Everyone has experienced anxiety some time during their lives and in certain situations it can even be good for us. However, for some of us the experience of anxiety is a constant battle and can significantly impact on our daily functioning. The frequent experience of anxiety is the result of a combination of a genetic predisposition and environmental triggers which effectively wires the brain for anxiety. Frequent and continued exposure to stress can cause the brain to become locked in a hyper vigilant, stressed out states which can affect the functioning of the central nervous system, hormonal balance (homeostasis), the immune system, physical wellbeing, cognitive functions and emotional regulation.
HOW NEUROFEEDBACK HELPS
Everything we do, all our behaviours, thoughts and emotions are driven by the communication between millions of nerve cells (neurons) which produce waves in our brains. The type of brain wave produced depends on the specific activity an individual is engaged in. For example, when we sleep the brain produces slow waves with high amplitudes called delta waves.
When the nervous system is well regulated, it produces the appropriate brain waves depending on which state a person has to be in, for instance sleep or being awake and alert. When the brain is dysregulated, the brain is not producing the correct brainwaves which relates to a specific function (for instance producing a high amount of fast wave activity while the person is asleep). Consequently, the release of specific neurotransmitters also impacts the neurochemical balance in the brain.
High levels of Beta activity in brain areas are associated with the significant stress, agitation, over arousal, and anxiety. This can cause the person to be almost constantly in fight or flight mode, hypervigilant to any possible threats in their environment. Continuously being in such a state can wear down the brain and body’s resources to function effectively as it involves dispensing a huge amount of energy.
HOW NEUROFEEDBACK WORKS
During neurofeedback for anxiety, electrodes are placed on specific brain areas and certain brain wave frequencies are stimulated and/ or inhibited to help the brain to respond more appropriately to different situations. With anxiety, the aim of neurofeedback will be enable to the client to recreate and maintain calm and relaxed state more effectively. The client is provided with instant feedback on brainwave activity and changes brought about through auditory and visual feedback on the progression towards reaching therapy goals. Through consistent training, brain networks are changed just as muscle tissue changes with regular exercise, helping the client to respond more appropriately and regulate stress responses more effectively.