Rapid, Drug-Free Relief for Anxiety and Depression
Rapid, Drug-Free Relief for Anxiety and Depression
This is really old news, but unfortunately, many people are still unaware.
A few nuggets from the article:
“Our view is that patients should not be told that depression is caused by low serotonin or by a chemical imbalance, and they should not be led to believe that antidepressants work by targeting these unproven abnormalities. We do not understand what antidepressants are doing to the brain exactly, and giving people this sort of misinformation prevents them from making an informed decision about whether to take antidepressants or not.”
Co-author Dr. Mark Horowitz, a training psychiatrist and Clinical Research Fellow in Psychiatry at UCL and NELFT, said: “I had been taught that depression was caused by low serotonin in my psychiatry training and had even taught this to students in my own lectures. Being involved in this research was eye-opening and feels like everything I thought I knew has been flipped upside down.
“One interesting aspect in the studies we examined was how strong an effect adverse life events played in depression, suggesting low mood is a response to people’s lives and cannot be boiled down to a simple chemical equation.”
Professor Moncrieff added: “Thousands of people suffer from side effects of antidepressants, including the severe withdrawal effects that can occur when people try to stop them, yet prescription rates continue to rise. We believe this situation has been driven partly by the false belief that depression is due to a chemical imbalance. It is high time to inform the public that this belief is not grounded in science.”
Stephen Ilardi's Therapeutic Lifestyle Change for Depression (Youtube video) Ilardi defines depression as a chronic inflammatory condition, contextualizes it in human evolution, and summarizes the research on what works to get rid of it.
Brené Brown on Shame (Youtube video) Brown shares her unique research and wonderful humility to illustrate the universal problem of shame in human psychology and relationships.
In this blog post, Hillary Jacobs Hendel, psychotherapist and author of "It's not Always Depression", explains the change triangle and how it can help you work with difficult feelings or states and connect to your deeper truth.
Gabor Maté's 4 Risk Factors for Chronic Illness This profound talk lays out a deep and truly integrative understanding of human being. Maté describes 4 risk factors for chronic illness born of our adaptive and imperative striving for attachment during childhood. The goal of psychotherapy to help change these deeply wired templates of behavior. The audio is a little poor for the first few minutes--hang in there.
Psychiatrist Kelly Brogan, MD, author of "A Mind of Your Own: How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives" has written a fantastic blog post (Jan 2019) on the chemical imbalance myth. The long and short is, "in six decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety has not achieved scientific credibility".
Here is a cute WikiHow I found on Non-Violent Communication. NVC is an elegant model for communication that can help you resolve conflicts in any relationship. It takes a little effort to learn but this invaluable tool will serve you all your life!
Whenever a client tells me me that they want to make meditation a part of their lives I recommend Yoga Nidra. I've found it's a great place to start because, more than any other type of meditation, people find it easy to do, and so they actually do it! Simply lie down, close your eyes, and listen to a recording. You can find some good ones to try here:
Self-Acceptance Project If self-criticism is a problem for you, here are 22 interviews with various psychotherapists and teachers all asking--how do I stop?
Power Poses (TED talk) Want to feel more confident? Here's a quick trick!
Do not underestimate the simple power of breathing correctly! When we breathe by expanding our lower torso, rather than with our chest (as most of us do) we increase blood blood flow to our "second brain", the gut. Proper breathing improves digestion, assimilation, absorption of nutrients, gut motility, prevents compression of spinal vertebrae (i.e back pain), prevents menstrual cramps, improves posture and makes us feel more calm and confident! Especially if you're having IBS or any kind of problem with digestion, this is something you have complete power over and can do immediately to reduce pain and feel better. Read more at Erik Peper's excellent blog, the source of the video links above.
