Depression is a debilitating mental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can significantly impact an individual’s life, causing them to experience low mood, lack of motivation, and a sense of hopelessness. While there are several treatment options available for depression, including medication and therapy, there is growing interest in neurofeedback as a potential care option. Neurofeedback is a type of brain training that uses real-time feedback to help individuals learn how to control their brainwaves. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of neurofeedback for individuals with depression.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is a type of brain training that uses real-time feedback to help individuals learn how to control their brainwaves. Brainwaves are electrical impulses that are generated by the brain and are responsible for our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Different brainwave frequencies are associated with different mental states, such as relaxation, focus, and sleep. Neurofeedback aims to help individuals regulate their brainwaves to achieve a more balanced and optimal mental state.
Neurofeedback sessions typically involve placing electrodes on the scalp to measure brainwave activity. This information is then fed back to the individual in real time, usually in the form of visual or auditory feedback. The individual is then taught techniques to control their brainwave activity, such as deep breathing or visualization. Over time, the brain learns to regulate its activity independently, leading to lasting changes in mood, behavior, and cognitive function.
Neurofeedback is based on the principle of neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to new experiences. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to create new neural pathways and modify existing ones, which can lead to improved brain function and mental health.
How can Neurofeedback help with Depression?
Depression is associated with abnormal brain activity in specific regions of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. Neurofeedback helps regulate brain activity in these regions, which may improve symptoms of depression.
The brain is a highly complex organ, and the mechanisms behind neurofeedback are not fully understood. However, there are several theories about how neurofeedback works.
One theory is that neurofeedback helps to increase the flexibility of the brain, allowing it to adapt more easily to changing situations. This increased flexibility may help individuals with depression to respond more effectively to stressors and negative thoughts, leading to improvements in mood and overall mental health.
Another theory is that neurofeedback helps to rebalance brainwave activity in individuals with depression. Research has shown that individuals with depression often have an imbalance in their brainwave activity, with too much activity in certain areas and not enough activity in others. Neurofeedback may help to restore this balance by training the brain to produce more or less of certain brainwave frequencies.
A third theory is that neurofeedback helps to strengthen the connections between different areas of the brain. Depression is associated with reduced connectivity between different brain regions, which may contribute to the symptoms of the disorder. Neurofeedback may help to strengthen these connections, leading to improvements in mood and cognitive function.
In recent years, neurofeedback has emerged as a promising option for depression. Here are some ways neurofeedback can help with depression:
1. Regulating Brain Activity
Neurofeedback can regulate brain waves that are associated with depression. Research suggests that depressed individuals have increased activity of alpha waves in the left prefrontal cortex, which is linked to negative emotions. By training individuals to increase alpha wave activity in the right prefrontal cortex, which is linked to positive emotions, neurofeedback can help regulate mood and alleviate symptoms of depression.
2. Improving Sleep
Sleep disturbances are common in individuals with depression. Neurofeedback seeks to improve sleep quality by regulating brain waves associated with sleep. In a study, individuals who received neurofeedback training reported better sleep quality and fewer symptoms of depression.
3. Reducing Anxiety
Anxiety often co-occurs with depression. In fact, some authors believe depression is the natural outcome of long-term anxiousness and is the brain’s way of protecting itself from chemicals associated with the state of anxiety. Neurofeedback can regulate brain waves associated with anxiety, leading to reduced symptoms. In a study, individuals who received neurofeedback training session reported reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.
4. Increases Motivation
Depression is often characterized by a lack of motivation. Neurofeedback can help increase motivation by regulating brain waves associated with motivation and reward. In a study, individuals who received neurofeedback procedures reported increased motivation and a more positive outlook on life.
5. Reduces Relapse
Neurofeedback has been found to reduce the risk of relapse in individuals with depression. In a study, individuals who received neurofeedback sessions had a significantly lower risk of relapse compared to those who received antidepressant medication alone.
Overall, neurofeedback is a promising care option for depression that is non-invasive and has no significant or long-lasting side effects. While more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness, preliminary studies suggest that it can regulate brain waves associated with depression, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, increase motivation, and reduce the risk of relapse.
Are you ready to feel better?
Dr. Johnson is pleased to offer a free initial evaluation to anyone interested in this all-natural approach to improved brain health. Schedule a Free Evaluation or call (586) 488-4818 and see for yourself how beneficial the Michigan Brain Health neurofeedback program can be for you or your child’s health challenges.
Always remember one of my mantras, “The more you know about how your body works, the better you can take care of yourself.”
For more details about the natural approach I take with my patients, take a look at the book I wrote entitled: Reclaim Your Life; Your Guide To Revealing Your Body’s Life-Changing Secrets For Renewed Health. It is available in my office or at Amazon and many other book outlets. If you found value in this article, please use the social sharing icons at the bottom of this post, and please share with those you know who are still suffering from chronic health challenges, despite receiving medical management. Help me reach more people so they may regain their zest for living! Thank you!
ALL THE BEST – DR. KARL R.O.S. JOHNSON, DC, BCN – DIGGING DEEPER TO FIND SOLUTIONS
- Hammond, D. C. (2005). Neurofeedback treatment of depression with the Roshi. Journal of Neurotherapy, 9(2), 1-13.
- Lee, J., Lee, S., Lee, Y. J., Kim, E. Y., & Kim, Y. K. (2018). The efficacy of neurofeedback in patients with major depressive disorder: An open-labeled prospective study. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 43(4), 299-307.
- Matthews, M., & Egbert, N. (2019). Neurofeedback for the treatment of depression: A literature review. Journal of Neurotherapy, 23(2), 134-142.
- Moore, N. C. (2000). A review of EEG biofeedback treatment of anxiety disorders. Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 1-6.
- Schönenberg, M., Wiedemann, E., Schneidt, A., Scheeff, J., Logemann, A., Keune, P. M., & Hautzinger, M. (2017). Neurofeedback, Sham Neurofeedback, and Cognitive-Behavioural Group Therapy in Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Triple-Blind, Randomised, Controlled Trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 4, 673-684. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30291-2