Neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Neurofeedback for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Neurofeedback training found to significantly help 80% of people with depression by aiming to restore motivation, improving sleep and focus, and reducing anxiety.  

There are numerous potential cortical contributors to depression, and with a brain map we can see vulnerabilities.  Neurofeedback training lets us address these as well as establish a generally improved sense of well-being in a holistic manner.

The positive effects of neurofeedback training have been shown to be lasting

Neurofeedback is non-invasive and medication-free.

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. 

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. 

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.

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 Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Depression presents as a range of debilitating phenomena.  Components contributing to depression are individual and a Kaiser Neuromap can help identify these different sources: 

  – mood regulation:  elation vs misery

 – sense of achievement: focus, ability to complete projects

 – sense of self:  grounding, self/other distinction

 – internal chatter:  self-critical, intrusive thoughts vs. self-encouragement and soothing

 – Being There:  living in the moment vs. ruminating about the past, worrying about the future

 – anxiety: situational, general, social, hypervigilance 

 – relational thinking: paranoia, sensory overload, nervous breakdown

 – trauma: numbness and recursive thoughts

 – social interaction: being part of something

 – sleep: onset and quality

Personalised Brain Training takes a holistic approach by addressing a wide range of vulnerabilities leading to depression.  It is medication-free, non-invasive and evidence-based.

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. 

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 and Brodmann areas

Brain Maps expose Individual Vulnerabilities

With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can identify character traits, vulnerabilities and strengths. 

Different brain areas and networks govern our behaviour.  For example, there are parts of our brain which control mood regulation; spatial distractibility; physiological arousal; our sense of self; self-critical thoughts; anger and emotional attachment; and there are various sources of anxiety.

A brain map shows us which brain areas are behaving immaturely, and thus expose us to vulnerabilities or mental health issues.

Rather than fitting people into categories – diagnosis – we can assess vulnerability to behaviour patterns.  Every brain is different.  A brain map provides a more granular approach to understanding our strengths and weaknesses.

Neurofeedback process explained, illustrating real-time analysis of brain waves and feedback given

Personalised Brain Training with Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback lets us train dysrythmic brain areas.  With sensors comfortably fitted to the brain areas we want to train, we detect brainwave patterns real-time while watching a movie.  When these patterns are inefficient, the volume drops momentarily.  This is the feedback we are giving our brain, short and instantaneously.  

The brain area we are training recognises this – while our conscious mind is focussed on the movie – and adjusts its behaviour to restore the normal volume.  With repetition, throughout a session, learning occurs.  

Meanwhile our conscious mind is solely focussed on the movie; the training process is passive in this sense.    

The drop in volume is subtle, so we continue to understand the flow of the movie.  No current or electrical stimulation is fed to the brain; sensors simply read brainwaves and the feedback is purely audio-visual.

Neurofeedback is preconscious brain training aimed at enhancing our mental, emotional and spiritual health

Neurofeedback trains our Pre-Conscious Mind

 

Rather than engaging the conscious mind, which slows us down, we are training preconscious processes

This equips us with the ability to live in the moment and attain our potential (if we have to resort to conscious control, we are not living in the moment).

Personalised Brain Training is an advanced qEEG brain map-based approach to neurofeedback training developed by the founders of the field.  Taking Othmer Method / ILF training methods further, it employs Default Network Training protocols as developed by David Kaiser.

We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based complementary therapy with over 2000 PubMed peer-reviewed research reports

Neurofeedback is Evidence-based

Neurofeedback training is an evidence-based complementary therapy.  Its efficacy was first demonstrated some 50 years ago, and with advances in technology, training protocols have become more efficient and the feedback method – watching movies – thoroughly enjoyable. 

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 challenges. 

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