According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) there were approximately 15.7 million adults in the U.S. that experienced a depressive episode in 2014.
This can be conceptualized as 6.7% of all U.S. adults aged 18 and over. Although sadness is a part of normal life, when feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest, and depressed mood persist for more than 2 weeks it is considered a depressive episode. Depression can affect many other aspects of life such as, relationships, sleep, concentration, and self-image. Common treatment for depression can come in the form of counseling, or antidepressants (like Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro etc.), often in conjunction with each other. Neurofeedback may be helpful in managing depression alongside traditional psychotherapy and/or medication.
Research on Neurofeedback and Depression
Asymmetrical alpha, or abnormalities in the alpha frequency band, specifically at the front of the head, has been associated with depression (Baehr et al., 1999). Correcting this alpha frequency imbalance has been shown to improve depressive symptoms and also enhance executive function (e.g. managing time, paying attention) (Choi et al., 2010), as well as improving working memory (e.g. trying remember a phone number given to you) and processing speed (Escolano et al., 2014). Correction in alpha abnormalities have been shown to last for as long at 5 years (Baehr et al., 2001). Pharmaceuticals that treat depression symptoms do not address the alpha abnormality, so when medication treatment is stopped, it leaves the individual vulnerable to future depression (Hammond, 2005; Gotlib et al., 1998, Henriques et al., 1991; Kwon et al., 1996).
qEEG Asymmetrical Alpha Example
The above image shows a left frontal alpha excess which had been found in those with deppression and symptoms of depression
Live sLORETA Asymmetrical Alpha Example
The above image shows excess frontal alpha in real time. The green in this case is normal activity while the red is excess activity. The picture above is oriented so that the brain is facing you (like you’re looking in a mirror).
Neurofeedback may be able to help lessen symptoms, and help you to better manage your depression.
Please contact the Brain Enrichment Center at 440-232-9100 to schedule an individual consultation to see if neurofeedback is a good choice for your specific situation. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click for references:
Baehr, E. L. S. A., Rosenfeld, J. P., Baehr, R. U. F. U. S., & Earnest, C. A. R. O. L. Y. N. (1999). Clinical use of an alpha asymmetry neurofeedback protocol in the treatment of mood disorders. Introduction to quantitative EEG and neurofeedback, 181-201.
Baehr, E., Rosenfeld, J. P., & Baehr, R. (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(4), 11-18.
Escolano, C., Navarro-Gil, M., Garcia-Campayo, J., Congedo, M., De Ridder, D., & Minguez, J. (2014). A controlled study on the cognitive effect of alpha neurofeedback training in patients with major depressive disorder. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 8.
Gotlib, I. H. (1998). EEG alpha asymmetry, depression, and cognitive functioning. Cognition & Emotion, 12(3), 449-478.
Hammond, D. C. (2005). Neurofeedback treatment of depression and anxiety. Journal of Adult Development, 12(2-3), 131-137.
Henriques, J. B., & Davidson, R. J. (1991). Left frontal hypoactivation in depression. Journal of abnormal psychology, 100(4), 535.
Kwon, J. S., Youn, T., & Jung, H. Y. (1996). Right hemisphere abnormalities in major depression: quantitative electroencephalographic findings before and after treatment. Journal of affective disorders, 40(3), 169-173.