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.
Often times treatment for anxiety includes 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 and 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.
BRAIN PATTERNS AND ANXIETY
Because anxiety takes many forms, so do 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 negative self-defeating thoughts. Another pattern is an over-aroused 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.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT WITH NEUROFEEDBACK?
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 and some medications can be addictive. 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, their body is not as reactive to stress, and they have less physical symptoms of anxiety. Unlike medications, where when an individual stops taking them the anxiety is often still there with Neurofeedback training, your brain gains the ability to regulate itself long term so you are more resilient in how you respond- to stress.
RESEARCH ON NEUROFEEDBACK & ANXIETY
Review of EEG Biofeedback Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Moore, N. C. (2000). A Review of EEG Biofeedback Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Clinical Electroencephalography,31(1), 1-6.
This article outlines the research that has examined Neurofeedback for anxiety conditions up until 2000, highlighting that alpha, theta, and alpha-theta enhancement is effective. Universitas Psychologica.
Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety
Hammond, Corydon D. (2005). Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety. Journal of Adult Development. 131-137
An effective Neurofeedback training, with cortisol correlates, in a clinical case of anxiety
Costa, Marta A., et al. (2016). An effective Neurofeedback training, with cortisol correlates, in a clinical case of anxiety.
Combined Neurofeedback and Heart Rate Variability Training for Individuals with Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: A Retrospective Study
White, Elyse K., et al. (2017). Combined Neurofeedback and Heart Rate Variability Training for Individuals with Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression. International Society for Neurofeedback & Research. 37-55
Neurofeedback Therapy: Anxiety & Panic Disorder