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Panic Attack or an Anxiety Attack?

woman holding her head

The words “Panic Attack” and “Anxiety Attack” are often used interchangeably. The main difference is that experiencing panic attacks is considered a disorder by the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It classifies the experiencing of recurrent unexpected panic attacks as a “Panic Disorder.”

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is defined by the DSM-5 as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time four (or more) of the following symptoms occur:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling or shaking,
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
  • Feelings of choking.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Nausea or abdominal distress.
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chills or heat sensations.
  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”
  • Fear of dying.”

Anxiety Attack

Anxiety Attacks, on the other hand, have triggers. Common triggers are stress, trauma, and excessive worry or fear about a certain situation. Anxiety attacks do have symptoms that overlap with panic attacks. These symptoms include an elevated heart rate, shakiness, nausea, and lightheadedness. Although physical symptoms are common during an anxiety attack, the more common ones include elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and pain in stomach. Whereas, in a panic attack, many people compare the experience to one of having a heart attack.

Regardless of the type of attack you are experiencing, you deserve support. There are many methods of support available. Some may be as simple as learning to avoid triggers. Others may include learning new coping mechanisms, exploring and processing trauma, and/or medication. One treatment option is not better than the other, the best treatment depends on the person and their specific needs. Mental health professionals can help you assess and form a treatment plan that is right for you.

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Magellan Healthcare Provides Resources to Address Growing Needs and Bring Awareness During Mental Health Month

Featuring a collaboration with Inspiring My Generation to promote its Encouragement Card Program for the community to make encouragement cards for adults and youth hospitalized in mental health facilities

FRISCO, Texas, April 28, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Magellan Healthcare, the behavioral and specialty healthcare segment of Magellan Health, Inc., today announced resources and programs to support individuals and families in honor of Mental Health Month in May.

Each year, from 2015 to 2020, there have been increases of mental illness, serious mental illness, suicidal ideation, serious psychological distress, illicit drug use, and perceived unmet need for mental health services among U.S. adults.1 Youth mental health remains a top concern as well. In 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General and leading children’s health organizations issued declarations of a youth mental health crisis.2 Even before the pandemic, 1 in 6 children aged 2–8 in the U.S. had been diagnosed with a mental health, behavioral health, or developmental disorder.3 The prevalence of depression among adolescents aged 12–17 has steadily increased–and more than doubled–from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2020, while the rate of treatment has only nominally increased.4

“For May and throughout the year, Magellan is committed to increasing awareness about mental health, substance use disorders, wellbeing, and reducing stigma through community outreach and innovative behavioral health services,” said Caroline Carney, M.D., president of behavioral health for Magellan Healthcare and chief medical officer of Magellan Health. “Recognizing and addressing behavioral health concerns is central to our overall health. We encourage everyone to take advantage of Magellan’s free Mental Health Month resources and information. These resources support learning more about behavioral health, and activities that support personal wellbeing.”

During Mental Health Month, Magellan is highlighting its collaboration with Inspiring My Generation (IMG) and support of the IMG Encouragement Card Program. Through the program, individuals and groups make encouragement cards for adults and youth hospitalized in mental health facilities to bring them comfort and motivation in their recovery journey. More information and resources to participate can be found at and

“We are excited to have the support of Magellan in promoting our mission and Encouragement Card Program to share messages of hope and love for those who feel hopeless and unworthy,” said Francesca Reicherter, founder and president of Inspiring My Generation. “It’s easy and fun for anyone to get involved, and we love to hear how our volunteers feel rewarded when they know they are helping to save lives.”

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Student Spotlight: Fran Reicherter

At the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, we are proud of our students and their commitment to reaching their personal and professional goals. Our Masters in Psychology student Fran Reicherter exemplifies how hard work can get you exactly where you want to be.

Francesca Reicherter is the Founder and President of Inspiring My Generation, a 501(c)3 in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Inspired by her mental health journey, Francesca works to make resources and information accessible. In 2021, Francesca published, “You Are Not Alone: The Workbook,” as a guide to help the reader build a coping toolbox. She has her upcoming second workbook “I AM.” Her work has been widely recognized in national publications, including New York WeeklyLA WireUS ReporterChicago Journal, and more! Dedicated to ending the stigma, Francesca hosts Normalize The Conversation, a podcast series amplifying the voices of mental health professionals, advocates, and any individual interested in sharing their story.

What made you choose Pepperdine Masters in Psychology program over other programs?

