The most prominent use of biofeedback in the United States
is for anxiety disorders and stress management. For these
conditions, relaxation training and peripheral biofeedback
modalities are very helpful. Unfortunately, these techniques
do not generally address the far more common depressive conditions,
such as primary unipolar depression, reactive depression,
seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, and PMS. Often,
anxiety is seen in the context of depression, in which case
the conventional relaxation techniques only address the anxiety
condition, and may not remediate the underlying depression.
The latter requires training to a more highly activated state.
Neurofeedback offers a new modality for addressing depressive
conditions as well as anxiety. This appears to be the case
because EEG training impacts on the basic mechanism by which
the brain controls physiological arousal. In this manner,
normal regulation of arousal may be restored, which means
that sleep may normalize in the depressed person, and normal
range of affect may return. Other benefits of the training
may accrue as well. If the person is experiencing chronic
pain, which may be either a cause of depression, or its effect,
such pain may remediate as well.
The training appears to be effective regardless of the pathway
by which the person has become depressed, whether this results
from a genetic pre-disposition, early childhood trauma, or
a subsequent traumatic (physical or emotional) experience,
or simply a physiological change of unknown causation. As
the training proceeds, the client may find that anti-depressant
or stimulant medication will no longer be needed. Hence, the
person should be under continuing medical care for his condition,
so that the medication dose may be monitored. It is generally
observed that the requirement for anti-depressant medication
will be reduced or eliminated entirely as the training proceeds.
It is true of all remedies for depression that they are accompanied
commonly by the recall of prior traumatic memories, which
may have been totally suppressed over the years. It is therefore
important that counselling be available in the event of such
traumatic recall, and for other profound emotional changes
which can be elicited by the training.
The training has also been found to be helpful in cases of
depression caused by specific traumatic events, such as rape,
and by other insults to the brain such as chemotherapy, or
general anesthesia in the elderly. EEG biofeedback training
is also indicated for those clients who do not respond favorably
to medical management, and for those who are counselled to
avoid certain medications by their doctor. This category includes
in particular pregnant women.
There is evidence that once a person experiences a depressive
episode, subsequent episodes are more likely. Hence, training
the brain to remediate depression may have the beneficial
effect of tending to make subsequent recurrences less likely.
The training also appears to be effective for a variety of
conditions which are seen concomitantly with depression, such
as alcohol dependence and violent behavior.
- Taken is from the EEG Spectrum Web Site and will be updated