Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Neurofeedback Training for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Depression is like a cloud that’s inside the head, invisible to others, which absorbs our ability to engage with the outside world to the fullest.  Motivation drops,  focus, sleep and diet suffer, and mood can swing with bipolar disorder which affects one in five people with depression.  Neurofeedback training found to significantly help 80% of people with depression by restoring motivation, improving sleep and focus, and reducing anxiety.  

There are many ways to alleviate symptoms, including exercise and a healthy diet, structuring one’s day to stay busy, finding competitive goals and working towards them, psychotherapy and medication.  With neurofeedback training, we are teaching the brain more efficient habits that are fundamental to sustaining a change in life-style and breaking the cycle of depression.  

In depression, we lack the ability to effectively self-soothe and self-nurture. The causes of depression can reside in various brain areas, as the diversity of comorbid symptoms suggests: Focus, sleep, motivation, anxiety, sense of self, excessive monitoring of outcomes, maladaptive rumination, trauma, mood instability, even self-harm and suicidal ideation, and generally reduced physiological arousal.   With a qEEG brain map, we can localise the brain areas that may contribute to  depression and train these in a targeted manner.   

Neurofeedback training addresses symptoms and root causes of depression in a holistic, non-invasive, drug-free way. 

Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine.  qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms.  It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.

Neurofeedback for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is estimated to affect over 4% of adults at some point in their lives, compared to 12% for unipolar depression.  More than two-thirds of BP sufferers are misdiagnosed initially, and one-third remain misdiagnosed for ten years or more. 

Sadly, BD is strongly linked to suicide risk, with 20-60% attempting this during their lifetime and up to 19% succeeding, thus accounting for up to one in seven suicide deaths.  Suicidal ideation was found in 43% of bipolar disorder patients.  BD is particularly prevalent among creative types.   

Neurofeedback provides an effective method of stabilising mood, significantly improving depressive symptoms, and addressing brain areas responsible for suicidal ideation or self-harm.  Positive thinking can be restored, as can be sleep, focus, and self-esteem. 

Neurofeedback for Depression

Neurofeedback London practices one of the most advanced methods of neurofeedback training, which Daniel Webster learned in Los Angeles from their founders, David Kaiser and the Othmers.  

With the Othmer Method of neurofeedback, we can address physiological arousal issues and promote optimal brain self-regulation.   Accompanying anxiety and sleep issues, as well as underlying trauma can be resolved this way.  

Neurofeedback is a Proven Treatment for Depression

The US National Library of Medicine records over 140 peer-reviewed research papers on neurofeedback and depression, with a significant recent rise in research attention to this non-invasive, drug-free treatment method.  Here are some excerpts of the scientific evidence supporting neurofeedback for depression.  Note the diversity of brain areas involved, suggesting that depression need not have a single nor consistent source, and the comorbidities often found: 

Dr. Corydon Hammond finds in his 2005 paper, “Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety” that neurofeedback training results in “enduring improvements approximately 80% of the time”, with most perceiving a difference after between three and six sessions; a “very significant improvement” after 10-12 sessions, and more so after over 20 sessions.  

Twenty sessions of neurofeedback training led to a significant improvement in sleep, anxiety and depression evaluations.  The same disorders plus inattention showed significant improvements when conducting ten or more sessions in a naturalistic setting.   

Neurofeedback improved depressive symptoms in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) patients, with significant decrease in anxiety and clinical illness severity noted as a result of the training.   Cognitive depression was reduced here.  Anhedonia and comorbid anxiety in MDD were also improved in this recent studyCognitive impairment during MDD is recognised and neurofeedback treatment advocated.  Its effectiveness on a variety of cognitive functions in MDD such as working memory, attention and executive functions is established.   

Neurofeedback is recognised as a next-generation treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. 

Increased happiness ratings, mood improvements and decrease in anxiety was documented with related increased activity in specific brain areas.  Cognitive-affective brain areas as neural targets for treating depression are recognised here, while higher-order visual areas are implicated in this study that recognises that neurofeedback training can reduce depressive symptoms by over 40%.   Further success in treating MDD with comorbid anxiety symptoms was documented here, training specific brain areas.

Sub-threshold depression was improved in college students and recommended as an effective new way for college students to improve self-regulation of emotion.  

