iStock_000008386887XSmall-300x199 Depression and anxiety unlike some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward. If you have diabetes, you take insulin; if you have appendicitis, you have surgery. But depression is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much-if not more so-than genetics. It is all about understanding the aspect of your depression which may help you overcome the problem. That is why the NeurofeedbackWellnessCenter.com offers Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback) a Drug-Free, Non-Invasive training as an ‘Adjunctive‘ (i.e. Used together with the primary treatment in the purpose is to assist the primary treatment) training with conventional 3rd party psychotherapy (Moore, 2000; Rosenfeld, 2000; Trudeau, 2000).

“With the use of anticonvulsants as mood stabilizers,” Othmer said, “we have seen a convergence of psychiatry and neurology in the field of pharmacology. Similarly, neurofeedback signals a convergence of psychiatry and neurology in bioelectrical approaches to treating affective disorders. By stabilizing the brain and rewarding it for holding particular states, neurofeedback acts as a natural anticonvulsant.” The rationale for using neurofeedback therapeutically is that it corrects deficits in brain cerebral regulatory function related to arousal, attention, vigilance and affect (Othmer et al., 1999). Such as with Beta (15 Hz to 18 Hz) neurofeedback training usually produces a slightly upward shift in arousal levels, leading to increased wakefulness and attentiveness or to decreased depression.

What is depression?
We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all-instead, they feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

Are you depressed?
If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

  • you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • you are much more irritable and short-tempered than usual
  • you have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)

Recommended Help Lines / Contact Numbers

      • Contact your attending Psychiatrist, Psychologist, or Suicide Prevention Hotline
      • Call 911 if you believe that an immediate danger of harming self is possible
      • Call the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line: 800-273-8255 (www.save.org)
      • Call the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 800-273-8255 (www.afsp.org)

How to Treat Depression – Neurofeedback Or Electro-Shock Therapy?
By Dr. Clare Albright

Up to three percent of those who are clinically depressed will die by suicide this year. Among young people, the suicide rate has increased significantly in the last few decades. Suicide was the third leading cause of death in 15-24 year-olds in 1997. Even people who are not deeply depressed can struggle regularly with sad feelings and mood swings. Clearly, depression is a very serious issue.

Unfortunately, for many years, people suffering from depression were hesitant to seek help, fearing that the stigma of psychiatric treatment would only add to their list of troubles. All too often, their concerns proved to be warranted. In 1972, Senator Thomas Eagleton’s admission of having been treated for depression cost him the candidacy for vice-president.

Two treatments for depression use electricity in interesting ways. These treatments are often sought after because they do not involve medications, which can have some very unpleasant side effects. These two treatments are electroconvulsive shock therapy, or ECT, and neurofeedback therapy. ECT was widely used to treat depression only a few decades ago. If you have seen the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” you will no doubt remember the graphic scene where Randall Patrick McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) received ECT.

While not as popular as it once was, approximately one million people every year are still treated with this method. Patients undergoing ECT have to be put under general anesthesia, which comes with risks including memory loss and confusion. Moreover, ECT is usually only effective for a short while; in fact, a 2004 study showed that only 30% of ECT patients saw an improvement in their symptoms, and of those patients, 64% would relapse in less than a year.

One of the most exciting things about neurofeedback for depression (aside from the fact it works so well for many people) is that it is free of the burdensome side effects of some of the other treatments available. If you have not heard of neurofeedback yet, you may have heard of biofeedback, which uses signals from the body to help the client to know when something has gone wrong, so they can begin addressing the problem. Neurofeedback therapy is based on the same principle as biofeedback. It also uses signals, but these originate in the brain.

Using these signals, neurofeedback attempts to retrain the brain to function normally. It is effective with over half of depression patients, no matter what the cause of their depression, whether trauma, genetic anomaly or another cause, and regardless of how long they’ve been depressed.

What’s more, the retraining that neurofeedback accomplishes may last for years. Although this new form of treatment still needs a few more long-term studies done, many scientists and therapists believe that the changes that neurofeedback causes in the brain will last for many years. Just think about never having to use medication or deal with a depression relapse again!

If you have depression or know someone who is struggling with it, you may want to consider using neurofeedback as an add-on therapy or as an alternative to ECT or medication alone.

Source Material | References

A little something on Dr. Clare Albright… Dr. Clare Albright is a psychologist and the author of a 168 page book, “Neurofeedback: Transforming Your Life with Brain Biofeedback” and can be reached at her website: www.drclarity.com

Is Brain Neurofeedback Helpful For Reducing Depression?
By Dr. Clare Albright

For the twenty-five years that I have been counseling in Orange County, CA, depression is the most frequent diagnosis that I see. My friends who are counselors tell me the same thing. As many as three percent of those diagnosed with clinical depression will commit suicide this year. In 1997, suicide was the eighth leading cause of death with 30,535 reported deaths by suicide. These facts clearly show that depression is not something to be treated lightly.

People of all ages, both male and female, who suffer from depression, have often been reluctant to seek help, fearing the stigma sometimes attached to the disorder. Recently, however, some well-known entertainment and media personalities, such as news anchor Hugh Downs, have come forward with their personal struggles with depression, hoping to encourage others to seek treatment.

