Customer Reviews: Healing Anxiety and Depression
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on February 18, 2004
Many books are one-sided arguments for the causes of depression and anxiety. According to these biased books, depressions stems from:
Past child abuse and other negative environment factors
Holding your body in a depressing way - bent down, frowning, etc.
Medical causes
Poor diet, lack of exercise
Fill in the blank
But this book is different.
Healing Anxiety and Depression is a refreshing book, for it takes all of the above factors and mixes it into a complete approach to the causes and treatment of anxiety and depression.
Moreover, Daniel Amen, M.D. and his co-author, Lisa C. Routh, M.D. have pioneered the use of a brain imaging technology known as SPECT: Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography. This interesting brain scanning method is different than other methods because it allows one to see how certain parts of the brain interact to cause these debilitating conditions. Other
methods of brain imaging only give a surface view of the brain - which is of very little use for psychiatry.
The authors also touch upon how these areas of the brain cause insomnia, suicide and violence as well. They also point out the different causes of anxiety and depression between the genders. They convincingly describe gender differences from social, psychological, and biological perspectives.
In short: they give you the full picture on depression from every possible angle - literally. In between the pages, interspersed among case histories, personal stories, and scientific explanations, you will find actual pictures of the five areas of the brain they have focused on via SPECT technology:
1.) Basal Ganglia
2.) Deep Limbic System
3.) Anterior Cingulate Gyrus
4.) Temporal Lobes
5.) Prefrontal Cortex
Furthermore, the authors have taken these five areas of the brain, and through thousands of their own patients, compiled their findings on how these five areas interact to cause seven variations of depression and anxiety:
1.) Pure Anxiety
2.) Pure Depression
3.) Mixed Anxiety and Depression
4.) Overfocused Anxiety/Depression
5.) Cyclic Anxiety/Depression
6.) Angry Anxiety/Depression
7.) Unfocused Anxiety/Depression
There's only one drawback to this book: the technical terms can be a bit annoying. I constantly flipped back to beginning chapters to refresh my memory on what they were talking about. The medications and dosages - and their variations, are mind-boggling. Ask your doctor about them.
Despite this, the book is worth the extra memory and concentration required to comprehend it.
It's very empowering too: Dr. Amen is a strong advocate for natural supplements, exercise, and deep diaphragmatic breathing. He also gives the reader a simple, flexible, easy-to-follow diet that'll maximize your brain function. More wisely, however, he directs you towards a way of eating that's based not on a one-size-fits-all mentality, but a diet that is focused on your
particular type of anxiety and/or depression.
He also has his own version of cognitive therapy: ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) and ANTeaters, developed by Amen as a child psychiatrist to help make the ideas a bit more concrete for children. Amen's short chapter on the power of thoughts can help you take more responsibility for your own
Closing with "32 Strategies to Overcome Anxiety and Depression," along with a chart summarizing "diagnostic and treatment principles," this book will give you the real knowledge you need to manage your life on a whole new level.
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on March 8, 2005
Dr. Amen is definitely one of the best when it comes to mental illness. Having suffered from depression, and more severely, anxiety, I browsed through the health section at my local bookstore looking for answers. And I definitely found them in this book. This book talks about the 7 types of depression and anxiety, how they are caused, what brain chemicals are causing the symptoms and where in the brain the problem lies. Dr. Amen uses SPECT nuclear imaging to see the brain in its depressed/anxious states. Along with descriptions of all of the 7 types are images of the brain with that type of depression/anxiety. I narrowed down my depression/anxiety to be a type 4, followed the advice it suggested, and have been 90% depression and anxiety free for 6 months. A MUST read for anyone suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder.
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on November 3, 2003
Healing Anxiety and Depression is an easy-to-read book that shines a spotlight on anxiety and depressive disorders from the perspective of brain functioning, as opposed to the traditional diagnostic approach based primarily on symptom clusters. In this book, Dr. Amen and Dr. Routh clearly explain the following five major interconnected brain circuits that underlie most of these disorders:
* basal ganglia-sets the body's idling level
* deep limbic system-sets the mind's feeling tone
* anterior cingulated gyrus-helps shift attention
* temporal lobes-helps mood stability, temper control, and memory
* prefrontal cortex-helps with decision making, attention span, judgment, and impulse control
The authors describe in detail the functions associated with each of these brain components, as well as the common difficulties that arise when that particular part of the brain is not functioning well. They proceed to propose a new way of approaching treatment for anxiety and depression, based on their finding that anxiety and depression commonly occur together, that they are largely the result of brain dysfunction, and that there are seven different types of anxiety/depressive disorders, with a number of effective treatment approaches for each type. The seven disorder types the authors describe are:
