Anxiety and depression are not the result of character flaws or personal weakness; they are the result of biological problems in the brain that can be balanced. The Amen Clinics Method represents a true paradigm shift in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Rather than simply mask your symptoms, we will help you learn about, heal and optimize the organ of personality and emotion… your brain.
It is critical to treat anxiety and depression within the context of your life. We will:
“The unfortunate reality is that current medications help too few people to get better and very few people to get well.” —Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute for Mental Health
Having seen tens of thousands of patients at the Amen Clinics, we know that anxiety and depression are not simple disorders.
Pure Anxiety often results from too much activity in the basal ganglia, setting one’s “idle speed” on overdrive. People with pure anxiety often feel a great deal of tension and nervousness, and are overwhelmed by feelings of panic, fear and self-doubt; they tend to predict the worst and look to the future with fear. Their symptoms may be a consistently disruptive problem or may come in unpredictable waves.
Common symptoms of Pure Anxiety include:
Pure Depression often results from excessive activity in the deep limbic system—the brain’s emotional center. People with this type struggle with depressive symptoms that range from chronic mild sadness (dysthymia) to crippling major depression, where it’s difficult to even get out of bed.
Common symptoms of Pure Depression include:
Mixed Anxiety/Depression involves a combination of both Pure Anxiety symptoms and Pure Depression symptoms (listed above). This type shows excessive activity in the brain’s basal ganglia and the deep limbic system. One type may predominate at any point in time, but both symptom clusters are present on a regular basis.
Over-Focused Anxiety/Depression involves excessive activity in the brain’s anterior cingulate gyrus, basal ganglia and/or the deep limbic system. People with this type have trouble shifting attention and often get locked into negative thoughts or behaviors.
When “difficulty shifting” is combined with excessive basal ganglia activity, people get stuck on anxious thoughts. When combined with excessive deep limbic activity, people get stuck on negative and depressing thoughts. Many people get stuck on both anxiety-provoking and depressive thoughts at the same time. This can look like:
Over-focused Anxiety/Depression tends to occur more frequently in children or grandchildren of alcoholics.
Common symptoms of Overfocused Anxiety/Depression include 4 symptoms from Pure Anxiety and/or Pure Depression (listed above), plus at least 4 of the following:
Temporal Lobe Anxiety/Depression is related to too little or too much activity in the temporal lobes, in addition to overactivity in the basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system. The temporal lobes are very important to memory, moods and emotions.
Common symptoms of Temporal Lobe Anxiety/Depression include 4 symptoms from Pure Anxiety and/or Pure Depression (listed above), plus at least 4 of the following:
Cyclic Anxiety/Depression is associated with extremely high activity in the brain’s basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system. These areas of excessive activity act like “emotional seizures” as the emotional centers hijack the brain for periods of time. Those with Type 6 Anxiety/Depression often have little or no control over these intense emotional episodes.
Cyclical disorders, such as bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, premenstrual tension syndrome and panic attacks are part of this category, because they are episodic and unpredictable. A cyclical pattern is the hallmark of this type. Like other types, Cyclic Anxiety/Depression is a spectrum disorder, which means that it can range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of Cyclic Anxiety/Depression include 4 symptoms from Pure Anxiety and/or Pure Depression (listed above) plus periods of time with at least 4 of the following:
Unfocused Anxiety/Depression is associated with low activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in addition to high activity in the basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system. The PFC is the brain’s CEO and helps with the executive functions such as attention, focus, impulse control, judgment, organization, planning and motivation. When the PFC is underactive, people often have problems with these executive functions.
Distinguishing Unfocused Anxiety/Depression from ADD can be difficult because of the similarity in symptoms; however, ADD—in its classic form—starts in childhood and can be seen consistently throughout a person’s life. Unfocused Anxiety/Depression may not arise until later in life, and may be misdiagnosed as Adult ADD.
Symptoms of Unfocused Anxiety/Depression include at least 4 items from the Pure Anxiety and/or Pure Depression symptoms (listed above), plus at least 4 of the following:
Of note: A variant of Unfocused Anxiety/Depression is caused by overall reduced blood flow and activity in the cortex along with too much activity in the basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system. This pattern may be related to a number of factors, such as physical illness, drug or alcohol abuse, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), infections (i.e. Lyme disease), traumatic brain injury or exposure to toxic substances (i.e. environmental or occupational toxins).
Symptoms of this variant include those listed for Unfocused Anxiety/Depression in addition to frequent feelings of sickness, mental dullness, “brain fog” or cognitive impairment.
Even though the 7 types have some symptoms in common, each type also has its own set of symptoms and specific treatments.
One size does not fit all: What works for one person with Anxiety/Depression may not work for another—or could even make the symptoms worse!
The Amen Clinics Method—developed through 26 years of clinical practice—uses a detailed clinical history, SPECT imaging to understand brain function, neuropsychological testing and laboratory studies to target treatment specifically to your brain using the least toxic, most effective means.
Gerard was at his wits end. He had tried everything and more to resolve his depression and anxiety symptoms, without success. After a full evaluation at Amen Clinics, he was able to move beyond desperation and grasping, and into a newfound sense of hope for his brain—and his life.
“I got help here. You can get help too. I felt hopeless, and now I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m going to regain my sanity. I’m going to be the person I was two years ago.” –Gerard