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Neurofeedback News and Research August 2019

Study: Neurofeedback shown to Reduce Anxiety

anxiety and neurofeedbackAnxiety disorders, including panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder, are the most prevalent mental disorders. Anxiety disorders follow a chronic course; however, there is a natural decrease in prevalence rates with older age. Anxiety disorders are highly comorbid with other anxiety disorders and other mental disorders.

The way Western medicine has treated anxiety in the past has been somewhat problematic- the class of drug most often used is tranquilizers which are a temporary solution at best, and can actually cause anxiety as they wear off. It is also well known that these drugs can also cause dependency, making them controlled substances that come with a no driving or operating heavy machinery warning.

It’s clear we need a new treatment model moving forward if we hope to gain any ground with a disease that affects so many people in the modern world.

Understanding EEG Brain Mapping

What is an EEG Brain Map?

qEEG to determine psychiatric medicationsNeurofeedback is a process that involves feedback, hence the name.

The feedback comes in real-time, as the patient receives visual and possibly auditory information allowing them to adjust their internal state to optimize their brainwaves and “win” at the game they are playing. Feedback is also attained over longer periods of time, using something called an EEG brain map.

EEG brain mapping is the most easily accessible, cutting edge technology to assess what is happening in your most important organ, your brain.  Historically psychiatry has been a subjective field, with an assessment or diagnosis made by a doctor and based entirely on verbal input from the patient. This process is inexact at best, and can even lead to misdiagnosis and prescription of the wrong medications and treatments.

Neurofeedback Goes Mainsteam

Neurofeedback Neurofeedback- the Future of Mental Health Care?

The future of mental health care may be very different from the current model, if brain based treatment modalities like neurofeedback could be integrated into or replace the current best practices in the field. Instead of taking a pill or doing talk therapy, you can now train your brain to be healthier through playing something like a video game.

Neurofeedback patients are asked to play a video game, where they are rewarded for self regulating their brains. When the optimal brain wave levels are reached, the plane in the game (for example) will fly above the ground instead of crashing. Repeating this process can lead to long-lasting changes in brain activity.

As neuroplasticity is more thoroghly understood, brain training is becoming more sought after, as people seek to make permanent changes to their brain phisiology to effect greater changes in their performance, well being and even spiritual development. Using neurofeedback, patients can now put their brain through a series of exercises to strengthen areas that are showing suboptimal brain wave patterns, and bring them into the normal range, thus alleviating symptoms.

Evidence Neurofeedback has Gone Mainstream

According to Newsweek magazine, Neurofeedback has gone mainstream.

The promise of neurofeedback is to shift our brain waves back to health without drugs, exercise or even meditation. Clients suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, anger or depression can simply sit in a comfortable chair for half-hour sessions with a few wires protruding from their scalp and get a mental tune-up, if not a complete rewiring of an off-kilter brain.

-from Newsweek 5/9/16 

Harvard University published a blog in October of 2017 entitled “Brain training: The future of psychiatric treatment?“. This article is a useful explanation of neurofeedback designed for the layman. Among other things, the usefullness of neurofeeback for ADHD is touted:

“Interestingly, studies have shown that neurofeedback training as a therapy for ADHD may be even more effective than the standard medication (Methylphenidate/Ritalin) used to treat this disorder.”

-Harvard Graduate School Feb 2, 2017

Neurofeedback is a computer-aided training method in which the patient’s own brain activity can be monitored and improved. It has been shown to successfully help patients overcome a variety of neurological and behavioral disorders including ADD, PTSD, Traumatic brain injury, and many more.