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Depression: What is it? What are the common signs and symptoms?

At one time or another everyone in life feels down and not their best. Depression, however, is different from a bad day. Depression can start at any time and can last for a long period of time. Depression can develop from a complex combination of factors. These include genetics, brain chemistry, lifestyle, environment, personality and the role that stress plays in exacerbating these elements, impacting key areas of the brain. Individuals who have been depressed for more than two weeks should seek help from a mental health professional right away, especially if any thoughts of suicide are involved. Depression is a real health problem and you can’t “just get over it on your own” or “try to feel better”. For example, research indicates that 12.6% of Canadians will experience clinical depression. A key feature of depression is persistent negative emotions and thoughts. Clients who suffer from depression show an enhanced attention to and memory for negative emotional stimuli (often about the past or things beyond their control) and this attentional bias strongly coincides with the severity of the symptoms that client is experiencing at any given time.
It’s been said that depression often equals a lack of action. For many people thinking about ‘getting help’ it can be hard. If you or your loved are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is critical that you seek a mental health professional immediately to address these concerns.

Stimulant-Free Treatment Programs Offered at Zone Health & Performance Psychology

We offer the following treatment therapies to address and manage the symptoms of ADHD to improve attention, learning, and emotional self-regulation.


Counselling Psychology

We offer individual therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults who are experiencing a range of concerns.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a treatment that aims to strengthen self-awareness of the mind-body connection (thoughts, emotions, and body sensations) through experiential, behavioural, and mindfulness interventions.

Audio-Visual Entrainment Therapy

Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) is a drug-free, non-invasive solution to treat anxiety, clinical depression, panic attacks, PTSD, or other mental health conditions.

Neurofeedback Therapy

The theory of neurofeedback is based on a simple concept – When you have information on what your brainwaves are doing, your brain can use that information to change how it works. Neurofeedback is also known as EEG Biofeedback. Neurofeedback is guided exercise for the brain.

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For Therapeutic Treatments

Zone Health & Performance Psychology offers direct billing. Your therapeutic treatments may be covered by your health insurance plan or employee health benefits. Contact us or your health insurance provider about coverage.

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Common Signs & Symptoms of Depression

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling hopeless, like things will not get better
  • Feeling empty, like you cannot feel any emotion
  • Feeling irritated
  • Thinking that things will not get better
  • Thinking that nothing makes you happy anymore
  • Thinking that problems are your fault
  • Thinking that you are not good enough
  • Thinking about dying or ending your life
  • Having a hard time thinking clearly, concentrating or making decisions
  • No longer liking things you used to like


Physical Symptoms

  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Back pain, chest pain, muscle aches and joint pain
  • Having aches and pains that do not seem to be caused by another health problem
  • Digestive problems
  • Exhaustion and fatigue (Feeling tired or run down most of the time)
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Self destructive behavior (alcohol or drug use/abuse)
  • Eating much less or eating much more than usual.
  • Feeling restless, like you cannot sit still.


If you or someone you know is considering suicide, for immediate help, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines:

  1. Edmonton: The Crisis Centre call 780 482 HELP (4357)
  2. Greater Edmonton region: Rural Distress Line at 1-800-232-7288.
  3. Calgary: 403 266 HELP (4357)

How Does Depression Affect My Brain?

Major depression is a disorder of the brain’s affective system. All of the mood disorders have identifiable brainwave patterns that permit very precise diagnoses and more importantly how precisely how the Neurofeedback Therapist should proceed to address the problem. Neurological patterns that have been found associated with depression are asymmetry of frontal lobe activity, deficiency of slow-wave (theta) activity or excessive fast wave (beta) activity in the occipital or posterior region of the brain, as well as deficiency in in 13-15 Hz activity over the sensorimotor cortex. Bipolar conditions are usually associated with brainwave anomalies in both the front and the back of the brain.
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Research specifically at Keck Imaging Labs at the University of Wisconsin shows that depressed people experience a reduction of activity in the left side of the brain. This is the side that operates to get us engaging in positive moods and effective social interactions. When it slows down, we naturally pull away from others and lose interest in things. We want to withdraw to our bed and just lay there. Everything seems flat and uninteresting. We lose the zest for life. Our moods become very negative. Energy is low. We either can’t sleep at all or we sleep too much. It is the way our biology protects itself when the stress and strain of life becomes overwhelming. So, a short mild depression is not necessarily a bad thing or an abnormal thing for most people. But when it goes on for more than two weeks and begins to undermine our daily living, then it is a serious problem.


