How SPECT Imaging Saved Bill’s Life

How SPECT Imaging Saved Bill's Life

Bill first came to Amen Clinics after attempting suicide in his dorm room. A twenty-year-old Yale student, despite his intellectual gifts, Bill nonetheless experienced bouts of severe depression. And his overdose on a lethal cocktail of Ambien, Effexor XR, and a fifth of whiskey had nearly killed him.

Bill’s roommate at Yale called 9-1-1 when he discovered Bill unconscious following the overdose. Bill was rushed to the hospital, which saved his life. Once Bill was stabilized and discharged from the hospital, he took off a semester to get psychiatric help at Amen Clinics.

We attempted to treat Bill with antidepressant medication, taught him techniques to rewrite his negative stories about himself and the world, and met with him for twice-weekly psychotherapy. Bill improved, but only moderately so. Antidepressant medications—and we tried several with Bill—really never altered his fundamental negativity and his proneness for severe depressive dips. Bill cooperated with treatment, but our treatment had not made enough progress to help Bill move toward being fully free of depression and able to return to Yale.

Treating Bill With SPECT

Because Bill had not made sufficient progress, we told him about brain SPECT imaging, a way to look at what the brain is doing, and asked him to consider it. It was our hope that SPECT might reveal something about the root of Bill’s problems that we were missing. Bill and his parents agreed, and Bill had his brain scanned a week later.

We were not disappointed. The SPECT results showed that Bill’s brain was hurting in a way none of us had anticipated. He had significant damage to his left temporal lobe. Bill’s brain wasn’t just unbalanced; it was injured, significantly.

We knew that temporal lobe problems, especially on the left side, can contribute to or cause marked depression and negativity—and also rage at times, which fortunately Bill didn’t have. Bill’s SPECT findings showed why antidepressants hadn’t helped him; antidepressants don’t fundamentally address brain injury, especially injury in the temporal lobes. Discussing Bill’s brain injury with him and his parents, we surmised that years of soccer caused the brain injury we had uncovered. We’ve seen quite a few soccer players who had head injuries from playing that sport. Heading a hard soccer ball is not a good thing for the brain.

SPECT Helps Target Treatment Options

With this new information provided by SPECT, Bill was placed on Lamictal, a medication that targets temporal lobe problems. Lamictal was the answer to our prayers. Gradually, Bill improved. Eventually, after several months, he was close to 100 percent, with hardly any trace of depression. Bill continued Lamictal, returned to Yale the following semester, and ultimately graduated with honors. Following Yale, Bill attended and graduated from a top law school and now works as a fourth-year associate for a large law firm.

Without much exaggeration, SPECT imaging saved Bill’s life; we am certain that, given the severity of his depression and suicidal urges, he would have ended up killing himself if we had not found a successful treatment for him. Detecting and stabilizing his left temporal lobe was the key step in Bill’s successful treatment. The key point is that an injured brain must be healed before any other treatments—such as nutritional supplements, lifestyle management, counseling, psychotherapy, or antidepressant medication—can work.

Imaging changes everything. 
At Amen Clinics, we can help you and your loved ones overcome the stigma and suffering associated with many disorders. If you are ready to change your brain and change your life, give us a call today at 888-288-9834 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

Bill was a patient of Dr. Annibali at Amen Clinics Washington D.C. His book Reclaim Your Brain—How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind, and Bring Your Life Back Under Control is available on Amazon and at Amen Clinics.


  1. was Bill ever able to end his dependence on the prescription meds?

    Comment by Jeff MacPherson — May 20, 2016 @ 4:28 PM

  2. Very interresting! I really appreciate you work.

    Comment by Patrick Messier — May 21, 2016 @ 4:28 AM

  3. How can medicine by itself heal the brain? So the Lamictel actually regrew his frontal lobe?

    Comment by Justin Mansfield — May 21, 2016 @ 5:44 AM

  4. I am a mother of three children who sustained brain injury by their biological father. I use energy healing on them now, but I agree with this article you have to treat the root to the issue before the symptoms clear. My sons were being treated as they treat everyone and my husband and I now treated them differently, with nature, nutrition, herbal, energy healing, and my son who was suicidal graduated with honors last year from school has a degree in mechanics and my other three sons are working hard on making great comebacks. My oldest was not abused with pillows, but he did witness all the abuse and that caused sever issue mentally (they were hit when I was not around and when when the father had them). My oldest was 4 at the time. We shocked all the doctors and therapist because we proved that statistics is just a number in mental health. Loved the article thank you.

    Comment by Toni Lynn Price — May 21, 2016 @ 10:11 AM

  5. As some other posters have requested, could you elaborate/clarify the temporal lobe process with the patient? Does he need to take the medication permanently or was the medication used as a stepping stone to permanent brain healing.
    Also – for those who do not have geographic or financial access to SPECT but who suspect similar issues, what do you recommend?

