What Imaging Has Taught Us About Brain Health and Mental Illness

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Today psychiatrists still make diagnosis like they did in 1940. It's very disturbing when you think about it. Psychiatric diagnosis are made by talking to people looking at something closest, and because of that they are hurting people left and right. I mean there's a reason that psychiatric meds all of them have black box warnings.

It's because they hurt people, and what I discovered in 1991, if we use imaging on a regular basis that those bad outcomes are a lot less frequent. So I realized, up until that time, I was flying blind. And because I was flying blind, I hurt people. You know somebody come in with all the symptoms of ADD.

Shortness attention span, destructibility, restlessness, impulse control and I put one person on a stimulant, it was like a miracle, from dizzy nerve stays and beefs, incredible. But I put another person who had exactly the same symptoms on [xx] and they become suicidal, and I'm like, what's the difference? And so when I started imaging, I could see the difference, one had low activity in their brain, one had high activity.

Even though they had the same symptoms and I realized how do I know unless I look? So we do a study called brain SPECT imaging. SPECT it stands for Single Photon Emission computed demography. So we get a 3D look at how the brain functions. It specifically looks at blood flow, and activity patterns and it's really easy to understand, because it basically shows three things, areas of brain that work well, areas of brain that are low in activity, and areas of brain that are high in activity.

My first 10 cases with SPECT totally hooked me. I mean I had one woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It is bilateral. The back half of your brain deteriorates. She didn't have that at all. That her emotional worked too hard and then down anti-depressant she lost her Alzheimer's disease and got her memory back.

And another woman who had suicidal depression, and wasn't responding to medication, and when I scanned her we discovered she had two huge right hemisphere strokes and the reason that's really important, is to prevent the third stroke from happening that would kill her. How can it be Science, if you don't actually look at the organ that you're treating? What we're trying to do is actually add science on a practical day to day clinical basis is if you're struggling and the simple things aren't getting you better, we want to look, because some of the big lessons I've learnt from looking, mild traumatic brain injury ruins peoples' lives and nobody knows about it, why? Because they go see a psychiatrist.

Because they are depressed, they have temper problems, they can't concentrate, they have marital problems, and the psychiatrist because he doesn't know enough to say, well, let's rehabilitate that injury, because often people will not report it or forget it. What we do for you it doesn't work for you, well it's because you have bad personality, I hate that.

I mean, what's the organ of personality. It is your brain, and if your brain is not right, your personality is not right, but does that mean I should put you in psychotherapy for a long time? I'm not opposed to psychotherapy, but let's try to rehabilitate your brain first.