!! I so want to feel myself again!! I believe it will happen!!

    • Amen Clinics says:

      Hello Kathy, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you and discuss appointments and evaluations. We currently have 8 clinic locations (https://www.amenclinics.com/locations/) and many wonderful physicians available at them all. We look forward to speaking with you!

  4. Linda Villani says:

    Praising God for Justin Bieber’s courage to be a patient at Amen Clinic! He is notably exercising great brain health by this his journey to wellness. (WOW. I wish HBOT every day as he is able to, AMAZING. I use CPAP with oxygen 10 hours a day to be able to function. I have MDD, Fibromyalgia and acute immune disease; doing what I can in my Medicare advantage plan. Member of #TheMighty.) I am deeply grateful for Dr. & Mrs. Daniel Amen, and the extraordinary work at Amen Clinics, online podcasts, FB interviews, etc. Love you all so very much! Linda

  5. Marie Isabelle says:

    Praise God for Justin Bieber’s life. But what would someone with no money do? An average person cannot afford the treatment even if they wanted to because it is too expensive. More power to those who can afford it.
    May be Dr. Amen can think of having a discount for those people who would like to have a scan, but cannot afford it. Blessings to you .

  6. Linda Setchfield says:

    Dr. Amen – What does one do who does not have the financial means to do oxygen therapy? I have had Lymes disease in the past with tick bites that had the telltale bullseye pattern of response to the tick bite. Doctors put me on a month of antibiotic regimen (Doxycycline) which destroyed my intestinal flora. I have 5 of the 7 symptoms listed above now years later. My diet is limited but attention to healthy eating considered. (I have Achalasia). I look forward to answers which can help me.

  7. Tonya says:

    Thoroughly believe all that Dr. Amen presents. I, like many others, wish it were more affordable for a common, middle income person with a family

  8. Dr Henry Sinopoli says:

    Parents…a mother and a father are tasked with raising children and providing an opportunity for each individual to make choices to maximize their potential…Adolescents making poor choices usually end up with poor results…Then play the victim…I wish no ill will to Mr Bieber and wish him well in his recovery…Every decision produces a consequence…

  9. Bettie Contee says:

    I am just wondering what the cost is for a scan?

    • Amen Clinics says:

      Hello Bettie, thank you for reaching out. We offer many types of consultations and evaluations tailored to our patient’s needs. We’d be happy to reach out to you with additional information on costs, as well as insurance and financing options.

  10. Renee says:

    I’m a psych nurse. Unfortunately 99% of my patients can’t afford this type of treatment. When well something be done to help these people and others who can’t afford the Justin Bieber treatment?

    • Ruth says:

      I love this article. It shows what can be done. The problem is not the money. The problem is that the treatment is not recognized by the FDA; if it is not recognized then insurance won’t (can’t??) pay for it. Perhaps we should all write to congress, and all the current candidates for president. We could tell them to ease the regulations on this type of therapy as well as other natural means for healing the human body and brain. Justin Beiber might be a good face for this, if he is willing.

      My husband has Parkinson’s…I would like to take him to Amen Clinics, but can’t because our (otherwise excellent health insurance) doesn’t pay for it.

  11. Anna Freeman says:

    Many years ago, like fifty or so, I was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and put in a hospital for the legal allowed time. Later, when I was out, I stopped taking the medication they gave me. Plus, the experience was so traumatic for me, (shock treatment) that I promised to never go there again. After all these years, my brother challenges that I am , must be STILL schizophrenic as no doctor has certified, otherwise. How can I get a scan to prove that I am not, as if I go to the local mental health office, here in Canada there is no telling what they will say. After that dear brother figures I could use that diagnosis to obtain a disability status and earn funding from the government. He was going to college and studied to be a social worker. Just wonder if some way to re=diagnose my brain?

  12. Jan says:

    I have to agree with Renee. All of these opportunites are only available for those with the financial position to afford them. Good for Justin to be working towards his mental health. I am a single mother with a 23 year old that has had significant trama, depression and addiction issues. There is no way I could offer him this option. Which only leads to more depression. It’s a Hamster wheel life.

  13. Milissa says:

    I’m so excited to hear about a public figure willing to share his road to positive mental health! As a biofeedback technician, I am excited he discovered biofeedback and hyperbarics. Hang in there and keep up the great work to recover!

  14. Anita says:

    I am a primary school teacher in the UK. I have been reading and watching Dr. Amen and his wife’s youtube videos, podcasts, etc. and am fascinated with what I’ve learnt so far. It is my dream to visit one of the Amen’s clinics. I believe it won’t be easy to afford a treatment in America on my humble salary any time soon! Any chance of opening a clinic in Europe?

  15. Jen Rosenthal says:

    Wow. Wouldn’t we all live to be given the best of the best. Be grateful for all of Dr. Amen’s tireless work & stop complaining people.
    I am happy to hear & read all about this. EVERY ONE DOES NOT GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT.
    This is the attitude of our country right now.
    Do what you can for yourself, look into supplements like Dr. Amen suggests. Lift up your hands in prayer & be thankful to be alive.
    We ALL have struggles…we do not all dwell on them.
    Not trying to be rude, but seriously the stream of negativity towards Dr. Amen in these comments is ridiculous.
    We would ALL benefit from seeing him & getting a scan read by him.
    In the mean time, keep reading all his free material & searching for what you CAN do.
    Thank Dr. Amen for sharing your knowledge. Hopefully one day your practices will be main stream.

  16. Marcia says:

    My son-in-law desperately needs a SPECT scan, diagnosis and treatment. He served 12 years in Marines resulting in numerous concussions.
    Of course the VA, doesn’t recognize/authorize the use of these tests.
    Do you know of any experimental studies that the VA is doing on SPECT imagining that he could participate I?
    He cannot come to the AMEN clinics on his own, due to the cost. Because of the trauma from the head injuries, it is difficult for him to work. ie: no money.
    Any help you can give to point him in the right direction, would be greatly appreciated.

    • Amen Clinics says:

      Hello Marcia, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. We’d be happy to contact you directly to discuss insurance, reimbursement, financing options and other resources we can offer you for your son-in-law.

  17. Lori says:

    I also am so glad that Justin found out what he has and received the best solutions for his results of the Spect Imaging. I would love to afford my 2 children the Spec Imaging as my son has been diagnosed with bipolar, schizoaffective, mania, psychosis, ADHD and depression. He has been on many prescriptions with not really any help with his diagnosis and has turned to alcohol and substances to cope.
    My daughter has been diagnosed with MS and is in pain everyday and now has problems walking. She is on prescriptions for her MS and pain with no relief of pain. She has lost her LPN job due to not being able to,work,12 hour shifts and she has cognitive issues.
    I would love to afford to have their brain scanned and find a plan or solution for their diagnoses as well. I can hope that Dr Amen or Justin come to our aid with scholarships or grants established for individuals who can’t afford the scan and solutions needed.

  18. Eric Sawaf says:

    I guess the real question here would be; how does someone who is NOT a multimillionaire begin their path to wellness? How much good will a S.P.E.C.T. scan do you when you’ve spent every last dollar just getting the bloody test.

    Just my $.02 (no pun intended)

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