Two blue bars lie horizontal on the computer screen. There is also a dot. It flickers erratically. If you concentrate hard enough, it slows down and lies in between the two lines. That’s the goal. Keep thinking of a happy memory for several minutes and the dot stays in the lines. It sounds like you’re casting a ‘patronus charm’ straight out of a Harry Potter novel. Easy, right? It sure is.
And it turns out it may be the most effective, non-intrusive and possibly most powerful answer to treating Major Depressive Disorder we’ve encountered.
Welcome to the miracle of the mind. Welcome to the new and wonderful science of Neurofeedback Therapy.
Neurofeedback has only recently emerged as an established practice in the scientific community. A combination of Electroencephalograms and specialized computer programs are used to ‘train’ parts of the brain. It’s being harnessed to treat a variety of mental health disorders, or even used just to sharpen your attention span. It’s easy, intuitive, and you can do it by yourself in the comfort of your home.
But how does this help with depressive disorder? Depression affects the way people think on a deeply physiological level. The Amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional memory and processing, is often ‘blunted’ in people suffering depression. In other words, they struggle to recall happy memories in their lives.
But according to a recent study, by using Neurofeedback specifically targeted on the Amygdala, we can train the part of the brain to make it easier for people to recall happy memories. This has a drastic effect. After two Neurofeedback sessions, twelve of the nineteen participants reported a more than fifty percent decrease in depressive symptoms and feelings, even well after treatment had ended. For a life-changing condition that affects more than 300 million people worldwide, Two thirds of whom will not fully respond to other treatment, this is revelatory. It is a game changer.
Then why (with such findings) is Neurofeedback not being used in every clinic around the world yet?
Well, it’s mostly because it’s new. And that means people aren’t asking for it.
The scientific and wider community have been slow to adopt Neurofeedback in therapy. Antidepressants remain as common as ever, despite the known risks associated. Pharmaceutical companies have every reason to conduct ‘research’ and keep people on their medications. The overabundant prescriptions are making them tens of millions of dollars every year.
In a society where mental health is so often stigmatized, it can be hard to create a dialogue for effective and alternative treatment.
The ‘newness’ of the research also means Neurofeedback remains un-subsidized by government programs and can therefore be costly.
But Neurofeedback is here. It may not be the answer to all our problems yet, but research has proven its effectiveness in treating depression. All it needs now is for more people to start talking about it.
Concentrate. Think Happy. The future of how we treat depression has arrived.