Brain Mapping for Anxiety and Depression
Brain Mapping for Anxiety and Depression
Table of Contents
Anxiety and depression are common neurological disorders that affect millions of Americans each year. Whether they are chronic or seasonal, both anxiety and depression can lead to a dramatic loss in quality of life, significant emotional distress, and other negative symptoms.
Treatments for anxiety and depression are varied and often rely on cutting-edge neuroscience, but they are not always successful. However, revolutionary new therapies involving brain mapping and neurotechnology are paving the way for more successful treatments and personalized assistance.
Specifically, brain mapping and other types of neurological techniques can be used to diagnose anxiety and depression and to determine why these conditions affect certain individuals in the first place. With the right expert care and assistance, brain mapping may even provide a way toward long-lasting, effective treatment for these and other cognitive disorders.
What is Brain Mapping?
Brain mapping is a broad set of innovative techniques and technologies that psychologists and physicians can use to understand clients’ brains. Through brain mapping tools or techniques, physicians can scan a brain at the functional level, structural level, or both.
Types of Brain Scans
There are a variety of brain scan types that physicians can use, including:1
- fMRI or functional magnetic resonance imaging scans: These are some of the most common techniques used by physicians and psychologists. fMRI scans use magnetic fields to create detailed maps of client brain structures and are favored for their non-invasive style and lack of health risks.
- CT or CAT scans: These scans can create two-dimensional images of the brain. Multiple scans combined can create composite 3-D scans.
- PET scans or positron emission tomography scans: These leverage radioactive markers and a variety of isotopes to obtain a thorough mapping of inner brain structures. These scans can be useful for detecting brain tumors and similar injuries.
- EEG or qEEG scans and tests: These tests measure electrical activity in clients’ brains to detect electrical centers, thought patterns, and to create detailed 3-D maps of brain interiors.
Depending on the technique used, clients may be required to place sensors on their heads or wear caps so that computers can measure electrical activity in their brains.
Regardless, brain mapping is an effective collection of techniques that allows psychologists and physicians to better understand the unique needs of their clients and to formulate effective treatments for conditions like anxiety, depression, and more.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder is a neurological condition, and it is a very common type of emotional disorder. Anxiety can affect anyone at any age, although women are slightly more likely than men to be diagnosed with anxiety.2
Just like the feeling for which it is named, anxiety disorders include symptoms such as moderate to debilitating fear, persistent anxiety or stress, frustration, nervousness, and more. Individuals who experience anxiety may find it difficult to carry out daily tasks or maintain a daily routine. Trying new things or progressing through one’s career may also be difficult for those struggling with an anxiety disorder.
Because anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress, it can be difficult for psychologists to treat the condition. Neuroimaging and brain mapping techniques can help clinicians and psychologists detect the emotional or thought centers behind the brain’s anxiety responses and potentially develop effective treatment plans.
What is Depression?
Depression is another common disorder (also called major depressive disorder). This serious mental illness is oftentimes characterized by an imbalance in certain hormones like serotonin, although the exact characteristics and symptoms of depression will vary from person to person.3
Regardless, depression is usually accompanied by symptoms like feelings of intense and/or persistent sadness and a general loss of interest in activities or hobbies. Depression symptoms can also include changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of energy, and feelings of worthlessness.
As with anxiety, depression is a neurological disorder that starts in the brain. Thus, neuroimaging techniques and brain mapping can help physicians and psychologists detect the root causes of depression and potentially develop treatments beyond oral medication.
Clients are never responsible for their anxiety or depression. However, because both cognitive disorders can be caused by a variety of conditions or factors, it can be difficult for medical professionals to provide effective treatment plans.
What is qEEG Brain Mapping?
qEEG or quantitative electroencephalography is a relatively recent technique and an extension of regular EEG brain scanning. In short, qEEG scans use electrodes and head caps to measure brain activity. The information from the brain waves is recorded using specialized computers and processed through specific algorithms that psychologists and physicians use to analyze the information for more accurate results.4
Once fully analyzed, qEEG brain mapping results may be used to identify the root causes of disorders, analyze the symptoms more clearly, and develop treatment plans that best suit a client’s needs. qEEG brain mapping is particularly useful for physicians that need to understand how a client’s brain functions at the nanosecond-to-nanosecond level.
