Tag Archives: depression

Neuro-What?

What is the most common question asked when meeting someone new?

It’s generally, “What do you do?” bigstock-Brain-profile-made-by-typograp-32324291

At a party the other day, an old friend asked, “so what are you doing these days?”

I began with, “I’m still a therapist in private practice and I also do something called, neurofeedback.”

The old friend asked, “is that like biofeedback?”

A new friend, overhearing the conversation asked, “neurowhat?”

I answered them both. “Yes, neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback. It’s a way to train one’s brain to better deal with life’s stressors. You sit in a comfortable chair in my office with five non-invasive sensors, which are reading the electricity on the surface of your scalp. There is nothing going into your head. You simply sit back and listen to beautiful and relaxing music for 33 minutes. There’s nothing else you have to do. It’s a non-medical way to overcome some of life’s challenges such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, addictions, ADD/ADHD, etc. It’s also great for people who have experience with regular talk therapy and want a change. It’s complementary with talk therapy and it’s often the missing piece for those who have done a lot of therapy and other forms of working on themselves.”

neuroBeing that we were on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I assumed that many people in the room had at some point worked with a talk therapist. My friends were both very interested in learning more about how neurofeedback works and how it would specifically work for them. One mentioned having repetitive thoughts while the other discussed bouts of insomnia. They asked if neurofeedback could help with both of these issues. I told them that it could and that I currently work with clients who are being treated for those exact issues. The clients were responding very well and in a much shorter period than they expected.

What happens is this: The system I use is called, NeurOptimal®. When your brain shows turbulence, the music makes a minute pause. What happens is that the turbulence the system is flagging for the brain is what happens whenever our brain shifts from one state to another. The pause in the music is a wakeup call to the brain to come back to the present and choose whether or not the shift is a good idea. The system flags ANY state shift, not just problematic ones. Our brains prefer to use energy efficiently. Even when the pause in the music is indecipherable, the brain notices it. The decrease in the regular stress creates calmness and increases the ability to return to the present moment.

Eventually there become fewer and fewer episodes of recycling the past and you are allowed to see and respond to what is actually happening in your life rather than react to it out of habit. Also, as the brain gets calmer, the part of the brain that controls relaxation responses becomes more dominant than the part of the brain the guides the “fight or flight response.” Your body then is able to repair itself and become healthier.”

It was exciting for me to share what I know and exciting for my friends to learn about neuro-what? I mean neurofeedback.

If you’re interested in trying neurofeedback, call me at 917-817-8575 or email me.

Is Neurofeedback Becoming Mainstream?

The Wall Street Journal just published an article entitled,  Brain Training for Anxiety, Depression and Other Mental Conditions-Neurofeedback uses real-time scans to teach patients to try to change how they think.

The article, written by Andrea Petersen, is about the many ways that neurofeedback (NF) can help people cope with a variety of issues, such as depression and anxiety.

The type of NF mentioned in the article is different from the one neurofeedbackI use but it is effective nonetheless. “While fMRI neurofeedback is only a few years old, its principles have been around for decades. Doctors and researchers have long used electroencephalograms (EEG), tests that record electrical activity, to perform a version of neurofeedback. The approach is particularly popular as a treatment for ADHD in children.”

bigstock-Brain-profile-made-by-typograp-32324291The type of NF that I do is auditory based and in a much more inviting setting than the one discussed in the article. When a client meets me for a NF session, they sit in a comfortable chair, listen to beautiful music for 33 minutes and they relax. The computer does all of the work.

To learn more about the type of system I use, click on this link and see how neurofeedback and help you.

How Do You Soothe Yourself?

In Learning to Self Soothe, Courtney Martin writes about learning from her infant daughter, how one self soothes. “We have a video monitor, so Hands behind headI have actually been able to watch my baby girl learning her own way around discomfort. She does things with her little, pudgy, perfect body that I never could have done for her or taught her to do. My nephew, too, surprised his parents with his soothing techniques. He had his hands perfectly positioned behind his head, like an old man soaking up some rays on the Coney Island board walk.”

Stone with wordI love what Martin writes next, “It’s been a bit of a revelation for me. We all have our ways to feel okay in the world. Some of us whistle. Some of us smoke. Some of us carry a stone in a pocket. Some of us maniacally refresh Facebook. Some of us pray. Some of us eat. Some of us walk. Some of us work. Some of us run away.”

How do you self-soothe? Is it working for you?

I think about pre-teens and teenagers when I think about self-soothing and how different the methods are from the ones used in infancy. Teens smokingEverything about kids between the ages of 11 and 19 are changing and it is a time in their lives when they are most cognizant of these changes. Some of these kids feel so out of control that they either give up and start using drugs, alcohol and/or sex to cope, while others study and are so driven to have straight A+’s on their report cards. Both sets of kids, the ones who give up and the ones who are above average students are trying to cope and self-soothe. What many of them have in common is fear/anxiety and/or sadness/depression.

When I am lucky enough to incorporate neurofeedback into my work with a pre-teen or teen, I am hopeful and expect that he/she will feel more confident, more relaxed and better able to cope naturally with changes in a short period of time.

The type of neurofeedback that I use is, NeurOptimal®.NeurOptimal® is essentially a brain workout. It trains your brain to be neuromore flexible and resilient. Without pushing it in any specific direction, the NeurOptimal® neurofeedback system interacts with your central nervous system in a way that improves neural plasticity. A mind that is more flexible adapts and responds quicker and more appropriately to changes in your environment.  The more easily your brain adjusts to changes encountered in a normal busy day, the better you feel. A lack of brain fitness, on the other hand, can leave you drained and stressed at the end of the day.” NeurOptimal can help you to learn safer, more effective ways to self-soothe.

