Depression is one of the most diagnosed mental illnesses in the United States. While some ups and downs in mood are a normal part everyday life, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and a loss of interest in things once found to be enjoyable. It can significantly impact how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, and working. Some people may feel generally low or unhappy without really knowing why.
Our brain is full of electrical activity that helps coordinate our emotions, our thoughts, and our behaviors. The brain communicates by transmitting electrical signals from one cell to another. These signals are called brainwaves. Brainwaves can get out of rhythm, or become abnormal, leading to an emotional imbalance, such as anxiety or depression. As common as depression is, it can be difficult trying to find the best treatment.
Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback therapy is a non-invasive approach that does not involve medication. During neurofeedback sessions, you have sensors hooked up to your scalp that monitor your brainwaves. While watching morphing fractal images created from your brain activity, the abnormal brainwave activity is trained to diminish, improve your brainwave patterns, and increase arousal levels. If a person’s brain is trained to increase its arousal levels, not only will their depression lift, but their whole outlook on life will improve as well.
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Benefits of NeuroFeedback Therapy for Depression
- A safe and natural approach
- Involves no medication
- No risky side effects
- Teaches the brain without chemicals
- Does not change your personality
- Effects are long-lasting
- While under an MD’s supervision most people can either cut down or stop using medication after successfully completing the required number of sessions
Emerald Coast NeuroFeedback
Can Help All Types of Depression
often referred to as Major Depression, is characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities (for at least 2 weeks), causing significant impairment in daily life.
Women with postpartum depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves And/or for their babies.
occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations. The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
Seasonal Affect Disorder
is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
(also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.
is different from depression, but it is included in this list is because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression, called “bipolar depression”. A person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
The Results Are Real
Neurofeedback works with the brain in a ‘bottom up’ capacity, training it how to get out of/into states that reduce symptoms and create a healthier brain, changing our thinking and mood. Neurofeedback has been shown to increase the number of brain neurons responsible for regulating one’s overall mood. It is often possible to train one’s brain to achieve a level of calmness and balance that does not require medication or other types of treatment. There are brainwaves that are related to our feelings (both good and bad). An under-aroused brain often results in feeling depressed with a lack of motivation. Neurofeedback trains your brain to increase its activation with beta for mood elevation, and is sometimes followed by alpha theta to balance these brainwaves. The objective of neurofeedback is to teach your brain to balance and not be reactive in response to events out of your control.
There are many forms of psychotherapy. A focus of psychotherapy is to make changes in our thinking that then trickle down to change our emotions, mood, and behaviors. Psychotherapy works via a ‘top down’ approach where our thinking is impacting our emotions and symptoms. Results from psychotherapy can vary widely with some benefiting greatly and others feeling overwhelmed by having to go through the process of talking about the problem (sometimes seeing multiple therapists before finding an effective practitioner that is a good fit). Psychotherapy can clarify what thinking is driving our experiences and help us make changes to our thoughts and the emotions that go along with them.
Numerous antidepressant medications are available to treat depression. Antidepressants help balance the levels of neurotransmitters; the chemicals responsible for communications between neurons in the brain. Higher levels of neurotransmitters usually correspond with lower levels of depression. There is no single best antidepressant as the symptoms and individuals needs vary. While antidepressants can be helpful in treating depression, their effectiveness varies from patient to patient. For most, antidepressants alone are not a long-term solution. Many medications lose their effectiveness over time, which leads to making changes in medication or increases in dosage. Some experience unpleasant side effects from anti-depressant medications and if they stop taking medication, symptoms often return and may be even worse.
People with depression just want to feel better. There is no one size fits all approach to the treatment of depressive disorders. Neurofeedback, psychotherapy, medication, or sometimes a combination of these, can serve as complementary approaches to the goal of mood regulation.
Risks OF Untreated Depression
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Increased Risk of Stroke
- Drug/Alcohol Addiction
- Negative Impact on Relationships
- Problems at Work/Loss of Job
Symptoms of Clinical Depression (Major Depression)
- Feelings of emptiness, sadness, or hopelessness
- Irritability or frustration, angry outbursts (even over little things)
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities such as sex, hobbies, or sports
- Decreased energy or fatigue, feeling as if everything is an effort
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feeling restless, agitated, or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
When to Get Emergency Help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
If you’re have suicidal thoughts:
- Call your doctor or mental health professional.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader, or someone else in your faith community.