Finally Sharing My Amen Clinic Brain Scan Experience & Video <3
Hi loves – thank you so much for stopping by and for wanting to learn more about my trip to the Amen Clinic! If you missed it, late last year my husband Bryson and I went to the Amen Clinic in Orange County to have our brains scanned. This is something we have wanted to do for years and finally had the chance to go and it was AMAZING. Today, I thought I would share all about our experience in a blog post to reference back to if you or a loved one is considering this + share my “Scan My Brain” episode which they filmed while we were there AND I am answering a few of the questions I received on IG about this!
First and foremost, if you are wondering who the Amen Clinic is OR what the brain scans are – you can learn more about them and what the do here. Bryson has known of Dr. Amen for a few years now and I recently started following him in 2021 after hearing an interview he did on the Skinny Confidential Podcast about the importance of brain health. I have had health anxiety my entire life (I talk more about this in the “Scan My Brain” video below) but for as long as I can remember, I have had anxiety due to health concerns. I believe that stems from a few traumas I went through as a child but I talk more about that below in the Q&A.
At the Amen Clinics (locations all around the country) they do what is called a SPECT scan. This is different than an MRI or CT scan (both scans I have had done in the past) but it is similar in the process. The SPECT scan gives doctors the ability to look at the surface level of your brain to check for things like decreased levels of blood flow from head trauma (which can lead to things like brain fog, inability to focus, anxiety and more) as well as a look into your inner emotional brain and the blood flow (where levels might be too high, low – causing things like anxiety, depression).
To get a better understanding of this process as a whole, check out the “Scan My Brain” episode below. We go over my intentions for wanting to do the scan, my scan results, my results vs a “normal, healthy female my age” as well as a few things I can do to help with my mental health. I will share a bit more about the process and my reasons for doing this below in the Q&A!
What made you decide to move forward with this?
As I mentioned above – Bryson was bugging me for years about wanting to do the scans. He has also battled with anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD ever since he was a child and knew how powerful the Amen Clinic could be in helping him. After I heard Dr. Amen on TSC podcast, I was sold too. I got in contact with the Amen Clinic and after talking with them, we thought it would be cool if I filmed my journey and shared it with my following as a way to talk more about mental health. So many of us are struggling with mental health these days and to know you’re not alone in it can be so powerful! I wanted to do this not only for myself, but also for any of you who are reading this and can relate to me or my story.
Personally – I have battled with health anxiety ever since I was a child. What does that mean? I am constantly worried about my health. As an adult my anxiety has grown from health anxiety to general anxiety and I also struggle with OCD and depression. To give you a little bit of back story about my childhood: when I was in Kindergarten my older brother Chris had 12 strokes in 24 hours. He was only in the 4th grade and the chances of that happening to a child like my brother were 1 in a million, literally.
I remember being terrified that something like that could happen to a young, healthy child. Shortly after that my uncle died of a stroke (40 and healthy) and then my parents divorced, my dad moved out and my mom, brothers and I were moved from my childhood home. Somewhere in the mix of all of that, my grandma also had a stroke and I witnessed substance abuse in a loved one. All of these events took place before I was in the 4th grade. I remember feeling so sad and scared at the time, but I didn’t know until my adult years how much impact all of this would have on me.
I’ve read somewhere that a lot of who we are as adults stems from the things that happened to us leading up to the age of 6. I also grew up in a family with OCD. My dad and mom both struggle with it and it is something I have always been surrounded with. I remember being young and always vacuuming my room. I would be SO MAD if my brothers or anyone walked into my room and messed up the vacuum lines lol. Still to this day I love to vacuum my house 1-2 times a day. Its relaxing to me and knowing my house is clean gives my mind peace.
My OCD has helped me in a lot of ways (I am pretty attentive to details) but ultimately it mixed with my daily anxiety can cause unnecessary stress. All of these things combined have always made me very aware of my health as well as ways to continue to improve it. I am always looking for ways to ease my health and general anxiety, OCD and days of depression. Going to the Amen Clinic I believe has been the best thing I have done so far for my mental health. I better understand why I am the way I am, and I have better tools to help work on these things!
What were your feelings going into this? Were you nervous at all?
I was nervous for the brain scan itself because I have a little bit of fear with inclosed spaces too and I was nervous it was going to be like an MRI but it totally wasn’t! They only need the top part of your head in the machine and the rest of your body is fully out which was nice!
I was nervous for the results too. I thought my brain was going to be “worse” than it was (my health anxiety again) but it was so refreshing to hear Dr. Emina to tell me I had a healthy brain. Overall, the entire process has helped me ease my health anxiety just knowing what’s actually going on up there lol!
