What Doctors Can’t Tell You About Your Depression, Anxiety, or Anger

What Doctors Can’t Tell You About Your Depression, Anxiety, or Anger

Experienced mental health professionals can tell if someone is likely to have clinical depression, anxiety disorders, or anger issues. By asking about a person’s symptoms, they may recognize symptom clusters associated with ADD/ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or bipolar disorder.

However, what most psychiatrists and psychologists cannot do—and will never be able to do—is to know the underlying brain biology of the patients they treat. That’s because most mental health professionals don’t use functional brain imaging as part of their evaluation process.

Why is this so important?

In this blog, you’ll discover how functional brain imaging can help you find out what’s causing your mental health symptoms, so you can get the most effective treatment plan for your needs.

Functional brain imaging can help you find out what’s causing your mental health symptoms and which treatments will be most effective for you. Click To Tweet


Without using functional brain scans—such as SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) or QEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram)—your doctor cannot tell if your inattention, depression, compulsions, mood swings, or aggression is from:

  • Seizure activity
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • A genetic abnormality
  • Undiagnosed sleep apnea
  • Blood sugar abnormalities
  • A premature aging process
  • Infections, such as Lyme disease
  • Low blood flow from vascular disease
  • A brain that is working too hard and needs to be calmed down
  • A brain that is not working hard enough and needs to be stimulated
  • An inflammatory process, related to low omega-3 fatty acids or gut problems
  • Lasting physical trauma from a car accident or from playing football in high school
  • Toxic exposure from carbon monoxide or mold exposure, which needs to be treated

If mental health professionals don’t look at the brain, they are unnecessarily flying blind. That can lead them to miss important diagnoses, give the wrong treatment plan, and hurt the people they are entrusted to help.


Jason is a prime example of how not looking at the brain can be life-threatening. He was 18 and in his first year in college at the University of Rhode Island when he first started hearing voices and having visual hallucinations.

Based on his symptoms, the university psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia and told his parents he would need to be on antipsychotic medication for the rest of his life. But the medication triggered suicidal thoughts.

Horrified, his mother called Amen Clinics, where Jason underwent a functional brain-imaging study.

Jason’s SPECT scan showed evidence of a past brain injury affecting his left temporal lobe, which when damaged is often involved in mood instability, dark thoughts, and hallucinations. It also showed low activity in his frontal lobes (where focus, forethought, and planning occur).

When he was 5 years old, Jason jumped headfirst into an empty bathtub and was unconscious for a brief period. He also had sustained several concussions from wrestling and playing soccer.

Since the age of 5, Jason had struggled with low-grade depression. His symptoms worsened when he was 12 years old and experienced bullying at school.

While at college, Jason started hearing voices. They constantly made mean comments about him and others. Often, the voices would speak at the same time. In addition, he began seeing gory visions of his own death, including being strangled by a snake.

After a comprehensive evaluation at Amen Clinics, including his personal history, SPECT brain scans, neuropsychological assessments, and more, his diagnosis changed.

Jason didn’t have schizophrenia. Rather, he had experienced a psychotic depression, which had been made worse by the prior brain injury, undisciplined thought patterns, and chronic stress.

Jason stopped taking his antipsychotic medication and began supporting his brain recovery with healing nutrients and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). He also did multiple sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to help heal his prior brain injury.

Within 4 months, Jason was remarkably improved and the following year he was back at school. If no one had ever looked at his brain and put him on a more effective treatment plan, his life would have been very different.


Functional brain imaging takes psychiatry from a generalized symptom-cluster diagnostic and treatment specialty without any biological evidence to a more objective specialty, one that is solidly based on using state-of-the-art brain mapping tools to help optimize the patient’s brain function.

Besides completely changing the way mental health professionals diagnose mental health disorders, functional imaging leads to completely different treatment protocols to improve brain function.

By finding the root causes of your symptoms—such as exposure to toxic mold, Lyme disease, or a past head injury—you can get more targeted treatment that works.

For example, if your depressive symptoms are related to toxic mold exposure, it’s unlikely that antidepressant medications are going to help. Unless you eliminate the mold, you’re going to continue struggling with low moods.

Similarly, if Lyme disease is causing psychotic episodes, but you’re diagnosed with schizophrenia, antipsychotics won’t work. You have to treat the underlying infection.

When brain scans help a psychiatrist get to the root causes, you’re more likely to feel better faster.

Looking at the brain also leads to more natural strategies to treat mental health conditions. Seeing areas of the brain that are either overactive or underactive helps physicians pinpoint lifestyle habits to optimize brain function.

If you’re struggling with mental health symptoms that aren’t responding to traditional treatments or psychiatric medications, it’s a good idea to consider a brain scan. Additional biological information can be so helpful in discovering why you feel depressed, anxious, angry, or unfocused. And it can give you a clearer roadmap to healing.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.



  1. My grandson is suffering from depression, he says he hears voices in his head. He was also bullied in jr. high. I’m very worried about him . He can’t work because of the panic attacks he gets. He also tried college but couldn’t make it after a couple of weeks. He never really played sports. Was never interested in it. He is angry and not modevatated todo anything except play video games . His Mom is a single mom and is really concerned. Now he is 20, and can’t hold a job . His panic attacks are to hard to handle. He does see a therapist, but many times he cancels . He says they don’t help. We are very worried about him . What can we do ? We are at a stand still.