* Pure Anxiety
* Pure Depression
* Mixed Anxiety and Depression
* Overfocused Anxiety/Depression
* Cyclic Anxiety/Depression
* Temporal Lobe Anxiety/Depression
* Unfocused Anxiety/Depression
The book explores each disorder type in detail, including illustrating the brain functioning patterns the authors have found associated with each, based on their work with Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) scans. It also contains a questionnaire to help the reader identify if he meets the criteria for each disorder type (this questionnaire is not meant to render a diagnosis).
When describing their treatment approaches for each disorder type, the authors go well beyond a thorough discussion of prescription medications to include discussion of natural supplements, diet, cognitive therapy (e.g., changing Automatic Negative Thoughts, or "ANTs), the healing power of relationships, the impact of breathing properly, and biofeedback.
The authors also explore gender differences (e.g., hormonal factors) associated with anxiety/depressive disorders, and the impact of these disorders on families. They include a whole chapter on the topic of insomnia, and conclude with a host of resources.
As is typical of Dr. Amen's books, this book takes a complex subject and breaks it down into essential components that are easy to understand. By including "healthy brain" SPECT scans next to the scans of people suffering from one of the seven anxiety/depressive disorder types, the brain functioning patterns seem very clear. By including real-life anecdotes about the patients that correspond with the brain scans, including their diagnoses, treatment approaches, and treatment results, the book leaves the reader with a feeling of great hope that these disorders can be accurately diagnosed and treated.
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on January 10, 2004
I could write something long and flowery, but I'll keep it brief. I have had depression for over 20 years. For the first time EVER, I fully understand what's going on with me. I no longer feel defective or like it's my fault for having a weak character or whatever. I finally understand that it's an actual medical problem, one that can be fixed. I can't wait to take care of it now that I know what's wrong. This book will make you think of your own brain in a very different way.
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on March 4, 2004
Dr. Amen has changed my life and the lives of several members of my family. The stigma associated with mental illness is deep-seated and difficult to overcome. Understanding the root causes, particularly the genetic predisposition within families, is the indispensable first step in coming to grips with dealing with life-long problems. These problems are often not adequately addressed via behavior modification or cognitive therapies because they get the cart before the horse: they do not deal with the biological root causes. Once those are dealt with, the learned behaviors and habitual patterns can be peeled away to create a whole new start on life. However, without the understanding of the causes and types of underlying brain conditions, one is often doomed to the roll the rock up the same hill only to see it roll down again as we watch. Take my advice. If the brain pattern descriptions look all too familiar, get help as recommended. You will become a new person, the one you were created to be. And that is a wonderful thing.
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on September 24, 2005
Very intresting book,, it explains the MEDICAL stand point about depression which involves diffrent parts of the brain,,also explains that a diet higer in protein lower in sugar is very beneficial to people who suffer from chemical imbalance! I learned a lot reading this book, and recommend it to anybody suffering from medical depression, because its not your fault! And you don't have to suffer alone anymore!!
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on January 11, 2008
I had knowledge on this subject for years, so most of the material written in this book was mainly old news to me. Most of the material in this book is an overview of the disorders and a lot of pics of brain scans. (Including before and after shots) There is a lot of talk about medication as well and different categories of antidepressants. Honestly there isn't that much extra material that books like "Don't Panic" doesn't cover (although this book isn't as dry as "Don't Panic"). If you are new to all of this, then it's is a decent read. If you been dealing with this for quite a while now, chances are that your doctor has found the right meds for you and that you've been properly diagnosed. You may want a book that goes a little deeper in the topics of "rational vs irrational thoughts", "self-esteem", or "phobias". I gave this book 3 stars only because I was expecting more with all the 5-star reviews and didn't pick-up anything new, but it's a good book if you are new to all of this and want a primer about the road that's ahead of you.
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on November 6, 2006
Healing Anxiety and Depression is one of the most scientifically valid discussions of these disorders. Dr. Amen's use of SPECT brain scans to analyze "emotional" and "behavioral" disorders is a welcome contrast to the speculative theories which have dominated treatment of anxiety and depression. This book is generously illustrated with SPECT brain scans of actual patients and clearly reveals physical imbalances in brain blood flow distribution. More importantly, the scans show improved function, with appropriate treatment.

