YouTuber Jeff Wittek Sees His Brain Scan After Horrific Accident

Jeff Wittek

YouTube star and vlog squad member Jeff Wittek suffered a horrific injury resulting from a filmed stunt gone wrong. The accident caused severe facial injuries and nearly cost him his eye. Since then, he’s endured several painful surgeries. From the scars on his face, his millions of followers could tell he’d suffered from something terrible, but what people couldn’t see was that he was also suffering on the inside. His mental health began to deteriorate, and he was experiencing a different kind of pain he had never felt before in his entire life—depression, anxiety, and serious emotional stress.

From the scars on his face, YouTuber Jeff Wittek’s millions of followers could tell he’d suffered from something terrible, but what people couldn’t see was that he was also suffering on the inside as his mental health deteriorated. Click To Tweet

A YouTube Stunt Gone Terribly Wrong

“I’m obsessed with my profession,” Jeff said to Daniel G. Amen, MD, when he met with the psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and founder of Amen Clinics. “I just want everything to be perfect. and just be the best I can be when I put out these videos.”

During the pandemic, Jeff turned 30 and had gotten to a point in his professional life where he wanted to create something bigger. “I can’t just be making these silly, stupid videos anymore,” he said. He agreed to do a stunt for a friend’s video that was going to be monumental. It involved an excavator, a massive piece of machinery used in construction that spins. In the middle of a lake, Jeff was going to be dangling on a wakeboard attached to the end of a rope on the excavator’s arm as it spun as fast as possible.

It sounded like a lot of fun—at least for a YouTuber like Jeff who is used to doing crazy stuff most people would never do—until he spun wildly out of control and went flying face-first into the excavator itself.

Jeff broke his hip, had 9 fractures in his skull and face, and had a full orbital blowout fracture. He couldn’t see out of one of his eyes. “Everybody thought I was gonna die,” he recalls. “I was pale white, and I lost a lot of blood.”

His YouTube colleagues and friends put him into a car and rushed him to the hospital. along the way, Jeff tried to pull down the car’s visor, but his friends stopped him. They told him not to look at his face, and that’s when the influencer knew it was bad, really bad. And the 30-year-old had no idea that things were about to get worse.

When the Invisible Struggle Is Worse

As Jeff went through the process to heal from the head trauma and many fractures, he began to notice another side effect of the accident. He started feeling anxious and had a persistent blue mood. “I never thought that depression or anxiety or anything like that was even a real thing,” he admitted. “When I heard people talk about having it, I thought it would just be like, ‘Okay, you’re just a little nervous or something or you’re overreacting.’”

He still has a hard time believing that it could be happening to him. “It’s just something I never expected I would go through,” he said. “I was in jail and I didn’t go through it.”

As the weeks and months passed, things got worse, not better. “It got dark,” he recalled. “A couple months after the accident it was some of the darkest days of my life.”

With all the changes in his mental health, he began to suspect his brain was also affected. That’s when he decided to visit Dr. Amen at Amen Clinics for a brain scan.

What Jeff’s Brain SPECT Scans Reveal

On a scale of 1-10, how bad was Jeff’s brain after the accident? When Dr. Amen told Jeff that his brain was currently a 4 out of 10, it hit hard. “I didn’t think it was that bad,” says Jeff. But the YouTuber’s brain SPECT scans showed why. SPECT is a brain imaging tool that measures blood flow and activity in the brain and it shows 3 things:

  • areas with healthy activity
  • areas with low activity
  • areas with too much activity

 

Jeff’s scan showed abnormal activity in several areas, including the following:

Prefrontal cortex: This part of the brain located behind the forehead, which is where Jeff’s head rammed into the excavator, is involved with planning, impulse control, judgment, organization, learning from the mistakes you make, and more. Jeff’s scan showed low blood flow to this critical brain region, which is considered the part of the brain that makes us human. Dr. Amen explained to Jeff that when you have decreased blood flow here, “You can do things and say things you shouldn’t do.”

Limbic system: The limbic system is involved in setting a person’s emotional tone. On Jeff’s scan, it shows overactivity in this region, which is associated with heightened anxiety and low moods.

“Bumpy” appearance: In healthy SPECT surface scans, there is a smooth, even appearance to the brain. On Jeff’s surface scan, it looks more “bumpy,” which is sometimes a sign of exposure to toxins. Jeff admits that he used to have a problem with booze (he says he stopped drinking 3 years ago), which is commonly associated with “bumpiness” on brain scans. As Dr. Amen explained to him, “Your brain is older than you are.”

Other neurocognitive tests Jeff took at Amen Clinics showed high scores for stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as conscious negativity. This means a negative outlook on life in general.

How Head Trauma Impacts Your Life

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), as well as the surgeries to treat injuries associated with head trauma, can have serious consequences in many areas of your life.

