Mental Illness: Is It Your Fault?
When you’re wracked with anxiety, filled with emptiness, or unable to stay focused, your family and friends may blame you for your problems and tell you that you just need to try harder. But no amount of willing yourself to be worry-free, forcing yourself to be happier, or trying to concentrate helps. It can make you feel like it’s all your fault and that your issues stem from personal weakness or character flaw.
When Feeling Bad Makes You Feel Worse
Sally was 40 years old when she was hospitalized for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. She also had a short attention span, was easily distracted, couldn’t keep anything organized, and always felt restless. She had spent her entire life thinking she was lazy and felt bad about herself for not being as upbeat and carefree as her friends and colleagues.
She had dropped out of college because she couldn’t stay on top of her classwork even though she had an IQ of 140. Her marriage suffered because she tended to shut herself off from him when she felt down. And her son often got upset with her because she didn’t have it together like his friends’ moms. But she never sought help for her problems because she thought she had brought them upon herself. When she couldn’t simply “snap out of it” she started thinking she was worthless.
How Looking at Her Changed Everything
In the hospital, Sally continued to refuse treatment for her mental health issues. But when she was asked if she’d be interested in looking at her brain, she enthusiastically said yes. She was interested in getting more information to understand herself and why she was filled with anxiety and depression and sometimes thought about ending her own life.
Sally underwent two brain SPECT imaging studies—the first at rest and the second while she performed a concentration task. Her results were abnormal, and her brain showed patterns associated with anxiety and depression.
They also showed that at rest, she had good overall brain activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an area involved in planning, focus, follow-through, and organization. However, when she tried to focus, her brain actually dropped in activity, especially in the PFC. This is a classic pattern seen in ADD/ADHD whereas in people without the condition, concentration causes activity in the PFC to increase. This helped explain Sally’s lack of focus, inability to concentrate, and problems staying organized.
“You Mean, It’s Not All My Fault?”
When Sally saw the two brain scans in her hospital room and learned what they indicated, she started to cry and said, “You mean, it’s not all my fault?” She finally realized that her issues weren’t simply psychological, and they weren’t a sign of some failure on her part. The problems she had suffered throughout her life had a biological basis—her brain wasn’t operating optimally.
Having ADD/ADHD—or any other mental health disorder—is just like needing glasses. People who wear glasses aren’t dumb, crazy, or stupid. Likewise, people who have ADD/ADHD aren’t dumb, crazy, or stupid. Their frontal lobes shut down when they’re supposed to turn on. And they need help to turn them back on so they can focus.
Brain-Body Treatment for a Biological Problem
This discovery helped Sally make sense of her life and finally opened her up to the idea of looking at her issues as biological problems that needed to be treated. But she didn’t want to simply take medication. She wanted to incorporate natural solutions as much as possible.
Her treatment plan was based on 4 Circles—biological, psychological, social, and spiritual—that influence mental health. From a biological standpoint, she agreed to start medication and also adopted a healthy nutrition plan, began exercising daily, and made sleep a priority. To help her psychologically, she began psychotherapy to help her deal with disappointments from her past. On a social level, she signed up for couples therapy and parent training. She also focused on developing a deep sense of purpose for her life to enhance her spiritual side.
In a short time, Sally felt calmer and more focused. She went back to school and finished her degree. Her relationship with her husband and son were better, and she no longer thought of herself as a failure, but rather as someone who needed help for a medical problem. When you understand mental health this way, you realize that not treating it really amounts to neglect. It’s like withholding glasses from someone who cannot see.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, or any other mental health issue, it’s time to stop blaming yourself. We use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to reveal signs of brain dysfunction so you can see the biological basis of your issues. 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 so you can start feeling better fast.
Take the first important step to a better life and call 888-288-9834 to talk to a specialist today or schedule a visit.