How Can Brain Mapping Help with Neurological Disorders?
Put simply, brain mapping helps psychologists and physicians by letting them see which areas of clients’ brains are not working properly. Through measuring electrical activity or seeing the underlying structure of the brain, medical professionals can detect trouble spots or problematic activity more clearly and accurately than before.
Once medical professionals have more detailed information, they can address different types of brain issues and prescribe specific treatments, like neurofeedback, therapy, medication, and other treatments.
Brain Mapping for Anxiety and Depression
Because brain mapping creates detailed 2-D or 3-D structures of clients’ brains, different types of brain scans can be effective for treating both anxiety and depression. By allowing psychologists and physicians a greater understanding of patient brains, medical professionals can:
- Examine the causes of anxiety or depression, such as determining whether they are hormonal based or because of electrical activity in the mind.
- Determine potentially successful treatment plans beyond medication prescriptions.
- See if other factors or conditions may be causing or exacerbating the anxiety or depression of their clients.
For many years, anxiety, depression, and other neurological disorders were very difficult for medical professionals to understand. Even today, it can be difficult to fully diagnose these conditions given their nature and the variety in their symptoms.
Brain mapping is changing that, though, and it allows medical professionals to offer personalized, accurate diagnoses and services to their clients, even for difficult disorders like anxiety and depression.
How Can Neurofeedback Help in Neurotherapy?
Neurofeedback is a type of neurotherapy, also sometimes called EEG biofeedback. Neurofeedback involves taking information from detailed qEEG tests and scans and showing the information to the client. As the individual being tested for neurotherapy gains a greater awareness of his or her brain activity, they can then make conscious changes to brainwave activity. In a sense, the client will understand how to “train their brain” for short-term relief and long-term results.5
Through neurofeedback, individuals are trained through computerized biofeedback equipment to directly address problem areas in their thought patterns or brain activity. Moreover, this type of treatment is a passive and non-invasive therapy technique, and it is ideal for treating a variety of disorders, like anxiety, depression, cognitive inflexibility, and more.
Neurofeedback is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all cognitive disorders, however. Clients should speak to their healthcare providers, psychological professionals, or physicians before attempting to receive a neurofeedback treatment.
How Can Neurotherapy Help with Anxiety and Depression?
Both anxiety and depression can be caused by a variety of origins or circumstances. In many cases, these disorders are caused by hormonal imbalances in the brain and prescription medication or lifestyle changes can go a long way toward assisting with their symptoms.
However, anxiety and depression can also be started or exacerbated through specific thought patterns or unbalanced electrical activity in the brain. In these cases, the brain has been “trained” into these disorders, at least in part.
Thus, neurotherapy can be beneficial for individuals with either anxiety or depression for two reasons:
- It can help them understand the root cause of their conditions.
- It can help them treat the conditions, at least somewhat.
For example, medical professionals may use neurofeedback after taking detailed brain scans to partially treat anxiety or depression. By using electrical scans to determine how the brain reacts when exposed to certain stimuli or when speaking of certain topics, psychologists can then teach clients to change the way they think and adjust their brain’s electrical patterns.
Heal with J. Flowers Health Institute
Organizations like the J. Flowers Health Institute can leverage neurotherapy to diagnose anxiety and depression in highly complex individuals, young adults, and busy executives alike. Furthermore, our institution can use brain mapping and similar techniques to help discern the root cause of these cognitive disorders.
Once we’ve established the cause of a client’s anxiety or depression, we work with them on a personalized wellness plan and provide valuable assistance every step of the way. We are experienced in working with professionals who only have a little bit of time each day to spend on these matters.
As a result, we’re also dedicated to patient confidentiality and utmost privacy. If you have more questions about brain mapping and how it can potentially be used to diagnose or treat anxiety or depression, contact us today.