Innovative Technology Can Help – Often Dramatically.
By Ed Pigott, Ph.D. and Michael Cohen, Director –
Do you or someone you know experience chronic anxiety? Are you excessively nervous or fearful? Do you have panic attacks? If so, you’ve probably already tried medications or been told to try them. Unfortunately medications don’t always eliminate all of the symptoms. Even more frustrating is that many doctors are not yet familiar with treatments other than medication.
Even with medications, anxiety frequently still persists. The medications just reduce symptoms. And side effects can also be an issue. Medications don’t teach you new and healthier patterns. You don’t learn to quiet your mind or how to be calm.
Are there Alternatives to Medications?
Although not widely known yet, there are new options that have been proven to greatly reduce and even eliminate symptoms. One alternative to medications is neurofeedback. Neurofeedback can often help people reduce or eliminate drugs for anxiety by helping their brains achieve greater stability.
Neurofeedback is NOT about training you to manage your stress. Instead, it helps train the part of your brain that CONTROLS stress. When people are dealing with anxiety, part of their brain is simply not doing the job of keeping them calm.
Why Can’t You Simply Talk Yourself Out of Anxiety?
People who don’t worry or experience anxiety, they try to tell you not to be anxious, not to let things bother you or to trigger you. But your brain simply doesn’t work that way. Telling you to “just be calm” is not helpful. If it were that easy, you’d already do it. When you have anxiety, the parts of your brain that are supposed to keep you calm aren’t working so well. As a result anxiety sufferers are often overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out.
How Can You Learn to be Calmer?
That’s where neurofeedback comes in. Neurofeedback is one of the most powerful technologies for reducing anxiety and panic attacks. It helps the brain break incredibly stuck patterns. Everyone experiences anxious moments. But with chronic anxiety, your brain gets stuck in that state, and it’s difficult to get out of it.
Clients we see have often done it all — from medications to meditation, from yoga to diet and exercise, to alcohol and stress reduction techniques.
Elizabeth is just one example of the many individuals whose lives were benefited from training with neurofeedback. Elizabeth, age 35, was experiencing anxiety and having up to 5 panic attacks a day. She said they “are taking over my life”. She had been having problems with anxiety since the age of 17. After 12 training sessions, she no longer had the anxiety or panic attacks. Training her brain helped her to break the pattern of attacks.
Another example involved a therapist that came to see us. He’s a very wound up guy — hyper and anxious. After one 30 minute neurofeedback session, he said “I haven’t felt this calm in my whole life.”
These are not isolated events. Many clients who’ve trained with neurofeedback report that issues bother them less, their minds are quieter, and they recover from stressful events far faster. There is solid research showing biofeedback and neurofeedback are often very helpful for any type of anxiety, even PTSD.
Another helpful tool is Brain Mapping. It provides a picture of what is going on in different parts of your brain, helping to identify problematic areas. This information can then be used to target neurofeedback treatment to the areas that need it most.
How does Neurofeedback Work?
Neurofeedback training can help change your brainwaves. It measures the rhythms of your own brain — and rewards you when you make more or less of certain patterns. With anxiety certain parts of the brain are often running too fast. Neurofeedback can help you learn how to slow down the overactive areas.
With the proper amount of training, the brain learns to maintain healthier patterns. Learning to correct anxiety by producing healthier neurological patterns takes awareness, practice, and reinforcement. The more your central nervous system learns how to be calm through neurofeedback, the more it becomes a sustained skill.
For those who are on medication, as their brains learn to decrease anxiety and remain calmer, medication can often be reduced or even eliminated. In this way, learning this life-long skill can help decrease medication dependence.
With brain training, you are learning to moderate your response to stress so that anxiety is minimized and occurs less frequently. Neurofeedback helps put the control for your life back in your hands. No one wants to be affected by thoughts and emotions that negatively impact life and that you feel you can’t do anything about. Neurofeedback helps calm the over-reactive patterns that make life more difficult and helps you take charge of your life.
Other biofeedback tools are also helpful with anxiety — even tools you can use at home such as heart rate variability training. Our clients can try these tools out to see which ones work best.
If you are interested in getting some additional information about how neurofeedback can help reduce your anxiety, call our office at 561-744-7616.