Relieving The Symptoms of Depression With Neurofeedback
What psychologists refer to as depression is seen more as an end stage of anxiety by many neurofeedback therapists. The body can maintain high levels of central nervous system hyperarousal for only so long. Eventually the system begins to weaken and in response protects itself. Just as an arm that receives an injury may become stiff to naturally reduce its use and allow for healing, the brain slows down to protect itself from exhausting its resources on anxiety. Research at Keck Imaging Labs at the University of Wisconsin shows that depressed people experience a reduction of activity in the left side of the brain. This is the side that operates to get us engaging in positive moods and effective social interactions. When it slows down we naturally pull away from others and lose interest in things. We want to withdraw to our bed and just lay there. Everything seems flat and uninteresting. We lose the zest for life. Our moods become very negative. Energy is low. We either can't sleep at all or we sleep too much. It is the way our biology protects itself when the stress and strain of life becomes overwhelming. So a short mild depression is not necessarily a bad thing or an abnormal thing for most people. But when it goes on for more than two weeks and begins to undermine our daily living, then it is a serious problem. For some it can even end in death.
Individuals who have been depressed for more than two weeks should seek help from a mental health professional right away, especially if any thought of suicide are involved. A psychologist will give you tests to diagnose the type of depression and refer you to a psychiatrist for medication. The medications will lift some of the depression and the psychotherapist can begin to work with you to re-organize your life in a way that it works for you.
There are many individuals, however, who would prefer not to use drugs to manage their depression. For these individuals neurofeedback offers an additional solution. Many training with neurofeedback experience significant relief within 15 sessions. This offers the possibility of reducing medication and in many cases eliminating the need for it all together.
In dealing with depression many neurofeedback therapists place an electrode on the scalp over each side of the brain and train the individual to increase alpha brainwaves on the right side while reducing it on the left. As the left side of the brain becomes more active, individuals begin to feel more positive in their moods. The excess frontal alpha diminishes in magnitude over a period of training sessions and relief becomes continuous.