Psychiatry is the only medical speciality which does not routinely examine, image or measure the organ system, which it treats. Functional brain scans and neurotransmitter testing are finally moving psychiatric treatment beyond the trial and error guessing it has been mired in, for decades. Amazingly, SPECT gamma ray cameras are available in almost every hospital cardiac unit, where they are used for cardiac stress tests. Hopefully, they will begin receiving additional use, for brain scanning.

Interestingly, Dr. Amen has included a SPECT scan of his brain. Inclusion of his own scan speaks volumes, concerning the safety of SPECT brain scans. We will probably wait a long time before we learn of anyone practicing electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), who has submitted to their ECT electro shock therapy.

The scans and case histories reveal the reality of disorders including traumatic brain injury, depression, pernicious anemia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, ectasy and marijuana abuse. Improvements produced by diverse treatments including Prozac, Lamictal, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and St. John's Wort are clearly revealed in scan images. The image of impaired blood flow distribution, due to Xanax will confirm what many suspect-Benzodiazepine medications impair brain function.

Amen and Routh provide an overview of diverse treatments including most pharmaceutical treaments and many nutritional and herbal treatments, in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, systematic desensitization, biofeedback, exercise, deep breathing and EMDR.

This book was published in 2003, before the sleepwalking syndromes associated with Ambien became more widely publicized and Lunesta became available as a safer alternative. Although Amen and Routh recommend GABA supplements, for anxiety, GABA seldom crosses the blood-brain barrier, and we have seldom found an anxious patient, who responds to GABA supplements. Neurotransmitter profiles of anxious patients indicate excess glutamate causes more anxiety than deficient GABA levels.

Florida Detox has referred patients to Amen Clinics, for SPECT brain scans and the scans have revealed useful clinical information, especially when patients suffered severe anxiety or had multiple chemical dependencies.

I suspect many readers would like to see a larger, expanded version of this book, with more case histories and scans. After performing over 50,000 SPECT scans, Amen Clinics certainly possesses the scans and case histories needed for a larger sequel to this book.

Steven Sponaugle
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on October 6, 2003
Finally a book for the therapist and client to share! Dr. Amen's book breaks down Depression & Anxiety in a way that will help mental health professionals to recognize a person's unique subtype of these disorders. It will also enlighten the average reader about their sypmtoms and provides easy to follow recommendations for healing. By looking closely at the function of the brain through brain imaging scans, Dr. Amen gives us hope into the healing of a complicated disorder. The reader will learn they don't have to be ashamed and healing is possible. Every person who thinks they may suffer from depression, or knows someone who does, should read this book, and share it with a therapist! This is a first, no one has given us these insights in such a readable manner!
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Amen's "new program" actually has less to do with the patient's protocol than the physician's basis for selecting it. The author maintains that his research in "imaging" various brain patterns and wave activity in selected portions of the brain enables him to determine the precise sort of depressive-anxiety disorder (the author identifies seven) being experienced by the patient. Upon making this determination, the prescribed therapies are along familiar lines--tricyclic medications, SSRI's, SNRI's, etc. The photos are interesting and possibly useful (though not necessarily proof of cause and effect), and the readerly prose insures that the reader will pick up a good deal of information about the structure of the brain. Also, the author provides a questionnaire to enable a reader to approximate what the brain images might have confirmed, thus enabling him to determine his type of depressive disorder(s), if any. From there, the practical information and applications are likely to be of value in proportion to the amount of information the reader already has about depression and anxiety.

The author covers psychotropic medications, cognitive approaches, exercise and other mainline therapies. He says very little about combinations of medications. And the book loses some of its credibility, in my opinion, in the discussion of alternative therapies that have been discredited elsewhere. There's no scientific evidence I'm aware of that would support the theory that supplements like GABA, l-Tyrosine, or l-Phenylananine alleviate anxiety-depression or even break through the blood membrane to become part of the body's own chemistry. Also, whether injections of testosterone and DHEA are sufficiently helpful to outweigh the risks makes questionable the author's apparent recommendation of them. Finally, some of the information already appears dated--for example, the assertion that Ambien is totally unrelated to the benzodiazapines and is non-addictive.

Still, the book is quite comprehensive, provides much accessible and potentially useful information and, provided the reader exercises some healthy skepticism, should make the subject less daunting and confusing.
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