Depression Needs a Cure, Not Cover Up

For years, doctors have been prescribing drugs like Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft as antidepressants, and while they help many people adapt and learn to cope with their depression they are not necessarily the answer. Many of these drugs cause serious side effects including weight gain and dizziness, and getting off them can be a nightmare, which often results in the symptoms of depression returning.

Another form of therapy that is still sometimes used, although no longer as popular as in previous decades, is electroconvulsive shock therapy, or ECT. Anyone who has seen the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” will likely recall the intense scene in which Jack Nicholson’s character receives ECT. While ECT has been proven effective in some patients, the effects of this treatment are usually short-term, lasting no longer than three months in thirty percent of patients. ECT has some side effects as well, including memory loss and some signs of moderate confusion after treatment.

Enter neurofeedback. Those who opt for treatment using neurofeedback for depression are not only experiencing relief from their symptoms, but they are literally re-training their brain for long term relief and termination of those symptoms. And, of course, this is all done without side effects.

Retraining the Brain

Using the neurofeedback machine and the training given by the therapist, each patient learns to control and then retrain the way their brain works. Rather than acting to suppress the real cause of the symptoms, neurofeedback helps patients to retrain their brain for the long haul.

I’ve saved the best for last. Neurofeedback seems to work for depression, no matter how the person has become depressed. Meaning, whether their depression is the result of physical or emotional trauma; a genetic anomaly; or some other, perhaps unknown cause, many patients with depression respond very favorably to neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback – A Non-Drug Therapy For Depression
By Dr. Clare Albright

Depression is one of the worst mind sicknesses out there today. The statistics prove this point even more. When you consider that up to 2% of those who are clinically depressed will die by suicide this year the need for an effective, safe treatment becomes even more needed.

Clearly, depression is a very serious issue. Unfortunately, for many years, men, women and children around the world were hesitant to seek treatment, fearing that the stigma of psychiatric treatment would only add to their list of troubles. A perfect example of how social labels can cause people to suffer in their business, and public lives is illustrated in an often told story of one Senator.

In 1972, Senator Thomas Eagleton admitted to suffering from depression. This admission of having been treated for depression cost him the candidacy for Vice President.

Happily, many things have changed since 1972. Depression is no longer the “scarlet letter” of healthcare, and EEG biofeedback, or neurofeedback has proven to be incredibly effective this condition.

Now, please keep in mind one very important thing; one of the most exciting things about neurofeedback for depression (other than the fact it works so well for many people) is that it is free of the burdensome side effects of some of the other treatments available.

Treatments for depression have not only included drugs and counseling. At the far end of the spectrum, we have electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT). Anyone who has watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” will no doubt remember the graphic scene where Randall Patrick McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) received ECT. While not as popular as it once was, there are still approximately 1 million people a year who are treated with this method.

While I’m not making the claim that neurofeedback is a replacement for ECT, I would like to compare it with neurofeedback in a couple of key areas.

First, a 2004 follow up study of patients who had been treated with ECT found that up to as few as 30% of the patients had remission of their symptoms. Seventy percent is a huge amount of people to be put through such a painful and invasive treatment only to have NO RELIEF!!! More important, perhaps, was the finding that 64% of those patients would relapse in six months or less.

Next, patients who are receiving ECT have at a similar risk to those who are going under general anesthesia. Furthermore, immediately following treatment patients may experience memory loss and moderate confusion.

Enter neurofeedback. Those who opt for treatment using neurofeedback for depression are not only experiencing relief from their symptoms, but they are literally re-training their brain for long term relief and termination of those symptoms. And, of course, this is all done without side effects.

I’ve save the best for last. Neurofeedback seems to work for depression, no matter how the person has become depressed. Meaning, whether their depression is the result of physical or emotional trauma; a genetic anomaly; or some other, perhaps unknown cause, many patients with depression respond very favorably to neurofeedback.

Best of all it does NOT hurt the patient. The worst that a person will feel is a little cold from the gel and rarely a little nausea or tiredness after the treatment. Why are we still using such torture to treat people? Let us help people with a treatment that will not only greatly reduce their symptoms, will also make them smarter!!

Treatment and Alternatives for Depression and Anxiety

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy offers people the opportunity to identify the factors that contribute to their depression and to deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational causes. In talk therapy, individuals with depression have the opportunity to identify the sources of their depression, identify negative or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness, and regain a sense of control over their lives.

Individual, group, and family therapies have been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression.

Neurofeedback
Typically, a person with depression has a condition known as prefrontal left-hemispheric slowing. In other words the left side of brain operates slower than the right side of the brain. Slow brain wave activity results in reduced cerebral blood flow in the same area of the brain, thereby resulting in symptoms of depression.

Numerous studies indicate that depressed individuals can learn to increase left hemispheric activity with the use of neurofeedback training. This has resulted in improved cerebral blood flow without the use of medications or dangerous side-effects. Neurofeedback trainees often report a lifting of some depression symptoms in just a few training sessions.

