What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback is a therapeutic subgroup of biofeedback therapy and is known within the medical community as an electroencephalography or EEG. It’s nonmedicinal, nonsurgical and noninvasive.
It’s used as a mechanism to teach self-control as it relates to brain function and works by measuring brain waves as they produce audio or visual feedback signals. The feedback sent from the patient’s brainwaves and body temperature can be either positive or negative, but this therapy teaches the patient to control them through conditioning.
This genre of therapy is growing in popularity because it is different from run-of-the-mill medical/prescription treatment. It’s used on patients with a variety of conditions from depression to anxiety to concussions to migraine headaches. It’s often the second line of defense after medicine hasn’t worked, but, for a growing number of patients, nonmedicinal therapies are preferred.
Why does Neurofeedback work?
Neurofeedback works because it is a therapy based in science. Depression, anxiety, ADHD and concussions are all the result of brain waves that aren’t working in unison. Neurofeedback training straightens out the brainwaves by retraining them. After this therapy is complete, patients feel that their “brains” are functioning at their best levels.
Here’s a comparison. Let’s say you’re backing out of your driveway and BOOM, you smash into a big pothole. Now the tires are out of whack and you even notice one of the tires has deflated. You’ve likely messed up your car’s alignment. Now you won’t be able to drive it. The good news is, you can bring your vehicle to the shop and have the tires realigned. This will solve the issue and you’ll be back to driving again soon. Just try not to run into any potholes again! This is the same with our brain. If it’s out of alignment, we can’t function properly. Our brains and our vehicles are different, though. In the case of our minds, what’s happened is through no fault of our own. By properly aligning brain waves with neurofeedback training, a patient can go on with life as normal.
How does Neurofeedback work?
First you’re given a quantitative EEG or qEEG, which will indicate the specific zones of your brain that are out of alignment. This is considered baseline information. It’s not part of the therapy, but it’s crucial to move forward with this information as it will help your clinician tailor your neurofeedback training to your personal scenario. Next, sensors are placed on your head. They’re put onto targeted, predetermined zones that will help your clinician understand any gaps that exist between your brain and a “functioning” brain. To help ease anxiety during this process, you’ll be given earbuds and soft music. This also helps your brain soak into a comfortable state, which helps the training run its course. And that’s it. That’s the therapy. The best part of it is that it’s non-ivasive, pain-free and drug-free.
Does Neurofeedback help with Anxiety?
It’s believed that neurofeedback therapy can help minimize the symptoms of anxiety. For many of us, anxiety becomes paralizing when the brain locks onto a particular subject, outcome, event – or whatever it may be. Have you ever felt that your brain’s response to anxiety is paralysis? Has your state of heightened sensitivity become a place where you can’t move, speak or listen? When this happens, is fear what controls you? These are symptoms of chronic anxiety. Neurofeedback therapy is there to retrain targeted areas of the brain that are causing your symptoms. Clinicians that practice this type of therapy work to bring you back to a state of balance by reorganizing your brain.
What other conditions and disorders can this training help?
Neurofeedback training isn’t just for anxiety, it is believed to help with an array of conditions and disorders, including:
- Substance Abuse and Addiction
- Sleep Disorders
- Disruptive Behavior Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Performance Anxiety
- ADD and ADHD
- Traumatic Brain Injury
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