Depression is a real illness which includes many symptoms, including physical ones. Many people want to heal their symptoms of depression without medication. This plan can, of course, work with the right supports in place. Below you’ll find a detailed explanation of what depression is plus how neurofeedback can help.

To begin, some people do not feel sadness but feel very irritable instead. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms of depression, you can’t just snap out of it. You need treatment to get better.

Depression interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. Life events such a trauma, loss of a loved one, divorce, a stressful situation, losing your job, or difficult early childhood experiences can lead to depression. It can happen as part of a serious medical condition such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Depression can make these conditions worse and sometimes medications for illness can have depression as a side effect. Genetics and brain biology can also play a role.

Symptoms include persistent sadness, anxiety or empty mood. You can feel hopeless, helpless or very negative, as well as feeling guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness. You can lose interest in activities you previously cared about and enjoyed doing.

Depression can make it difficult to concentrate, remember things, and make decisions. People often have decreased energy, and feel slow and fatigued. It may affect your sleep, either sleeping too little or too much. You may notice appetite or weight changes, have thoughts of suicide or death and wonder “what is the point”?

You might feel very restless in your body, and feel irritable. You may have aches and pains, such as headaches, cramps, or digestive problems. If physical symptoms aren’t related to a physical illness, they might be part of depression.

Depression can happen at any age but often begins in the teens or early 20s or 30s. High levels of anxiety as a child could mean a higher risk of depression as an adult.

6.7% of all U.S. adults (16.2 million people) have had at least one major depressive episode. This affects more adult females (8.5%) compared to males (4.8%). The prevalence was highest among adults ages 18-25 (10.9%). 10.5% of adults reporting two or more races have had a major depressive episode.

The statistics here are from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The NSDUH study definition of a major depressive episode is based mainly on the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). In summary, the definition includes a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

Men often experience depression differently than women. While women with depression are more likely to have feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, men are more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities, and have difficulty sleeping.

Men may turn to alcohol or drugs when they are depressed. They also may become frustrated, discouraged, irritable, angry, and sometimes abusive. Some men may throw themselves into their work to avoid talking about their depression with family or friends, or behave recklessly.

And although more women attempt suicide, many more men die by suicide in the United States. 12.8% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17 have had at least one major depressive episode. The incidence of depression is higher among female adolescents that males.

The teen years can be challenging.

Teens are forming an identity apart from their parents, dealing with gender issues and emerging sexuality, and making independent decisions for the first time in their lives. Some bad moods are to be expected, but depression is different.

Older children and teens with depression may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative and irritable, and feel misunderstood. If you’re unsure if an adolescent in your life is depressed or just “being a teenager,” consider how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they are, and how different the teen is acting from his or her usual self.

Teens with depression may also have other disorders such as anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse. They may also be at higher risk for suicide.

If you or a someone you care about is experiencing depression, there are some things you can do. Exercise has been shown to help depression. Also, don’t isolate yourself, confide in a trusted friend and let others help you. Setting realistic goals for yourself when your feeling down is important. So, don’t make important decisions like getting married or divorced or changing jobs until you feel better.

Educate yourself on treatment for depression and seek help.

When you start treatment, expect that your mood will improve gradually, so be patient. One excellent treatment for depression is neurofeedback. If you don’t want to turn to medication first, consider therapy and neurofeedback.

Even if you are already taking medication, neurofeedback can help and you may be able to reduce or stop taking prescriptions.

Many clients are able to treat their depression without taking medication. 

When I treat depression without medication, I do a thorough intake where we discuss all the aspects of your depression. I want to know as much as possible about your functioning so I can develop a treatment plan.

If we decide to do neurofeedback, I put four electrodes on your head. I use a water soluble paste to keep them on the scalp, which I remove at the end. The location on the scalp is determined by what symptoms you are having.

You watch a video of your choosing. This can be a beach scene, a nature hike, or a spaceship flying through space. You can watch a movie or play a video game. When your brain is syncing in nicely, the picture will expand and get brighter.

You will start to feel calm and relaxed but still alert. Some people say they feel lighter, more grounded and more themselves. Some feel like their brain isn’t constantly thinking of so many things at once, so they feel more focused and centered.

Neurofeedback encourages the brain to produce resting state brain waves which calm and relax your nervous system and return your brain to a more resilient and regulated state. I use your symptoms to help me understand how your nervous system is dysregulated.

Self regulation is an automatic, unconscious process that is not under your conscious control.. Good self regulation means you have more flexibility and stability. Neurofeedback promotes self regulation, improving health and well-being. This is not the same as self-control or willpower.

Neurofeedback helps you go through your life with much more ease and calm. This reduces the need for conscious willpower in your daily life. As you start to feel happier, less depressed and more empowered, decision making starts to improve and you can make the changes that will lead to a better life.

If you think that neurofeedback may be able to help you with your depression without medication. Please call 310-314-6933 or email me at I would be happy to help.