The Amen Clinics Method represents a true paradigm shift in terms of psychiatric evaluations. It is based on groundbreaking brain imaging research showing that mental health issues are in fact brain health issues. At Amen Clinics, we have built the world’s largest database of functional brain scans related to how people think, feel, and behave. Our brain imaging work has completely disrupted how we evaluate, diagnose, and treat our patients.
✓ Problems are seen as medical, not moral
✓ Decreases stigma, shame, and guilt
✓ Increases compassion and forgiveness from families
✓ Elevates hope
✓ Increases compliance as people want better brains
WHY OTHER PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATIONS OFTEN FAIL
Psychiatry is the only medical field that does NOT look at the organ they treat. Think about it, if you have crushing heart pain, your doctor will scan your heart. But if you have crushing depression, no one will ever look at your brain.
As a general rule, psychiatry continues to be practiced the same way it was over 100 years ago. Basically, you go to a mental health professional or your primary care physician, who will ask about your symptoms, form a diagnosis based on symptom clusters, then prescribe one or more psychiatric medications that may or may not work. It’s like throwing darts in the dark at the problem.
Too often, patients will spend months or even years going through several healthcare professionals and multiple prescriptions before they find relief—if at all. Treatment success rates have not improved in decades, even though technology and science have progressed dramatically.
Without looking at the brain with functional brain imaging tools, clinicians will never be able to know the underlying brain health of the people they treat. So, they can’t sufficiently evaluate the root cause of your symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis. And they can’t adequately evaluate which type of treatment would be most effective for you. This leads to a lot of unnecessary suffering.
4 WAYS THE AMEN CLINICS PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION IS DIFFERENT
In order to accurately diagnose and successfully treat mental health/brain health conditions, we perform a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation that involves taking a 360-degree look at the whole person. This includes 4 important aspects:
- Understanding the 4 circles (biological, psychological, social, and spiritual influences)
- Brain SPECT imaging
- Neuropsychological testing
- Lab tests (when necessary)
1. How the 4 Circles Influence Mental Health/Brain Health
At Amen Clinics, we take a balanced and all-encompassing approach to assessment and healing. As part of our psychiatric evaluation process, we look at the following 4 circles, all of which can have a meaningful impact on your mental health/brain health.
- Biological: We will assess how your physical body and brain function, including your genetics, any illnesses or chronic conditions, any head injuries or concussions, exposure to any toxins, lifestyle habits, diet, exercise, and more.
- Psychological: We will explore your thinking patterns, developmental issues, and any emotional traumas you have experienced.
- Social: We will delve into your social support network and look at the nature of your relationships with family, friends, coworkers, or schoolmates. Do your relationships add stress to your life? Do you feel connected to others or do you feel isolated?
- Spiritual: We will search for what’s important to you and what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. It’s important for you to know why you care and what is motivating you to get healthy.
2. How Brain Scans Help You Get a More Accurate Diagnosis and More Effective Treatment
How can we know what is going on inside your brain unless we look? The brain imaging technology we use at Amen Clinics is called SPECT and it tells us 3 important things:
- Areas of the brain that work well.
- Areas of the brain that don’t work hard enough.
- Areas of the brain that work too hard.
SPECT brain scans provide extremely valuable insight. They connect the dots between your brain function, behaviors and symptoms, which helps our doctors create an individualized treatment plan that is effectively targeted to meet your needs.
Our brain imaging work has also helped identify patterns in the brain that are associated with mental health conditions. It shows that mental illnesses are NOT simple or single disorders. One size does NOT fit all. Treatment that works for one person won’t work for everybody, and it could even make you worse!
Brain scans can reveal damage from head trauma, even if you never blacked out and were never diagnosed with a concussion. Head injuries put you at greater risk for anxiety and depression, ADD/ADHD, PTSD, addiction, and memory problems. But if nobody ever looks at your brain, they can’t know that these conditions are related to past head trauma. To overcome these conditions, you must heal your damaged brain. Psychiatric medications alone won’t work!
With the world’s largest database of functional brain scans — 150,000 and growing — from patients from all 50 states and 120 countries, our physicians are able to more accurately evaluate and diagnose patients. The ability to identify the specific type of a mental health/brain health condition and to see evidence of head trauma (or toxic exposure or infection) also makes our physicians better able to target more effective treatment to your needs.
3. How Neuropsychological Testing Reveals Cognitive Issues
An important part of the psychiatric evaluation at Amen Clinics involves the use of two neuropsychological tests (Conner’s Continuous Performance Test-II and WebNeuro), which give us additional insights into how your brain functions.
- The Conner’s Continuous Performance Test-II helps to assess focus, response speed, and impulse control.
- WebNeuro measures domains of function in thinking, feeling, emotion, and self-regulation. It includes tests for mood, anxiety, attention, and memory.
4. How Diagnostic Labs Offer Insights into Biological Issues that Affect Mental Health/Brain Health
Your overall biological wellness plays a powerful role in your mental health/brain health. For example, if your hormones are out of balance, your mood and mental clarity will be out of balance too—and no amount of antidepressants or stimulants are going to help!
When appropriate, we will order a set of diagnostic lab tests to measure your important health numbers. Depending on your individual needs, we may also order genetic testing or more extensive lab work.
PERSONALIZED PRECISION PSYCHIATRY—WE TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF PSYCHIATRY
At Amen Clinics, we understand that no two people are alike, and no two brains are alike. Based on the findings of your psychiatric evaluation, our doctors will provide you with a personalized treatment plan to address your individual symptoms and optimize your brain health. We use the least toxic, most effective solutions that are proven to produce higher than average success rates. This may include a combination of the following:
- Nutritional Supplements
- Nutritional Interventions
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Integrative medicine
- Scan-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation
- And more
This approach has proven successful in treating people with a variety of conditions, including:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Behavioral Problems Bipolar Disorder
- Brain Toxicity and Infection
- Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Lyme Disease
- Marital Conflict
- Memory Problems and Dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease)
- Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sleep Troubles
- Weight Loss and Nutrition Issues
Amen Clinics have one of the highest published success rates for complex patients who, on average, have failed 3.3 providers and 5 medications.