  • General anesthesia: Depression and brain fog are side effects of surgical anesthesia, but surgeons don’t usually talk to patients about these risks. When it happens, people don’t put it together that their issues are related to anesthesia. Jeff underwent general anesthesia 7 times in 8 months, and this may be a contributor to his issues.
  • Hormonal imbalances: In head injuries, the pituitary gland often gets injured. The pituitary gland is responsible for hormone production, and when it is damaged, it can lead to hormonal imbalances. People with head injuries are at risk for problems, such as low testosterone, abnormal thyroid activity, and low levels of other important hormones. These can contribute to anxiety, depression, brain fog, and other symptoms typically associated with psychiatric issues.
  • Mental health issues: Head trauma is one of the major causes of mental health problems, but few people know it. Having experienced a concussion or multiple mild head traumas increase the risk of having depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other issues.
  • Brain fog and memory problems: Having a head injury makes you more likely to feel spacey, forgetful, and dull.

Healing an Injured Brain

On the bright side, it is possible to heal after head trauma. Although Jeff expressed concern about how bad his brain looked, Dr. Amen assured him that his brain wasn’t permanently damaged. And he said that if Jeff followed the recommendations he gave him, he could dramatically improve the health of his brain and decrease his symptoms.

Head injuries, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

10 Comments

  1. Hello.. just wanted to say love you Dr Amen and the work you do. Your amazing, kind and so smart .
    But you need to offer your amazing services to people on a sliding scale payment . 4,000 is a lot to pay and not very many people can afford this and you don’t take insurance . I know you offer financing but what if people can’t even afford the monthly payments or don’t get approved ! To you offer any reduced price programs ? I would like to have my daughter scanned as she has had several car accidents and concussions and my son and I that suffer from anxiety .. but 12,000 or a little less cuz of your family plan is a huge amount .
    I’m not low income but still the 12,000 is a lot …
    So would you ever think of offering your services on a sliding scale ??
    And what about any charity work for low income people ??
    Just asking cuz what you do is so helpful and could help a lot of people besides just the rich !
    Thank you

    Comment by Cathy araya — May 19, 2021 @ 4:10 AM

  2. So glad you’re writing and explaining in detail about this topic, especially for people like Jeff, who never suffered with depression or anxiety. Helping people understand why they feel bad and giving them real hope is a precious gift.

    Comment by Laura Temin — May 19, 2021 @ 7:01 AM

  3. Not only is this so interesting to know about the brain but also so encouraging to be able to heal from injuries! I suspect some people I know may have had damage and don’t relate symptoms to the injuries after having hit their head falling off a bike or even a ladder! I will encourage these people to get checked! I’m happy to offer hope! Thanks for a great post!

    Comment by Maru — May 19, 2021 @ 8:28 AM

  4. That whole discussion and process was so cool. I loved the way you two communicated to come up with a plan and the mutually informative nature of the session.

    Comment by Karen A. Zeiset — May 19, 2021 @ 8:48 AM

  5. Dr. Amen, this is such an important article! Many my patients who develop emotional pain and physical pain after an brain injury often develop shame or guilt, which only spirals them into freeze states reflective of what you have written in your books and highlighted here. Thank you for this eloquentt, concise and informative article . I plan on sharing it with my patients and colleagues.

    Comment by Les — May 19, 2021 @ 12:31 PM

  6. Dear Dr. Amen and Dr. Lowe,

    I was at your New York facility August 2018, for a spect scan and once before I think it was 2004, in the Virginia location .
    I met with Dr. Lowe for the evaluation of the scan and as you know, having a head injury is extremely challenging. I had requested a written report several times from various people and all said that they would speak to Dr.Lowe and have him dictate it. I could not keep up with the information given to me at our visit. I had called and called and was acknowledged and to date have not received a report.

    I struggle every day and it seems as if I am getting worse…I really would appreciate the evaluation of my scans in writing so that I can improve my quality of life.

    Please send a report!

    Thank you,
    Roseann Funicelli

    Comment by Roseann Funicelli — May 19, 2021 @ 2:27 PM

  7. Can you advise the criteria for Dr . Amen to see patients?
    My son had ‘ the whole gamit of tests done’ including scans, took the prescribed supplements, for quite some time, but is still having issues. It has been 5 years. Spent so much money.

    Comment by Slavonia Bonaby — May 19, 2021 @ 10:19 PM

  8. Thank you for reaching out, Roseann. We have shared your message with our Director in New York. She will be reaching out to you about next steps. Sorry to hear of your continued struggles.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 24, 2021 @ 1:12 PM

  9. Hello Slavonia, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly to discuss your son’s evaluation and other ways that we can help. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 24, 2021 @ 1:13 PM

  10. It’s great to see that the patient above is getting the help he needs but i wonder is, if he were not an I glue ver would his story be published on the website? Also, great for him that he’s getting the help he needs because he is able to, how many people can afford to pay the thousands of dollars to evaluate their brain after experiencing a head trauma? I got hit by a car and ended up with four stables on the back of my head and four stitches on my left frontal side of my forehead. After this traumatic experience I experienced mental health problems but unfortunately because I am not rich these services aren’t afforded to me.

    Comment by Talia Suarez — June 3, 2021 @ 9:30 AM

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