What are your specific OCD symptoms?
I have a few but I would say my main one is the obsessive need to clean.
I need to have a clean space around me at all times otherwise my brain cannot focus on anything else. This is why my house is always clean haha it has to be otherwise I cannot function! I clean mornings and night (vacuum, straighten up, dishes, laundry) otherwise I cannot get into work or go to bed. It sounds silly right? But it is just part of my process and is very similar to how my parents are too.
Other things I have had with my OCD – obsessively checking health concerns. Googling symptoms of health scares and obsessing over things. I have probably convinced myself I had every health concern under the sun by now haha. One thing Dr. Emina told me was to stay off WebMD – lol.
These are just a few things. Bryson could probably pull out a scroll of other OCD things I do but those are the few that come to mind right now! 🙂
How long did the process take?
The brain scan itself takes 20 minutes. It’s super easy! You just lay on the bed while the machine rotates around your head. You have to be super still but it’s easy if you can just relax and keep your eyes closed and breath! Ask for a blanket if they have one – the room is kinda cold! Depending on how busy the team is that you see, you can get results in weeks – a month.
How much does something like this cost? Does insurance cover it?
The Amen team paid for my appointment in exchange for filming me. Bryson paid separately for his and it was $4,000 for both of his scans (he did 2 – one at rest and one concentrated). I believe for what I did which was only the scan concentrated it would be half so around $2,000. I am unsure if insurance covers it, I tried to ask the Amen team but I think it depends on what insurance you have. It’s worth checking!
Are there payment plans avaliable?
I am also unsure on this one – I would reach out to the Amen team to ask what options they have. I want to say they do but cannot be 100%!
Has it helped at all? What changes have you noticed?
100000% – So far I feel my health anxiety is wayyyy less. Again, seeing inside of your brain and knowing why you are the way you are is such a refreshing feeling. It is a great baseline to know what is going on in there and ways to help improve and make your brain healthier.
A few things I have implemented that Dr. Emina recommended for me;
1. BrainMD supplements – I am taking Happy Saffron for mood, Gaba for anxiety and their Daily Stress Relief for stress. If you want to learn more about these supplements reach out to the BrainMD team with questions.
2. More meditation and yoga – Dr. Emina recommend a left, right brain coordination exercise for me. I have been trying yoga and I love it! Bryson got a new drum set and is playing the drums for his pick lol! Mine is more peaceful let’s just say. I have also started meditation again daily. This is something I have done on and off for years but once Dr. Emina said it was a must for my busy brain, I have been on it!
I would say overall I feel more calm, less anxiety and have better days. I won’t say it has “cured” all of my anxiety, OCD or depression but I will say it is giving me more hope and I am having more good days and on the bad days – I have a better explanation of why I am struggling which helps.
What recommendations did you receive that you can apply to everyday life?
I think this one goes into the question above but implementing more healthy changes for myself.
Dr. Amen also wrote a cookbook with his wife and we love it! Dr. Emina told us to eat solely from this cookbook and although we haven’t done that (it’s tough right?) we cook probably 2-4 dinners a week out of the book. You can shop the cookbook here. Make sure you check out the pesto halibut, maple syrup salmon, chicken soup and smoothies. Everything we have made is so yummy and healthy for the brain which is amazing to know!
Does the scan show how much toxins/mold impacted someones brain?
Yes it can! I just watched a “Scan My Brain” episode where Dr. Amen interviewed Crystal Hefner and they discuss mold exposure and how that relates to the brain. I highly recommend checking that episode out on the “Scan My Brain” YouTube – it was super interesting. I am also having bloodwork done in part with the scan and one of the things they look for is mold exposure. I think it can absolutely relate to how the brain functions.
This one is kinda random, but any thoughts behind your outfit choice in the video?
Haha funny you ask this – I wish I could go back and not wear that outfit haha. We went and did the scans in early December 2021 and it was cold in Orange County during our trip. I wore the beanie and sweats to keep warm but the sweats, being that they had the ties on them were actually not warm haha. Looking back, I wish I would have worn something haha but what can I do now? 🙂
I hope this answers most of your questions about my trip to the Amen Clinic and if anything, I just want to be an open door to talk more about mental health. I want you to know if you are struggling, you’re not alone and I am always here to chat in my IG DM’s or via email ([email protected]) if you need someone to talk to. Simply knowing you’re not alone in a battle with mental health can be so powerful.
If I missed your question, feel free to DM or email me as well. Happy to share more! Thank you to the team at the Amen Clinic for having me and allowing me to share my brain scan.