“I chose Pepperdine Masters in Psychology program for multiple reasons. Pepperdine exemplifies the values that not only align with my own but also what I want in education. When applying to this program, I knew I wanted to take part in world-changing work, from a global scale through my nonprofit to one-on-one support in therapy. The program also works as an amazing stepping stone toward a PsyD program, which I intend to complete following my MA. And, lastly, as a future clinical psychologist, I want an education that provides me with valuable skills to connect with my patient and offer support that enhances their potential and mental health.”

How has your experience been at GSEP?

“This is my first semester, and so far my experience has been amazing! I am very fortunate to have classes with two professors who have done incredible work in the field. Both professors go above and beyond to provide the tools we need to learn in a stimulating environment with plenty of opportunities for continuous growth. Although my courses are currently online, I have been able to connect with my peers and collaborate as we embark on the journey of learning to properly diagnose and treat. Thus far, I feel confident that my education will prepare me to change the world through my nonprofit work, future clinical practice, and future research.”

What opportunities do you hope to pursue after finishing your degree?

“After completing my MA degree, I intend on furthering my education with a PsyD. I am hoping to conduct research on clinical interventions that help young children discover coping mechanisms before they are needed. I also intend on continuing the work with my nonprofit and working toward bigger goals, including policy change in support of mental health and youth mental health and increasing treatment accessibility. I intend to utilize my education, research, and work to host workshops and seminars providing key information and resources to the public. Currently, I am putting out one workbook a year for our youth, with the intent of building a full course upon finishing my studies with the objective of significantly reducing youth suicide rates. And lastly, expanding my podcast to include more conversations with colleagues countering misinformation and providing resources people need.”

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How to Advocate for Mental Health in College: Real Students’ Stories

In a college mental health crisis, students are speaking up. Find out how students are advocating for mental health on their campuses.

by Lyss Welding Published on April 14, 2022 · Updated on May 7, 2022

  • College mental health is declining, but student advocates are speaking up.
  • You can join a mental health advocacy initiative or start your own.
  • Student advocates recommend caring for your own mental health first.

In 2018, Francesca Reicherter survived suicide for the first time. She credits her uncle for saving her life by talking to her about mental health. Weeks later, her uncle died by suicide, and Reicherter began a long journey of misdiagnosis and mistreatment for what she would later learn was bipolar 2 disorder.

“We don’t talk enough about mental illness or grow up talking about it in a way that helps us know how to advocate,” Reicherter said.

Just because we don’t talk about mental health disorders or conditions doesn’t mean they’re not prevalent.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that mental health disorders occur more among 18-to-25-year-olds than in other age groups. What’s more, the pandemic has worsened the college mental health crisis.

But some students are leading the charge to fight against stigma. Check out their stories for examples and advice on how to advocate for mental health on your campus.

5 Ways to Advocate for Mental Health in College

Whether you’re drawn to speaking, writing, or something out of the box, there are many ways college students can get involved in mental health advocacy. Here are a few ideas.

1. Share Your Story

Today, Reicherter speaks out to fight stigma. She founded Inspiring My Generation, a nonprofit with the mission to save lives by raising awareness for mental health, early symptom detection, and suicide prevention.

“What worked for me personally was sharing my story. First, it was just writing it down on a piece of paper — and then crumbling it up,” Reicherter said. “It turned into posting a blog and getting responses from other people. Then I started talking about it and slowly sharing my story as I felt comfortable.”

Why It Works

Reicherter said speaking out normalizes your mental wellness for yourself and promotes confidence in others to take care of themselves.

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Child Development According To Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory

In 1977, American psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner conceived the Ecological Systems Theory to explain how children’s development can be impacted by social environments. Bronfenbrenner hypothesized that by studying children in multiple environments (ecological systems), we can have a better understanding of their development. According to this theory, every ecological system that a child interacts with will influence the child’s development. (2019)

Bronfenbrenner breaks the influence down into 5 ecological systems: Microsystem, Mesosystem, Ecosystem, Macrosystem, and Chronosystem.


The microsystem is the most influential level of the ecological system because it encompasses those with direct contact to the child. A few examples include parent(s), sibling(s), and teacher(s).


The next level of the ecological system is the mesosystem. The mesosystem refers to how a child’s development is influenced by the intersection of the microsystem. The relationship between different individuals or settings that the child interacts with can have an indirect impact on the child. An example would be how the home environment interacts with the school environment.  


