Taken together, mood disorders are second after anxiety disorders in “stats” survey quoted in Scientific American: Mind. Mood disorders affect 20.9 million americans or 9.5% of the population. Also called “affective disorders,” they are varied in their expression and intensity; subcategories being ordinary monopolar depression, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety driven depression, dysthymia, and anhedonia.
The above power spectrum comes from a young man with head injury and a family history of bipolar disorder. The “bipolarity can be seen in the high amplitudes of Delta (associated with depression) and Hi-Beta (associated with mania or hypervigilance).
Since affective disorders run in families (have a genetic component) do not readily respond to psychotherapy, psychiatrists often will prescribe medication, in several categories. Anti-depressants, including the famous category of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) such as Prozac and Lexipro. These are usually described as having fewer side effects than previous versions, such as the tri-cyclics and mood-elevators, they often still leave people with reduced sexual desire, sleep disturbance, and ultimately, energy problems (some critics say the “wear out their welcome” after chronic use.
There can be many reasons for depression. These range from the endogenous, or internal, likely hereditary ones: family history of affective disorder, metabolic or thyroid insufficiency–to external causes: life traumas and frustrations, including brain injury, inadequate nurturance as in infant or child, bad life situation or social conditions, concurrent disorders, adrenal exhaustion and other factors, inability to achieve one’s potential. Not infrequently affective disorder can include factors in both categories above, as when a trauma, or a series of frustrations triggers a latent genetic potential for depression, and “an episode” begins.
Some “humanistic psychologists are against medications , or any quick fix for depression because the cure ignores the real social or human conditions that may be precipitating the problem. Depth psychologists also are against medication because it deprives the sufferer a chance to go deeper into one’s own process, and examine the root causes in the psyche that sponsor the depression. Our experience has been that the neurofeedback approach bypasses both of these objections, by not numbing or shielding the person from the root causes of the disorder, while giving some relief–and hopefully additional coping skills.
In general a qEEG or LENS brain mapping can help sort out the type of depression and possible causality or dynamics of the depression and contribute to the knowledge base of the clinician who encounters these problems. EEG-based neurofeedback also has a proven efficacy in helping to remediate mood disorders. The LENS variant as a stand-alone procedure has been proven helpful with depressive disorders (see 100 person study in Journal of Neurotherapy, and research drop-down on this website.)
The spectral analysis above shows very large Delta (.5-4Hz) and Theta (4-8Hz), with probable brian injury and possible seizure disorder concomitant with depression.) To make an effective diagnosis, though, clinicians usually need both clinical information and EEG data.
(See also Anxiety dropdown for how Anxiety and Depression may be related to different brain conditions.)