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WARNING: Another lengthy post....read at your own risk!!!:D

We just returned from the Amen Clinic and it seems to be the answer to our prayers!!! Many of you know me here but those who do not I will give a brief overview. We have 2 daughters, Erin, 16, who was diagnosed with BP/ADD a little over a year ago and Kait who is 18 and has shown similar symptoms for the past 4 years but refuses to see that she needs help. Hubby & I came to the decision that we needed to intervene aggressively, that things were getting out of hand and that as parents we couldn't send her back to college with the way things were unless we got down to what was going on. For years we have known something was up and it wasn't until Erin was diagnosed that we knew that we had to do something to help Kait too.

And so hubby and I realized that the typical pdoc appointment just wasn't going to do it....we needed something that would give us more headway into finding out something quickly and with more certainty.

I had researched Dr. Amen and his use of SPECT Imaging in assisting in the diagnosis of many biological and psychiatric disorders of the brain. He is most renound for categorizing ADD into 6 different types with specific treatment plans that are geared towards each type with a better success rate. This often eliminated the guessing game and the one treatment fits all mentality. His belief is to diagnose using the DSM IV and going outside the box of using images of the brain to further assist in accurate diagnosing by looking at the "hot spots" and "cold spots" of the brain and by doing so alleviating the trial & error with meds and treatment and instead having a specific treatment plan that works best with what is demonstrated on testing as well as imaging.

Realizing how this would cut through the chase so to speak in terms of Kait we decided that Dr. Amen's SPECT Imaging would not only formulate a quicker diagnosis & treatment but also give Kait a visualization of what her brain was doing and perhaps allow her a better chance of accepting a diagnosis and treatment.

Well the experience was such a wonderful one. The evaluation takes 3-4 days depending on scheduling. A 2 hour interview by a Historian, 2 SPECT scans of an hour each, and a meeting with the doctor to discuss diagnosis based upon the correlation of traditional psychiatry along with the SPECT Imgaging as well as a treatment plan formulated based upon the findings taking another 2 hours is the usual protocol.


The first day we met with the Historian who had reviewed the 24 page intake packet that we FAXED a day prior to our arrival. She then clarified and asked other questions to be included in the history that the psychiatrist would be reviewing. It was extremely thorough.

When they asked the question "if we could wave a magic wand and be able to change things what would you want"....I laughed because I KNEW what Kait would like. (It would most likely be for her parents to take a long trip somewhere far far away from her!!:) ) She said that she would just want to be back at college (close enough;) ). We said that we would like to find out what was going on with Kait and fix it so that she could have the wonderful future that every parent wishes for their child.

During the interview Kait was saying that we always said no and never let her do things that she wants to. While waiting for Kait as she went for her first scan I read a book written for teens about ADD and there was a section about Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANT. ANT #1 is referred to as "Always or Never" thinking. The person only sees things in black & white and never gray. That is how Kait is.....she constantly says things like..."you [U]never [/U]let me do this and you [U]always[/U] yell at me and [U]everybody[/U] else bah, blah, blah" and the thing is this is not true at all but in the mind of somebody with ADD this is what they truly believe.

The best was when we met with the doctor. He took us in and first asked us what we were hoping to find while meeting with him. Kait of course expressed herself by saying "I don't know" and when he pressed further she went on to say that she was there because we thought she needed to be there. He asked her if she thought something might have been found with the scan and again she said she didn't know. She was totally non-committal. He went on to ask the same question of hubby & I. I went on to say that we were hoping to have a diagnosis and treatment if there was one needed for Kait....that we innately were certain that something was going on and had lost 5 years already and didn't want to waste anymore. That we had another daughter who has exhibited similar behaviors and was diagnosed with BP/ADD and was doing well with meds. He asked what meds Erin was on and we told him Lamictal and Seroquel.

The doctor went on to discuss the brain and gave us a really good understanding of the 8 lobes and what they were responsible for and what we might see in somebody who was overstimulated or understimulated in each of them. There were quite a few pointers he shared that had us picture where we might see problems in Kait by her symptoms. Bearing that in mind he went on to show us pictures of a "normal" brain with a three dimensional view as a solid from both sides, top and bottom and then the same with results of the blood flow studies to specific areas at rest and during concentration. There were very little "hot spots" seen except in the cerebellum where there is always activity.

Then we went on to Kait's scans and OMG....she was lit up like crazy!!!:eek: On both the consentration and rest scans she basically had a significant amount of "hot spots" in the perimeter of the brain as if it were a wreath upon her head.

The pdoc went on to hand us a book with the symptoms of Type 6 ADD and each of us, including Kait, were in awe of how about 90% of it described Kait. He told us that Kait's scan as well as her history and psychological testing fit the closest to this type of ADD which is often referred to as "The Ring Of Fire". He explained that it was a significant ADD and one that responded best with the use of anticonvulsants. He said that in Kait's scan that there were also areas of the brain that were lit up in the part of the brain where moods were controlled and that one particular finding that was ignited was an area that indicates depression...the outward kind in which it isn't based upon negative thoughts of self but more with anxiety and upsetment with the outside world.

