Do you struggle with anxiety, stress, worry, ruminating, or obsessing? Do you feel panicky, does your heart race, do you feel shaky, and sweat?
If you have anxiety in any form, then Neurofeedback may be able to help you. Anxiety can hit us in many ways. It can cause us to worry repeatedly over daily matters. It can lead us to ruminate about past mistakes or perceived failures. It can cause us to panic, possibly getting panic attacks where we feel our heart racing, body sweating, have shortness of breath, and feel nervous. Anxiety can affect our ability to work productively, to feel comfortable in our relationships, and our ability to sleep and eat.
Treatment for anxiety typically includes include medications and/or psychotherapy. Biofeedback treatments are one of the most effective psychological treatments to reduce anxiety symptoms. Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that uses your brainwave data to teach your brain how to control and regulate its stress and anxiety reaction. Unlike other forms of treatment which give you tools to manage stress that is already present (i.e., medication, relaxation training), Neurofeedback targets and trains the brain so that it can naturally prevent and manage the brain and body’s stress reaction. That is, it retrains the part of your brain that controls stress itself, so the brain can calm these areas on its own.
Because anxiety takes many forms, so does the brain patterns associated with anxiety. Some patterns include underarousal of certain areas of the brain, which leads to increases in rumination and worry. You might find yourself in excessive worry, thinking negatively about yourself and the world, and have difficulty stopping yourself from thinking about bad things. Another pattern is an overaroused pattern. This type of brain pattern leads people to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and have physical symptoms such as heart racing, sweating, and even difficulties breathing at times. Neurofeedback can treat both types of patterns by regulating either the under or over-arousal.
People with anxiety are often prescribed medication. Although this can be a huge relief to have an improvement in your anxiety symptoms, the medications unfortunately don’t teach you how to regulate your own symptoms. Instead, the anxiety tends to persist and the medications calm your brain for you. Neurofeedback targets the underlying brain patterns that lead to the experience of anxiety. The training gives your brain the information it needs to regulate itself so that you feel better. People who have been treated with Neurofeedback often notice very early in treatment that they feel calmer, that their body is not as reactive to stress, and that have less physical symptoms of anxiety. Unlike medications, where when an individual stops taking them, the anxiety is often still there, after a course of Neurofeedback raining, your brain now has the ability to regulate itself long term so you are more resilient to developing anxiety in response to stress.
Review of EEG Biofeedback Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Written by Moore, NC, Clinical Electroencephalogr, 2000, 31, pg 1-6
This article outlines the research that has examined Neurofeedback for anxiety conditions up until 2000, highlighting that alpha, theta, and lapha-theta enhancement is effective.
Anxiety Change Through Electroencephalographi Alpha Feedback Seen Only in High Anxiety Subjects
Written by Hardt, J.V., & Kamiya, J, published in Science, 1978, 201, page 79-81.
Subjects who were either high or low in trait anxiety used alpha feedback to increase and to decrease their electroencephalographic alpha activity. The alpha changes were tightly linked to anxiety changes, but only in high anxiety subjects (for whom anxiety was reduced in proportion to alpha increases, and was increased in proportion to alpha suppression.
Biofeedback treatments of generalized anxiety disorders: preliminary results.
Written by Rice, K.M., Blanchard, E.G., & Purcell,M. Published in Biofeedback Self Regulation, 1993, 18, pg 93-105
Forty-five individuals with generalized anxiety were randomized to 4 treatment conditions or a waiting list control. Patients received 8 sessions of either frontal EMG biofeedback, biofeedback to increase EEG alpha, biofeedback to decrease EEG alpha, or a pseudomeditation control condition. All treated subjects showed significant reductions in STAI-Trait Anxiety and psychophysiologic symptoms on the Psychosomatic Symptom Checklist. Only alpha-increase biofeedback subjects showed significant reductions in heart rate reactivity to stressors at a separate psychophysiological testing session. Decreased self-report of anxiety was maintained at 6 weeks posttreatment.
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