J Korean Med Sci.  2019 Nov;34(42):e287. 10.3346/jkms.2019.34.e287.

Neurofeedback Treatment on Depressive Symptoms and Functional Recovery in Treatment-Resistant Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: an Open-Label Pilot Study

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Gyeongsang National University Changwon Hospital, Changwon, Korea.
  • 2Heemang Psychiatric Clinic, Suwon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Yeungnam University College of Medicine, Daegu, Korea. pyejc@ynu.ac.kr


We evaluated the effects of neurofeedback as an augmentation treatment on depressive symptoms and functional recovery in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
We included 24 adult patients with TRD and 12 healthy adults. 24 TRD patients were assigned to the neurofeedback augmentation group (n = 12) and the medication-only (treatment as usual [TAU]) group (n = 12). The neurofeedback augmentation group underwent combined therapy comprising medication and 12-24 sessions of neurofeedback training for 12 weeks. To assess the serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in both groups, pre- and post-treatment blood samples were obtained. Patients were evaluated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S), 5-level version of European Quality of Life Questionnaire 5-Dimensional Classification (EQ-5D-5L), and Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) at baseline, and at the 1-, 4-, and 12-week.
From baseline to week 12, neurofeedback training reduced mean scores on HAM-D, BDI-II, CGI-S, and SDS, and increased mean EQ-5D-5L tariff score. In the neurofeedback augmentation group, the response and remission rates were 58.3% and 50.0%, respectively, at week 12. Changes in HAM-D, EQ-5D-5L tariff score, and SDS were significantly larger in the neurofeedback group than in the medication-only (TAU) group. No significant difference in BDNF level was found pre- vs. post-treatment in any of the groups.
Despite the small sample size, these results suggest that neurofeedback treatment may be effective as an augmentation treatment, not only for depressive symptoms, but also for functional recovery, in patients with TRD. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical Research Information Service Identifier: KCT0004183 ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04078438


Treatment-Resistant Depression; Neurofeedback; Functional Recovery

MeSH Terms

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Depressive Disorder, Major*
Information Services
Pilot Projects*
Quality of Life
Sample Size
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
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