VITAL NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR THE BRAIN
Nuclear Imaging of Brains
IMAGES OF Bi-POLAR DISORDER
Bipolar disorder has been characterized by increased activity across the cerebral cortex.
Clinically, during the manic phase the scans often look hyperactive, especially in the lateral frontal cortex, lateral parietal lobes and lateral temporal lobes, focal increased uptake in the limbic system has also been noted. Differentiating the initial onset of bipolar disorder from schizophrenia is often a difficult task in an acutely psychotic individual. In schizophrenia SPECT findings have frequently reported decreased activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex. SPECT studies may provide helpful information in the differential diagnoses of these disorders. In addition, SPECT can provide useful information to patients to significantly improve compliance in disorders where compliance is a frequent serious problem. Here are several examples.
SARAH 53 yr/old
Sarah was fifty-three years old when she was admitted to the hospital under my care. Just the month before her family had her committed to another psychiatric hospital for delusional thinking and bizarre behavior -- she had actually ripped out all the electrical wiring in her home because she heard voices coming from the walls. In addition to the above symptoms, she was barely getting any sleep, her thoughts raced wildly, and she was irritable. In the previous hospital her doctor had diagnosed her with manic-depressive disorder (a cyclical mood disorder). He had placed her on lithium (an anti-manic medication) and an anti-anxiety medication. After responding well, she was sent home. But Sarah, like Leigh Anne, did not want to believe that anything was wrong with her and she stopped taking both medications. Her position was actually fortified by some members of her family who openly told her she didn't need pills, that doctors only prescribe them to force patients into numerous follow-up visits. Yet their advice was ill advised, for within weeks of stopping the treatment, Sarah's bizarre behavior returned. This was when her family brought her to the hospital where I worked. When I first saw Sarah, she was extremely paranoid. Believing that everyone was trying to hurt her, she was always looking for ways to escape the hospital. Again her thoughts were delusional, she believed she had special powers and that others were trying to take them from her. At times, she also appeared very "spacey." In an attempt to understand what was going on with her for myself, and to convince her that her problems were biological, I ordered a SPECT study.
Carrying this out did not prove easy. Our clinic tried to scan her on three separate occasions. The first two times she ripped out the intravenous line saying we were trying to poison her. The third time was a success because her sister went with her and calmed her down by talking her through the experience. While the study revealed an overall increase in activity in the deep limbic system, I found more intensity on the left side of her scan (focal increased deep limbic uptake) and a marked patchy uptake across the cortex. In other words, some areas showed increased activity and some showed decreased. My experience told me that cyclic mood disorders often correlate with focal areas of increased activity in the deep limbic system specifically as well as a patchy uptake across the surface of the brain in general.
For Sarah's family, this was powerful evidence that her problems were biological, so that when she still refused medication, they were now willing to encourage her to go back on it. After she took their advice, her behavior normalized again and once I knew she was feeling better, more in control, I showed her the brain studies. Through a better understanding of the problem she was able to agree to follow-up visits and to stay on her medication until both she and I concurred that she could stop.
Sometimes I'll rescan a patient several months after the first time to see what difference the medication has made on the physiology of his or her brain. Although Sarah's new study showed a vast improvement from her earlier one, I still noticed an area of increased activity in the left temporal lobe, and Sarah was still complaining of symptoms of spaciness. I changed her medication to Depakote, which is primarily used as an anti-seizure medication, but has also been used for manic-depressive disorder. Not only did her psychotic symptoms remain in remission but the spaciness disappeared as well. Five years later only a small dose of Depakote has given Sarah a normal life.
Sarah's case illustrates one of the most clinically significant problems in people diagnosed with manic-depressive illness. This disorder is usually quite responsive to medication. The problem is that when people afflicted by the disorder improve, they feel so normal they do not believe they ever had a chronic problem to begin with. It is difficult for people to accept that they have to keep taking medication when they think they no longer have a problem. Yet, as we have seen, prematurely stopping medication actually increases their chances for relapse. Through the use of these brain studies I have been able to decrease the relapse rate of my patients by demonstrating graphically the biological nature of their disorders and the need to treat them as such. It has been a great asset to me in getting patients to cooperate in their own healing process. In addition to that, it has helped me with one other important thing: convince patient's to stop blaming themselves for their symptoms. Here are two more sets of images of Bipolar patients taken during the manic phase of the illness.
RYAN 20 yr/old
Ryan was a 20-year-old male who presented with symptoms of grandiosity, racing thoughts, decreased sleep, irritability and agitation. His parents reported there was a family history of Bipolar Disorder in his grandfather.
Carrie was a second year college student when she first began having problems. She would go days without sleeping. She began having trouble concentrating in school and stopped going to classes. She started having sexual relationships with 4 different men and she spent all of the money she had for the school year in three months. When her parents discovered the problems they brought her in for evaluation. Carrie did not feel that anything was wrong. She felt that she had just made several poor decisions, like anyone her age. Her parents felt things were not the same. She had always been a thoughtful, responsible person prior to the last several months. A scan was ordered to help evaluate the clinical situation. It revealed marked patchy uptake throughout the cortex. Lithium was very helpful for Carrie and she was able to return to school the next semester.
Reproduced with permission from Amen Clinics.
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