By Renee Chillcott, LMHC
It’s a beautiful South Florida day outside, the birds are chirping, everyone is healthy and happy, I have nothing to complain about and life is good….right? Wrong! Why do I have this anxious, stressed out, overwhelmed, impending doom, depressed feeling? There is no reason for it, so I must be losing it? I’m wrong again. I have depression and/or anxiety.
Why do depression and anxiety go hand in hand? Why did my doctor recommend an anti-depressant for my anxiety? These are 2 different things, aren’t they? So, why do I feel both of them at the same time? And will it all just go away if I have less stress in my life?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anxiety: (1): apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill: a state of being anxious (2): an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it: mentally distressing concern or interest.
So, in layman’s terms, anxiety is stress that won’t go away, it takes an ugly turn to “negative and fear town”, and indicates that the “rest and relax” response from the parasympathetic nervous system isn’t there.
What we see in the brain is similar but a little more simply stated. Stress is an event in our life that causes our brain to initiate a calming response and anxiety is a neuron pattern in the brain that impedes the calming response. An anxiety pattern in the brain is typically inherited, although still possible to change. This anxiety pattern can be triggered by major stresses, no stresses or by very minor stresses, thus making it an issue for all ages, even young children.
Anxiety manifests in many different ways such as:
– excessive worrying
– nagging sense of fear
– overly emotional
– negative thinking
Depression as defined by the American Psychiatric Association is a common and serious illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Often, we will describe depression as a “low” feeling where we just cannot “get happy”. Other times we notice feeling irritable, angry, or overreacting to events, again not able to feel “happy”.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
– Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
– Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
– Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
– Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
– Loss of energy or increased fatigue
– Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
– Feeling worthless or guilty
– Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
– Thoughts of death or suicide
As you can see, there is an overlap in the diagnosis of Depression and Anxiety because there is an overlap in the symptoms of Anxiety and Depression as well as an overlap in how you feel.
Renee Chillcott, LMHC
Renee Chillcott is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor that has been practicing Neurofeedback training since 2005. Renee attended The University of Central Florida where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology in 1995. She then went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling with Nova Southeastern University in 2001. She has been a mental counselor in a variety of settings including Outpatient Treatment Agencies, Alternative Education Settings, and Private Practice. Renee received her license in Mental Health Counseling in 2004. Renee decided to enter the field of Neurofeedback because there was very little information made available to people/parents about alternatives to medication. Through the use of Neurofeedback she saw more significant and permanent changes in not only her clients, but also her own family and herself. This inspired her to become the owner/operator of The Brain and Wellness Center, located in Boca Raton.
At The Brain and Wellness Center, adults, teens, children and families enjoy a variety of services from multiple providers. Neurofeedback, Brain Mapping, Nutritional Counseling, Learning Programs, and coun-seling are among a few of the services offered.
In Neurofeedback we can see this in neuron firing patterns. For example, an excessive Theta (Slow firing neurons) firing pattern in the left frontal lobe can cause major depression:
Whereas a slow firing pattern in the center of the frontal lobe can cause an anxiety firing pattern:
Here’s a DEPRESSION example:
It is suffice to say that this is why there’s an overlap in medication treatment as well.
Regardless of the diagnosis, Neurofeedback helps change and balance these neuron patterns so that the symptoms improve and the brain and body function better.
WHAT IS NEUROFEEDBACK?
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, has been studied and practiced since the late 60’s. Neurofeedback is a type of exercise for your brain. It allows you to see the frequencies produced by different parts of your brain in real-time and then through visual and auditory feedback, teaches the brain to better regulate itself. Neurofeedback can be used to help detect, stimulate, and/or inhibit activity in the brain safely and without medication. It can help restore a wider “range of motion” in brain states, much like physical therapy does for the body.
While the client sits comfortably watching a movie or pictures appear on the screen (a calm and focused state), the EEG equipment measures the frequency or speed at which electrical activity moves in the areas where electrodes have been placed. This information is sent to the therapist’s computer. The therapist is then able to determine what frequencies are out of balance. For example, when the EEG shows that you are making too many “slow” or “sleepy” waves (delta/theta) or too many “fast” waves (high beta),
the therapist adjusts a reward band to encourage more balanced activity. This encouragement or “reward” happens through visual recognition of the changes on the screen and the auditory reinforcement of “beeps”.
WHAT RESULTS SHOULD I EXPECT TO SEE AND HOW LONG BEFORE I SEE THEM?
As every brain is different, every response is different as well. Typically adults will notice feeling symptom relief within 10 sessions and notice things like being calmer, happier, sleeping better, less panic, less worrying, more relaxed and able to enjoy life. Treatments are individualized and as no two brains are alike, no two treatment plans are alike. We will evaluate your symptoms and how your brain is functioning to customize training for you. All you have to do is call our office to make the appointment!
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Getting started is easy, just give us a call. The Brain and Wellness Center staff will answer all of your questions, and help you get scheduled. If you are wondering what services are best for you? We can help determine that at the time of the intake, in a telephone consultation, or you can schedule a face to face consultation and see our facility. Call, email or message us today! Brain and Wellness Center, 7301 W. Palmetto Park Rd., Suite 102A, Boca Raton, FL 33433. (561) 206-2706,
e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or text us at (561) 206-2706 or visit our website at www.BocaBrainCenter.com.