Neurofeedback for Teen Depression
Your teen just doesn't seem to be the happy person they used to be. They spend more time alone isolated from the family and they seem unhappy.
Your teen has talked with you about their depression and suicidal thoughts that they have had. Though they say they would never do it, you are worried and concerned none the less.
Your teen has taken medication for teen depression and it doesn't seem to help. Or, your teen does not like the way the medication for teen depression makes them feel so they stop taking it.
Therapy seems to be helping but not truly addressing the cause of the depression. Your teen still feels sad, unmotivated, hopeless and you don't know what else to do. The feeling of hopeless settles in though you are committed to helping them beat the teen depression.
Your teen refuses to go to talk therapy or it's a battle each week to get them there. Your teen simply doesn't want to talk about the painful experiences that brought about the depression each week. You're not sure what to do and wonder if there are any other options to help.
It can be challenging as a parent to know whether it is just a phase, the stress of transitioning to a new school, to college, etc. versus a deeper problem. You may be a parent who has tried talk therapy before and did not see the results you, your teen, or young adult were hoping for.
Neurofeedback can help. Neurofeedback for depression can be highly effective. Where talk therapy or medication may have not been enough in the past, neurofeedback can break through stubborn depression.
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Symptoms of Teen Depression
You have tried medications for teen depression with mixed results. The medications for teen depression manage the symptoms but when your teen stops taking them, the depression returns. It can be difficult for a parent, who has tried just about everything to help, to know what to do next.
As a parent, you've done your research and can name and identify the symptoms of depression yourself:
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
Neurofeedback Can Help With Teen Depression
Neurofeedback has been around for the last 50 years. It is during the last 20 years that it has started to come to prominence. Advances in brain imaging have allowed researchers to more closely examine the brain without invasive procedures.
Neurofeedback for teen depression has helped many teens recover from the impact of teen depression. Often, neurofeedback tends to be the last treatment option as traditional talk therapy is more commonly known. Yet, many teens and families have commented that they wish they had known about neurofeedback sooner.
There is hope for stubborn teen depression. There is hope for those teens who don't want to attend talk therapy. There is hope for those teens where medication wasn't the answer or they would not take the medication. Neurofeedback can help.
Neurofeedback for Teen Depression: Brief Overview
Though neurofeedback has been around for the past 50 years, it has only recently started gaining notoriety. The past 20 years, technology has advanced where we can look at the brain without invasive procedures.
fMRI can examine active and inactive regions of the brain based on blood flow. Other advances such as PET and CT scans have provided invaluable insight into how the brain functions.
Before this technology was created, research into how to help treat teen depression focused on the symptoms. This has been a very effective method and has resulted in many very effective treatments.
As the technology advanced we identified areas in the brain where mental health struggles have their origin. Much of today's research has been spent mapping the brain to further this advancement. Neurofeedback is one of those technologies that has the ability to map the brain.
What to Expect in a Neurofeedback Session for Teen Depression
Being relaxed helps with neurofeedback training and your brain learning. Your teen will be seated in a soft, comfortable chair with a foot stool to put his/her feet up on. They literally are kicking back and relaxing!
The training program we utilize functions much like a video game. But, this video game is not played with hand held controllers. This video game is played by sensors in a cap that your teen wears measuring the electrical activity of the brain.
When your teen's brain is communicating, or performing, as a non-depressed brain, the avatar on the screen moves. When your teen's brain is not communicating, or performing, as a non-depressed brain, the avatar does not move.
Your neurofeedback professional can change the difficulty level of the game to find the 'Goldie locks' zone. This is the zone where it provides just enough challenge to help the brain learn while easy enough to enjoy and not become frustrating.
This 'operant conditioning' training allows the brain, to learn and develop over time, creating change in the way the brain performs. This usually takes between 30-40 sessions but often, teens respond quicker than adults. This varies from person to person and based on the severity of their teen depression but in general is the case.
Before We Start Neurofeedback Training for Teen Depression
Before starting neurofeedback for teen depression, you will be provided with assessments to identify the symptoms that are causing you distress. Neurofeedback trains the functional regions of the brain that is causing the teen depression.
The assessments that identify and measure the symptoms provide a baseline to help measure progress. You may be asked at intervals to complete the assessments again as your neurofeedback training progresses. This will provide us another source of information to further fine tune and tailor your neurofeedback training.
During the First Session -- And Every 5th or 6th Session Thereafter
The first session we will start with creating a brain map of your teen's brain. Your teen will take a seat, make themselves comfortable, and a cap with 19 sensors is placed on their head.
The sensors read the electrical activity in the brain and is able to determine how the brain is performing. Your teen's brain performance is compared against a target.
The results are generated using sophisticated software resulting in a 3-D image of your teen's brain. This image will provide information on your teen's brain performance and will guide neurofeedback training.
After the first session, we will begin neurofeedback training. The early sessions of brain training will take around 30-40 minutes. As we continue neurofeedback training for teen depression, this will extend to approximately 60 minutes per session.
after every 5th or 6th session, we will create another brain map to determine progress. The brain map will also help with training planning and direction. People typically report feeling improvements around session 20-25.
Teens tend to report improvements earlier. Yet, it is different for each teen based on the severity and complexity of the struggles they are working on.
The Duration of Neurofeedback Training for Teen Depression
The duration of neurofeedback training for teen depression typically takes around 40 sessions. There are things that can cause neurofeedback to take longer such as brain injuries, learning difficulties, some medications, etc.
