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Depression and Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback for Depression

Depression can be defined as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.

Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it.

Traditionally, depression has been treated with therapy and medication, both of which have limitations, and medications can have significant side effects.

How Neurofeedback can help depression

Research shows that clinical depression has been linked to certain brain patterns. Neurofeedback actually retrains the dysfunctional brain patterns associated with depression stabilizing and improving mood and motivation  - all without medications.

What is Neurofeedback Training?

Neurofeedback Training is a simple, painless, drugless and non-invasive therapy. It trains the EEG or brainwaves using operant conditioning. Operant conditioning uses auditory and visual feedback to reward the brainwaves when they change in the desired direction to relieve seizures. An individual learns to control his own brainwaves through the help of visual and auditory feedback.

Neurofeedback training is simple, painless, drugless, non-invasive and virtually has no harmful side effects.

How does Neurofeedback work?

Neurofeedback is a way to quantify and train brain activity.
The basic principles of how neurofeedback works are deceptively simple.

Communication between groups of cells in the brain generates thoughts, sensations, actions and emotions. This activity is detectable in the form of brainwaves - electrical impulses generated by your brain activity.

During a neurofeedback session, electrodes detect your brainwaves to see your brain in action. A computer compares your brain activity to targets or goals for you to reach. Through operant conditioning, sounds and images tell you immediately when your brain reaches your goal and when not - when you are activating or suppressing the target area of the brain.

Through this simple method, you learn how to quiet brainwaves associated with depression and increase brainwaves associated with optimal brain function. Much like physical exercises strengthen and develop specific muscles, the more your brain is exercised into reaching a new more comfortable, more efficient position, the better and stronger it gets.

How do we decide what needs to change?

A thorough assessment is done to determine what the difficulties a person is experiencing along with the history of the problem, medical history, family history, and an assessment of brain functioning. A quantitative EEG (QEEG) is performed to collect data under different conditions, eyes closed, eyes open, reading and doing a performance task. We look at the results of the way the brainwaves are working, and we run the results against a normed data base that is the same as the person’s age, gender and handedness. We determine a direction for treatment based on the symptoms of the individual and the quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG).

How long does it take?

The length of neurofeedback training sessions always depends on the condition, age and health of the patient as well as any other health conditions that are present and need supportive treatment. We find that an average number of sessions to get a significant change to occur are around 20-30 sessions. Individuals that have other health concerns need to recognize that Neurofeedback alone cannot do everything and there needs to be a comprehensive understanding and treatment of the overall health problems.

How often can a person do Neurofeedback session?

A person can get a neurofeedback session as much as twice a day with at least a two-hour break in between. It is recommended that a person try to do neurofeedback at least two or three times a week until the sessions are completed. Results appear to solidify and happen faster when done more frequently. If a person is going off medication it is helpful to do neurofeedback in this way to help with the transition and chemical adjustment in the body. When a person speeds up their treatment they get the results and life changes quicker.