Study reports 79% of diagnosis and/or treatment would have been different after the clinicians reviewed SPECT images .

Can you name a medical profession that prescribes medication or treatment without looking at the organ it treats? Psychiatry is the unfortunate answer, but here at the Amen Clinics we’re changing that.

Recently a new study titled “Specific Ways Brain SPECT Imaging Enhances Clinical Psychiatric Practice” was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, an authoritative peer-reviewed periodical containing timely information of a multidisciplinary nature for clinicians and other professionals in the drug abuse field.

The study revealed how brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging can help clinicians more accurately diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental conditions by looking at the organ responsible for the decision-making, behaviors and overall cognitive functioning.

Co-authored by Dr. Amen, Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D. and Joseph Anniballi, M.D., the study asked seven board certified psychiatrists to evaluate 109 patients’ files—without the SPECT images—and give their professional diagnosis and recommended treatment.  After they saw the SPECT scans, 79% of the diagnosis and/or treatment would have been different.  Additionally 22% of the patients showed unexpected brain injury, toxicity and 60% showed new targets for medication or supplements.

The SPECT images help the clinician understand where the brain is not functioning properly so they can give a more accurate diagnosis and treatment offering.

In our study, the use of SPECT neuroimaging modified the diagnostic thinking and led clinicians to make different, specific treatment recommendations in a high percentage of cases.

Brain SPECT imaging is a form of neuroimaging that reveals the underlying physiology of emotional, behavioral and cognitive disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADD, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, addiction, autism, seizures, strokes, toxic exposure, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • maria

    Where can I get a SPECT scan in Miami?

  • maria

    I’m in Miami. Where can I get a SPECT scan?

  • dennise

    Could this also help with treatments for head tremors?Thanks

  • Donna

    This is great, I hope that more doctors will use this information and that the technology will be more available. Being one of the many uninsured in the country we are working hard to be able to afford this treatment for our adult son…we know it would change his life. Keep up the good work!

    Many blessing to you,

  • Karen

    Are there any providers in the Chicao Metro area that will perform a spect iamge of the brain?

  • Michael

    Having been misdiagnosed and treated for years with useless drugs, I’m both amazed and angered at the doctors that treated me. I have been using the suggestions put forth by Dr Amen for some time now, and am experiencing a remarkable result. I feel let down by the medical profession.

  • David Selden

    Is SPECT available in my area and what is the approximate cost for a scan, diagnosis and treatment? I have been following the healthy lifestyle (exercise, meditation, proper eating (paleo diet) and use supplements. Psychotherapy was not much help. I still have issues, I can’t shake….
    David, from Boulder, CO

  • David Mackey

    Dr. Amen – How can folks such as myself who don’t live nearly any of your clinics find practices that perform SPECT scans like yours? I’d love to see a referral list posted somewhere on your site to other clinicians, even if you can’t personally recommend them from first-hand interactions. I’ve never been to a psychiatrist who has offered a SPECT scan.


    how much dollars is the SPECT exam minimum amount?

  • DorothyAnn Giesy

    Will SPECT neuroimaging ever become inexpensive enough to be available to a larger group of the population?

  • Elizabeth Lawrence,MA

    As a therapist, I am always interested in Dr Amen’s work
    Question: If a patient is diagnosed with a personality disorder, will the scan show a different way to treat or point to something that may be the cause??

  • Candy Lynch

    We have two adopted children who are young adults, now. Our son is 17 and our daughter is 19 (an adult, she says). We had the children SPECT scanned about twelve years ago. At that time, their diagnoses were Reactive Attachment Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Our son also had a diagnosis of ADHD. When the children were 11 and 13, we found out that they had Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.. Specifically Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder for our son and Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for our daughter.
    My statement is that, had we known about the alcohol damage that they had had in utero, it would have been tremendously easier to raise them. Would that have been picked up in their SPECT scans if we had known? They have followed the typical behavioral issues and learning issues for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and now, we are struggling
    to release two “children” into the adult world. They have huge safety issues and still do not understand natural consequence results. They just dont “get it”.

