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Treatment-Resistant Conditions

Why do some people get better from mental health treatment, but others don’t? Sadly, far too many people who seek help for their symptoms don’t respond to front-line treatments. Despite prescriptions medications and other therapies, they don’t get relief from their mood swings, emptiness, nervousness, anger, inattention, or other symptoms. And in some cases, they continue to suffer, even after trying multiple medications and therapies. It doesn’t have to be this way.


Treatment resistance is seen in people with many mental health disorders, including:


There are a number of reasons why people may not get well when treated for psychiatric symptoms. Some of the more common causes are outlined here:

Misdiagnosis: Unfortunately, traditional psychiatry remains the only medical specialty that rarely looks at the organ it treats. In conventional psychiatry, diagnoses are typically made based on symptom clusters, but because so many of the symptoms overlap with multiple mental health conditions, misdiagnosis is common. Without an accurate diagnosis, treatment usually consists of throwing darts in the dark. Healthcare professionals are quick to prescribe medications that may work for some people but can make other people worse!

Co-occurring conditions: Having multiple mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, or also suffering from substance abuse can make it difficult for traditional healthcare providers to make an accurate diagnosis.

Ignoring subtypes: At Amen Clinics, our brain imaging work shows that mental health conditions aren’t single or simple disorders. Based on our brain imaging work, we have identified 7 types of anxiety and depression, 7 types of ADD/ADHD, and 6 types of brain patterns associated with addiction. Giving everybody with depression the same treatment will never work. Knowing your type is critical to getting the most effective treatment.

Lack of compliance: Some patients have difficulty following a treatment plan, which prevents them from getting well. In some cases, this may be due to underlying brain issues that hamper their ability to plan and follow through. In other cases, it may be related to the stigma attached to taking psychiatric medication.

Intolerance to medication: Side effects associated with prescription medication may be so bothersome to certain individuals that they stop taking them.

Lack of social support: In order to get well, it’s important to have a solid support network. People who don’t have family or friends who are willing to help them in the healing process may have a more difficult time on the path to wellness.

Underlying risk factors: Traditional mental healthcare professionals may also miss underlying biological issues that can mimic or contribute to psychiatric symptoms. We have identified 11 risk factors that can create symptoms of mental illness. We use the mnemonic BRIGHT MINDS to make it easy to remember these risk factors:

B is for problems with Blood Flow
R is for Retirement/Aging
I is for Inflammation
G is for Genetics (family history)
H is for Head Trauma
M is for Mind-Storms
I is for Infections/Immunity
N is for Neurohormones
D is for Diabesity
S is for Sleep

Eliminating or minimizing your risk factors can help alleviate symptoms associated with mental health problems.


When you go months or years without getting the relief you want from your symptoms, it can be demoralizing. It may make you feel like a failure, or feel sad, frustrated, and hopeless. Not responding to treatment for a mental health condition can have devastating consequences. In fact, people with treatment-resistant anxiety have the highest rate of suicide attempts of any mental health disorder, according to findings in Molecular Psychiatry.


Even if you’ve tried medication, tried therapy, or tried other treatments, and they haven’t worked for you in the past, there is still hope. It starts with getting an accurate diagnosis. At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose and treat our patients. Brain scans help us better understand how the brain works and can help by:

  • Helping identify the subtype of depression, anxiety, and other conditions
  • Finding out if there are other co-occurring conditions that also need treatment
  • Detecting underlying issues, such as a traumatic brain injury
  • Reducing emotional pain and stigma by demonstrating that symptoms and behaviors are not a personal failure
  • Increasing treatment compliance by showing images of your progress
  • Monitoring how well treatment is working so adjustments can be made for faster healing
  • Helping families gain a better understanding of their loved one’s condition

At Amen Clinics, we also assess cognitive function and perform lab testing to assess the 11 BRIGHT MINDS risk factors to determine if underlying biological issues—such as Lyme disease, toxic mold, or hormonal imbalances—are contributing to your symptoms. In addition to investigating possible biological causes of symptoms, we look at the psychological, social, and spiritual factors that may be contributing to your symptoms and offer strategies to optimize these areas of your life.

In treating our patients, we believe in using the least toxic, most effective treatments and strategies to enhance your brain health and overall wellness. We provide you with a personalized treatment plan that’s targeted to your brain and individual needs. Recommendations may include a combination of different treatments, such as helpful forms of psychotherapy, medications (when necessary), integrative medicine (also known as functional medicine), hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, scan-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation, memory rescue, hormone replacement therapy, interactive metronome training, brain health nutrition coaching, IV nutrient therapy, natural supplements, exercise, and more.

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