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The Art of Neurofeedback Therapy


Healing from a mental health disorder takes work. Many techniques, from traditional to alternative, are used to help you cope with your symptoms. There is technique proving to be beneficial in treating mental illness. It is called Neurofeedback Therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is another method often used because it can help you learn contemporary ways of thinking and behaving. It has years of proven success.

Alternative methods of treatment include meditation, acupuncture and deep breathing.

While medication works, it can arguably be considered over-used in the field of mental health. Medications may lead to negative reactions in some, as side effects and tolerance level can increase over a brief period. Medication is a quick fix that treats symptoms, but it is not a cure.

Neurofeedback Defined

Research is showing that our brains are malleable. Meaning they can be rewired or trained to respond in certain ways. This is a huge discovery for the field of mental health. You can train your brain to respond to situations in a relaxed and focused manner.

With neurofeedback therapy, the brain is stimulated to produce positive thoughts and actions. It helps our brain stabilize rather than be hyper-active or over-stimulated.

Stimulation can come through video games, computers and other techniques to regulate brain activity.

When you do this, psychological and physiological responses are handled properly. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, addiction, bipolar, and attention deficit disorders can benefit from neurofeedback.

This technique sends signals to the brain every few seconds, training it to respond in a positive way and rewarding the brain when it does.

For those suffering from mental health issues, neurofeedback therapy offers hope for recovery of what can feel overwhelming. It all starts with gathering brain wave data to determine exactly which area of the brain needs training.

How Information on the Brain is Gathered

Two technologies are used to track and record brain information, one method is called electroencephalography (EEG). It allows researchers to track information in the outermost layer of the brain.

Sensors are placed on your scalp that record your brainwaves and send them to the EEG machine. A clinician can review the brainwaves to determine where positive changes are needed. The clinician can then send signals to the brain to teach it new and more positive responses.

Another method is the functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This measures the amount of blood flowing to the regions of the brain. It measures both magnetic fields and brain waves.

An MRI can pin point areas of the brain that are overactive and creating problems for you. Maybe it is the part of the brain that causes OCD, or maybe it is the brain region that makes you feel severely depressed.

Once the area is identified, training can begin to make the region less active. This training can help with many mental health disorders, including depression.

The process of using neurofeedback includes an intake evaluation to determine why you are seeking treatment. They will record baseline statistics that will help them measure your progress over time.

Brain mapping is the next step and includes using sensors hooked up to the brain, measuring data of the brain waves.

Training can begin to make the region less active. This training can help with many mental health disorders, including depression.

Neurofeedback and Depression

When your left front region of the brain is active, your mood is happier. If your right front region in the brain is more active, then your mood can be more negative. With the help of a clinician, your brain can be trained to activate certain parts of your brain that control mood. Meaning, you can shape your brain to react to situations with a more positive response rather than negative.

Neurofeedback and Stress or Anxiety

People who struggle with anxiety find it hard to handle stressful situations. When a crisis arrives, instead of staying calm and figuring out a solution, we tend to panic, get confused and react irrationally.

Neurofeedback can help us change these negative reactions to stress into calmer and more controlled ones. It can train the brainwave patterns to be more stable and organized. Heart rate has a lot to do with it.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the measure of time intervals between heartbeats. Having a high variability is desirable because it shows your heart can adjust to many different situations. If you have a low variability, it means your heart is not adapting at its potential.

A low HRV can lead to stress, which can lead to both physical and psychological problems. You can change your heart rate variability. With the help of a therapist, you can learn stress reducing techniques that can regulate your heart rate. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are a few ways to reduce stress.

Neurofeedback and ADHD

Medications used to treat attention deficit disorders do not always work. Some lose their effectiveness over time. Some produce damaging side effects. Therefore, many seek alternative ways of treating this type of disorder.

Studies have shown that neurofeedback used in treating those with attention deficit disorders is more effective than medication.

Brain activities used in neurofeedback increase focus and reduce impulsiveness. The goal is to train the parts of the brain that are too active, to calm down. These parts are the ones that create hyperactivity and compulsiveness.

Neurofeedback techniques also train less active regions of the brain to wake up.


Neurofeedback and Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder who use neurofeedback therapy to train their brain, have found their mood swings become more stabilized. Research has shown people with bipolar disorder who were treated with neurofeedback therapy were able to reduce their medications.

Neurofeedback helps teach the brain how to have healthier patterns; people have noted they have better relationships and reduced numbers of hospitalizations.

To find out if neurofeedback is the right way to help you deal with your mental illness, contact a certified clinician in your area.

One of the best types of clinicians are licensed mental health therapists or psychologists who have experience with both the scientific side and the psychological side of mental illness. Most likely, they have added neurofeedback therapy as an addition to their other specialties.

Neurofeedback is one alternative method of treatment that is supported by evidence showing it has the potential to be just as effective as medication. Neurofeedback, as a supplement to traditional treatments, may provide many with a new way to improve quality of life.  This can happen for you too.