    Comment by Peter G — May 21, 2016 @ 10:25 AM

  6. FYI, don’t post anything negative or they will keep removing your posts if they don’t like!!!

    Comment by E Mahlmann — May 23, 2016 @ 8:05 AM

  7. Wow! THANK YOU for your awesome information you provide! I have a 11 year-old son who had bacterial meningitis when he was 14 months old. He had a whole in his skull, that was due to a duplication during development. He was born with 2 right temporal lobes, 2 sets of ossicles (minus 1-bone) and two nerves on his right side. He hears with one-Cochlear implant (without it he is profoundly deaf) and has overcome many obstacles and is really doing quite well. BUT he struggles with many things still.

    His speech is very difficult to understand (even for me) due to an abnormal, asymmetrical palate. The plastic surgeon we saw recently says the right-side of his palate is not moving.

    Anyway – my question is… Out of all the books and information Dr. Amen has, can you direct me to something I can read that might help my understanding of what the right temporal lobe does, and how meningitis affects the brain, so I can better understand.
    We use essential oils, and I’m looking for anything else that can help us.

    Comment by Tammy Higgins Halupnick — December 8, 2016 @ 9:38 AM

  8. Hi Peter! Try these free tests from Dr. Amen:

    My Brain Fit Life Portal Link:

    Amen Master Questionnaires:

    Comment by Annie Schultz — September 7, 2017 @ 8:07 AM

  9. I doubt the temporal lobe damage is going to heal. The point of the story was that he had severe depression which had not responded to treatment and through imaging they found the cause was the temporal lobe injury. That information then allowed them to target the medication to the temporal lobe so that the depression could be treated effectively. He is always going to have the injury, but at least his injured brain won’t be throwing him into a deep depression so that he becomes suicidal.

    Comment by Rebecca — January 5, 2018 @ 2:47 AM

  10. Was hoping for a follow up on getting off all meds-did Bill do this? Thanks.

    Comment by James Cough — January 5, 2018 @ 4:31 AM

  11. Great article! I am a strong believer that a brain scan should be done as a preventive, diagnostic and covered exam in the same fashion that colonoscopy, endoscopy, mammograms and the list goes on. It should be a mandated test.

    Why did Amen clinics even start him on antidepressants first, why did they not scan him immediately?

    Comment by Teresa Napoles — January 5, 2018 @ 4:59 AM

  12. Does lamictal heal the left temporal lobe or simply manage symptoms?

    Comment by Susan Brady — January 5, 2018 @ 5:27 AM

  13. I know we all have a right and left temporal lobe. My question is what happens if you are missing all or part of one of the lobes? My right temporal lobe including the hoppocampus was removed to get rid of my epilepsy. It was very successful. I’m extremely grateful. Life has been challenging since. Finding a medication that really worked for the depression was exceptionally challenging. I do everything I know naturally to stay positive. I have little to no short-term memory. Despite all this I function every day and am an accountant with a very challenging job. Thank
    You so much for the work you do. It benefits me in many ways.

    Comment by Kristen Kreuzwieser — January 5, 2018 @ 6:01 AM

  14. Hello! I truly appreciate the efforts made to help people live and enjoy a better life! The story on Bill was very encouraging! However, my question is, why not do the spect imaging first before treating him with Anti depressants and psychotherapy . I am at a loss as to know why the Amon clinic’s of all people would go that route.
    Thank you,

    Comment by Sheri — January 5, 2018 @ 6:49 AM

  15. Why wasn’t a SPECT scan taken earlier knowing he was a high school scoccer player? How dangerous is it with the dye/radiation? Perhaps is it not initially considered for such a case due to expense of the scan or risks involved? Your write up suggests that your initial treatment would not have been effective once results came in.

    Comment by Margaret Cochran — January 5, 2018 @ 6:50 AM

  16. SPECT sounds fantastic. Is this a brain mapping machine ? My son has had that for his processing issues. The medication is what makes me apprehensive about this treatment. I’m not saying my son would need medication or anyone else should not take medications. I just think Manufactured medications treats the symptom .. Any holistic treatments, including non medication treatments , food, nutrition, therapists, massages, holistic herbal remedies I’m always going to say yes. The body has an inate way of healing itself. Hopefully Bill is able to live without the medications.

    Comment by Diedre Dargan — January 5, 2018 @ 7:44 AM

  17. Lamictal does NOT treat the cause of left temporal lobe destruction, nor does it repair the damage. HBOT, PEMF, along with multiple different GABA foods and supplements, peptide therapy (BPC-153) and Synapsin would actually regrow the injured left temporal lobe. Lamictal only treats the symptoms, but does NOT repair the brain, and it has multiple side effects. I thought your center practiced functional medicine, or at least some integrative medicine. Too Bad.

