If you have struggled with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or OCD trying to find solutions and knowing when to seek help can be a long and frustrating process. Perhaps more traditional therapies may not have been as successful for you. However, certain mental health disorders benefit from more enhanced treatment methods, like neurofeedback. So, what is Neurofeedback Therapy? This evidence-based treatment can successfully help retrain your brain so that you can experience relief from mental illness symptoms.
What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
The brain is a complex network of electrical activity. This activity is represented visually by brain waves: alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta. Certain common conditions, like ADHD, anxiety, and depression, generally occur when your brave waves aren’t working in concert with each other.
For instance, scientists have learned that depression tends to occur in people whose brains have an imbalance between the activity in the right and left frontal lobes. For individuals with anxiety, poor connectivity between the part of the brain called the amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex seems to be the culprit. The neurofeedback helps rebalance or restore the messages your brain sends.
Neurofeedback therapy is a non-invasive brain training system that is utilizes your brain’s natural neuroplasticity — the ability to re-train and repair itself. Neurofeedback is designed to re-train your brain to recognize counterproductive activity patterns and replace them with more balanced patterns. This is done by sending targeted electrical impulses to the affected parts of your brain. The end result is to return the brain to a state of neural equilibrium and self-regulation.
The goals of neurofeedback therapy are:
- Reverse unhealthy thought patterns
- Take control of your thoughts and mind
- Restore equilibrium in wave patterns
While not necessarily the primary goals of neurofeedback therapy, treatment has other additional benefits, which include:
- Improved focus
- Better mental clarity
- Improved memory
- Decreased impulsivity
- Improved moods
What is Brain Mapping?
Brain mapping is a tool that measures brain waves to help treatment providers find areas in the brain that aren’t communicating effectively. Brain mapping technology measures activity between neurons — that parts of our brains that send and receive messages. This activity creates brain waves.
Brain mapping is a non-invasive procedure. It allows your treatment professionals to more accurately diagnose areas in your brain that could benefit from neurofeedback therapy. By pinpointing specific zones for treatment with a brain map, neurofeedback can more precisely treat those areas. The goal in precise treatment is to minimize potential side effect while maximizing the benefit from the treatment.
How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Help Treat Mental Health Disorders?
You may have heard of brain mapping and neurofeedback but thought it was for neurological conditions only. What is neurofeedback therapy in terms of treatment for mental health disorders? By using sophisticated qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback practitioners are able to see precisely which areas of the brain need retraining. Using this information therapy is targeted to areas that could benefit from neurofeedback. Here are just a few areas where neurofeedback therapy is helpful:
When we’re anxious our brains create new neural pathways that essentially get locked into a heightened state of sensitivity. Neurofeedback helps retrain your brain to get out the locked pathway and to create new, helpful pathways.
Brain imaging studies have shown that activity in defined parts of the brain can improve or worsen moods. By using neurofeedback therapy to activate helpful parts of the brain, depression symptoms can be improved significantly.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Studies have shown neurofeedback therapy helps retrain the brain to have more control of emotions and moods. This control helps balance the messages being sent by neurons and reducing cycling between depression and manic episodes.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Treatment
Recent research performed at Yale University showed that our brains are adaptable. Through neurofeedback treatment, patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder were able to retrain their brains to reduce OCD symptoms.
PTSD & Trauma
PTSD and trauma symptoms activate your body’s sympathetic nervous system, triggering a “fight or flight” response. Over time, especially with exposure to multiple traumatic events, your brain is trained to either shut down or remain in an almost permanent state of arousal. Neurofeedback therapy helps retrain your brain to better regulate the emotional response to triggers, invasive thoughts, and distress.
How Quickly Does Neurofeedback Work?
Retraining your brain effectively is not an overnight process. While many patients may start to notice results within the first couple of sessions, it is helpful to remember that neurofeedback therapy is a marathon, not a sprint. Generally speaking, you may notice improved sleep right away or other minor improvements, but that might now always the case. However, he biggest gains are achieved after 8-12 sessions.
Most patients who have successfully used neurofeedback therapy to treat mental health disorders will achieve long-term relief from the majority of their symptoms. The brain training becomes an ingrained skill that is reinforced every day. However, follow-up treatment may be necessary for you if you have experienced a setback due to a crisis or trauma. Follow-ups may also be necessary for individuals with a brain injury or other degenerative condition.
Neurofeedback Side Effects
Retraining your brain to increase or decrease certain wave activity may result in temporary side effects during treatment. Side effects tend to be more intense during initial treatment sessions, or if other neurological conditions are present, but lessen over time. These effects include:
- Feelings of panic
- Generalized anxiety
- Low energy
- Muscle tension
If you experience side effects during treatment, is important to let your provider know. Treatment can be adjusted to accommodate any issues and make your experience more comfortable.
Neurofeedback therapy is a non-invasive treatment that has proven to be remarkably successful in treating many mental health conditions. Even individuals who do not suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD may find improved focus, better sleep, and enhanced memory from receiving treatment. However, neurofeedback therapy is not for everyone. For individuals with certain neurological conditions, like epilepsy, neurofeedback may not be a recommended course of treatment.
Neurofeedback Therapy in West Palm Beach, FL
Finding effective treatment for your chronic mental health conditions doesn’t have to leave you feeling hopeless. If you have wondered what is neurofeedback therapy and how it can work for you, contact Neuroscience Research Institute. Our team of multidisciplinary professionals have been treating complex mental health conditions for years. We are here to help you find healing and help restore you back to health.