Len Ochs, Ph.D.
August 3, 1995
Depression is treatable by psychiatric medications as well as by psychotherapy. Under the influence of medications, depression often decreases; those so-afflicted become more functional with greater ease. Unfortunately, depression often returns if the medication is withdrawn. Additionally, there are very frequently unpleasant side-effects to the medication. Last, medication teaches nothing, although people do learn more easily while taking it.
It has fallen to psychotherapy to teach the depressed how to function and cope with their depression. Psychotherapy forms an almost essential part in the treatment recipe of depression and complements the use of medication. What is often learned with psychotherapy is often hard won, and over a long period.
A new and experimental tool has been and continues to be applied to depression. The popularized name for this tool is EDS, or EEG-Driven Stimulation. It is a tool which appears to cure the physical cause of a number of different kinds of depression. And while it, like medication, doesn't teach the person anything about living, it makes it easier for the person both to access the wisdom they have already acquired, and to take in new information from others, including psychotherapists. Unlike medication, EDS leaves the person with enhanced abilities to learn even after discontinuing its use.
EDS, an advanced form of biofeedback linking gently twinkling lights to brain electrical activity, appears to have cured people with depression ranging from reactions to prolonged and depressing circumstances, to depressions that have lasted a lifetime in people who have had parents who also had emotional difficulties. While it is clear that no form of treatment is good for everyone or all problems, and while it is always possible to anticipate new problems presenting themselves as new treatment challenges, most of the people seeking EDS treatment have been depressed, and relatively easily cured.
The idea of curing depression is one that is nearly inconceivable, much less believable. However the cures we have witnessed on a reliable basis have resulted in the following:
These new-found abilities appear to last for years after the cessation of treatment. In fact, they continue to improve long after treatment has been completed. However just as it is important to focus on what this new treatment will do, it is important to realize what it will not do. That is, it will not:
While the informal name for this treatment is EDS. The names refer to the fact that it is the person's brain that controls the gently-twinkling light that is fed back to the person. This light is often so dim that it is not visible to the person. And when the light may be brighter, it is always kept at levels comfortable to the person, who just sits with eyes closed.
What does the person have to do while being shown the feedback? Nothing, in particular. The person may daydream, think about past or upcoming tasks, or let the mind wander. The person is counseled not to try to deliberately do anything uplifting, positive, or helpful. In our experience people have become so caught up in struggling to improve themselves that they have forgotten how to just be. They have acquired such a deep distrust in their own brain's ability to fend for itself and to support them, that they have almost permanently engaged themselves in a conscious struggle to willfully take over what should come easily and automatically. EDS restores the ability of the brain to judge for itself what it needs, allowing the person to rest and relinquish most conscious control efforts.
People who are familiar with the neurologist's use of brightly strobing lights will often be concerned that the EDS lights will cause seizures. Not only has there has never been a confirmed case of seizures as a result of EDS, EDS has been seen as an anticonvulsant and has allowed individuals already having seizures to safely reduce their anticonvulsants.
There may be more than one reason that EDS acts this way. One of the reasons, most certainly, is the predominant dimness of the lights. Another may be that EDS is programmed to never have a flash rate the same as a seizure, making it impossible to amplify a seizure. While this has been our experience, most professionals, when hearing that flashing lights are involved in a treatment, and not knowing the entire story, will often strongly dissuade their patient from entering EDS out of misinformation and fear.
While fear of seizures can be a problem, and a lack of published research can make EDS less credible, the strength and reliability of the results of EDS are a far more serious problem in that these results are inconceivable. To those with depression, and to the medical community, who already know that depression is merely treatable, it is inconceivable that EDS can actually cure depression.
Because EDS is so relatively new, our efforts have been to study how it should be productively subjected to controlled studies. This phase of the research is at an end, and new software is being developed to run the necessary controlled studies. We hope that controlled studies will start at the beginning of 1996, and be ready to submit for publication at the end of next year.