Do you feel sad, constantly irritated or agitated, or have trouble getting out of bed every day?
Millions of people suffer from depression in North America. For some people, it hits them suddenly and unexpectedly and for others depression is something they have battled their entire life. When you are depressed, you struggle to get away from the pain, frustration, and overall dark shadow you feel you live in. Happy moments seem to come very rarely. Life can seem very difficult at times.
The good news is that depression is treatable. There are many treatment options, including multiple forms of psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and diet. Neurofeedback is a more recent, innovative treatment that has surfaced with the advancement of technology. The more you know about your depression, the better you will be able to choose the treatment option best for you. No two people are affected the same way by depression and because of this there is no “one” treatment that cures it for everyone.
If you have not yet sought help to understand or treat your depression, the first step is to meet with a mental health professional so that you can understand your symptoms, their cause, and the treatment options. You can book an appointment with Dr. Presniak here to take this first step if you do not currently have a treatment provider. From there, the various treatment options can be discussed. If you are interested in Neurofeedback, Dr. Presniak can discuss what this treatment entails and whether or not you are a good candidate. Neurofeedback is most often sought out by those who have tried other forms of treatment, such as medication and/or psychotherapy without success. Neurofeedback is unique in that rather than simply teach you to cope with symptoms, it targets the underlying brain functioning that causes your symptoms. When you meet with Dr. Presniak, she will discuss all options and available combinations of treatments.
Typically with depression, EEG studies have shown an underactivation of the left frontal area of the brain and in particular activation differences (asymmetry) between the left and right frontal alpha. This asymmetry is associated with sadness, decreased motivation, and difficulties concentrating. Neurofeedback for patients who show this profile often begins with activation of the left frontal area. Sometime training both sides of the brain together can also be helpful. Read more about the neurophysiological basis for depression.
People who have undergone Neurofeedback often will quickly notice that they have more energy and feel more motivated. With further training, they also notice that their emotions seem more stable and they aren’t feeling as agitated or sad. Happiness starts to emerge and they find themselves able to live their life more easily.
There are very few studies examining the effectiveness of Neurofeedback for depression. Hammond has studied whether Depression can be treated successfully with Neurofeedback in small samples showing promising results. Hammond states in an article for the ISNR, that “Neurofeedback treatments for depression appear very promising not only in bringing relief from depression, but in modifying the underlying biological predisposition for becoming depressed. Neurofeedback focuses on retraining the brain, for example, reversing the frontal brainwave asymmetry, with the goal of producing an enduring change that does not require people to remain on medication indefinitely.”
Baehr, Rosenfeld, and Baehr examined changes in depression in patients undergoing Neurofeedback and found improvements in patients’ depression scores. They used alpha asymmetry protocols.
Baehr, Rosenfeld, & Baehr (2001). Clinical Use of an alpha asymmetry neurofeedback protocol in the treatment of mood disorders: Follow-up study one to five years post therapy. Journal of Neurotherapy, 4, 11-18
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