A Neurotherapeutic Approach
"Neurofeedback treatment for many disorders such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, seizures, and others has been shown to be highly effective with long term lasting results. There are hundreds of published studies and several books demonstrating this."
Joel F. Lubar Ph.D., BCN
University of Tennessee
Neurotherapy and Depression
As anyone with depression knows, it is a complex, multifaceted disorder that requires a tailored approach to treatment. Neurotherapy is different than other treatment options in that it works to target and shift underlying dysfunctional brainwave patterns. In shifting the underlying physiology of the condition, there is often a corresponding reduction or elimination of symptoms. While depression can look like many things on a brain scan, this page will outline the most common profile of depression and offer some literature that supports the efficacy of neurotherapy in treating depression.
Depression may originate from anything ranging from traumatic early life experiences to innate or acquired physiological differences in the brain. There are many different types of depression and not all of them are responsive to pharmacological intervention. As in other disorders, from an QEEG perspective, depression has several different profiles.
With the help of the QEEG brain map, we can determine how your depression manifests by looking at abnormalities in your brainwave patterns. Once we have a better grasp of the physiological expression of your depression, we then correlate those findings with your particular symptomology. This gives us a more well-rounded picture of what is going on for you, and thus better equips us to target the origin of your condition.
QEEG Depression Profiles
Depression can appear in different ways in a brain scan. From a brainwave perspective, the most common profile of depression is alpha amplitude asymmetry in the frontal lobes. Alpha-band brainwaves communicate both across the surface of the brain and with deeper brain structures. In some types of depression, the mid-brain structure of the thalamus and the subgenual cingulate play a particularly important role. If the thalamus and subgenual cingulate are not communicating effectively with the default mode network, this condition may contribute to a deficiency of power in that region. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.09.020
Research has suggested that deficient power in the left frontal region is related to depression. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00489 In such profiles, the main goal of therapy would be to balance the power in the left and right hemispheres.
Brain scan of individual with treatment resistant depression showing alpha amplitude asymmetry in the frontal lobe.
What does research say about neurotherapy's usefulness in treating depression?
There is an ever-growing body of research supporting the use of neurofeedback and neurostimulation in the effective treatment of depression. Examples of notable research in the field include the following:
1. A literature review published by Marangell et al. (2007) found that neurostimulation technologies such as vagus nerve stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation are effective in alleviating treatment-resistant depression. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2007.01033.x
2. A literature review published by George et al. (2013) examined the highly efficacious use of rTMS in alleviating treatment-resistant depression, further noting that the effects of rTMS therapy persist long after treatment is concluded. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e32835ab46d
3. A literature review published by Bennabi and Haffen (2018) discussed the use of tDCS as a viable, well-tolerated and durable treatment for major depressive disorder. doi: 10.3390/brainsci8050081
These reviews are a few samples among many that indicate neurostimulation modalities such as tDCS and rTMS--like we use in our clinic--are effective in alleviating treatment-resistant depression. If you are considering neurotherapy as a treatment modality for you or a loved one, it is helpful to be well-informed of how neurofeedback works and the potential it holds to help obtain a better quality of life. We recommend Getting Started with Neurofeedback as clear, easy-to-understand overview of the science backing neurofeedback.
A consistent finding of research is that, for neurostimulation to be effective, it needs to be tailored to your unique brain. For this reason, we consider the QEEG an invaluable tool in better understanding and treating you as a whole person. Feel free to reach out to us for more information or to schedule a QEEG brain scan.