When Our Spirit Aches

Neurofeedback Can Help Heal Emotional Pain

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday things. People with the disorder, which is also referred to as GAD, experience excessive anxiety and worry, often expecting the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work or other issues. It affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1 percent of the U.S. population, in any given year, and women are twice as likely to be affected.

GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms. Symptoms of GAD include the following: restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge; being easily fatigued; difficulty concentrating or mind going blank; irritability; muscle tension; and sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).

The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role. When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and be gainfully employed. When their anxiety is severe, some people can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities.

Research in brainwave analysis has pointed to patterns in the prefrontal cortex which correlates with anxiety and depressive symptoms. According to D. C. Hammond, Ph.D., ABEN/ECNS, as published in the journal, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “Strong research evidence also indicates that there are functional brain abnormalities associated with anxiety and panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.” He explains that a biologic predisposition to depression exists when there is a frontal asymmetry in brainwave activity, with more left frontal alpha activity. “It has been established that the left frontal area is associated with more positive affect and memories, whereas the right hemisphere is more involved in negative emotion,” he says. “This means the left frontal area is less activated. Such persons may be anticipated to be less aware of positive emotions while at the same time being more in touch with the negative emotions that are associated with the right hemisphere.”

There has been a strong reliance on medications for the treatment of anxiety and depression, although some evidence currently suggests such medications are far less effective, helping only 50 percent of the patients. Side effects are commonly experienced and are a difficult trade off for patients. An alternative therapy is available. Quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) is used to “map” brainwave activity to detect these patterns. The brain can then be taught to alter the patterns and function more optimally, often relieving the struggles of those with anxiety and depressive tendencies and disorders. The process of re-training brainwave patterns is drugless, painless and has no negative side effects, and is referred to as neurofeedback or EEG-biofeedback. Neurofeedback offers anyone suffering with GAD, PTSD and depression or related symptoms an effective alternative to medications with long-term results.

Dianne Kosto is a certified neurofeedback technician, trainer, provider and specialist on a mission to share this drugless, painless, non-invasive modality. She is the founder of BrainCore USA. For more information, visit BrainCoreUSA.com and schedule a free 30-minute initial phone consultation via this link MeetMe.so/DianneKosto.

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