    Comment by Harriet McCoy — January 5, 2018 @ 8:32 AM

  18. I am very happy for Bill, truly. But I suspect his parents – who were also able to send him to Yale, were able to easily pay the $4,000 needed for the Spect evaluation.
    Amen clinic, you need to offer insurance subsidies or scholarships for your services, not just some payment plan through CareCredit, etc…I would love to visit your clinic for evaluation but cannot handle the cost.

    P.S. Ironically enough I take Lamictal and have been trying to get off it for years. It is one of the most hellish meds to wean off. To date, I have not been able to do so in spite of many attempts.

    Comment by PB — January 5, 2018 @ 8:48 AM

  19. If Bill attempted suicide and came to you for help, why didn’t he have the SPECT treatment right away instead of putting him on medication like any other doctor would do. He could’ve actually committed suicide before getting that SPECT assessment. I don’t understand. Please explain that.

    Comment by Giovanni — January 5, 2018 @ 8:55 AM

  20. For every story like this one, I wish you would offer up a similar story with a negative outcome like my brother who never had brain imaging done, sustained nearly a dozen head injures since age 6 from car accidents/sports, was on a cocktail of psychotropic meds as well as seeing two therapists when he fatally shot himself at age 48. I was trying to get him to agree to a SPECT several months before he died and begged him not to accept any more meds without looking at his brain first. I was not heard. Stories lke this one are hard to read.

    Comment by Maria — January 5, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

  21. Can I being seen by dr amen team doctors with a SPec done outside by Mayo Clinic in Rochester?

    Comment by Mariana — January 5, 2018 @ 4:32 PM

  22. My son is 44 years old and after doing drugs in high school and then in college he was diagnosed with symptoms of schizophrenia……do you see any value in getting a brain scan for him …please advise

    Comment by rita lutzer — January 5, 2018 @ 9:45 PM

  23. I really would have liked to understand how Lamictal healed the brain so that the other methods—the nutritional supplements, lifestyle management, counseling, psychotherapy, or antidepressant medication—could then support the healing.

    Also, I do wonder why the brain imaging wasn’t done first?? I didn’t realize Amen clinics would offer treatments that didn’t use the SPECT imaging as the basis of the treatment plan.

    Comment by J. Bryant — January 6, 2018 @ 7:49 AM

  24. I am 76. a retired teacher NYC and am having severe emotional issues.
    In the NYC vicinity, are there Amen clinics for spect analysis? Are costs prohibited?

    Comment by Ken Pollock — January 6, 2018 @ 12:28 PM

  25. My daughter suffers from bipolar 2, left temporal lobe seizures, and depression and anxiety. Although lamictal worked great for her at first, after about 6 months, it seemed to trigger a severe immune deficiency that continues to affect her today. She now takes Depakote to control seizures and for mood stabilization. Lamictal can be a wonder-drug for many but it wasn’t in our case. 🙁

    Comment by SharonE — January 6, 2018 @ 1:26 PM

  26. I have frontal lobe damage and shrinkage of my brain due to a skull fracture with CSF leak from my right ear. Would Lamictal help me? I suffer with short term memory loss and depression and anxiety. Cognitive therapy was suggested , but I couldn’t afford the time away from work. The mentioned injury took place in 1984.

    Comment by Sherrill Wilson — January 7, 2018 @ 9:38 AM

  27. I am confused by the article as I thought that SPECT imaging was always part of the intake diagnosis protocol for people working with the Amen Clinics. Every article, book or lecture I have read or heard from Dr Amen is base on how using SPECT imaging helped get to the root cause of an issue (or issues). Why wasn’t SPECT utilized on his intake?

    Comment by Maria — January 8, 2018 @ 10:31 AM

  28. I started having seizures 4 months ago, due a car accident I had 41 years ago. I am taking lamictal since 3 months ago, and I have a lot of anxiety now. I would love to go to Amen clinic but can not afford the SPECT Image. Is there any other way to have the SPECT done and have a diagnosis?

    Comment by Maria — January 9, 2018 @ 5:16 PM

  29. Hello Maria, thank you for reaching out to us. If you’re able to, please call to speak to a Care Coordinator about treatment options as well as financing options. We can be reached at 888-288-9834 or you can submit a form to get a response –

    Comment by Amen Clinics — January 10, 2018 @ 8:44 AM

  30. Lamictal is commonly used in depression. It is a mood stabilizer. It has nothing to do with brain damage anywhere in the brain. SPECT is the wrong way to diagnose structural brain damage. It has radiation. You should use MRI. Wow. So much misinformation. I am a neurologist and psychiatrist.

    Comment by Not Correct — July 13, 2018 @ 5:23 PM

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