The ecosystem is encompassed by events that are not directly related to the child’s participation in the environment. This ecological system emphasizes how situations outside of a child’s decision-making process can impact their development. An example may be a child growing up with a parent working extra-long hours or a parent enlisted in the military. (Bronfenbrenner, 1979)


It is no surprise that the economic, cultural, and political environment a child grows up in can play an active role in their development. An example is the difference in development between a child growing up in a third world country versus the United States. (2019)


The last ecological system is the chronosystem. The chronosystem utilizes the dimension of time to understand phases of a child’s development. A few examples are parents’ divorcing, moving, and parent(s) losing a job.

How can this theory be applied to counseling?

I think the answer to this question will differ based on who you ask. In my opinion, I think the best way to assess an individual (whether minor or adult) is through a comprehensive background of their social environment growing up. I believe the best way to understand someone is to understand the factors that contribute to who they are and what they believe in.

One trend I see a lot is the idea that people do not change. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe every single person has the ability to change, to learn, and to grow. Yes, someone has to be willing to change. But another extremely important factor is connecting with people on a level they understand. Someone genuinely may not understand why arguing with you all the time is a big deal if that is the home environment, they grew up in. Likewise, if someone grew up in an area full of danger and fear, they may be on edge most of the time.

In counseling, a therapist can collaborate with a patient to form a treatment plan that respects the environmental factors that have contributed to their overall brain health, starting with the early development years. As a psych student, I truly value learning how to build comprehensive treatment plans that are in collaboration with the patient and offer support for why they reached out for therapy in the first place. However, never overlooking the developmental factors at play. If we do not acknowledge how the past shaped someone, then how do we expect to help break maladaptive behaviors or help the patient enforce boundaries, etc.?

What are your thoughts?


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

(2019) What is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory? The Psychology Notes Headquarters.

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My Guide To Building A Coping Toolbox

photo of woman lying on floor while painting

This blog comes directly from pages out of Francesca Reicherter’s “You Are Not Alone: The Workbook.” For more content and exercises, this workbook is available for purchase on and amazon.

Coping mechanisms are tools we use to help us through when our emotions feel overwhelming. There are many different types of coping mechanisms! One that works for you may not work for others, and that is okay. Everyone will have different things that help them at different times for different emotions and situations. Sometimes coping mechanisms that worked in the past do not work in the future, and that is okay too. As we grow and change, what works for us may also change.

Coping Mechanism Examples:

  • Art (Examples: coloring, painting)
  • Breathing (Examples: breathing exercises, meditation, yoga)
  • Cooking (Examples: bake, cook a meal)
  • Exercise (Examples: run, walk, sports)
  • Music (Examples: listening, dancing, singing)
  • Read (Examples: affirmations, books, magazines)
  • Writing (Examples: in a journal, poem, song, story)

Note: This is not a complete list of coping mechanisms. There are many different coping mechanisms, and the goal is to find what works for you.

My Guide To Building A Coping Toolbox

Determine which coping mechanisms you are already using. What helps you feel better when you are sad or angry or jealous? If you know the answer to at least one of these, this is a coping mechanism that you are currently utilizing. Now, ask yourself this, is this coping mechanism helping or harming me? What do I mean by that? For example, if you are engaging in a form of self-injury to numb your emotions, this coping mechanism is not truly helping you.  But, if you are journaling and expressing your feelings in a safe manner, then this coping mechanism may be helping you to process, feel, and heal.

Next, make a list of 5 coping mechanisms. You can either choose from the above list, the answers you have from the above question, or research other coping mechanisms! I want you to take the coping mechanisms 1 at a time and practice. Practicing our coping mechanisms when we do not need them is important so that we are ready to use them when we need them!

Write down the name of the coping mechanism and how you are feeling before trying it. Then, practice using the coping mechanism. Afterward, write down how you feel. Did you feel different? Was the difference positive or negative? If you noticed a positive difference, add this coping mechanism to your coping toolbox. (Repeat this 4 times, 1 for each coping mechanism.)

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A Guide To Enforcing Boundaries

concerned black couple sitting on bed in misunderstanding

Real Talk: There is absolutely no reason to set boundaries IF you do not enforce them.

Let’s face it: setting boundaries can be terrifying! If you are a “people-pleaser” or “go with the flow” personality type, the act of setting boundaries can be a challenging step to take. If you are willing to protect your space and set boundaries that help you build healthy, meaningful connections with others, then you deserve to reap the benefits of those boundaries.