Rumination, a maladaptive emotional-regulation strategy, was found to have a neurological basis that was successfully reduced while ameliorating depression.  The tendency to preferentially attend to negative stimuli in the world and negative thoughts in mind during depression was found to be controllable with neurofeedback.  Ruminative processes and avoidance when dealing with autobiographical memories were attributed to specific brain areas and recognised as contributing to Major Depressive Disorder, promoting neurofeedback training as a depression treatment.  Similar brain areas when trained with neurofeedback resulted in improvements in self-esteem.   

Training brain areas responsive to negative stimuli decreased negative cognitive biases in MDD, showing greater decrease in self-reported emotional  response to negative scenes and self-descriptive adjectives.  Neurofeedback training is also able to improve processing of positive stimuli in MDD patients.  Another recent study achieved significant improvements in reducing the severity of depression and rumination in MDD training a different brain area.  Lasting effects of reinforcement learning of better brain habits on rehabilitating emotion regulation in depression through neurofeedback were found.  Depressive symptoms were alleviated consistently

The treatment resistance of recurrent depression is linked to rigid negative self-representations during an identity formative period in adolescents, with potential lifetime repercussions.  The study finds neurological evidence for which it recommends neurofeedback interventions.  Significant and lasting improvements following neurofeedback training were discovered in another study on Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD).  Significant reduction in depression symptoms were reported after four neurofeedback sessions in patients showing no response to current pharmacological or psychological therapies for depression.  

Post-operative depression and anxiety, pain, difficulties sleeping and attention and memory problems were resolved in 20 neurofeedback sessions.  The 45-year old female was able to return to work subsequently.   Cancer patients found non-invasive, drug-free neurofeedback to ameliorate pain, fatigue, depression and sleep.  Chronic Stroke victims found neurofeedback therapy to reduce anxiety and depression level while improving motor, verbal and cognitive skills. 

Opiate addicts treated additionally with neurofeedback showed greater improvement in depression and somatic symptoms, and relief from withdrawal, as did cocaine addicted individuals. 

Multiple Sclerosis sufferers saw depression, fatigue and anxiety reduced, and the results were maintained at a 2-month follow-up. 

Elderly patients found a significant improvement of their depression condition following neurofeedback treatment.  

Neurofeedback was shown to additionally benefit patients undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Research confirms that depression is neurological, not psychological – certain brain patterns are linked to depression, as visualised by the EEG brain map below:

Neurofeedback can help depression sufferers to get their lives back.  The effects are often visible within a few sessions, and to make the changes permament can take about ten to twenty sessions or more of regular training.

(pls see disclaimer)

Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine.  qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms.  It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.

Brain Maps and Personalised Brain Training

Personalised Brain Training is a neurofeedback training method devised by founders of the field, Barry Sterman and David Kaiser.  

 

Every Brain is individual and different, therefore Personalised Brain Training neurofeedback

We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis.  In our view, and experience, symptoms resolve when our system is balanced.

Neurofeedback Training calms the mind and restores functionality

A brain map is an analysis of brain wave behaviour as measured by a qEEG recording.  We record 20 minutes of the brain activities with a 19-sensor qEEG recorder.  There is no stimulation, and contact between the sensors and the head is via an easily removable gel applied to specific points.  From this recording, we can generate a brain map using Kaiser Neuromap software.  

qEEG recording of brain waves is analysed to generate a brain map in form of a Kaiser Neuromap

The functional connectivity between various brain areas allows us to see vulnerabilities to character traits or behaviour patterns.  

Kaiser Neuromap brain maps show character traits for neurofeedback

Neurofeedback training is a process where we give the brain feedback about its own activity at a particular cortical site in real time, via visual, auditory or tactile means.  There is no direct stimulus to the brain and the sensors attached are for measurement of cortical EEG, or tiny electrical currents detectable on the surface of our head.  This signal is then amplified and analysed by software in real-time, and this information is used to provide feedback to our brain.  

Neurofeedback process illustrated by electrode measurement analysed and transformed into feedback via a movie in visual and auditory form for the preconscious mind to process and adapt its behaviour to in a learning process.

 We use a movie of choice as the feedback mechanism – our conscious mind engages with the film, and feedback is delivered by small changes in volume or picture size.  Our pre-conscious mind adapts its behaviour to preserve the more comfortable volume and picture size, and learning occurs.

Neurofeedback helps restore functional connectivity in key neural networks

Neurofeedback training is safe, effective and non-invasive. 

Neurofeedback training is safe and non-invasive shown in a picture using Othmer Method

Neurofeedback is evidence-based. 

