Neurofeedback for depression
Neurofeedback, also called EEG biofeedback or neurotherapy, is a research proven way to help you improve your brain function through intensive brain training exercises. Although the technology is quite sophisticated, the process is simple, painless, and non-invasive. It is just learning. You learn to alter your brain activity the same way you learn every other skill. You learn through feedback and practice. What is new in neurofeedback is that you are guided by a form of feedback that was previously not available to you. You are guided by instantaneous information about changes in your brain’s electrical activity. Every half second, your brain activity is compared to your targets for change. You get a signal and “reward” when you meet the goal. No signal or reward when you do not.
In 20 neurofeedback sessions, with feedback every half second, you get 72,000 chances to learn. That’s a lot of repetition and practice. Brain science has shown that repetitive exercise of brain networks reshapes the brain. Neurofeedback allows you to reshape mood networks in your brain. Learn more.
Research on neurofeedback for depression
Many studies have shown that your mood is positive when the left frontal area of your brain is more active than the right frontal area, and that your mood is poor when the right is more active than the left.
This well established finding in neuroscience can be directly applied in treatment with neurofeedback for depression. Three controlled studies showed that mood was improved in college students when the left front side of the brain was trained to be more active than the right using neurofeedback. One study showed that patterns of thinking also changed. Neurofeedback for depression resulted in more positive thinking patterns and a reduction in ways of thinking that have been associated with depression.
Several early studies have been completed with depressed adults. These have shown significant improvements in mood with neurofeedback for depression. At the Neurodevelopment Center, we believe that this early research supports use of neurofeedback for depression when better studied methods such as medication or psychotherapy fail or result in only partial improvement. If you are depressed and neither anti-depressant medication nor psychotherapy has eliminated your symptoms, the existing research suggests that neurofeedback for depression may be helpful.
See the problem, then correct it.
Neuroscience is increasingly showing the basis in the brain for depression and other mood problems. For example, many studies have shown that on average, mood is better when the left frontal cortex is more active than the same location on the right. But not all depression is the same. Some people have a different brain profile with depression.
Medications just treat the symptoms and do not correct the source of the problem in the brain. At the NeuroDevelopment Center, our approach is different. We measure brain function with a quantitative EEG brain map, so that you can see the reason in your brain for your mood problems. The image at the right is from the qEEG analysis of one of our clients with a long standing depression. The area in red shows that this client’s left frontal cortex is less active than the right, one of the primary profiles for depression. Once we see the source of the problem, we target that area for change through neurofeedback brain training. This allows you to reshape your brain, not just mask your symptoms. Learn more.
Real stories about neurofeedback for depression
John had a longstanding history of problems with mood. Like most people with depression, John also suffered from anxiety. He had been in psychotherapy several times before and was taking three medications when he began neurofeedback. We measured his level of depression and anxiety with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories — well established psychological tests. His scores showed moderate depression and a mild level of anxiety, even with the three medications. After ten weeks and 20 sessions of neurofeedback, we repeated these tests. By this time he had stopped all three medications. His scores showed very significant improvement in mood and anxiety. After his brief course of neurofeedback training, he showed minimal signs of depression and anxiety – this time without medication. John has visited us periodically over the course of three years. He continues to do very well, with no return of symptoms.
Mary was a fifty-five year old woman with severe depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). She was treated for many years with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. In fact, her treatment was overseen by one of the world’s leading experts in OCD. But years of this treatment regimen had yielded very little benefit. She came to us extremely discouraged, more or less hopeless, and largely unable to function. We used the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a worldwide standard, to measure her depression severity before and then after 20 neurofeedback sessions. Mary’s mood had improved markedly. Her scores on the BDI decreased from a severe level score of 38 to a score of just 1.
Her OCD symptoms diminished also. Mary wanted to continue with neurofeedback and decided to participate in our home training program. It is now five years later. Mary trains at home a couple of times a month. This small amount of training maintains her with a positive mood and with very little anxiety.
If you struggle with depression and would like to learn more about neurofeedback, we are here to help.Contact Us