Anxiety disorders are one of the most common problems that we face today, particularly given the impact of COVID on everyday life. It is often useful to distinguish anxiety from stress, with anxiety being the subjective psychological experience of worrisome thoughts or fears, combined with noticeable discomfort in the body (often in the chest area). Anxiety can be present when there is no immediate event considered to be stressful. And the internal discomfort will lead to sleep loss, fatigue, and other physical and mental symptoms.
On the other hand, stress is experienced with a range of rather immediate symptoms, such as anger, frustration, irritability, fatigue, and poor sleep… but ALL in the context of some identifiable stressor. A big job interview, a deadline, getting the kids out the door …or even preparing for a party would be good examples of potentially stressful events. The body gets aroused trying to prepare for and handle the stressful event. When the stressful event is over, the sense of ‘stress’ is relieved, and so is the anxiety.
Conditions of chronic stress can lead to more serious struggles with not only ongoing anxiety but with worsening physical symptoms in the body. Digestive, endocrine, and circulatory functions start to break down rather quickly under such circumstances.
In the end, both persistent stress and anxiety have many negative effects on the body.
However, mental health professionals often fail to appreciate the detrimental impact upon the brain itself. The many well-documented neurobiological consequences of chronic stress or anxiety are without question, but often we do not think of this as a problem that dramatically changes brain biology and physiology.
In fact, this is fundamentally WHY we develop anxiety disorders. It is not a momentary flash in the brain. There is a fundamental change in how the brain operates at a chemical/neurological level.
Thus, anxiety worsens NOT because we choose those anxious, fearful, obsessive, or even panicky thoughts. It is because our brains have shifted from their healthy patterns to abnormal ways of functioning.
Again, we didn’t choose this. And it’s very, very difficult, if not impossible, to simply choose our way out of it. These abnormal patterns causing the anxiety evolve in response to what we have experienced, what we have eaten, how we have slept, and what was modeled for us as children. While the why is more complicated than we can cover here in detail, the critical issue is what we can do about it!
Despite the many shortcomings of medication as a long term solution to anxiety, drug therapy is often the treatment of choice. Between side effects and loss of efficacy, drug therapies usually leave adults and children with more anxiety rather than less anxiety…as time goes on.
Cognitive therapy also yields benefits, but again the outcomes are variable, and any positive results decline after treatment ends. Both therapy and medication are best seen as coping methods, rather than bringing about permanent changes in the brain to relieve anxiety…once and for all!
Here’s where Neurofeedback becomes important if you or a family member struggles with any form of anxiety disorder… BECAUSE there is hope…for lasting relief.
From Generalized Anxiety…to OCD… to Panic Disorders…to PTDS…Neurofeedback shows promise at bringing about a permanent, lasting change in the brain that often relieves anxiety-related symptoms for good
Potential clients will ask, How does Neurofeedback work? Is it painful? Are you putting stuff into my brain?
The answer is quite elegant and beautiful. First, it is not painful, and there are no documents detrimental side effects of neurofeedback with hundreds of studies. Secondly, nothing is put into your brain. You do not get zapped with electrical signals or anything like that.
Instead, what happens is that Neurofeedback simply gives your brain very, very precise ‘feedback signals’ in response to small changes in your brain waves. It’s important to know that while your state of mind may seem to change slowly, the brain is in constant flux…changes in brain waves occur NOT in seconds…but in a 1000th of a second. In other words, your brain is constantly moving in ways you do not recognize. But the Neurofeedback equipment not only recognizes this but can signal you when changes occur.
Thus, when the brain makes a very tiny incremental move toward a healthier brain wave pattern, the Neurofeedback equipment makes a tone that is essentially a YES signal to the brain.
Oddly, our brains are remarkably consistent as they are seemingly wired to learn from this feedback signal…almost regardless of our past experience. With a bit of time doing neurofeedback, our brains evolve by responding to those signals (we call this operant conditioning).
Within a few weeks, the brain alters its prior ways of functioning and moves toward healthier patterns.
For the neurofeedback client, they may start to sleep better or feel a bit less tension in the chest. The OCD client starts to reduce rituals or has fewer ruminative thoughts. Panic episodes start to decline, and fear over panic reduces. Fears and worries cause fewer problems in daily life, and overall there is a lighter sense to life.
All of these occur gradually and organically as the brain learns to go back to its natural, healthy state.
The bottom line is this: Anxiety disorders need not be a permanent part of your life or the life of those you love.
There is reason to have hope now that does not involve a lifetime of therapy or medication. Neurofeedback may be the answer you seek if you want the possibility of long-lasting change.
Call now at 518-606-3805 to set up a free consult if you want to learn more. Also, spend some time looking over the research on anxiety and neurofeedback at CaptialDistrictNeurofeedback.com. You will find that there are dozens of articles proving the efficacy of neurofeedback in reducing anxiety. This is not in question.
However, our clinic outcomes consistently exceed the results found in the research. We tend to get better results because our neurofeedback treatment is driven by the results of a Quantitative EGG or QEEG. This is essentially a brain map, which points to specific weaknesses or deviations in the brain, specific and unique to each client. When treatment is individualized in this way, treatment outcomes improve dramatically.
So, if you want to learn more, please reach out to our offices. Dr. Cale is available to answer questions and send you specific information if you want it.
Please know there is a reason to be hopeful. There is light at the end of this anxiety-ridden tunnel. And Neurofeedback may be that light you are seeking.