Can You Use a Brain Scan to Diagnose Mental Illness?
Having a brain scan for mental illness is becoming more accurate in their diagnosis in the modern age of technology. However, brain scans can’t assess the complete picture. That’s because such scans only tell a part of the story.
Skilled physicians play a necessary role in determining the severity, extent, and underlying causes as well as assessing the ultimate diagnosis of your mental state. The information below gives you a clear picture of what it takes to accurately diagnose mental disorders.
How Do You Diagnose Mental Conditions?
Because mental conditions can hide beneath other common symptoms, officially diagnosing mental illnesses is a very involved process. This process consists of two primary keys that go hand-in-hand with one another to determine the most accurate diagnosis. Here are those two keys that are almost completely dependent on accurately assessing mental conditions and the extent of their severity.
The depth, cause, and root of your mental condition rely heavily on your accounts. That’s why the first and perhaps most effective key of this process is your first-hand testimony of symptoms and medical history. Thus the reason why complete open-ended honesty with your physician is vital to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Make certain not to hold back any details of the depth of your mental health struggles as doing so could result in an inaccurate or false diagnosis.
Do All Therapists Come to the Same Conclusion When Diagnosing Mental Disorders?
The reason officially diagnosing mental disorders is so difficult is that different therapists can come up with very different diagnosis conclusions. For example, many therapists can disagree with the severity of your mental state or the extent of treatment needed to manage your symptoms.
This does not always mean a mental condition is inaccurately diagnosed. However, it can mean condition severity and the true extent of treatment can be inaccurately determined, thus requiring reassessment. This can mean your treatment is subject to change. This could result in a gradual increase or decrease of prescriptions or treatment over time to ensure treatment efficacy and efficiency.
How Can Brain Scans Help Diagnose Mental Conditions?
Though a brain scan for mental illness cannot diagnose a condition alone, it is an effective tool for doctors. Thanks to the ever-progressing state of modern technology, brain scans are becoming a more effective way of aiding diagnosis. Bearing that in mind, here are some of the ways brain scans can help diagnose mental disorders.
Many mental conditions are a direct result of physical traumas. These traumas can range from vehicular accidents to any brain trauma acquired from blunt force to the head. The mental disorders caused by these traumas often go undiagnosed or unnoticed without the necessary brain scan for mental illness. Thanks to accurate modern-day brain scans, all of these detected traumas can point doctors in the right direction. In some cases, it can even be the deciding factor to determine mental disorder diagnosis.
Decreased frontal lobe brain activity can be an indication of a major depressive disorder. This is one of the few activities brain scans can directly identify as a sure sign of depression disorders. Further tests may be necessary to rule out potential tumors or other deficiencies that can be misconstrued or misdiagnosed.
Sometimes doctors will administer a brain scan for mental illness to confirm or deny their original assessments of your potential diagnosis. The decision to administer these scans depends on whether or not the underlying cause of your condition indicates physical brain damage. This is one of the ways brain scans can be the final determining factor for diagnosing mental disorders.
What Exactly Do Brain Scans Show?
A brain scan gives you and your doctors vivid imagery of the physical brain and its vital functions. Here are the main functions and images you can expect to see in brain scan results.
The perimeter structure of the human brain is the first easily noticeable feature you’ll see on brain scan imaging. The imagery of a normal human brain has very distinct features and shapes that make any deformations noticeable to doctors. Any such deformations are what doctors can gravitate to help assess potential mental deficiencies, depending on the affected area.
The layout of the brain’s structure is color-coded by brain tissue activity in all of the central regions. This brain tissue tells your doctor the ins and outs of how your brain functions. Any discoloration or deterioration in the tissue could indicate depressive, cognitive, or other underlying disorders.
Blood flow patterns in the brain indicate what is or isn’t normal in your brain function. Identifying your mind’s blood flow patterns help your doctors determine any potential inhibitors to your cell activity and hope your brain is communicating to the rest of your body.
What are the Limitations of Using a Brain Scan for Mental Illness?
As useful a tool brain scans are for assessing mental deficiencies, there are limitations they have in solely assessing mental illness. In nearly all cases, proper psychiatric evaluation and assessment require more than what brain scans can pick up to accurately diagnose specific conditions.
Every mind is unique and therefore all brain activity has different patterns that are considered normal to each individual. People with similar mental conditions are likely to have very different brain activities because mental illness affects everyone differently. This is why people with the same mental disorder can have very discrepant symptoms and should not be blanketed with generic treatment.
Getting to know your mental health background by listening to your needs and struggles is the main data source for assessment. Brain scans can’t tell your story for you. The only one who can paint a vivid picture for your therapists is you. Therapists at First City Recovery utilize information your brain scans can’t provide by listening to you. This personalized approach enables doctors to provide the most individualized treatment engineered to meet your needs and goals.
This simply means a machine can’t assess you the way a highly-trained physician can. Doctors and their discretion play the most intricate role in determining a proper diagnosis. This diagnosis is intellectually based on all the collective data provided by you, your therapy, and your scan results.
What Does the Future Hold for Brain Scan-Based Diagnosis for Mental Disorders?
While a brain scan for mental illness aids doctors’ assessments, much more research is needed before it can single-handedly diagnose mental disorders. Some experts remain skeptical of that ever becoming plausible. Many others, however, see the future of brain imaging as becoming a potential tool to observe both chemical and physical deficiencies. If both could one day be perceived under a microscope, it could change the way doctors diagnose mental conditions. Nonetheless, the likelihood of that ability remains to be seen and is likely far from coming to fruition.
Take Control of Your Mental Fortitude with First City Recovery
Managing your mental health symptoms requires the highest quality therapists to achieve top-notch results. Our highly-trained therapists at First City Recovery will ensure an accurate assessment and equally effective treatment meticulously engineered for you to thrive. You can expect nothing less than the best at our stress-free facility with doctors who have your best interests at heart. Take control of your mental health struggles by reaching out to a compassionate receptionist today.
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.