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Neurofeedback for Depression

Depression is a devastating disorder that can be very difficult to cure. Cognitive therapy is always helpful but sometimes that alone is not enough, and prescription medications may be unwanted, ineffective or expensive.

Neurofeedback is a non-pharmaceutical option for treating depression that is offered at The Brain Clinic in New York City.

Depression treatments at the Brain Clinic, www.thebrainclinic.com

Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback, which consists of different methods of training a person to control and manage their own brain physiology. Neurophysiological research by Davidson (1998a, b) has shown that some depressed patients have excess left frontal alpha, for example, and that by training this pattern to become normal, the symptoms of depression can be lifted.

A typical pattern is slower brainwave activity in the left frontal area. When this part of the brain is more inactive and the right frontal area is more dominant, the patient is predisposed to become depressed more easily and to be anxious. Contributing factors may include a family history of depression or a mild head injury in the left frontal area that helped create the frontal alpha abnormality.

Elsa Baehr and her colleagues discovered that by training depressed patients to alter their abnormal alpha asymmetry (Baehr & Baehr, 1997; Baehr, et al, 1997, 2001, 2004; Rosenfeld, 1997, 2000; Rosenfeld, et al, 1995, 1996), their symptoms can improve. Other reviews of the literature have shown that neurofeedback can be effective in treating depression (Hammond, 2001a, 2001b, 2005; Walker, et al, 2007). Other aspects of abnormal neurophysiology have included low alpha in the posterior regions. A bibliography is noted below for those who want scientific support for this new treatment modality, as well as issues regarding medication for depression. Additionally, neurofeedback treatment has been found to be permanent (Baehr et al, 2001). However, there is no guarantee that this treatment will work for everyone.

More about Neurofeedback

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References:

Allen, JB & Calendar, JH (1996). Biofeedback alters EEG asymmetry. Psychophysiology, 33(suppl), S17, (Abstract).

Baehr, E & Baehr, R (1997). The use of brainwave biofeedback as an adjunctive therapeutic treatment for depression: Three case studies. Biofeedback, 25(1), 10-11.

Baehr, E, Miller, E, Rosenfeld, JP & Baehr, R. (2004). Changes in frontal brain asymmetry associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder: A single case study. Journal of Neurotherapy, 8(1), 29-42.

Baehr, E, Rosenfeld, JP & Baehr, R (1997) The clinical use of an alpha asymmetry protocol in the neurofeedback treatment of depression: Two case studies. Journal of Neurotherapy, 2(3), 10-23.

Baehr, E, Rosenfeld, JP & Baehr, R (2001) Clinical use of an alpha asymmetry neurofeedback protocol in the treatment of mood disorders: Follow-up study 1 to 5 years post therapy. Journal of Neurotherapy, 4(4), 11-18.

Berg, K & Siever, D (2009). A controlled comparison of audio-visual entrainment for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy 13(3), 166–175.

Cantor, DS & Stevens, E (2009).QEEG correlates of auditory-visual entrainment treatment efficacy of refractory depression. Journal of Neurotherapy 13(2), 100 – 108.

Davidson, R. J. (1998a). Affective style and affective disorders: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Cognition & Emotion, 12, 307-330.

Davidson, RJ (1998b) Anterior electrophysiological asymmetries, emotion, and depression: Conceptual and methodological conundrums. Psychophysiology, 35, 607-614.

DeRubeis, RJ, Gelfand, LA, Tang, TZ & Simons, AD (1999). Medications versus cognitive behavior therapy for severely depressed outpatients: Mega-analysis of four randomized comparisons. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 1007-1013.

Earnest, C (1999).

Hammond, D (2001a) Neurofeedback treatment of depression with the Roshi. Journal of Neurotherapy, 4(2), 45-56.

Hammond, D (2001b). Neurofeedback training for anger control. Journal of Neurotherapy, 5(4), 98-103.

Hammond, D (2005). Neurofeedback with anxiety and affective disorders. Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14(1), 105-123.

