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mindfulness Tag

Treating Anxiety and Panic Disorders with Neurofeedback

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/garyjwood/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/garyjwood/

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

With our common cultural norms of overworking, under exercising and poor diet, we have suffered the consequences in the form of stress and stress related disorders. You could say we have a generalized anxiety disorder in the world today.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, and a major public health problem in the world. According to large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. Substantial underrecognition and undertreatment of these disorders have been demonstrated.1

The general heading of anxiety includes panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder.

One study estimated the annual cost of anxiety disorders in the United States to be approximately $42.3 billion in the 1990s, a majority of which was due to non-psychiatric medical treatment costs. This estimate focused on short-term effects and did not include the effect of outcomes such as the increased risk of other disorders.2

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.