Neurofeedback: How Optimizing Your Brain Can Help Treat Depression and Anxiety

Neurofeedback: How Optimizing Your Brain Can Help Treat Depression and Anxiety

Neurofeedback, also referred to as electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback, is a type of brainwave training used to teach the brain how to operate at its fullest capacity. Neurofeedback is sometimes mistaken as biofeedback; however, it is crucial to note the differences between biofeedback and neurofeedback.

Biofeedback refers to a method used to obtain information about the body, such as tracking skin temperature or blood pressure. It promotes the use of conditioning to help people gain control over involuntary body processes.

Comparatively, neurofeedback focuses on feedback from brainwaves. It helps people gain control over neurological issues and prevent them from recurring.

Neurofeedback to treat depression and anxiety is now an available form of treatment. In addition to treating depression, neurofeedback is commonly used to address the following issues:

  • Insomnia
  • ADD/ADHD
  • PTSD
  • Addiction
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Autism
  • Brain injury

A typical neurofeedback training session involves the use of advanced computer technology that helps to optimize the brain’s performance. To start a neurofeedback session, a provider asks a patient a series of questions; that way, the provider can evaluate the patient and ensure he or she is a good candidate for neurofeedback.

During a training session, sensors are placed on top of a patient’s ears and scalp. These sensors enable a neurofeedback technician to analyze the patient’s brain activity and examine frequencies that regulate brain function. The sensors are only used to examine electrical activity from the brain, and they do not administer any frequencies to the brain.

As a patient’s brain activity is monitored, he or she watches fractal images created from brain activity. Meanwhile, neurofeedback training is used to help the patient regulate his or her brain’s performance. In doing so, neurofeedback drives self-regulation of the brain.

Neurofeedback sessions require anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes to complete. Side effects of neurofeedback are minimal, and patients usually require several treatment sessions to achieve the best possible results.

With neurofeedback, the brain gradually heals itself via neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to recognize synaptic connections. Neuroplasticity promotes nervous system changes and helps a patient achieve long-lasting neurofeedback training results.

As a neurofeedback session progresses, a patient’s brain generally transitions from an uncomfortable state to a more focused and relaxed state. This ultimately trains the brain to control arousal and excitement levels, enabling a patient to use neurofeedback to treat depression and anxiety.

Is Neurofeedback a Safe, Effective Treatment for Depression and Anxiety?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has cited neurofeedback as a “Level 1” treatment for evidence-based child and adolescent psychological interventions. Additionally, neurofeedback patients sometimes report improved mood, more restful sleep, and increased focus following treatment.

At the same time, it is important to remember that depression and anxiety treatment results vary. Thus, it is paramount to consult with a doctor to evaluate different depression and anxiety treatment options. This allows an individual to work with a doctor to determine a safe and effective way to treat depression and anxiety symptoms.

Doctors sometimes recommend antidepressant medications to combat depression and anxiety. These medications may help an individual address his or her depression and anxiety symptoms. Conversely, they may also cause nausea, vomiting, and other intolerable side effects. In certain instances, antidepressants have no impact, and patients continue to experience depression and anxiety symptoms despite their medication use.

Also, doctors may recommend neurofeedback and other alternative therapies to alleviate depression and anxiety. Alternative therapies used to treat depression and anxiety include:

  • Ketamine Therapy: Ketamine therapy involves the use of an FDA-approved anesthetic shown to relieve depression and anxiety symptoms. It delivers results similar to those associated with antidepressants, but these results may last only a few days or weeks.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” helps an individual build the coping skills necessary to deal with depression and anxiety. Many forms of psychotherapy are available, including individual, play, and group therapy options. Each type of psychotherapy is designed to help a patient identify the root cause of depression and anxiety symptoms and explore ways to treat these symptoms.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS therapy involves the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate neurons in the brain. It is non-invasive, has few side effects, and does not require any medications. Plus, TMS therapy is FDA-approved to help treat and heal the brain.

There is no shortage of depression and anxiety therapies, and choosing the right treatment may be difficult. Fortunately, Achieve Medical Center is a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice that helps patients find the right depression and anxiety therapy.

At Achieve Medical Center, our philosophy is to deliver comprehensive and compassion care to children and adults. To accomplish our mission, we work as a team to analyze our patients on a biological, psychological, and social level. This enables us to help each patient discover the best way to manage his or her depression and anxiety symptoms.

Schedule a Neurofeedback Training Consultation at Achieve Medical Center

For individuals who are considering neurofeedback or other alternative depression and anxiety therapies, Achieve Medical Center is available. We offer six locations in Southern California and three locations in Oregon, along with expert staff who understand what it takes to treat depression and anxiety symptoms. We also allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about our patients and their depression and anxiety treatment goals. In doing so, we work closely with each of our patients to help them achieve long-lasting depression and anxiety symptom relief.

