Is it Schizophrenia… or Something Else?

Is It Schizophrenia… or Something Else?


Delusions, hallucinations, distorted thinking—these are some of the frightening symptoms of schizophrenia, a condition that affects a person’s ability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Getting diagnosed with this chronic condition generally means you’re in for a never-ending battle, a lifetime of medication, and possible hospitalizations. It also puts you at greater risk of substance abuse, homelessness, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.

But what if that diagnosis was wrong? That’s what happened to Adrianna.

From Healthy to Hallucinations in Just 10 Days

Adrianna, age 16, was a healthy honor roll student when she went with her family on vacation to Yosemite National Park. When they arrived at their cabin, they were surrounded by 6 deer. It was a beautiful moment.

Just 10 days later, Adrianna became agitated and started having auditory hallucinations, one of the hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia. Her parents sought help for their daughter, who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and prescribed antipsychotic medications. But the pills didn’t help. The next three months were a torturous road of 25 doctors and multiple medications—all at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. But nothing was working, and Adrianna had become a shadow of her former self.

A doctor at Stanford University told her mother, “Your daughter will be schizophrenic for the rest of her life and will need medication for as long as she lives.”

Looking for Another Path

Unwilling to accept that diagnosis and desperate for a different path forward for her daughter, her mother, Deb, learned how brain SPECT imaging could offer more information about what is happening inside the brain and how it could help diagnose and treat psychiatric patients more effectively. She was hoping it could shed some light on what was really happening to her daughter Adrianna, so she took her for a brain scan.

What Adrianna’s Brain Scan Revealed

Adrianna’s brain scan wasn’t consistent with the patterns typically seen in people with schizophrenia. Instead, it showed evidence of inflammation with areas of unusually high activity. This suggested there might be other potential causes of her symptoms, such as an infection or autoimmune system disorder.

After performing bloodwork and other lab testing, the results confirmed that Adrianna didn’t have schizophrenia. She had Lyme disease, an infection caused by deer ticks. A single tick bite during that trip to Yosemite is likely what triggered her symptoms.

Lyme disease can cause a host of symptoms that mimic those seen in a variety of mental health disorders, including hallucinations, disorganizations, memory problems, short attention span, impulsiveness, addictive behaviors, violence, and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment with antibiotics helped Adrianna get her life back. She subsequently graduated from Pepperdine University and then the Queen Mary University of London with a master’s degree in international human resource management. Now, she’s living a happy life.

Imagine if no one had ever tested her for Lyme disease. It’s quite possible she would still be living in a psychiatric hospital.

In an amazing twist of fate, Adrianna’s uncle had been committed to Napa State Hospital for 27 years for paranoid schizophrenia. It turned out he also had Lyme disease, which was only discovered after Adrianna’s mother had to fight the hospital administration to have him released so he could be tested. Treating Lyme for her brother did not get rid of his hallucinations, but on a small dose of an antipsychotic medication, he has been able to live with his family and is doing well as a free man.

The Link Between Lyme Disease and Schizophrenia

For more evidence about the connection between infectious diseases and psychiatric illness, look at the two maps below. In the top image, you’ll see the highest incidence of schizophrenia in the U.S., and in the bottom image, you’ll see the greatest risk for Lyme disease. It doesn’t take an expert cartographer to see that the maps are nearly identical.

Source: Schizophrenia Bulletin

The medical community needs to wake up to the link between chronic infections and mental health. In 2016,33 scientists from around the world wrote a joint editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggesting the medical community was overlooking infectious diseases as a root cause of many memory problems and dementia.

In a “lifelong” psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia, it’s important to rule out infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders as causes of mental health symptoms. Your life depends on it.

At Amen Clinics, we have seen hundreds of patients, including Adrianna, with psychiatric symptoms or cognitive issues that weren’t responding to treatment who tested positive for Lyme disease. Many of them had been infected years or even decades previously, but nobody had ever thought to test them for infectious diseases. With the proper treatment, their symptoms improved significantly.

If you (or a loved one) are suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia or other mental health disorders and aren’t responding to treatment, it’s time to do additional testing to search for the root cause. For more information on how we can help, call us at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.



  1. Always fabulous information!

    Comment by Madelon Dribble — November 25, 2019 @ 5:41 AM

  2. What a story……….this Lyme disease is such a scourge upon our people here in the U.S.
    Sometimes I do wonder if these ticks were weaponized for biological warfare and something went awry….?

    Comment by John Szewczyk — January 13, 2020 @ 4:21 AM

  3. Im sure i WONT get a legit answer but id like to get MY BRAIN SCANNED cuz im suffering from a host of unhealthy thoughts and major bi polar. Im diagnosed so i AINT making this up. How many thousands does it cost?? Where can i get my brain scanned? I live in SF. Anything around here? I know there’s an amen clinic in Pleasanton. Thanks

    Comment by Chris FitzSimmons — January 13, 2020 @ 4:38 AM

  4. Wow!
    This is incredibly valuable information, thank you so much!

    Comment by Nancy Beer — January 13, 2020 @ 5:47 AM

  5. there are also patents that prove the military can cause voices in peoples’s heads. called v2k
    CIA doctors can also remotely monitor people and mimic any illness or disease in the subjects body.
    this is a new dangerous technology that need investigation.

    Comment by jane — January 13, 2020 @ 6:34 AM

  6. Had Lyme’s several years ago. Fortunately a friend diagnosed me before the MD did.I

    Comment by Vicky — January 13, 2020 @ 6:43 AM

  7. I wonder if anyone reading these comments knows anything about the GAD 65 antibody, which I was told that I have. Does anybody know how the GAD 65 antibody can affect the brain? I already have one autoimmune disorder, Hashimotos, and I know that GAD 65 increases my risk of Type 1 diabetes. However, can this antibody cause various brain (psychiatric) symptoms?

    Comment by Margaret — January 13, 2020 @ 10:14 AM

  8. My dad had Bipolar. My middle son has scitzo-effective disorder. My oldest son has Bipolar. They have been through hell. Middle son diagnosed in 1998 at 23 years. Oldest diagnosed in 2011 at 28 yrs. I’m told it is hereditary. Is it?

    Comment by Faye Sheffield — January 18, 2020 @ 10:23 AM

  9. Wow! There so many brain health issues which are misdiagnosed and mistreated which spoiled patients’s lives. Thank you Dr Amen for inventing SPECT scan.

    Comment by Snehpriya Jinde — January 26, 2020 @ 5:30 AM

  10. Where is the closest place to have scans done near Jackson Ohio

    Comment by Cathy wolford — October 21, 2022 @ 2:39 PM

  11. I am inquiring for my niece who has addiction, eating disorder and bi polar. I'm in Fort Myers FL. Where are your treatment centers?? Thank you

    Comment by Donna — January 3, 2023 @ 4:39 AM

  12. Hello Donna, thank you for reaching out. We currently have 10 locations nationwide, with one in Hollywood, Florida: For more information about SPECT scans and our services, please contact our Care Coordinators:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — January 9, 2023 @ 9:14 AM

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