If what I wrote resonates with you or if you are a pre-teen, a teenager or a parent and are interested in learning more about what I do or more about NeurOptimal®, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me.

“If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror…”

304-mirror-mirror_2…look a little closer, stare a little longer, because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit.” Those words are part of a poem by Shane Koyczan. The poem is called,  To This Day…for the bullied and beautiful. 

Hearing Shane recite his poem is like being on a roller coaster. It’s thrilling and scary. One has no idea when the next turn, drop, dip or fall will come. The anticipation of the next phrase or line is so exciting. How was Shane able to write with humor about being self conscious when describing his dreams, hopes and desires? Just listen.

Many people enter therapy because they are feeling anxious or depressed. It can be difficult to describe feelings. I have had clients bring in books, photographs, drawings and other items to explain to me their traumas. I hope that listening to Shane recite his poem will help you feel less alone. I hope that after listening, you will know that there are others who have experienced grief, shame and/or disappointment.

What I also find inspiring about this poem is the encouragement to go on with life despite it’s disappointments. The next time you want to explain similar feelings, but don’t have the words, share this video. It may help others understand a part of you and open up a dialogue to help you to feel heard.

If you would like to talk about this poem or your struggles with me, I would be happy to hear from you. Feel free to contact me here.

Six Things That Help With Depression

Cynthia W. Lubow, MS, MFT is a therapist who
practices in California. In a recent article for GoodTherapy.com, Lubow wrote, Five Things That Help When I’m Depressed. I would like to add a sixth; neurofeedback. More on that later.

Learning Discoveries, a mental health center, defines depression as “a disabling condition which affects most people at Unknown-1some stage of their lives and can adversely affect a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits and general health. It can result from a number of factors including intrinsic (internal) biochemical changes in the body and brain (after a heart attack or brain injury), a genetic predisposition, external events (loss of loved one, personal tragedy, long term stress due to environmental factors). Depression can begin at an early age some children show signs and symptoms of depression as young as seven years of age.”

Below are the five things that help Lewbow when she is depressed:

1. Stay in bed, and give in to the exhaustion and lack of motivation.

2. Force myself to exercise. Finish Line

3. Fantasize about something so amazing that it might give me pleasure.

4. Look for pleasure through my senses.

5. Talk to someone about whatever I need to complain about.

The suggestions are different from what is generally discussed and number one can be complicated. Lubow goes on to explain why in her article.

The sixth suggestion is mine. It’s neurofeedback. The type of neurofeedback that I use is NeurOptimal®. From their website, “NeurOptimal® slide3can help build brain resilience, or an increase in the central nervous system’s ability to ‘bounce back’ from a negative event.  Negative feelings
associated with a personal conflict or bad day at work can hover hours after the actual event has passed. The destructive effect of nervousness, repetitive or self-critical thinking is magnified in more severe events such as physical or emotional trauma or the loss of a loved one. Instead of staying stuck in the negativity of these events, the resilient brain will snap back and return to its normal baseline more quickly. Individuals with a more resilient brain report feeling happier and enjoying a more profound sense of peace.”

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you manage your depression through talk therapy or neurofeedback, contact me here. I look forward to hearing from you.

What is Neurofeedback and How Does it Work?

Mike Cohen of the Center for Brain Training in Florida created an amazing video that explains what neurofeedback (NF) is and how it works. A lot of what Mike says about NF in his video has been my experience as well.

Mike explains, that for children, NF is commonly used for “ADHD, emotional and behavioral issues, learning and development delays and struggles in school. For adults, it’s generally used for anxiety, depression, obsessing and sleep problems. I love when Mike says, “With NF, the brain changes itself.” That’s exactly what happens. We use the tools that we already have in order to become better. Here’s Mike’s video.

 

The video also addresses the fact that yes, NF helps with problems, but it also helps with performance. Valdeane Brown, Ph.D., is the Founder, Director and President of the Zengar Institute and the creator of the system that I use, NeurOptimal®. He is an avid golf player. Shortly after taking up the game, Val was rated the most improved player. He believes this is due to his ability to return to the present moment and allow his brain to do what it had being learning to do- via NF trainings. He said that swinging the club just right, to get the ball to go just where he wanted it to go, was no easy task. Val found that with his own game (and the games of the athletes whom he trains) he was able to be in the game and not in his head. What a wonderful metaphor. To be able to concentrate on any task and not be stuck in one’s head, is a much easier (and more productive) way to go through life. Here’s a video of Val discussing golf and NeurOptimal®.

Much of what Mike discusses in his video is similar to my experience with NF but there are also some differences. The differences are in the systems that we use. With Mike’s system (and most NF systems), certain parts of the brain are being stimulated, while other parts are hindered. This can create side effects. With NeurOptimal®, the brain is simply interacting adaptively with itself moment by moment, not striving to produce “more” of some frequency and “less” of another according to an outside “expert”. Additionally, Mike uses tests to find out what is “wrong with the client.” With NeurOptimal®, there is no need for outside tests to “diagnose what’s wrong” or “what the central nervous system (CNS) needs”. You can simply allow the CNS to receive the pure information about itself — untainted by the beliefs of the trainer — and the brain organizes on its own. This is what the CNS is designed to do and NeurOptimal® is designed to rely on this inherent intelligence of the brain. As a result, the NeurOptimal® process is perfectly, effortlessly, natural. And this is true no matter what the problem is — even if there was a significant developmental delay or injury as far back as birth or even earlier. Every brain has the potential to optimize itself, if given the right information.

For more information about how NeurOptimal® can help you, feel free to contact me.