If I create boundaries, won’t people just respect them? This is a multifaceted question. First, you have to share your boundaries clearly and explicitly with the other person in order for them to know where your boundaries are. However, secondly, people do not always believe that the boundaries apply to them, so they may not listen and act accordingly. Moreover, there are also people who will cross your boundary line simply because they can. If you do not enforce the boundaries you create, then many may feel inclined to exploit you and your boundaries.

But here’s the thing: you are allowed encouraged to draw a line between what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you feel uncomfortable. You deserve to feel good about yourself and your relationships. It does not make you a bad person for creating boundaries. Just remember to also respect other people’s boundaries as well!

So, once you decide on what your boundaries are, how do you enforce them?

Here’s my mini guide:

  1. Share your boundaries with the other person. Be clear and explicit. Examples:
    1. “It makes me feel uncomfortable when you touch my leg. I would appreciate it if you would not touch me without my consent.”
    2. “I feel hurt when you make fun of my intelligence. I understand you intend it as a joke, but I do not receive it that way. I would feel better if you would not make fun of me anymore.”
    3. “I am here for you, but right now, I am not in the right headspace to provide the support you need and deserve from me. I would love to help you find someone else who can be there the way you need.
  2. If they do not listen to your boundaries and cross the line, then remind them. Be forceful but polite. People do not often respond well when they feel attacked.
    1. “I told you before that this makes me uncomfortable. Please do not touch me again without asking if I am comfortable first.”
    2. “Please do not make fun of me. I have clearly explained that it makes me feel hurt.”
    3. “I am not in the right headspace as I mentioned earlier. I cannot provide the support you need right now.”
  3. Recognize that “no” is a full sentence. You do not have to explain yourself. We often feel like we need to give a reason after the word “No” or phrase “I do not want to.” You do not owe anyone an explanation. If you are not comfortable, if you do not want to, if you cannot, etc., you do not have to explain why. No is a full sentence and does not require justification.
    1. If you do not want to go out, you can simply say “No.”
    2. If you do not want to engage in an activity, you can simply say “No.”
    3. If you do not want to buy something, you can simply say “No.”
  4. Do not be afraid to change the nature of a relationship to protect the boundaries you have created. This may be an unpopular opinion, but it is okay to end or change relationships with people who do not respect you and your boundaries.
    1. It is okay to not spend as much time with someone who is emotionally draining you.
    2. You do not have to hang out with someone who is disrespecting your boundaries or even inadvertently causing you harm.
    3. Even if they are a family member or longtime friend, you do not have to compromise your own emotional health, space, or boundaries to satisfy them.
  5. Respect the other person’s boundaries. People tend to respond better when they also feel included and important. Someone is more likely to respect your boundaries when you also make the effort to respect theirs. Do not be afraid to ask them about their boundaries too!
    1. I want to also respect your boundaries. What are your boundaries?
    2. Is there anything I have said or done that has made you feel uncomfortable?
    3. How can I respect your boundaries?
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What Does It Mean To Be Kind To Yourself?

child s hand on a puzzle

This blog comes directly from pages out of Francesca Reicherter’s “You Are Not Alone: The Workbook.” For more content and exercises, this workbook is available for purchase on or amazon.

Being kind to yourself can be super hard! As humans, it is normal to be critical of ourselves. Often times, we are harder on ourselves than we are on others because we are afraid. Sometimes, we fear what other people will think of us if we gain weight, do not wear the coolest clothes, or do poorly on a test. But, the truth is, we judge ourselves more harshly than others judge us. This is an example of how we bully ourselves. What if instead of being mean to ourselves, we choose to be friends with ourselves?

Be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friends!

Examples of showing kindness to yourself:

  • Forgive yourself for a mistake. “It is okay to make mistakes.
  • I forgive myself for . . . “
  • Positive affirmations. Look in the mirror and say 3 nice things about yourself. “I am . . . I can . . . I will . . .”

Exercises to try:

  • Write down 3 affirmations you can tell yourself every day.
  • Tell me 3 ways you can be kind to yourself today.
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Does Social Media Impact Your Mental Health?

close up photography of smartphone icons

Social media is centered around connection. We are connected to people around the world 24/7. With the blessing of continued connection and access to everything happening around the world, there is also the impact of mental health. And the impact can be both positive or negative.

What is the positive impact of social media?

The three C’s: Connection, Community, and Change. Let’s think back to 2020, a time when the world shutdown and social media became the center of how we stayed connected. The power of social media is that we can keep up with our friends and loved ones, especially when we are not able to be there in person with. Furthermore, we can meet people from around the world!