As indicated above, we will regularly check progress through repeated brain maps and assessments. The ultimate sign of success is when your teen reports the teen depression lifting.
Neurofeedback is an effective treatment for teen depression. There are times where neurofeedback is combined with therapeutic approaches such as:
Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy for teen depression, even
Medication for teen depression (referrals can be provided to psychiatrists for this purpose)
Begin Neurofeedback for Teen Depression at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving the Katy Texas, and Houston Area
You don't have to live with teen depression any longer. Teen depression prevents you from realizing your full potential. We understand that while we feel depressed, the hope, self love, motivation, and happiness to succeed is hard to access. Let us help you remove teen depression and open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Neurofeedback for teen depression can help. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our therapist who is BCIA Board Certified in Neurofeedback is here to help. (Why is it important to choose a therapist who is BCIA Board Certified in Neurofeedback? Find out more here.)
To start your neurofeedback journey, you can follow these 3 simple steps.
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Meet with our caring neurofeedback professional
Take the first step in eliminating the barrier that is holding you back from fully experiencing all that life has to offer. There is hope. There are answers. There is freedom from teen depression!
We Also Provide Other Therapeutic Services to Teens, Young Adults, & Families in the Katy, Tx & Houston Area
In addition to neurofeedback for teen depression, we also provide Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy, Young Adult Counseling, and therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
optimal brain and athletic performance (peak performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR therapy) For
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) For
Call today to start your journey in building and developing resilience against stress and anxiety struggles. If you have been fighting this fight and need someone in your corner to help you win this fight, email or give us a call.
Research Into Effectiveness of Neurofeedback for Depression
Neurofeedback for teen depression can be a powerful approach to treating depression in teens. Numerous studies have been conducted investigating the effectiveness of neurofeedback for depression. Below are a few of those studies by experts in the field.
Effects of Salience-Network-Node Neurofeedback
Training on Affective Biases in Major Depressive
Neural models of major depressive disorder (MDD) posit that over-response of components of the brain’s salience network (SN) to negative stimuli plays a crucial role in the pathophysiology of MDD. In the present proof-of-concept study, we tested this formulation directly by examining the affective consequences of training depressed persons to down-regulate response of SN nodes to negative material.
Our findings provide support for a neural formulation in which the SN plays a primary role in contributing to negative cognitive biases in Major Depressive Disorder.
J. Paul Hamilton, Gary H. Glover, Epifanio Bagarinao, Catie Chang, Sean Mackey, Matthew Sacchet and Ian H. Gotlib, Effects of saliencenetwork- node neurofeedback training on affective biases in major depressive
disorder, Psychiatry Research
Neurofeedback in Treating Depression in Adolescents
Typical adolescents have increased limbic engagement unchecked by regulatory medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity as well as heightened self-focus. The resulting emotion dysregulation and self-focused rumination make adolescents more susceptible to depression and suicide attempts. Heightened self-focus converges with mental illness among depressed adolescents, who deploy exaggerated attention to negative self-relevant stimuli and neglect positive ones as part of depression’s phenomenology. This results in rigid negative self-representations during an identity formative period with potential lifetime repercussions.
The effectiveness and novelty of neurofeedback as a potential therapeutic tool opens manifold avenues of inquiry including basic research in non-diseased populations which is sorely missing to fully explain how this procedure changes brain function and behavior.
Karina Quevedo, Jia Yuan Teoh, Maggie Engstrom, Riley Wedan, Carmen Santana-Gonzalez, Betanya Zewde, David Porter, and Kathrin Cohen Kadosh. Amygdala Circuitry During Neurofeedback Training and Symptoms’ Change in Adolescents With Varying Depression. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 22 July 2020
Randomized Controlled Trial of Real-time fMRI Neurofeedback in Patients with Depression
In one pilot study, we demonstrated that patients suffering from mild to moderate depression learnt to upregulate brain areas using real-time fMRI neurofeedback (fMRI-NF). Target areas included the insula and lateral prefrontal areas, which were localized with positive affective visual stimulation.
Moreover, only the group that had completed fMRI-NF training, but not a mental imagery only control group, experienced significant improvement in mood within four training sessions .
These findings have recently been corroborated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical fMRI-NF trial that used affective mental imagery training in unmedicated depressed patients. This trial found over 40% reduction in depressive symptoms in the intervention, but not in the placebo neurofeedback group .
Mehler, D.M.A., Sokunbi, M.O., Habes, I. et al. Targeting the affective brain—a randomized controlled trial of real-time fMRI neurofeedback in patients with depression. Neuropsychopharmacol 43, 2578–2585 (2018).
Neurofeedback Therapy for Depression Boosts Self Esteem
A neurofeedback study published in the journal Neuroimage: Clinical has found that patients in recovery from depressive disorder symptoms are able to strengthen some of their brain connections while evoking guilt-related memories, which leads to increased self-esteem.
Research has shown that certain brain regions - which commonly have poor connectivity in people with depression - could be strengthened in a single neurofeedback session, a result that was proven by comparing functional magnetic resonance imaging.
The study was conducted by the D'Or Institute for Research and Teaching (IDOR), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the Federal University of ABC, in collaboration with King's College in London.
Zahn, R., Weingartner, J. H., Basilio, R., Bado, P., Mattos, P., Sato, J. R., … Moll, J. (2019). Blame-rebalance fMRI neurofeedback in major depressive disorder: A randomized proof-of-concept trial. Neuro Image: Clinical, 24, 101992.