He then went on to explain the treatment plan that has the highest success rate with this type of ADD. He spoke about the use of an anticonvulsant such as Trileptal or Lamictal which he liked....he was more fond of trileptal but said that if you use Birth Control Pills it couldn't be used and when he heard that Erin had an allergic reaction to it he agreed that Lamictal would be the best choice. The anticonvulsant he felt would be best at dealing with the ADD symptoms as well as the mood instability since Lamictal is also a mood stabilizer.

He then went over dietary changes such as eating a high protein diet avoiding foods high in carbs, caffeine or sugars. To exercise 30 minutes/day and adding fish oil supplements and a daily multivitamin as well.

The pdoc went on to say that if the Lamictal didn't do the job that an ADD drug might help. We went on to share with him the concerns with that in reference to Kait's abuse of drugs and seeking Adderall out, that while it could very well be a means of self-medicating we weren't sure and didn't want to put her at risk of developing an addiction especially with our strong family history of alcoholism and drug abuse. He said that he understood our concerns and then went on to ask Kait how she felt when taking the Adderall. She said that it allowed her to concentrate and focus so much better and that she really felt that she needed it. He went on to say that he would feel more comfortable prescribing a patch form of the med that couldn't be abused....Kait went on to say that she wouldn't like a patch. The doctor asked why not. She said that it might fall off if she wanted to swim or she sweated....he told her that this patch was made so that she could do all of that. He said that he wanted to see what the anticonvulsant did first but would give us the script for the Daytrana (a patch form of Adderall) that we could have on hand just in case.

When I asked how certain he was that Kait didn't have BP he said that he was pretty confident at this point particularly since she hasn't demonstrated any strong depressive symptoms OR a manic event as her sister has. That he does feel that she does have some mood instability that hopefully the Lamictal will help out with but not indicative of a sure diagnosis of BP.

Surprisingly the diagnosis on the report reads ADD/Mood Disorder NOS. The Amen Clinic seems to go heavily by the scan and the doctor did point out that if Kait had a definite BP there would have been other areas lit up but in Kait's Brain system checklist the results clearly say that she has signs of Major Depression, ADHD, and Bipolar Tendencies but with the scan results there wasn't enough convincing evidence to diagnose her with BP nor by history without a definite mania or depressive episode....that in his opinion Kait warranted more of a treatment for ADD. Either way she is being treated in the right way....they are putting her on a mood stabilizer before even thinking about a stimulant and that is exactly the way that I would have liked it to go.

Kait is stubborn....she fought this the entire way but when the doctor showed her the scans and discussed his interpretation of it I saw the sudden look of relief on her face which she pretty much hid as much as she could....she still isn't ready to admit that something is wrong because the part of the brain that was red hot is the part that produces the "getting stuck on an idea" or the "stubborn hardheadedness and strong willed behavior" & needs to be cooled down before we will expect to see her willingness to accept all of this.

And the other thing that I saw as an indication that Kait does realize that she has a problem is 30 minutes into our ride home, when I asked her for the starter pack of the Lamictal, the first one was already gone!!! And this morning the second one was gone shortly after she woke up!!

As we drove home when Kait seemed argumentative saying that the doctor said this and said that we told her that there were two of us that heard differently and that sometimes she just wants to hear what she wants to hear and tunes out the rest. We went on to tell her that with all this stubbornness on her part that we all had lost 5 years when if we had some cooperation from her we may have avoided alot of heartache and pain. And that we didn't want to lose anymore time....that it was time for her to see that we were all on the same team and it was and that the only way things would get better would be for her to cooperate and do what she has to do to get better. And I promised her that she would feel better if she gave it a fighting chance.

I feel as if going to the Amen Clinic was worth every penny!!! It probably saved us years of trying to find out what was going on and I feel that even if Kait doesn't cooperate now and denies everything, that one day when she is ready to she will look back on all of this and KNOW and SEE that there is a way to change her life for the better. And hubby & I know as parents we did everything possible to help Kait out.

The evaluation is costly (around $3250) but the way we saw it we could spend years and years finding out what was going on and Kait losing out on more than that amount of money if she were to continue this way and end up in a rehab and it costing even more. We feel that we have saved alot of time and made alot of headway and FINALLY Kait was able to see for herself that there was a biological component that attributed to her behaviors and can be treated.

That is worth the world to us and the way we see it is Dr. Amen WAS the answer to our prayers.

The plan is for Kait to follow up with the pdoc we use for ERin (the evaluation at the Amen Clinic does cover one followup appointment by phone). Kait isn't too fond of Erin's pdoc after her evaluation with him but agreed to give him another chance.

We are finally on the road to getting better now that we know what we are up against and how to go about treating it. The rest is really up to Kait. I know that there will be bumps in the road along the way but we have finally got her on the road to getting better. And what a relief that is!!

Thanks for sharing in our progress!!

Love ~ Goody:angel: :wave:





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