Neurofeedback is evidence based therapy with a wealth of over 3,500 peer-reviewed research reports per PubMed neurofeedback

 

Guided by a Kaiser Neuromap, our neurofeedback training targets specific brain areas, neural hubs and networksThis improves integration of the  brain area we are training, as well as its network and sub-cortical connections.

Developed by a founder of the field of neurofeedback, and with a wealth of over 3,000 brain maps and thirty years’ of experience, Personalised Brain Training uses advanced neurofeedback protocols.

qEEG-brainmap takes under an hour to obtain and is a non-invasive process.  A nineteen-sensor cap is comfortably fitted and we record about twenty minutes of brain activity.  Using specialised software, we obtain a visual analysis which we will communicate verbally.  This also forms the basis of our training plan.  Note that we do not provide diagnosis.

qEEG brain map for personalised brain training in neurofeedback

This brain map approach is unique in that it analyses the connectivity of a functional brain area, rather than simply geographic areas of the brain.  

Connectivity is a measure of regional integration of specific brain areas with other areas and key networks.  This is a relative measure – to be meaningful, it has to be referenced to a baseline.  Rather than use an average as a reference, we compare results to a set of hand-picked individuals who are both high-performing professionals and well-balanced individuals.  Our ability to engage with others, form friends and alliances, and make consensual decisions is deemed as important for success as professional specialisation and technical performance.

functional brain area, as first delineated by Korbinian Brodmann in 1909, was first defined by variations in the number of layers in its grey matter.  This difference in physical property still holds as a valid way to separate brain regions, and each has its own function while being connected to other areas of the cortex via white matter, as well as to the brainstem, in particular, the thalamus.  With a brain map, we gain insights into both cortical integration (how well the area connects with its surrounding areas), as well as its thalamo-cortical integration. 

Neurofeedback training relies on real-time EEG measurement, analysis and translation into feedback

Neurofeedback Training Sessions

Personalised Brain Training aims to optimise the cortical connectivity, as well as promoting improved thalamo-cortical connection.  Neuroplasticity, the ability of neural networks in the brain to make new connections, is an essential and continuous process that underpins our ability to learn.  With brain training, we can promote this process.  

Protocols are generally around 30-45 minutes per brain area that we train; as such, training sessions are ideally around 90-120 minutes.  This corresponds to the average length of a movie.  This is also the length of our ultradian rhythms – attention cycles that govern our day, letting us perform at more than 100% at peak, and less than this at trough – think of the lull we experience around lunchtime.  By training the brain throughout a complete cycle, we are more likely to provide the brain with a challenge at different points in its attention cycle for a more comprehensive training. 

The primary feedback mechanism in Personalised Brain Training is auditory, that is, a subtle change in volume.  The brain recognises this, preconsciously, while our conscious mind is focused on the movie, and corrects its behaviour to preserve the continuity of the watching (or listening) experience.  A secondary, visual feedback mechanism can be activated, whereby the picture size changes too, though this is optional in cases of high visual sensitivity (e.g. migraines).   

We can track progress by remapping the brain at intervals, usually after every 20 hours of training.  Ten sessions will give a good indication of responsiveness, which besides subjective feedback we can ascertain with a further remap.  With neurofeedback training, we are showing the brain a more efficient state during a session.  Upon repetition, the brain learns to adopt this new state.  The person has to then implement this new learning in their life.  Internal changes have to be externalised.  Training success depends on this ability thus results can vary.  

Neurofeedback training begins with two to three sessions per week and the frequency of training can then be adjusted to need and symptom improvements.  Intensive courses involving two or more sessions per day can also be accommodated.

Contact Daniel on +44 (0)7966 699430 or daniel@neurofeedback.io to arrange sessions.

The Process

Brain Map

We record qEEG brain activity for about 15-20 minutes.  This process takes about 30-45 minutes overall and we discuss results a few days later via call or in person.  This provides the basis for the Personalised Brain Training Plan. 

Neurofeedback Sessions

 Comfortably watching a movie of choice, we train specific brain areas per our Personalised Brain Training Plan.  Sessions are two hours (shorter if necessary), and ideally we aim to do two or three per week.  Alternatively, intensive courses can accommodate two sessions per day.  Generally, we would look to do 40 hours or 20 sessions.

Contact Daniel on +44 (0)7966 699430 or daniel@neurofeedback.io to arrange sessions.