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  • Writer's pictureLaura Smith

Why Are We Treating the Brain like a Second Class Citizen?

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

"You can literally change people's brains. And when you do, you change their life."

A very smart and dear person sent a TED talk to me. He said 10:05 was the most important part...that part up above in red. It's powerful stuff isn't it?

This talk was so validating, and was just the inspiration I needed to write about brain based illnesses, a topic with which I unfortunately have a fair amount of experience.

Let me tell you who needs to watch this. If you have ever said to someone, "You shouldn't feel that way." YOU need to watch this. If you have ever said to someone, "Why are you always so angry? Why are you so moody? Just get over it and move on." YOU need to watch this. If you don't understand why the person you love is obsessing over "silly" things, YOU need to watch this. If you are sick of your loved one crying all the time, moping around and acting like every day is the worst day in the world, YOU need to watch this. And if you ARE that person.

This. This is for you.

Please watch this 14 minute video, or at the very least, read some of the important information below. It will change the way you look at the brain. I promise.

Some important notes:

*Without imaging, psychiatrists...make diagnoses, like they did in 1840 when Abraham Lincoln

was depressed, by talking to people and by looking for symptom clusters."

*Did you know that psychiatrist are the ONLY medical specialists that virtually NEVER look at the organ they treat?

*"Before imaging I always felt like I was throwing darts in the dark at my patients, and had hurt some of them which horrified me."

*Give the wrong psychiatric meds to the wrong person and you can precipitate a disaster.

*People with the same symptoms can have completely different brain activity. How do you know what to do for them unless you look? *Treatment needs to be tailored to individual brains, not clusters of symptoms.

*Behavior is really an expression of the problem, it's not the problem.



The brain is an organ like any other organ and it can get sick like any other organ. Did you know that there are medicines out there that are for the treatment of non-psychiatric issues that can cause psychiatric problems? Yup. (see image below)

And likewise, being on the WRONG medication can make it do more harm than good! Meds can backfire and the same thing that is meant to help, can hurt. We have to be vigilant!

If you your research (or just ask me) you will find horror stories about this drug. And if you are not warned about it, imagine how scary it can be.

If your gut is telling you something is dramatically wrong, it probably is. If you are suffering, please ask for help.

If you are concerned about someone else, TELL them you are going to help. Go to them. Sit. Listen. Tell them to hang on because it WILL get better.

Depression/Anxiety and other such illnesses are medical conditions and should be treated as such. The right medication, coupled with the right therapy is the best we can do. When we know better, we should do better. It's time we start diagnosing and treating people as we would any other medical condition. We should not be "throwing darts in the dark" .

*All photos taken from Daniel Amen's TedxOrange Coast talk "The Most Important Lesson from 83,000 brain scans.


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