Some of the most exciting and hopeful information about treating anxiety and other mental health conditions is emerging from the field of neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that provides a signal that can be used by a person to alter their brain activity. A person can learn to change that activity to effect improvement in his mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance abuse and other disorders. Research is currently underway to further understand and confirm what neurofeedback practitioners have been practicing for decades for conditions such as epilepsy and alcoholism.
How Neurofeedback Works
- During a neurofeedback session, sensors that do not cause any pain or discomfort are placed on specific areas of the scalp and these sensors are connected to a computer. The participant’s brainwaves can be seen and recorded in real time and this information is fed back to the participant in different forms.
- A popular vehicle in which to provide brain wave feedback includes different types of video games, where the participant controls objects or images in the game to help them retrain their brain activity toward what are known to be more powerful states of self regulation, such as changing alpha brain waves to delta or theta brain waves.
- Different areas of the brain that are overfunctioning or underfunctioning can be "taught" to function properly and improve communication with other areas of the brain. Therefore, the participant will retrain their neural pathways and use the newer pathways for dealing with complex problems and challenges, behaviors and emotions.
Thus, participants can learn to change how they react to outside stimuli towards a more healthy response because of the altered brain wave states. Neurofeedback is akin to building and using a new highway of nerve impulses versus the old pot-holed highway in the brain. These new pathways are built and strengthened with typically 20 to 40 sessions of neurofeedback, as well as at home practice of new approaches.