Neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Lonely Cat with Buddha in background

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.  

 

Restoring motivation with neurofeedback

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 restoring motivation, 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.   

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

Neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training 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 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.   

Surgery Residents with burnout and depression saw a return to a more efficient neural network following neurofeedback training. 

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

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

Kaiser Neuromap brain maps show character traits for neurofeedback

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

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

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

 

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

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.  

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.

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 auditory and visual feedback to our brain.  

Neurofeedback Training calms the mind and restores functionality

With neurofeedback training, we can reduce stress, calm the mind and restore cortical functionality. 

Neurofeedback training restores balance and equilibrium between brain and heart

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 helps restore functional connectivity in key neural networks

 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 is evidence based therapy with a wealth of over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports per PubMed neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is evidence-based.  

There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports on PubMed demonstrating efficacy across a number of pathologies. 

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

Neurofeedback training is safe, effective and non-invasive.  

There is no direct stimulation of the brain:  We measure brain activity and provide feedback through changes in volume and picture size.  The brain understands this and adjusts its behaviour preconsciously.

Kaiser Neuromap qEEG recording forms basis for neurofeedback personalised brain training

A qEEG recording takes about 45minutes for a 20 minute recording.  We analyse the data with Kaiser Neuromap software which gives us a unique view into character traits and vulnerabilities.  Findings are presented in a separate conversation.  Note this is not diagnosis – issues found are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for a particular attribute and represent vulnerabilities.

Following a Kaiser Neuromap we do Neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training

 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. 

Volume changes are slight, not stop-start, and the process is enjoyable. 

neurofeedback training sessions last two hours to capture an entire ultradian rhythm cycle

A two hour training sessions allows us to do 90 minutes of neurofeedback.  This captures an entire ultradian rhythm cycle and corresponds to the approximate duration of feature film movies.  We can start with shorter sessions as appropriate, mainly with children.

 

Forty hours of neurofeedback training is twenty sessions, three per week, over two to three months; intensives with two sessions per day for two weeks

Ideally, we do three or more sessions per week to start with.  We would expect to see responsiveness within the first few sessions and remap after twenty hours or ten sessions.  Generally, we would expect to doing forty hours or twenty sessions over two months, though this can vary. 

We can also accommodate intensives, where we do two sessions per day over a number of days, and have had good results with these.

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