    • Elizabeth Lawrence,MA

      I have done healing of memories work with adopted children and releasing emotional atachment to old issues seems to help -I appreciate you response and your sharing of a difficult journey
      I am advising some of my clients to see Dr Amen -Cost is a problem

    • Melissa Dunn


      I am certainly not qualified to answer your question, but my heart goes out to you. One thing I have learned is this: people are not evil, good people make poor choices, and if we had only known then what we now know about the brain and its inner workings, perhaps relationships, marriages, lives could have been spared. Many of our daily choices are due to our unhealthy lifestyles which in turn are due to our lack of knowledge about our minds and bodies. The average person doesn’t even know what a SPECT scan is and its up to people like you and me (and others) to help pass that information along. You are brave parents no doubt – and apparently highly educated and desire a life of wholeness for your family. I will keep your family in my daily prayers. As a matter of fact, I will create a post-it on my computer screen so I won’t forget you!

      All my best to you and yours!
      Melissa Dunn – Fort Worth Texas

    • Melissa Dunn

      Sorry I meant Candy not Cindy – oops!

    • Daniel

      Hello Candy,
      I am going into a social work degree program at a 4 year college and, I have some counseling under my belt already and, I would say congratulations are in order to you both for being aware of and, able to be there for your children and, have a desire to help them as much as you are. I do not know that much about the SPECT process currently but, having been through some tests when I was young myself, I can assure you that it seems you are doing everything you can for them at this point in time.

      One thing I would suggest is helping them to find an outlet to release this energy they have had to grow up with as a result of the FASD. The sooner they have tools available to them to do this, the better there lives will be. I don’t know of any resources to do this right off the top of my head but, I am sure if you do a search on line, you will find something you can use.

      Hope that helps

    • Bosley Hiss

      Hello Candy,

      I’m so sorry about your situation.

      I would suggest checking online for “gut and psychology syndrome”. Also, Amazon for a book with the same title. It has helped lots of children with behavioral problems, also adults with psychological issues.

      Best of luck to you,

  • Nancy Carter

    Hi Dr. Amen,
    I imagine you get many emails as this one yet I feel compelled to ask for your help. I earned a masters degree yet still have challenges in life. My background includes being sober for 25 years from polysub abuse, perhaps addiction, several trauma’s and possible TBI. I was gravely ill with a virus with probably exposure at work while working as a medical laboratory technologist analyzing body fluids where several (5) people fell ill and as far as I know I am the only one returning to work. I was involved in a research project with CDC for 9 years for CFS and also one of the few that returned to work in that study.
    I continue to struggle with memory, weight gain, impulse issues (anger but using very hurtful words with people, no actual physical violence) and this is not my true nature.
    I seem to go into fight or flight abruptly with little control even though I have spent the past nearly three decades working on self improvement, spirituality, betterment of all kinds. I have been Dx with PTSD and anxiety but do not take meds as my chemistry seems contrary to medication therapy for example severe negative reaction to prednisone, morphine, and allergies to codeine, nicintyl, placidyl, ASA, prednisone, ergitol, iodine.
    I have a HSA card with 2K on it and hope I can be seen for SPECT imaging so you can tell me with certainty what is wrong and how to remedy it so I can stop struggling with always trying to get better and enjoy life.
    If you would consider this please contact me at 707 477 3474. Presently I am on short term disability until the end of August due to Morton’s Neuroma, plantar fasciaitis, and micro tears in the achilles tendon due to small spurs.
    I want a better life and have invested more time and money than most, along with clear dedication and perseverance yet know that life can be better and hope you are able to help me.
    I have done okay academically yet wonder how much better I could have done had my brain and body been able to operate at better efficiency and the toll on human emotions. I earned 219 college credits, attended medical assistant school, Clinical Pastoral Education (chaplain intern), trained in myriad alternative or CAM therapies, 25 credits in M. Ed program and completed a MSW. I could have earned a doctorate in something with all the credits yet have 160K student loan debt. I hope to hear back from you.
    Please consider helping me,
    Nancy Carter

  • Tina Poe

    I have a son who has been treated with medications for years and nothing has seem to work.Psychiatrists that he has seen over the years can’t really properly diagnosis him meaning they all have different diagnosis other then ADHD,ODD,ADD, and PTSD.Recently they say personality disorder and or Bipolar with violence.This is a major concern of mine as a parent can’t get the right diagnosis nor treatment for my son is very frustrating.I have followed this clinic and get these stories by e-mail from you.Ialso have always believed if i just could get the SPECT done on him things would be WAY different i think we would find damage and toxic due to over medicated him.I only wish i could get him there and get the test done before something horrible happens. Thank you for these publishings by e-mail and the hard work you do to better understand.

