The National Institute for Mental Health reports that one in five Americans struggle with some type of mental illness. This means that 51.5 million people in the United States had a mental illness. In fact, it seems to be a growing concern among all ages, genders, and races all over the world.
These people aren’t getting the treatment that they need to stave off the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
What if there was a way to make a difference in brain waves to aid in the treatment of antidepressant-resistant depression? Stimulating the brain’s alpha waves may just be the answer needed to help the individual’s struggling with this mental illness.
Continue reading to learn what alpha brain waves are and how they impact mental health.
What Are Alpha Brain Waves?
Alpha brain waves are the representation of one type of electrical activity that gets produced by the brain. When groups of neurons send signals to other groups of neurons, it produces a pattern known as a brain wave. Alpha waves are usually present when the brain is calm.
Alpha brain waves are present when an individual is:
They also occur when the mind is in a semi-conscious state right before falling asleep and right before waking up. These brain waves occur when the individual’s mind is focused on one specific thought while blocking out all other distractions and potential stressors.
How Are Alpha Brain Waves Measured?
All brain waves can be measured by an EEG. The electroencephalogram (EEG) uses electrodes externally adhered to the scalp to record the communication between neurons in the brain.
An EEG tracks the frequency of brain waves present at that specific moment during the procedure. Alpha brain waves tend to move at a medium pace compared to the other four types of brain waves that can also be detected via an EEG.
Other Types of Brain Waves
In addition to alpha brain waves, four other types of brain waves can be found within the brain’s electrical activity.
Five different types of brain waves include:
- Delta brain waves are the slowest brain waves. They are present during a deep state of unconsciousness. They move between 0.5 and 4 Hz per second.
- The theta brain waves are slightly faster and present themselves during light sleep or deep relaxation. They move at a pace of 4 and 8 Hz.
- In the middle of these brain waves falls alpha brain waves. They move somewhere between 8 and 12 Hz which places them at a medium pace within the brain wave patterns.
- The beta brain waves occur during a conscious or awake state. This is when a person is attentive and alert. You will find that they are faster moving than the other ones, moving between 12 and 30 Hz.
- Gamma brain waves are the fastest brain waves. They move between 25 and 100 Hz at any given moment. They are present during periods of high brain activity, such as learning, processing information, and problem-solving.
What Impact Do Alpha Brain Waves Have on the Brain?
Alpha brain waves stand to have a positive effect on the brain and its function. This impact of alpha brain waves allows several things to happen.
When there is an increase in alpha brain waves, the individual may feel fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. At the same time, there is a potential for an increase in creativity. There may be a relation between the two. When the symptoms of depression and anxiety fade away, the potential for expressing the creative side may blossom.
This increase in alpha brain waves can help in the treatment of resistant depression. It’s also thought to help the individual ignore chronic pain.
The presence of alpha brain waves usually means that negative thoughts or actions are the last things on these individual’s minds.
How to Increase Alpha Brain Waves
Increasing the alpha brain waves to get this effect on the brain is possible. The goal of increased alpha brain waves can be achieved through everyday activities like meditation and yoga. The practice of deep breathing and mindfulness aids in this release of alpha brain waves.
Practicing mindfulness is a type of meditation where the individual becomes fully aware of their surroundings and their feelings without judgment. Breathing methods and guided imagery help to relax the body and the mind, reducing stress levels.
Mental health treatment options that include amplifying alpha brain waves can help to treat treatment-resistant depression.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an effective method of treating several mental illnesses by creating a magnetic stimulation of the brain. This act increases neuronal activity. It’s achieved by transmitting a strong current through a coil placed on the scalp. It was approved in 2008 for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression.
The benefits of TMS therapy include the fact that it is non-invasive and drug-free — and still very effective. It can help to treat treatment-resistant depression, among other mental illnesses.
Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy (MeRT) is another term in the field that refers to a specific rTMS therapy approach. This approach leverages data from quantitative EEGs and EKGs to measure a brain-heart coherence to allow rTMs to better target areas of the brain in treatment.
General fitness and aerobic exercise has also helped to achieve an increase in positive brain waves, and ultimately mental health. The release of serotonin can help to mask the sensation of chronic pain.
Is TMS the Right Treatment for You?
If after you’ve tried meditation and yoga to reach the sense of relaxation that comes from active alpha brain waves, you might be ready to try brain stimulation procedures to find relief from your depression and anxiety symptoms. The increase in alpha brain waves might even help you to achieve a high level of creativity.
If you think that you or a loved one would benefit from TMS therapy, contact Brain Center TMS for your free consultation.