Finding the Root Cause of Depression for Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

Mental health problems are often challenging to diagnose. Depression is a very common mental illness that can be related to many conditions so proper diagnosis and treatment involves discovering the root cause of the depression within a given person’s brain.

For example, despite these two patients having the same common symptoms of depression, you can see in the SPECT scans below how radically different the brain activity is in these two depressed individuals.


Scan and Dx from Amen Clinics

The root causes of these two depressed brains are very different. What would help the depressed person on the left where there is very little activity in their brain is not what would help the depressed person on the right whose brain is overactive. These are reflections of only two of the 7 possible brain patterns one sees in depression. Anxiety and depression are closely related. Amen Clinics often views these two mental health issues as two sides to the same problem, categorizing them together into 7 types.

As an affiliate of the Amen Clinics, my approach to determining the root cause of your depression includes an advanced assessment:

• I begin by our taking the time in sessions to explore your specific biological, psychological,
   social and spiritual influences.
• Next, I invite you to complete pencil and paper neuropsychological tests to measure various
   aspects of your brain function. The root of your depression within your brain will be explained
   to you.
• If indicated, I may refer you for have two brain SPECT scans at the Amen Clinics in Encino: one
   at rest and one during concentration.
• If deemed necessary I may also refer you to have certain lab tests to rule out nutritional
   deficiencies, hormone imbalances, toxicity, etc.
• Finally you and I will develop an individualized treatment plan that includes:
   – A Brain Health plan to boost brain reserve[1] that so you will have the energy to do what you need
     to do to get better
   – Recommendations for diet, exercise and supplements so your brain has the needed fuel to function
      healthfully
   – Tools for coping with stress
   – Counseling tailored to help you use your brain to heal your depressed brain.
     If medication or changes in your medication are needed I recommend working with a
     with a psychiatrist.

Depression Symptoms

Depression is not the same as situational sadness, however, grief can send a person into a deep depression.. Losing a loved one, suffering a chronic illness, enduring a sudden injury, enduring a life-threatening trauma to self or others places immense emotional burdens on your system that cause so much stress to the body that they can bring on depression. These are some of the most common symptoms our work together can address:

• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness or pessimism
• Decreased appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
• Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling “slowed down”
• Disruption in sleep patterns
• Persistent sad or negative mood
• Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities
• Restlessness, irritability or excessive crying
• Frequent feelings of nervousness or anxiety
• Excessive fear of being judged or scrutinized by others
• Being easily startled or tendency to freeze in anxiety provoking or intense situation
• Shyness, timidity and getting easily embarrassed
• Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

Identifying your symptoms of depression and anxiety is the start to finding the root cause.
 If you are suffering from depression I look forward to the chance to work with you to create an enjoyable future.

If you are interested in any subject on this site, please contact me.


[1]Brain reserve is the function and tissue that enables us to deal with whatever stress comes our way. When we’re born, we typically have a lot of brain reserve, especially if our parents took good care of themselves before and during pregnancy. If we aren’t very careful, life steals our reserve (stress, brain injuries, lousy diets, etc.). At some point, either due to bad habits or aging, brain reserve becomes depleted and symptoms develop (memory problems, depression, fatigue, irritability, etc.) We work together to boost your brain reserve by starting to really care about your brain, learning to avoid anything that hurts your brain’s ability to function well and adopting regular healthy brain habits.” Dr. Daniel Amen, Amen Clinics