  • Dr. Scott Dollinger

    I’ve been following Dr. Amen’s work for years ever since I skeptically purchased his “six types of ADHD” book with an eye toward trashing it. Instead he converted me with his rational, scientific approach and his commitment to following time honored research methods. I have experienced tremendous, unfounded resistance in the mental health community toward using SPECT scans as a diagnostic and treatment tool. I firmly believe that we could save years of wasted treatment time if we could use SPECT scans routinely. I frequently deal with very complex cases and would love to have access to SPECT data but I can’t find anyone skilled in their use or interpretation to refer to. My practice is in the Chicagoland area.

  • Joan Bunney

    Thank goodness someone is finally investigating, calling-out the dubious practice of Psychiatry dispensing dangerous drugs many times without reason.

    I’m not a member nor do I plan to be, but the Church of Scientology, their decades old research on this subject is reason to investigate what is happening with prescription drug use.

    I do believe we have an epidermic of abuse with pharmaceutical drugs, all ages, all walks of life, that leads to addiction, many of which are prescribed by Psychiatrists. This great grandmother finds it all deeply disturbing.

    Thank you for all you do Dr. Amen.

  • Lisa Clark

    I can empathize with you. I also adopted a child who struggles with the Fetal Alcohol Effects. I had her scanned. It did not show up with that classification rather “Ring of Fire” ADHD at the AMEN Clinic. The council recieved was very good however with her very defiant behavior it has been nearly impossible to keep her on the program and supplements. She is 21 and I recommend getting at least partial guardianship for them. It has been so beneficial as she walks into brick walls so to speak. The Guardianship gives you as parents say in their financial, medical and other areas of life that they are not equipped to deal with at the legal age of 18. First call should be to a family attorney that can help in filing for partial guardianship. Easy procedure just takes 6-12 weeks and about $1200.00 in Utah. Good luck, it is a long and curvy road.


    I live in Elkins Park, PA 19027. Where can I get a SPECT test for my daughter that is not too far away?


    Where can I get a SPECT test for my daughter that is not too far away from where I live? I live in Elkins Park, PA 19027.

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  • Mel Backer

    Dear Sir or Madam:
    I have watched every Dr. Amen PBS program throughtout the years and have bought and read several of his books.
    I have an important question.

  • Shelley

    Just wondering why, if there are scientific studies, has this technology not become standard in mainstream medicine? It would be really nice if insurance would cover these scans.

  • Joanne Halt

    I think there could be tremendous advocacy from the ground up for making SPECT the necessary tool for accurate diagnosis if families of those with chronic psychiatric disability had an educational DVD on SPECT to watch. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has a family to family education course which it offers free of cost, but it would be so enhanced if a segment of the training could include your SPECT pictures. Part of the education is how to do advocacy with psychiatrists on behalf of your patient. Also, just think of the educational efforts at churches and schools if there were a short educational SPECT DVD that could be purchased for under $50 with a script to go with it. You could literally use non-profit venues for teen and adult education with volunteer presenters to get the word out about misdiagnosis and this fabulous tool for making an accurate diagnosis. Families of those with psychiatric disabilities have been waiting for tests like these and know the value, having gone years with hit and miss medications based on observation, self-report and family report instead of hard data. Please enable this Dr. Amen.

  • Anna Rounseville

    Thank you for posting this information, its been interesting catching up on what your research has done. I’m seriously thinking about getting SPECKed myself. It would have to be on the East Coast as I’m in Western NYS. Thanks for doing what your doing.
    Sincerely, Mrs. Anna Rounseville

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    i think you need to talk more about severe OCD and better treatments for it,you don’t realize that alot of people suffer in silence with this disorder that they are now saying it is a biologica disorderl!! This disease is nothing short of HELL ON EARTH

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