Healthy Tahoe: Biofeedback shows promise as depression treatment | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Healthy Tahoe: Biofeedback shows promise as depression treatment

What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a technique that leverages the use of electrical sensors to control the body and some of its functions. Using this technique, people can make conscious changes to the way their bodies function, for example, taking control of their heart rate, or relaxing certain parts of the body to aid in pain relief.

Dr. Wes Irwin

There are different types of biofeedback, each designed to control a different part of the body: the brain, respiratory system, heart rate, muscle contraction, sweat glands, temperature, etc.



Biofeedback is non-invasive and can help people feel more in control of their health. It can also be used safely in conjunction with most medications to further enhance the effects of treatment, or—in some cases—reduce or replace the need for medications altogether.

Biofeedback is often performed in physical therapy settings, medical facilities, or hospitals. Increasingly, however, wearable biofeedback devices are being used at home, with programs that interact via Bluetooth with mobile devices and computers.



What do we know about biofeedback for mental health?

A recent study has shown promise in using biofeedback as an effective mental health treatment. This study was performed using real-time functional MRI neurofeedback (rtfMRI-FT), aiming to learn how biofeedback treatment affects the brain in patients diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses.

Through biofeedback treatments, study participants learned how to control their neural activity, using a scanner to monitor changes in brain activity. The ultimate goal be for patients to be able to control neural activity in their day-to-day lives. For example, a patient could train their brain to feel optimistic rather than pessimistic, or calm rather than anxious.

Preliminary studies have shown that biofeedback has a moderate effect on the activity in specific regions of the brain while patients are learning to control their neural activity, and a larger effect once the patient begins to use this biofeedback in their day-to-day lives. Studies show that biofeedback can reduce a patient’s symptoms, with only slight cognitive impairment immediately after the treatments begin.

It is too soon to deduct anything concrete about biofeedback for mental health, but preliminary results show that researchers are learning about how this non-invasive technique could be used to treat chronic pain or mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and many more.

In the meantime, effective treatments for chronic pain and mental health disorders are available. Treatments like ketamine are highly effective for both pain and psychiatric conditions.

Contact Tahoe Ketamine

If you or someone you love is suffering from depression or their mental health and want to learn more about the different treatment options such as ketamine infusion therapy or any of the other wellness services we offer, contact us for a free consultation or more information.

Dr. Wes Irwin is owner/operator for Tahoe Ketamine.


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