The Real Causes of Depression (article) Like many people, the author, Johann Hari was offered medication (based on the false premise of "chemical imbalance") and little actual treatment for his symptoms of depression. He is enlightened in part through conversations with Dr. Vincent Felitti, who created the famous ACEs study which shows how adverse experiences in childhood dramatically increase the likelihood of mental and physical illness in adulthood." ...if he had just told people what my doctor told me – that their brains were broken, this was why they were so distressed, and the only solution was to be drugged – they may never have been able to understand the deeper causes of their problem, and they would never have been released from them."
Another beautiful article on the true sources of depression and anxiety by Johann Hari. He asks, "when will we learn that our pain makes sense?", defines the social and environmental causes of mental malaise, highlights our gross overuse of chemical interventions, and asks us to be more thoughtful. Of particular note is the distinction made between "chemical imbalance", a concept neuroscientist Marc Lewis finds crude at best for describing actual brain changes associated with depression, and "synaptic pruning" --a neuroplastic process: "Your brain sheds synapses you don’t use, and if you are pushed into a pained response for too long, your brain can shed synapses, making it harder to navigate away from dark thoughts." Neuroplastic changes may have some chemical component, but they require neuroplastic interventions (i.e. learning, psychotherapy, experiences, neurofeedback) o be properly addressed and resolved.
A General Theory of Love (Amazon link) If you wonder why it is that "the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of", the answers are in this book, which also further explains how and why psychotherapy can make all the difference.
The Body Keeps the Score (Amazon link) For far too long, trauma, abuse and neglect, and their causative role in mental and physical illness have been under-recognized and under-appreciated. This important book begins to correct that.
The Dance of Anger (Amazon link) The closest thing to therapy in a book. This book can help anyone to manage their anger and improve their relationships.
Overcoming Overeating (Amazon link) The best book on the topic. I've seen it change lives.
There is a vast and growing body of research literature supporting the effectiveness of neurofeedback. For more information just type “neurofeedback” or "EEG biofeedback" into PubMed to see thousands of scientific articles from peer-reviewed journals. Alternatively, you could purchase a copy of the 3rd edition (2016) of Evidence Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback, or check the neurofeedback bibliography available here: http://www.isnr.net/resources.
Read about three different individuals with anxiety who benefited greatly from neurofeedback, in this quick blog post written by my talented colleague in San Francisco, Michael Quirke, MFT.
CNN ran this short clip on neurofeedback for anxiety and ADHD in October 2015: https://youtu.be/Ztl6lclnkxg.
This 2021 meta-analytical study shows that neurofeedback tends to have a large, significant effect in decreasing depression. https://www.neuroregulation.org/article/view/21482/14068
This 2017 article summarizes what we now know about how poorly psychotropic medication works, and then contrasts this with neurofeedback's generally impressive outcomes: The Crisis in Psychopharmacology Provides an Opportunity for NeuroRegulation Treatments to Gain Widespread Acceptance
This TED talk video provides a wonderful introductory overview of neurofeedback in plain English: https://youtu.be/4zyt0LCwbYI.
For a general history of the field I recommend Jim Robbin’s “A Symphony in the Brain” (Amazon link).
For a better understanding of the potential and many applications of neurofeedback, I recommend Paul Swingle’s “Biofeedback for the Brain” (Amazon link).
Here's a cute piece from the Atlantic (June 2017) about the experience of a qEEG. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/06/this-is-your-brain-on-qeeg/532035/
Psychiatrists and physicians can earn CME credit for reading this continuing education article in the Psychiatric Times (November 2016): http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/neurofeedback-significance-psychiatry
This 2020 scientific journal article outlines the
neural mechanisms underlying neurofeedback and examines converging evidence for the efficacy of neurofeedback as an
adjunctive treatment for PTSD. https://jmvfh.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/jmvfh.2019-0032
" we propose in this Essay that an alternative “drug-centred” model can better explain observed drug effects in psychiatric conditions."
"It appears that a single session of implicit infra-low frequency electroencephalographic neurofeedback leads to significant changes in intrinsic brain connectivity. "