Major depression is characterized by a triad of symptoms:

  1. Low or depressed mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities (anhedonia)
  3. Low mental and physical energy or fatigue


How Do We Help?

Antidepressant medications have become the first line of treatment in Canada and are considered the current standard of care by most physicians, the health care system and insurance companies. Unfortunately, these medications can sometimes cause a wide range of unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation


Long-Term Effects of Antidepressants

  • Sexual problems (72%), including the inability to reach orgasm (65%)
  • Weight gain (65%)
  • Feeling emotionally numb (65%)
  • Not feeling like themselves (54%)
  • Reduced positive feelings (46%)
  • Feeling as if they’re addicted (43%)
  • Caring less about other people (36%)
  • Feeling suicidal (36%)


Does your brain go back to normal after antidepressants?

The process of healing the brain takes quite a bit longer than recovery from the acute symptoms. In fact, our best estimates are that it takes 6 to 9 months after you are no longer symptomatically depressed for your brain to entirely recover cognitive function and resilience.


Do antidepressants shorten your life?

Recent research has found that in the general population, those taking antidepressants had a 33 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than people who were not taking the drugs. Additionally, antidepressant users were 14 percent more likely to have an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a stroke or a heart attack.

Zone Health & Performance Psychology provides non-pharmaceutical cutting-edge evidence-based depression treatments with comprehensive assessments and personalized treatment plans for each individual. Your background, family history, current support system, co-occurring issues, trauma, baseline functioning all have to be taken into consideration to provide a customized and comprehensive treatment plan for you. No two people are affected by depression in exactly the same way, neither is there a “one size fits all” treatment to those who suffer from depression. Zone Health & Performance Psychology can offer a multi-modality approach to addressing symptoms of depression that is both effective and comprehensive.

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How Do We Help?

There are many individuals, however, who would prefer not to use drugs to manage their depression. For these individual’s neurofeedback offers an additional solution. Many training with neurofeedback experience significant relief within 15 sessions. This offers the possibility of reducing medication and in many cases eliminating the need for it together. A brain map by a qualified neurofeedback technician is the first step toward treating depression without dangerous drugs. Zone Health and Performance Psychology has been working with clients suffering from depression for over 15 years with Neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback, is a guided exercise for the brain that is shown to help normalize brainwaves. It is a learning modality designed to retrain abnormal brainwave patterns using a system of audio and visual feedback. Neurofeedback is safe, long-lasting, and has no side effects.

It can be a great choice if you want to avoid medications. The first step is booking an assessment with Zone Health and Performance Psychology, and we can explore options and answer any questions you have.

When treating depression with neurofeedback, the therapist places an electrode on the scalp over each side of the brain. Although the technology is quite sophisticated, the process is simple and painless. The client learns to alter brain activity through feedback and practice, and the goal is to increase alpha brain waves on the right side while reducing them on the left.
As the left side of the brain becomes more active, individuals begin to feel more positive in their moods.

The abnormal brainwave activity diminishes throughout training sessions, and brainwave patterns improve.


Is neurofeedback the right depression treatment for you?

It can be a great choice if you want to avoid medications. The first step is booking an assessment with Zone Health & Performance Psychology, and we can explore options and answer any questions you have.

Neurofeedback is a very effective treatment for mood disorders because it corrects the root causes in the brain. We offer two types of Neurofeedback Therapy to address the symptoms of depression. We have also found the following therapies are highly effective when they are simultaneously applied with Neurofeedback Therapy. This multi-modality approach to treating clinical anxiety is both effective and comprehensive in terms of speeding up the process of recovery and reducing the possibility of future relapse.



