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Woman who benefits from neurofeedback for depression

Benefits of Neurofeedback for Depression

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When you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, it can feel like your brain is actively working against you. Neurofeedback for depression can help you regain control, so that you can start living the healthier life you deserve.

What is Neurofeedback Therapy?

Neurofeedback is an innovative, non-invasive technique that can teach people how to exert greater intentional control over how their brain functions.

Neurofeedback focuses on brain waves. The human brain produces different types of waves during different stages of alertness. These waves are differentiated by their frequencies, which are measured in Hertz (Hz).

Here are five types of brain waves, along with the situations or circumstances in which they are typically produced:

  • Delta (0.5-4 Hz) – Deep sleep
  • Theta (4‐8 Hz) – Daydreaming or about to fall asleep
  • Alpha (8‐13 Hz) – Awake, but relaxed (often with eyes closed)
  • Beta (13‐30 Hz) – Activities that require focus or alertness
  • Gamma (30-80 Hz) – Intense focus or while working on complex tasks

During a neurofeedback therapy session, sensors are attached to the patient’s scalp. These sensors only detect and record brain activity – they do not emit any signals that could simulate or influence brain functioning.

While the sensors are attached, the patient may listen to music, watch a video, or play a videogame. 

  • When the sensors detect that the patient’s brain is producing “undesirable” waves, the patient will receive some type of negative feedback. For example, the screen that they are using may dim, or they may hear an unpleasant sound. 
  • When the patient’s brain is producing the targeted type of waves, they will receive positive feedback. The screen may become brighter, or the sound may become more pleasant or easier to hear.

Over time, this type of feedback can help people produce the specific brain waves that can help ease the symptoms of depression or another mental health disorder. For example, if a person is feeling agitated or restless, producing alpha or theta waves can help them relax.

Neurofeedback vs. Biofeedback

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback.

Biofeedback is a general term that can describe a variety of techniques that share a similar focus: Using real-time information from a person’s body to help them learn how to take conscious control of automatic or involuntary functions.

As we described in the previous section, neurofeedback uses brain wave data and either visual or auditory clues help patients produce specific types of brain waves. Here are a few examples of how other forms of biofeedback employ internal data and external cues to accomplish similar goals:

  • Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback devices track levels of muscle activity and tension, which can promote beneficial changes in people who have developed certain neurological conditions or who have been experiencing pain in the aftermath of knee, back, or shoulder surgery. It can also help people who have struggled with depression and specific phobia. 
  • Thermal biofeedback uses specialized sensors to detect minor changes in body temperature. This technique may be beneficial to people who have Reynaud’s disease or who have been experiencing pain due to endometriosis.
  • Breathing biofeedback sessions usually employ bands that are placed around a patient’s chest and midsection to chart their respiratory patterns. This can be a valuable element of treatment for anxiety, stress, and trauma. It can also help people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, and other medical conditions. 
  • Skin moisture biofeedback sensors alert patients to increases in perspiration. This type of biofeedback may be incorporated into treatment for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), hypertension (high blood pressure), and anxiety.

Benefits of Neurofeedback for Depression

The following are just a few of the many potential benefits of neurofeedback for depression:

  • Neurofeedback is a safe service that poses minimal risk of side effects.
  • You can receive neurofeedback on either a residential or outpatient basis.
  • Neurofeedback doesn’t require sedation or medication.
  • Neurofeedback for depression can help you manage your symptoms and improve your mood.
  • Neurofeedback empowers you to play an active role in your treatment and recovery.
  • Within 15-30 minutes after your session, you should be able to drive and fully engage in any other activities that require focus and concentration.
  • Neurofeedback is a short-term service that offers long-term benefits.

What Else Does Neurofeedback Treat?

In addition to neurofeedback for depression, this form of therapy may also be used to treat people who have a variety of other conditions, including:

Possible Side Effects of Neurofeedback

As we noted earlier, one of the many potential benefits of neurofeedback is that most people do not have adverse reactions. 

Some patients do experience side effects, but in the vast majority of cases, these effects are brief and minimally disruptive:

  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Depersonalization
  • Difficulty thinking clearly

Of course, the potential for side effects, no matter how small, underscores the importance of finding a reputable, experienced neurofeedback therapy provider.

How to Find the Best Neurofeedback Therapy Near You

When you are evaluating programs that offer neurofeedback for depression, asking the following types of questions can help you find the provider that’s best for you:

  • Does the center offer both inpatient and outpatient options?
  • In addition to neurofeedback, what other types of treatment does the center provide?
  • How will they determine which programs and services are right for you?
  • What are the qualifications of the professionals who will be providing your care?
  • How long will you need to remain in treatment?
  • What does a successful experience at their center look like?
  • Can you tour the facility or speak with former patients?
  • Does the center offer family therapy or family support services?
  • What type of alumni support or discharge planning services do they offer?
  • What makes the center a better choice than other facilities in the area?
  • What happens if you have a recurrence of symptoms after you finish treatment?
  • Does the center accept your insurance?

Contact Montare About Neurofeedback in Los Angeles, California

Montare Behavioral Health provides a full continuum of customized care for adults who have been living with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health concerns.

At multiple facilities in convenient locations throughout the Los Angeles area, we offer an array of personalized services, including neurofeedback for depression. At each center in the Montare network, you can expect to work with a team of dedicated professionals in a safe and highly supportive environment. 

When you’re ready to find your path to a healthier tomorrow, the Montare Behavioral Health team is here for you. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.