We also find community on social media. Social media helps us to find pages, groups, and people with similar interests as us. For example, I have found an amazing community of mental health professionals and advocates on Instagram. The community created by social media helps many of us find a sense of belonging.

Lastly, social media also provides a platform for advocacy that can lead to change. Topics trending is one of the main powers of social media. It helps us to stay educated on what’s happening the world. And, when we disagree with what is happening, we can speak up about it and use our platforms for advocacy.

What are some disadvantages of social media?

With all the pros of social media, we have seen some major cons that affect one’s mental health. For example, as human beings, we often compare ourselves to other people. However, with social media, the level and frequency of comparison is amplified. With all the content we are exposed to, it is not surprising that we compare the way we look, the things we have, the lifestyle we live, etc. I will be honest, when I see a photo of a thin model with little to no body fat, the most gorgeous face, and an amazing wardrobe, it feels impossible not to question why I do not look that way. Or, when I see big families spending time together or public figures jetting around the world, I sometimes wonder why my life cannot be that way too. Comparing ourselves and our lives to others does not make us weak; however, doing it (all day) everyday weakens our self-esteem. And as we know, a weakened self-esteem can have detrimental effects on our mental health.

Let’s also talk about FOMO. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real! In the time before social media, if friends of yours were hanging out and you were not invited, chances are you probably would not have known. And, when summer came around and you were not in school, if people went on fun vacations or hung out, there is a good chance that you would not have known. But today, almost every time you open a social media app, it seems like you have found something you have missed out on.

We cannot talk about social media without mentioning how it has subconsciously trained us to seek validation from others. Is anyone else guilty of removing posts because they did not get enough likes?! I certainly am! Have you ever checked to see if certain people liked or commented on your posts? I have! It’s become engrained in our minds to see if someone cares for us based on how they interact with our social media posts.

Then, we have cyberbullying. Unfortunately, because communication is done behind a screen from one screen to another, it is hard to remember that there is a person on the other side. Lately, I, personally, feel like everywhere I look, someone has something negative to say about someone else. People cannot just share content anymore without being judged and picked apart. Without being able to see the person receiving the message, there is a lack of empathy. We are learning to interact without regard for others’ feelings.

Final Thoughts

The pressure to keep up, the worry over missing out, the fear of not being liked, the pain of being attacked in your comments or DMs, it all takes a toll on our mental health and emotional well-being.

You deserve to feel proud of who you are and where you are in life. You do not deserve to feel less than or inadequate. Be mindful of how your emotions are being impacted by the content and information you receive from social media. Take time to disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Social media is a powerful tool that provides us the privilege to be connected with the entire world, but you are important too. Make time to show yourself the same amount of attention that you show your TikTok.

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What We Know About Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers And Mental Health?

Please note that this blog contains no original writing. Each section and statement is directly from the aforementioned source.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

According to John Hopkins Medical, “hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is a type of treatment used to speed up healing of carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, stubborn wounds, and infections in which tissues are starved for oxygen. If you undergo this therapy, you will enter a special chamber to breathe in pure oxygen in air pressure levels 1.5 to 3 times higher than average. The goal is to fill the blood with enough oxygen to repair tissues and restore normal body function.”

In an article shared by Derrick Walker under Advanced Wound Care Systems, Discovery, Dr. Sherman Johnson, Hyperbaric Healing Center, Walker stated that, “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) appears to be a safe and effective treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post‐ Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression.”

How does HBOT work? According to John Hopkins Medical:

  • HBOT helps wound healing by bringing oxygen-rich plasma to tissue starved for oxygen. Wound injuries damage the body’s blood vessels, which release fluid that leaks into the tissues and causes swelling. This swelling deprives the damaged cells of oxygen, and tissue starts to die. HBOT reduces swelling while flooding the tissues with oxygen. The elevated pressure in the chamber increases in the amount of oxygen in the blood. HBOT aims to break the cycle of swelling, oxygen starvation, and tissue death.
  • HBOT prevents “reperfusion injury.” That’s the severe tissue damage that happens when the blood supply returns to the tissues after they have been deprived of oxygen. When blood flow is interrupted by a crush injury, for instance, a series of events inside the damaged cells leads to the release of harmful oxygen radicals. These molecules can do damage to tissues that can’t be reversed and cause the blood vessels to clamp up and stop blood flow. HBOT encourages the body’s oxygen radical scavengers to seek out the problem molecules and allow healing to continue.
  • HBOT helps block the action of harmful bacteria and strengthens the body’s immune system. HBOT can disable the toxins of certain bacteria. It also increases oxygen concentration in the tissues. This helps them resist infection. In addition, the therapy improves the ability of white blood cells to find and destroy invaders.
  • HBOT encourages the formation of new collagen (connective tissue) and new skin cells. It does so by encouraging new blood vessel formation. It also stimulates cells to produce certain substances, like vascular endothelial growth factor. These attract and stimulate endothelial cells necessary for healing.

