For over 100 years traditional psychiatry has worked on the premise that talk therapy alone can diagnose and resolve disorders of the mind, with drugs filling in the gaps in hit-or-miss fashion. While counseling troubled patients certainly has its place and modern pharmacology is often necessary, they are only part of the growing scientific knowledge and resulting treatments available to today’s patient.
Psychiatry has roots extending back to ancient Greece, and through the centuries offered such archaic cures as exorcism and bloodletting, practices that were in use even into the 1900s. In the Middle Ages, lack of scientific understanding of body and brain function often meant that something like depression could be blamed on the supernatural.
Until much more recently, advances in psychiatry have been slow in evolving and often detrimental, with less than optimal understanding of actual brain function. Even while other areas of medical science have shown astounding advances and success rates in both diagnosis and treatment, psychiatric science has changed little in the last 60 years. Many doctors are still prescribing medicines that act in the brain with a “wait and see” method that is prolonged and potentially ineffective like Daniel Amen.
Technology Making The Difference
While nothing can replace an expert clinician’s evaluation of mental health issues, there are a growing number of tools and dedicated scientists who are making the scientific connection between brain and function of the mind.
What if a patient’s problems are due to a brain injury, illness, or chronic condition? How would a clinician even know? This is where scientific research and pioneers are making exciting progress.
Daniel Amen is the nation’s leading scientist and best-selling author in the field of psychiatry and brain imaging. He is the Founder and Medical Director of the renowned Amen Clinics, where finally, technology and psychiatry meet and work synergetically. His work with football players was key in proving that brain injuries and resulting damage are frequent and often treatable.
Dr. Amen’s research into brain imaging has resulted in a reliable approach to resolving mental health issues using the results of functional brain scans that reveal areas of abnormality. Now a patient may clearly see the areas in his or her brain that are causing symptoms. Further investigation includes neurological diagnostics and lab tests, more accurately providing a complete picture of a patient’s overall health. Dr. Amen’s clinics then go on to create a scientific-based treatment plan that addresses the whole person and improves patient’s lives in every aspect; biological, psychological, social and spiritual.
These promising technological developments in psychiatry have been met with overwhelming enthusiasm by both peers and patients and are long overdue.