Anxiety & PTSD
Anxiety manifests itself in several ways including symptoms such as excessive worrying, overactive sense of fear, restlessness, overly emotional responses, negative thinking, catastrophizing, and defensiveness. It is usually present in cases of addiction, perfectionism, being overly controlling, and behavioral issues. Those suffering with anxiety experience a level of worry that is higher than normal, often feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed throughout their daily lives.
Anxiety is easily detected if someone appears outwardly nervous; however, many retain the appearance of calm, while inwardly their brain is working overtime. These intrusive thoughts can escalate to the point where it interrupts sleep and interferes with their quality of life.
Research on Neurofeedback for anxiety
There have been many studies showing that neurofeedback is effective in reducing anxiety. At Alpha NeuroHealth Clinic (ANC), we have found this to be the case. Research has also shown that neurofeedback should be done in conjunction with therapy. Neurofeedback works by quieting the anxiety networks in the brain
Anxiety is usually a response to stress, which can come from psychological, physical, dietary, or environmental sources. Once a person’s brain gets locked into a pattern of anxiety, it may be difficult to break. For anxiety sufferers, learning how to turn off chronic stress responses is life changing.
See the problem, then correct it.
Neuroscience research has shown the basis in the brain for anxiety disorders. Medications treat the symptoms and don’t correct the source of the problem in the brain. At ANC, we approach things differently. We measure brain function with a quantitative EEG or brain map, so that you can see the reason for your issues. The image below is from an qEEG analysis of a client with an anxiety disorder. The area in red shows excessive activity in the brain. Once we locate the source of the problem, we target that area through neurofeedback brain training. This allows you to retrain your brain, not just mask your symptoms with medication.
The standard treatment for anxiety is the prescription of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) also known as anti-depressants. These work to stimulate the production of serotonin- the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Short term, these are effective in helping a patient “feel good” but they don’t correct the brain dysregulation.
Neurofeedback has helped reduce anxiety long term and allows for people to taper off medication with their doctor’s supervision. As the brain learns to decrease anxiety and remain calm, often less medication is needed.
Medications don’t correct the problem, they are unable to monitor brain function.
Training the patient to calm themselves is by far the most effective solution for anxiety, and gives sufferers hope as they take control of their lives. Neurofeedback is one of the most efficient tools to accomplish just that.
How Can Neurofeedback Help Anxiety?
The goal of neurofeedback is to transform a dysregulated, abnormal brainwave pattern into a normal, healthy, organized pattern. By doing this, the brain becomes more stable and can operate optimally and efficiently.
PTSD is a form of anxiety caused by one, or a series of very traumatic experiences, often triggering many symptoms such as sleeplessness, anger, depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and isolation. When these stress responses are triggered in the brain, often the individual can’t turn them off.
We feel that if neurofeedback was better known to help PTSD, that it would be the first treatment used for those suffering. There are several cases of severe PTSD in which therapists and clients have reported that the clients got their lives back after completing Neurofeedback training.
With PTSD, many common forms of relaxation and stress just don’t have enough impact to overcome the problem. Medications are often introduced to help reduce symptoms. But medications don’t change the underlying stress symptoms. As an alternative to medications, neurofeedback can often help people reduce or eliminate drugs related to PTSD symptoms as their brains become stable.
How Does Neurofeedback Help Alleviate PTSD?
Neurofeedback looks at the specific parts of the brain affected by the PTSD. We train the brain to produce a calm state, as well as regulate the stress response. As the training proceeds, healthier brain patterns emerge.
Is Neurofeedback an Effective Way to Treat PTSD?
Yes, neurofeedback can help those with PTSD regain their life. Studies show that PTSD is a disorder based in the brain. The training teaches the brain to turn off the stress triggers and reclaim the regulated brain from before the event(s).
During training, the first noticeable improvement is sleep. As training continues, other related PTSD symptoms begin to improve. Once symptoms are reduced or eliminated and these gains hold for longer periods of time, training is gradually reduced until it’s clear the stability and calm is holding. At that time, training can end.