Will These Surprising Depression Treatments Really Work?
Two new approaches to depression treatment may offer renewed hope to sufferers.
Posted June 18, 2014
Depression engenders negative thoughts, especially negative thoughts about yourself, others and your future. Psychiatrist Aaron Beck called these negative thoughts the "negative cognitive triad." Depression also makes it hard to get up in the morning and subtracts the joy out of life. While depression may not be a cause for divorce, it can put major strains on relationships, and definitely can be contagious.
Medications can help; talk therapy helps; couples therapy helps. At the same time, here's an energy therapy technique and a powerful visualization strategy that I hope will someday become conventional depression treatment options.
Prefrontal Lobe Energy Shifting
In an earlier PT post I described a new strategy for treatment of depression that my colleague Dale and I have been developing. The treatment involves shifting energy from the right to the left prefrontal lobes.
Neuroimaging research has shown that when people are depressed there is more energy in the right prefrontal lobe. When they are happy there is more energy in the left prefrontal lobe. Our interventions offer a low-tech and very rapid means of accomplishing that energy shift.
The video below illustrates ways to shift the balance from more right prefrontal lobe energy to more energy in the left prefrontal lobe.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more. The video below hopefully will make the explanation above more comprehensible.
Outcomes with this depression treatment method.
Our data on outcomes with the dozen or so depressed folks with whom we have begun to explore the potential of shifting energy from the right to the left prefrontal lobe so far is observational and informal. The news so far however is good. After we have done the procedure, most folks report feeling significantly better, at least temporarily.
Most people report that they feel lighter, more positive, relaxed or upbeat, within a few minutes to hours, and occasionally taking a day or two. A few folks seem to feel no difference, but these have been a small minority of cases. One person reported feeling worse for the next day, and then fully relieved of depressed feelings and thoughts by the following day or so. No one has reported any other negative side effects, nor have we observed more thus far.
We generally find that it helps to repeat the procedure the therapist-conducted procedure weekly for a few weeks, then occasionally as needed after that, to consolidate the improvement. The brain seems gradually to learn to keep the energy higher on the left than the right, or maybe feeling better breeds acting more positively which brings on more good feelings and becomes self-reinforcing,
At the same time, if the client does temporal tapping three to four times a day for several weeks (months if the depression has been long-term), that seems to make the initial treatment last longer, and may even be able to shift the energies on its own, without the prior first intervention with a therapist.
My goal in writing here and showing this video is to interest researchers in running scientific studies that might establish the merits and/or limitations of this potential treatment technique. My dream, in addition to effectiveness research, would be to find a physician or neuropsychologist who has access to brain imaging to determine if and to what extent the brain is actually making changes with these interventions. Any researcher volunteers?
The 3 P's Visualization
The video below demonstrates yet another way to understand and alleviate depressed feelings—a technique that you can use on your own or with the help of a therapist.
For detailed instructions for this visualization technique and also explanation of the theory of why it works, see my book Prescriptions Without Pills: For Relief From Depression, Anger, Anxiety and More.
Could these depression treatment methods replace prior treatment options?
If these new depression treatments really are getting the results we think we are seeing, an energy therapy intervention like this could replace drug treatments.
Folks who are depression-prone definitely benefit from working with a therapist to learn what will enable them to stay depression-free. For instance, folks whose depression stems from dominant-submissive interactions in their marriage or other couple relationship need to learn to interact without put-downs and instead with only collaborative patterns of talking together.
While prefrontal lobe energy-shifting and visualizing who you are mad at are not meant to replace conventional talk therapy treatment, the techniques hopefully may someday augment and accelerate the effectiveness of conventional depression therapy treatments.
That someday would be a very good day indeed.
Denver clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D, a graduate of Harvard and NYU, is author of Power of Two, a book, workbook, and website that teach couples the communication skills for successful relationships.
Dr. Heitler's latest book, Prescriptions Without Pills, offers new understandings of depression plus multiple techniques for breaking out of a depressive dark cloud.