Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: Neurofeedback
What is the new therapy that is exciting so many people suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, insomnia, migraines, memory problems, ADHD, ADD, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and other serious health challenges? Neurofeedback. This fast-growing field is providing hope where there was not a lot of hope before.
The Veteran’s Administration health system is using neurofeedback with
traumatized soldiers returning from war.
Parents of children with ADHD, ADD, OCD, learning and behavioral problems, and autistic spectrum disorder are promoting neurofeedback. They know it holds great promise to change their children's lives.
Elders with early signs of dementia, memory loss, and other age-related
cognitive disorders—even strokes—are empowered, knowing they can help themselves.
People suffering from migraines, insomnia, anxiety or depression use neurofeedback as a natural, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical way to find relief and, sometimes, total remission from their condition.
Neurofeedback can provide long-lasting change without surgery, pharmaceuticals*, or other invasive interventions.
*Do not stop taking medications or prescription drugs without first consulting your primary care physician or healthcare specialist.
What Is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback enables the brain to train itself to restore proper functional abilities and capacities that were previously compromised. Research shows he brain is incredibly flexible. “Neuroplasticity” is the term used to describe the brain’s ability to structurally and functionally change, no matter what your age. When brainwaves (alpha, beta, delta and theta) drift from the norm due to age, injury, or unknown reasons, they need not be stuck permanently in an abnormal pattern.
How Do Brainwaves Reveal Health Problems?
Electroencephalography (EEG) is used to capture brainwave signals that are mapped and compared against a large database of scans from people with “normal” or healthy brain functioning. Using this analysis, any anomalies in the brain map become evident. The neurofeedback clinician then plans a restorative course of action to help your brain retrain itself back towards healthier functioning.
There are four primary kinds of brainwaves:
Beta The primary brainwave of the awake state; when your brain is alert, focused, concentrating and solving problems, like reading or having a conversation. Most waking hours are spent beta.
Alpha The predominant brain state when your eyes are closed and you are awake, feeling relaxed and calm; the state of daydreams, associated with the subconscious mind. You usually are in alpha right before sleep and just before fully awaking.
Theta This brainwave appears for short periods as you fall asleep or right before you wake up. It’s the signature of the half-asleep, half-awake state, or of the light sleep state. It is also common during visualization, hypnosis and deep meditation, or other periods of deep relaxation. Lowering theta tends to reduce hyperactivity and improve concentration and attention.
Delta The slowest brainwave pattern, characteristic of deep, dreamless sleep. Delta waves predominate when the body is in deep self-healing..
A brain map identifies abnormal brainwave patterns, and neurofeedback therapy retrains your brain to reestablish normal patterns. Ultimately, troublesome symptoms either disappear or are greatly reduced. Neurofeedback does not treat disorders, rather it treats brainwave patterns.
During Neurofeedback sessions, signals based on “normal” brainwaves are sent to the brain, so it can, over time, retrain itself to function within normal, healthy parameters. Results include emotional resilience and cognitive improvement.
What Is a Clear Mind Neurofeedback Session Like?
Starting with an EEG brain map made, and protocols decided by a Certified Neurofeedback clinician, the process is simple:
You sit in front of a personal computer sending specific signals (through EEG leads on your scalp) to targeted areas of your brain while you sit comfortably watching a movie or listening to music. You wear a special pair of glasses affecting the optic nerve. While watching the movie or listening to the music, you will notice the picture and/or sound fade in and out. This happens when your brainwave patterns stray away from the norm. Since your brain wants to function normally, when the picture and sound dim, it notices these visual and auditory cues to “remember” to move towards normal brainwave patterns. As it does, the movie picture becomes clearer and the sound louder. This form of positive biofeedback, or “operant conditioning”, rewards the brain when the audio or video return to normal clarity. With time your brain learns to stay in this healthy range without needing for a reward stimulus from the computer! Various symptoms require different neurofeedback protocols to stimulate specific areas of the brain. The software prioritizes areas of the brain needing attention according to the original brain map analysis and personalized questionnaire.
Each neurofeedback session lasts about 30 minutes. It is best to keep to a regular schedule of 2 or 3 half-hour sessions a week.
How Long Does It Take To Change Your Brain?
The answer is as varied as the individuals who use neurofeedback. Just as it takes time to sculpt your muscles and body through physical exercise, it takes time to retrain your brain through neurofeedback.
Although many people see positive benefits—and even dramatic improvements—after three, seven, or ten sessions, it usually takes at least 20 sessions to see significant improvement, and up to 40 sessions for a change to become permanent.
For some disorders, such as autism, there are likely to be small incremental changes over time, with a significant leap in improvement by 80 to 100 sessions. For these types of disorders, patience is a virtue that can be well rewarded. Unfortunately, some patients notice improvement early on, and then stop sessions prematurely, before the changes are stabilized or permanent.
Neurofeedback is a powerful, non-invasive, and fun way to retrain your brain, restore greater functional capability, and improve your quality of life. No one can predict how long it will take your brain to retrain itself. The good news is the brain is capable of self-healing more so than scientists thought possible only a decade ago. Neurofeedback is quickly gaining a reputation for helping to make significant changes in conditions that medical doctors once thought were impossible to treat or heal.
If you would like to know more about how neurofeedback might help you or your loved one, please call Integrative Life Solutions at (336) 778-1950 or email us at Info@IntegrativeLifeSolutions.com.
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