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Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment for Depression

Most people with depression get better when they get treatment.

The first step to getting appropriate treatment for depression is a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications as well as some medical conditions such as a viral infection can cause the same symptoms as depression, and the physician should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview, and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation should be done.

Treatment choice will depend on the outcome of the evaluation. There are a variety of antidepressant medications and psychotherapies that can be used to treat depressive disorders. Some people with milder forms may do well with psychotherapy alone. People with moderate to severe depression most often benefit from a combination of antidepressants or neurofeedback, psychotherapy, and alpha-stim.


Psychotherapy offers people the opportunity to identify the factors that contribute to their depression and to deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational causes. In talk therapy, individuals with depression have the opportunity to identify the sources of their depression, identify negative or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness, and regain a sense of control over their lives.

Individual, group, and family therapies have been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression.


Typically, a person with depression has a condition known as prefrontal left-hemispheric slowing. In other words the left side of brain operates slower than the right side of the brain. Slow brain wave activity results in reduced cerebral blood flow in the same area of the brain, thereby resulting in symptoms of depression.

Numerous studies indicate that depressed individuals can learn to increase left hemispheric activity with the use of neurofeedback training. This has resulted in improved cerebral blood flow without the use of medications or dangerous side-effects. Neurofeedback trainees often report a lifting of some depression symptoms in just a few training sessions.

Alpha-stim or Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

CES is the application of low-level, pulse electrical currents applied to the head for psychological purposes.  It is FDA approved for the treatment of situation and chronic anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress-related and drug addiction disorders, as well as treating pain.  It is a simple treatment that can be used at any time.  The client simply attaches clip-electrodes to the ears. 

The reduction of anxiety usually occurs during the first treatment, but can also be seen hours later or even the next day. Cranial electrotherapy allows you to be alert yet in a relaxed state, or an alpha state.  People have stated that they feel lighter, relaxed, and their minds are more alert.  This is the result of the production of alpha waves. 

Different brain waves are associated with different mental states. Alpha waves are associated with the state of being alter and relaxed.  CES can be used in conjunction with medication. However it maybe necessary to reduce the dosage of the medication while using CES.  It is important to consult with your doctor before you reduce or stop your medication. Any adjustment to medication needs to be done under the supervision of a doctor. 

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