  • Do you find that you often get stuck in a slump?
  • Do you often feel sad or down even when you are participating in a seemingly fun activity?
  • Are you struggling with changes in weight or appetite?
  • Do you find yourself struggling to find motivation to complete small daily tasks?
  • Do you feel a persistent feeling of sadness and or a loss of interest?
  • Do you feel constantly tired and fatigued?
  • Do you find yourself withdrawing from your friends and family?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating, remembering things and or making decisions?


Neurofeedback Therapy is often the first strategy used at Zone Health & Performance Psychology because it takes advantage of the brain’s ability to change itself. Resistance to change is often a major stumbling block in Counselling and Neurofeedback can be an excellent tool to assist a person of any age to make changes in behavior and thinking patterns more easily. The decision to do a combination of Neurofeedback and Counselling is based on the information shared by the client during the assessment process.

The goals of Counselling and Neurofeedback are often to reduce stress, improve focus, memory and decision making, increase productivity and emotional resistance, enhance restorative sleep and strengthen positive interpersonal relationships. We see both services as complementary modalities. Because each client is unique, individual circumstances are always the driving factor in determining the most appropriate services.

Have you tried the pharmaceutical approach and found very little success regarding dealing with your symptoms and improving the quality and vitality of your life? If you are suffering with any of the aforementioned symptoms, THERE IS HOPE. At Zone Health & Performance Psychology, we can provide you with viable treatment options that not only reduce these symptoms but help you gain back control of your life and thrive while being the best version of yourself. Our counselling program currently offers two types of theoretical approaches to alleviate the ongoing symptoms caused by depression. Just remember if depression is affecting your life, please know that you are not alone-depression is one of the most common mental health concerns in Canada.

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Non-Pharmaceutical Therapy

Quantitative Electroencephalography

We start by using advanced qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalography) technology that precisely measures your unique brainwave activity. It is performed to investigate brain wave patterns associated with concentration and attention.

The assessment usually takes between 3-4 hours and consists of:

  1. Interview and history. Review of previous assessments if any.
  2. A series of questionnaires and behavior checklists.
  3. Cognitive Performance/Perceptual Assessments.
  4. Psycho-Educational/Executive Assessments.
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Cambridge Brain Sciences Neurological Assessments

Cognitive Assessments With Cambridge Brain Sciences

Zone Health & Performance Psychology is proud to partner with Cambridge Brain Sciences. They are a leading provider of cognitive assessment tools for clinicians and medical practices, providing scientifically-validated cognitive tasks that produce objective measures across multiple cognitive domains.

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Cognitive Assessments

A series of Cognitive Performance tests that provide objective and quantifiable measures of:

  1. Attention: Visual and Auditory, selective attention, vigilance, memory and verbal working memory.
  2. Executive Functioning: Figural Fluency, interference, cognitive flexibility, response inhibition and task switching.
  3. Visual Information Processing and Mental Processing Speed.
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What Our Clients Say

Five Star Google Review

John Stevenson is one of the most passionate and dedicated professionals I’ve ever met. He provided me with a new perspective and insight with regards to chronic pain and anxiety. He has a genuine desire to help others realize their maximum potential. I would highly recommend John and his team of professional staff to anyone.

Five Star Google Review

I would highly recommend everyone at Zone. They are absolutely amazing and caring. They customize a plan to fit you individually, follow up on progress and keep you posted consistently. This is hands down the best place for neurofeedback ! Very happy with the results and I appreciate every single employee at Zone, including John who provides excellent patient care.

Five Star Google Review

I want to share my experiences at Zone Health & Performance wIth John Stevenson. I had a stroke and my speech was irreversible damaged so I had to remap my brain for my speech again. I worked with John and his staff diligently 3X a week for over a year! It was hard work but it also was fun.My speech has improved so much that when I meet someone that don’t know that after my stroke I couldn’t even put a sentence together! I would highly recommend Zone Health & Performance it…improved my life!

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Why Should You Choose Zone?

One of the things that makes us unique at Zone Health & Performance Psychology is that we combine these types of Talk Therapies with Neurofeedback/Biofeedback to optimize the nervous system. Our clients learn a variety of Mindfulness-based/Biofeedback tools and strategies to stabilize their mind while simultaneously optimizing their internal physiology and overall health. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Zone Health and Performance will provide permanent and natural alternative solutions for those who are seeking non-pharmaceutical options to their health and well-being.