Is Neurofeedback an Effective Treatment for Depression?
Some people consider depression to be an ‘invisible’ disability. No one can see that you’re suffering because it all happens internally.
It’s also very common. Over 264 million people around the world suffer from depression.
Despite how common it is, it can still be challenging to find the right treatment. Most health practitioners recommend meditation, medication, or talking therapy. All these can have an effect, yet they take time to adjust to or cause side effects.
Yet neuroscience keeps discovering new treatments that work more quickly without side-effects. Neurofeedback is one such treatment—and it involves no medication. You can consider it the ‘ultimate’ in brain training.
Are you wondering if neurofeedback for depression could help you? Read on to learn more.
What is Neurofeedback?
Your brain produces electrical impulses, known as brainwaves, between brain cells. These impulses are the cells talking to each other.
Brainwaves happen in different states, like deep focus or relaxation. Monitoring brain waves is one way to check your mood, stress level, and other signs.
Famous brainwave patterns are alpha, beta, theta, and delta. We all enter them throughout the day and our sleep. They can make tasks easier or harder. It all depends on the compatibility of the pattern and what we’re doing.
Neurofeedback in Action
Neurofeedback is the process of measuring your brainwaves using an EEG machine. Then it rewards you when your brain performs the ‘right’ action. In some cases, the reward can be things like watching a movie or listening to a favorite song.
For example, if your brainwaves show that you are more relaxed, you’ll get a positive reward. As your brainwaves start moving in the opposite direction, the reward ends or goes away.
The brain learns the ‘behavior’ it needs to adopt to get a positive reward. In neuroscience, the behavior is the right brainwave state. Thanks to neuroplasticity, we can help ‘train’ your brain to behave in a certain way.
One of the benefits of neurofeedback is that it teaches the brain how to alter its state on its own. It remembers the positive response associated with optimal brain wave patterns and seeks to return to that. Imagine the possibilities that can offer for treating mood issues.
How Does Neurofeedback Work With Depression?
The brain naturally wants to stay in a neutral position. This balanced state helps us to manage our thoughts and emotions.
We’ll all experience negativity, but staying in these thought patterns keeps us unbalanced. The longer we stay in them, the harder it gets to reach that balanced state again.
States like depression affect how we think and make choices. Depression creates a ripple effect. Our thinking affects our choices, and these choices then impact our thinking. These patterns keep us trapped in negative thought cycles.
Let’s Turn to Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is a simple and medication-free way to break the cycle. It allows the brain to switch back to a balanced state.
More activity in the left frontal lobe leads to a more positive mood. As a result, abnormal activity in the right frontal lobe leads to a low mood.
Knowing this means your practitioner can train the left frontal lobe to be more active. These actions create more positive thinking patterns. Training also makes depressed thinking less likely in the future.
The neurofeedback protocol for depression also means you can teach the brain how to make this switch on its own. Over time, this makes it easier for you to return to neutral whenever depression threatens to appear. This form of brain training produces an automatic response.
How Effective is Neurofeedback with Depression?
One 2019 study used neurofeedback to treat those suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD). After twelve weeks, they found response rates were 58.3 percent. So not only did neurofeedback help the symptoms, it also helped their recovery.
A trauma survivor had suffered from depression for years. She’d also tried medication, diet, hypnotherapy, various talking therapies, and exercise. While they all helped to an extent, she found neurofeedback made a real difference after eight sessions.
Many other studies back these findings up on a much larger scale. Clinical trials show an improvement, especially where other treatments have proven ineffective. While the trials have been small, and there is less research into its long-term effects, the benefits are still evident.
Studies have also shown success in using alpha/theta feedback training for deep depression. This training also helps to promote relaxation, trauma-related healing, and creativity.
Why is Neurofeedback a Great Option for Treatment?
Neurofeedback is a pain-free approach that doesn’t involve medication. That means you won’t have any contradictions with other medicines you might be taking. As it’s also a non-invasive process, it’s a natural way to treat depression.
Remember, altering your brainwaves doesn’t change you or your personality. It doesn’t change the content of your thoughts. Neurofeedback works to improve activity in the right sections of the brain.
That’s very different from medication, which alters your brain chemistry.
Prescription drugs, while sometimes useful, can also cause unpleasant side effects. Neurofeedback doesn’t have side effects, making it a better and healthier choice.
Changing How You Think About Treatment
Ultimately, neurofeedback changes how you think about things. Where depression is concerned, this is often where the problem lies.
Talking therapies can help you to identify negative thought patterns. Yet, it takes a tremendous effort to work against them and rewire your neural pathways.
Neurofeedback can do this more efficiently by working with the natural functions of the brain. It also has the most potential for a permanent change since the brain learns to ‘heal’ itself through the training.
Here at Neurohealth Associates we specialize in Neurofeedback treatments. Neurofeedback may be helpful if you have unwanted mood swings, problems sleeping, anger management issues, motivation, or poor self-esteem. The easy, noninvasive treatment can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life.
Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth today and find out how we can help you.
Cited from NHA Health