 

Achieve Medical Center provides free consultations for individuals who are considering neurofeedback or other depression and anxiety therapy options. To schedule a consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please call us today at (858) 427-5060.

What Causes Panic Attacks and How to Manage Them

What Causes Panic Attacks and How to Manage Them

A panic attack refers to a sudden period of intense fear. Panic attacks usually reach their peak within minutes of onset, and common panic attack symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Fear of losing control and/or dying
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Most people experience one or two panic attacks during their lifetime. However, people dealing with recurring panic attacks may be diagnosed with panic disorder.

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder linked to ongoing panic attacks. It is more common in women than men, and people may start to experience panic disorder symptoms at a young age. Panic disorder sometimes makes it tough for people to engage with family members and friends. In extreme cases, panic disorder prevents people from leaving their homes.

If you or someone you know is dealing with panic attacks or panic disorder, help is available. In fact, if you can identify the root cause of a panic attack or panic disorder, you can treat the issue and discover ways to prevent it from getting out of hand.

What Causes a Panic Attack?

There is no known cause of panic attacks. However, research indicates any of the following factors may play a role in a panic attack:

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Changes in the way the brain functions

There are several factors that may increase a person’s risk of experiencing a panic attack, too. These factors include:

  • Family history of panic attacks
  • Excess caffeine or nicotine consumption
  • Major life changes, such as a divorce or the birth of a child

A panic attack generally occurs without notice and may be triggered by the body’s natural fight-or-flight response to danger. In some instances, a panic attack happens when there is no sign of danger.

How to Manage Panic Attacks

If you experience a panic attack, you should seek medical treatment immediately. And remember, a panic attack may be uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous. If you get medical help right away, you can address your panic attack symptoms and identify ways to keep these symptoms from recurring.

Additionally, there are many things you can do to manage a panic attack as it happens, such as:

1. Practice Deep Breathing

During a panic attack, you may start breathing rapidly and shallowly from the upper lungs, and this may lead to shortness of breath, nausea, confusion, dizziness, and other physical symptoms. Conversely, if you notice your breathing rate and pattern begin to change, take a deep breath. You then can gently and slowly inhale air through the nose, fill your lower and upper lungs with air, and exhale slowly through the mouth. Thanks to this deep breathing exercise, you can slow down your breathing, relax your muscles, and overcome your panic attack symptoms.

2. Close Your Eyes

A panic attack sometimes occurs in a busy environment filled with bright lights, loud noises, and other stimuli. In this scenario, it may be difficult to focus, and panic attack symptoms may escalate quickly. When faced with this type of situation, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This exercise allows you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and focus on what’s most important — overcoming your panic attack.

3. Take a Walk

If you are dealing with a panic attack, a walk may help you alleviate your panic attack symptoms. Walking can trigger endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals in the brain that help reduce pain or stress. Plus, walking is gentle on the body and is unlikely to raise your stress levels. Of course, if you are hyperventilating or struggling to breathe due to a panic attack, you should avoid walking or other physical activity until you catch your breath.

4. Use a Focus Object

Selecting a focus object may help you stop a panic attack. A focus object can be anything in clear sight, and as you look at this object, you can study its color, shapes, patterns, size, and other features. As a result, you can prioritize your focus object — and increase the likelihood that your panic attack symptoms will disappear.

5. Envision a Happy Place

When a panic attack strikes, think about a happy place you have already visited or want to visit. Whether it’s a serene beach or an awe-inspiring cabin in the mountains, you can picture yourself in your happy place to help calm your mind and body. With this approach, you can minimize stress and keep your panic attack symptoms at bay.

Take Steps to Address Panic Attacks

For people who continuously experience panic attacks, many treatment options are available, including:

  • Medications: Benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and other medications have been shown to help people manage their panic attack symptoms. On the other hand, these medications sometimes cause unwanted side effects or do not deliver the desired results.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, aka “talk therapy,” helps people identify their panic attack triggers. It typically involves working with a therapist who helps a patient understand the root cause of his or her panic attacks and find ways to prevent these attacks from occurring.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and recreational drugs may help an individual stop his or her panic attacks. Furthermore, aerobic activity and sufficient rest may help a person maintain a healthy lifestyle that lowers his or her risk of panic attacks.

Finding the right treatment to manage panic attacks can be challenging, but the team at Achieve Medical Center can help. We are a multidisciplinary psychiatric and mental health practice committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to all of our patients. We also focus on the biological, psychological, and social aspects of each patient to provide him or her with the best support possible.

 

Our team can meet with you and help you explore panic attack treatment options. To schedule a consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please contact us today at (858) 427-5060.