Alpha-stim or Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)
CES is the application of low-level, pulse electrical currents applied to the head for psychological purposes. It is FDA approved for the treatment of situation and chronic anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress-related and drug addiction disorders, as well as treating pain. It is a simple treatment that can be used at any time. The client simply attaches clip-electrodes to the ears.

The reduction of anxiety usually occurs during the first treatment, but can also be seen hours later or even the next day. Cranial electrotherapy allows you to be alert yet in a relaxed state, or an alpha state. People have stated that they feel lighter, relaxed, and their minds are more alert. This is the result of the production of alpha waves.

Different brain waves are associated with different mental states. Alpha waves are associated with the state of being alter and relaxed. CES can be used in conjunction with medication. However it maybe necessary to reduce the dosage of the medication while using CES. It is important to consult with your doctor before you reduce or stop your medication. Any adjustment to medication needs to be done under the supervision of a doctor.

Types of depression
Depression comes in many shapes and forms. The different types of depression have unique symptoms, causes, and effects. Knowing what type of depression you have can help you manage your symptoms and get the most effective treatment.

Major depression
Major depression is characterized by the inability to enjoy life and experience pleasure. The symptoms are constant, ranging from moderate to severe. Left untreated, major depression typically lasts for about six months. Some people experience just a single depressive episode in their lifetime, but more commonly, major depression is a recurring disorder. However, there are many things you can do to support your mood and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Atypical Depression
Atypical depression is a common subtype of major depression. It features a specific symptom pattern, including a temporary mood lift in response to positive events. You may feel better after receiving good news or while out with friends. However, this boost in mood is fleeting. Other symptoms of atypical depression include weight gain, increased appetite, sleeping excessively, a heavy feeling in the arms and legs, and sensitivity to rejection. Atypical depression responds better to some therapies and medications than others, so identifying this subtype can be particularly helpful.

Dysthymia (recurrent, mild depression)
Dysthmia is a type of chronic “low-grade” depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood. The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last a long time (at least two years). These chronic symptoms make it very difficult to live life to the fullest or to remember better times. Some people also experience major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a condition known as “double depression.” If you suffer from dysthymia, you may feel like you’ve always been depressed. Or you may think that your continuous low mood is “just the way you are.” However, dysthymia can be treated, even if your symptoms have gone unrecognized or untreated for years.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
There’s a reason why so many movies and books portray rainy days and stormy weather as gloomy. Some people get depressed in the fall or winter, when overcast days are frequent and sunlight is limited. This type of depression is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is more common in northern climates and in younger people. Like depression, seasonal affective disorder is treatable. Light therapy, a treatment that involves exposure to bright artificial light, often helps relieve symptoms.

Depression causes and risk factors
Some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward. If you have diabetes, you take insulin. If you have appendicitis, you have surgery. But depression is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much-if not more so-than genetics. However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression.

Causes and risk factors for depression

  • Loneliness
  • Lack of social support
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Financial strain
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Health problems or chronic pain

EEG Biofeedback Training for Depression

The most prominent use of biofeedback in the United States is for anxiety disorders and stress management. For these conditions, relaxation training and peripheral biofeedback modalities are very helpful. Unfortunately, these techniques do not generally address the far more common depressive conditions, such as primary unipolar depression, reactive depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, and PMS. Often, anxiety is seen in the context of depression, in which case the conventional relaxation techniques only address the anxiety condition, and may not remediate the underlying depression. The latter requires training to a more highly activated state.

EEG biofeedback offers a new modality for addressing depressive conditions as well as anxiety. This appears to be the case because EEG training impacts on the basic mechanism by which the brain controls physiological arousal. In this manner, normal regulation of arousal may be restored, which means that sleep may normalize in the depressed person, and normal range of affect may return. Other benefits of the training may accrue as well. If the person is experiencing chronic pain, which may be either a cause of depression, or its effect, such pain may remediate as well.

The training appears to be effective regardless of the pathway by which the person has become depressed, whether this results from a genetic pre-disposition, early childhood trauma, or a subsequent traumatic (physical or emotional) experience, or simply a physiological change of unknown causation. As the training proceeds, the client may find that anti-depressant or stimulant medication will no longer be needed. Hence, the person should be under continuing medical care for his condition, so that the medication dose may be monitored. It is generally observed that the requirement for anti-depressant medication will be reduced or eliminated entirely as the training proceeds.

It is true of all remedies for depression that they are accompanied commonly by the recall of prior traumatic memories, which may have been totally suppressed over the years. It is therefore important that counseling be available in the event of such traumatic recall, and for other profound emotional changes which can be elicited by the training.

The training has also been found to be helpful in cases of depression caused by specific traumatic events, such as rape, and by other insults to the brain such as chemotherapy, or general anesthesia in the elderly. EEG biofeedback training is also indicated for those clients who do not respond favorably to medical management, and for those who are counseled to avoid certain medications by their doctor. This category includes in particular pregnant women.

There is evidence that once a person experiences a depressive episode, subsequent episodes are more likely. Hence, training the brain to remediate depression may have the beneficial effect of tending to make subsequent recurrences less likely. The training also appears to be effective for a variety of conditions which are seen concomitantly with depression, such as alcohol dependence and violent behavior.