Doctor Takes a Physiological Approach to Mental Illness

Linda Truong, Staff Writer

From looking at 86,000 CAT scans of the brain in 22 years, Dr. Daniel Amen discovered a major problem within psychiatry and how mental health issues are treated today.

He claimed that psychiatrists diagnose patients with no actual evidence. He basis this on the fact that they virtually never look at the organ that they are trying to treat (the brain) unlike other medical specialists.
Amen wanted a change: He wanted psychiatrists to take a physical approach to treatment and fix the parts of the brain that are affected in the patient. At the time, the public did not respond well to Amen’s approach. A majority believed that psychiatrists should not be involved in the biological aspects of mental health.

He further states that CAT scans are important for patients with mental health issues because there is more to mental health disorders than the general public believes. Amen insists mental health issues like ADHD, depression, etc. include multiple variations of each and should be viewed on a spectrum.

“Treatment needs to be tailored to individual brains not clusters of symptoms,” Amen states.

The example used was between two CATs of two patients with depression. Both scans looked completely different, one had a dramatically higher brain activity than the other. This proves the point that mental health disorders shouldn’t be categorized in a single definition, but treatment should be curated to the individual.

Amen is hoping to make people more functional by directly fixing the brain in the cases of mental health disorders. You can physically change people’s brains, and it could change people’s lives.