Hammond, D (2005b).

Hardman, E, Gruzelier, J, Chessman, K, Jones, C, Liddiard, D, Schleichert, H & Birbaumer, N (1997). Frontal interhemispheric asymmetry: Self-regulation and individual differences in humans. Neuroscience Letters, 221, 117-120.

Hollon, SD, Shelton, RC & Loosen, PT (1991). Cognitive therapy and pharmacotherapy for depression. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 59, 88-99.

Jenkins, P & Moore, WH (1985). The effects of visual feedback on hemispheric alpha asymmetries and reported processing strategies: A single-subject experimental design. Brain & Cognition, 4(1), 47-58.

Kirsch, I & Sapirstein, G (1998). Listening to Prozac but hearing placebo: A meta-analysis of antidepressant medication. Prevention & Treatment, 1, Article 2. Available online at: http://www.journals.apa.org/prevention/volume1

Kirsch, I, Moore, TJ, Scoboria, A & Nicholls, SS (2002). The emperors new drugs: An analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Prevention & Treatment, 5, Article 23. Available online at: http://www.journals.apa.org/prevention/volume5/pre0050023a.html.

Kirsch, I, Scoboria, A & Moore, TJ (2002). Antidepressants and placebos: Secrets, revelations, and unanswered questions. Prevention & Treatment, 5, Article 33. Available online at: http://www.journals.apa.org/prevention/volume5/pre0050023a.html.

Kotchoubey, B, Schleichert, H, Lutzenberger, W, Anokhin, AP & Birbaumer, N. (1996). Self-regulation of interhemispheric asymmetry in humans. Neuroscience Letters, 215, 91-94.

Kumano, H, Horie, H, Shidara, T, Kuboki, T et al. (1996). Treatment of a depressive disorder patient with EEG-driven photic stimulation. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 21(4), 323-334.

Putnam, JA (2001). EEG biofeedback on a female stroke patient with depression: A case study. Journal of Neurotherapy, 5(3), 27-38.

Raymond, J, Varney, C, Parkinson, L & Gruzelier, J (2005). The effects of alpha/theta neurofeedback on personality and mood. Cognitive Brain Research, 23, 287-292.

Rockstroh, B, Elbert, T, Birbaumer, NJ & Lutzenberger, W (1990). Biofeedback-produced hemispheric asymmetry of slow cortical potentials and its behavioural effects. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 9, 151-165.

Rosenfeld, J (1997) EEG biofeedback of frontal alpha asymmetry in affective disorders. Biofeedback, 25(1), 8-25.

Rosenfeld, J (2000) An EEG biofeedback protocol for affective disorders. Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 7-12.

Rosenfeld, J, Baehr, E, Baehr, R, Gotlib, I & Ranganath, C (1996). Preliminary evidence that daily changes in frontal alpha asymmetry correlate with changes in affect in therapy sessions. Intn'l Jnl of
Psychophysiology, 23, 137-141.

Rosenfeld, JP, Cha, G, Blair, T & Gotlib, I. (1995). Operant biofeedback control of left-right frontal alpha power differences. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 20, 241-258.

Saxby, E & Peniston, EG (1995). Alpha-theta brainwave neurofeedback training: an effective treatment for male and female alcoholics with depressive symptoms. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 685-693.

Schneider, F, Heimann, H, Mattes, R, Lutzenberger, W & Birbaumer, N. (1992). Self-regulation of slow cortical potentials in psychiatric patients: Depression. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 17, 203-214.

Uhlmann, C & Froscher, W (2001). Biofeedback treatment in patients with refractory epilepsy: Changes in depression and control orientation. Seizure, 10, 34-38.

Walker, JE, Lawson, R & Kozlowski, G (2007). Current statu s of QEEG and neurofeedback in the treatment of depression. Chapter in J. R.

Evans (Ed.), Handbook of Neurofeedback. Binghampton, NY: Haworth Medical Press, pp. 341-351.

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