HBOT for Mental Health? What science says:

Psychiatric disorders are prevalent, debilitating mental and behavioral patterns, usually with a complex biopsycho-social etiology, eventually leading to irreversible brain changes. These changes are comprised of chemical and anatomical alterations in neurotransmitter signal transduction pathways which also serve as the pharmacologic target of most current drug therapy. Accordingly, other mental disorders with a solid pathophysiological base of knowledge, such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, etc., may benefit from the use of HBOT as well. In the same manner, as to disorders discussed in this article, research into PTSD and depression does not stand on its own and is always related to physiological insults with biological mechanisms of ischemia, hypoxia, and inflammation. Thus, perhaps these have more potential for improvement with HBOT. [The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Psychiatry: A Review of the Current Knowledge Shani Raphaeli, MD,1 Erez Carmon, MD,2 Boaz Bloch, MD, MHA,3 and Eyal Fruchter, MD, MHA1]

What Brain SPECT Imaging and Other Research Reveals About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy From Amen Clinics:

Brain SPECT is an imaging technology that measures blood flow and activity in the brain. It reveals areas with healthy activity, too much activity, and too little activity. Brain imaging studies have found that HBOT has several benefits for the brain.

Increases blood flow.

Brain imaging studies using SPECT show that people who have had HBOT have marked improvement in blood flow to the brain. Adequate blood flow in the brain is vital for mental health. SPECT scans reveal that low blood flow is commonly linked to mental health/brain health issues, such as ADD/ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addictions, and more. In fact, low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor that an individual will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Improves functioning in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Low blood flow is also linked to ASD. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has helped improve cognitive and behavioral functions in people with autism by compensating for decreased blood flow in affected areas of the brain. A 2009 study showed that children with autism who underwent HBOT had significant improvement in overall functioning, eye contact, social interactions, cognitive and sensory awareness, and receptive language. People have also reported improved sleep and reduced aggression in people with autism who undergo HBOT.

Improves cognitive and psychological function after a concussion.

One study from 2017 showed that 29 military veterans with blast-induced concussions found that they performed better on physical, psychological, and cognitive tests after 40 sessions of HBOT. In particular, the veterans who underwent HBOT showed improvements in memory, attention, anxiety, depression (including a reduction in suicidal thoughts), PTSD symptoms, intelligence quotient, and more. They also reduced their usage of psychoactive medication.

Improves PTSD following a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) increase the risk of several mental health/brain health conditions, including ADD/ADHD, anxiety and panic attacks, PTSD, suicide, and more. According to research, treating the underlying TBI with concentrated oxygen can promote the healing process. A brain SPECT imaging study from 2011 involved 16 military personnel with PTSD following a TBI. The soldiers underwent neuropsychological testing and brain imaging and before and after 40 sessions of HBOT. After treatment, they showed significant improvement in mood, impulsivity, anxiety, quality of life scores, and more. Their SPECT brain scans after HBOT showed remarkable overall improvement in blood flow.

Improves brain metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease.

A 2019 brain imaging study involving SPECT and PET scans is the first to document improvements in brain metabolism in a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. The subject of the study was a 58-year-old woman whose cognitive function had been declining for 5 years. She underwent 40 sessions of HBOT. After just 21 sessions, she reported better moods, a boost in energy, and better ability to perform routine tasks. She even said it was easier to do the crossword puzzle. After 40 sessions of HBOT, she reported improvements in concentration, memory, sleep, and ability to use the computer. She also noted a decrease in disorientation, less frustration, and her anxiety was gone. The brain scans showed 6.5-38% improvement in overall brain metabolism, prompting the researchers to suggest HBOT could be a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s patients. “We demonstrated the largest improvement in brain metabolism of any therapy for Alzheimer’s disease,” says the lead study author Dr. Paul Harch. “HBOT in this patient may be the first treatment not only to halt, but temporarily reverse disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease.”