    Comment by Elia — February 26, 2020 @ 5:16 AM

  2. I have been diagnosed as having Bipolar Depression. I’ve had depression since i was a child. Trauma is part of the reason I was so depressed at a young age. I was also bullied growing up. Now I’m experiencing memory loss at the age of 56. I think I’ve always had it to some degree. I never could learn in school because I couldn’t focus. I am taking fluoxetine and Olanzapine currently. I hit my head against the concrete of a silo. I remember my Kindergarten teacher writing on a report card say Rhonda doesn’t seem to pay attention. Through school I had a hard time reading. My family tells me I repeat myself over and over. I’m scared that I could have Dementia. I hope you can help, but I can’t pay your fees. I might be able to get to your office.

    Rhonda Crane

    Comment by Rhonda — February 26, 2020 @ 7:49 AM

  3. Do you respond to comments ?

    Comment by MARY Ramirez — February 26, 2020 @ 8:44 AM

  4. There is something wrong. I have mood swings, hurt the person closest to me, was abused as a child, but never told anyone but my cousin and husband. I had a severe head trauma three years ago. I just want the depression gone along with the anxiety. I’m not on any medication.

    Comment by Nancy Beaulieu — February 26, 2020 @ 9:19 AM

  5. I have a daughter that has suffered for years with depression she is 23 years old. I see an AMEM clinic in Washington state do they take State health insurance? How much is a SPECT ? and treatments to follow?

    Comment by Martin — February 26, 2020 @ 10:23 AM

  6. I think part of the problem is the cost of getting a scan, out of pocket is very expensive. It’s very sad that our medical care is driven by the pharmaceutical companies because of $$$$$

    Comment by Patricia — February 26, 2020 @ 11:38 AM

  7. How much does the Spec testing cost?

    Comment by Vicki Grieshaber — February 26, 2020 @ 12:08 PM

  8. Hello Vicki, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with information on our consultations and evaluations.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2020 @ 12:26 PM

  9. Hello Martin, thank you for reaching out. Yes, we have a clinic in Bellevue, WA (https://amenclinics.com/locations/seattle-metro-area/). Reimbursement by insurance companies varies according to your plan. Amen Clinics, Inc. is an out-of-network provider. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to reach out to you to discuss insurance, reimbursement and financing options. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2020 @ 12:28 PM

  10. Hello Nancy, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. We’d be happy to contact you directly to discuss your symptoms and offer resources.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2020 @ 12:29 PM

  11. Hello Mary, yes we do. How can we help you today? You can also reach out to us with the form on this page: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2020 @ 12:29 PM

  12. Hello Rhonda, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. We’d be happy to contact you directly to discuss insurance, reimbursement, financing options and any other resources we can offer you. We do have 8 clinic locations – https://amenclinics.com/locations/. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2020 @ 12:31 PM

  13. Hello Elia, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. We’d be happy to contact you directly to discuss your grandson further and provide information on our treatments and services. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2020 @ 12:34 PM

  14. I have noticed in the Neuropsych textbooks there are a number of brain imaging options mentioned, but SPECT is conspicuously absent. Why is this?

    Comment by Jeanne Meyer — February 26, 2020 @ 7:36 PM

  15. Hello Jeanne, we have many published research studies for your reference:

    These studies can be found in detail on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ by searching SPECT.

    Thank you for reaching out!

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 27, 2020 @ 6:29 AM

  16. I had to drop out of nursing school 2 times related to health issues. Unfortunately, upon returning I learned that studying nutrition was no longer emphasized since it was not where things were headed in medicine. This upset me because I had grown up with a father who always said, “You are what you eat.” Anyway, I have learned from reading that our politicians were influenced heavily by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries starting in the 70’s. I only wish I had known about the Amen Clinics and SPECT scans as I could have gotten help back in the early 90″s and alleviated much investigation and searching for help.

    Comment by alice — February 27, 2020 @ 7:05 AM

  17. I suffered a head injury during a car accident at age 16. I went unconscious for moments after, then came to with a profuse nosebleed and a terrible headache.A drunk driver had hit us from behind at 50 kms. at a set of lights.I never was helped by any doctor in follow-up care.
    I could not concentrate or learn at school from grade 10 and up and had bouts of depression for years after. I am so desperate for genuine help! Now, I experience big mood swings and emotionally tense interactions with close family.
    I tried to get psychiatric help but have been wrongly diagnosed a number of times.Is there anyone who will read this able to please point me in the right direction for me to get genuine help?Thank you.

    Comment by Mariette — February 29, 2020 @ 10:25 AM

  18. How is the SPECT scan different from the QEEG?
    Which one is better?

    Comment by Tessa — March 15, 2020 @ 1:39 PM

  19. Hello Tessa, here are some additional articles for you:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 16, 2020 @ 6:57 AM

  20. my son has been diagnosed with many different mental health illnesses since 12 years old. now 22. Currently it is schizophrenia but seems to be changing once again. his Dr now is saying he has never seen anything like it and needs to search for some advice and wants him to get some neuro testing done. I am in Australia so can’t come to you as much as I would love that to happen. My question is could you please suggest what tests I should push for.
    I feel so scared and desperate, this has been such a long hard journey for us all and I feel no one ever listens to me. This is the first time any Dr has considered imaging and testing so I don’t want to miss this opportunity.
    Please help
    thank you

    Comment by debra — July 17, 2020 @ 10:49 PM

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