Personalised Brain training for mind and soul
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.
Medication has been a liberally prescribed for depression, and there are many reports about the trade-off between efficacy and long-term emotional numbing, as well as side effects and difficulties coming off them. NHS guidelines for their prescription have just been changed to encompass alternatives.
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.
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.
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.
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 study. Cognitive 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.
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.
With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can identify character traits, vulnerabilities and strengths.
This particular type of brain map shows us relevant information about functional connectivity between brain areas that govern our behaviour patterns.
For the purpose of Personalised Brain Training, we are interested in more persistent attributes than simply states. Kaiser Neuromaps make these uniquely identifiable and meaningful.
A brain map is a way to break down the sources of behaviour patterns in a highly granular form and represents these visually.
Kaiser Neuromaps reveal the maturity of over 50 Brodmann areas – each with specific functions and contributions to our preconscious interpretation of our surroundings and how we interact with them.
Instead of categorisation, we get a unique and individual representations of a person’s needs and strengths, and can apply a personalised holistic training approach.
Personalised Brain Training is a neurofeedback training method devised by founders of the field, Barry Sterman and David Kaiser.
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 feedback to our brain via small changes in volume.
Our pre-conscious mind responds to the feedback and corrects its behaviour while our conscious attention is focused on the reward – watching the movie at full volume.
A learning curve is observable as the brain adopts new behaviour patterns.
With neurofeedback training, we can restore functional connectivity and thus calm the mind.
The ability to balance instinct with reason enables us to share realities when needed and thus perform better in groups while preserving our individuality.
We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis.
Neurofeedback is evidence-based. It’s first application was discovered in 1971 when it was used to resolve intractable epilepsy.
There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports on PubMed demonstrating efficacy across a number of pathologies.
In the US, it is an accepted complementary treatment for many issues.
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 with a training plan.
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.
A two hour training session 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.
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 about ten sessions.
Generally, we would expect to doing twenty sessions over two months, though this can vary substantially.
We can also accommodate intensives, where we do two sessions per day over a number of days, and have had good results with these.