Biofeedback is a new treatment method that does not involve drugs. Anxiety disorders are hard to treat with conventional methods because each anxiety disorder is unique and each person has unique needs and symptoms. There are also different causes for the same conditions. The symptoms are different with each person and can range from wanting to throw up to wanting to escape or being exhausted all the time. Finding the anxiety cause and a treatment plan that works can be a real challenge for health providers.
Anxiety disorders can include several different forms.
- GAD or generalized anxiety disorder
- OCD is an obsessive–compulsive disorder.
- Generalized panic disorder
- PTSD is suffered by many veterans and is called a post–traumatic stress disorder.
- SAD stands for a social-anxiety disorder
- Then, there are specific phobias which can limit person’s life.
Each of the above anxiety disorders is unique and yet related by a common thread. There is a sort of loop of anxiety that starts with a worried thought, goes on to a physiological response, then more worried thoughts, and finally to heightened responses. During this loop, adrenaline and other stress hormones are being released into and throughout the body even if there is no real threat. These anxiety responses can make the sufferer feel out of their minds, scared, suffocated, stressed, and out of control. All of these feelings and symptoms are hard to live with. The patient can feel out of control and need to regain that control in every situation or feel an excess of anxiety when they can not get that control. For these people, there is no off switch for anxiety.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders?
Though each disorder has unique symptoms and each person has his or her own collection of symptoms, some symptoms are common to all anxiety disorders.
- Some people suffer bad headaches or nausea and wanting to throw up.
- There can be an increased heart rate or cold, clammy hands.
- Breathing can become shallow and too rapid.
- Muscle tension can become uncomfortable.
- One’s skin temperature can change.
- A feeling of panic and fear throughout the body
- An EEG can show higher activity in hi-beta brain waves.
People who are suffering symptoms of anxiety disorders are often told to “stop worrying so much and calm down”. But, they are unable to and without help, these disorders can lead to serious health problems and can even be a silent killer.
What Is Biofeedback?
Anxiety Treatment with Biofeedback was considered a fringe treatment decades ago, but now it is a recognized mainstream treatment protocol. A growing number of medical professionals are accepting biofeedback as a viable treatment option for many anxiety disorders. Biofeedback is now covered by Medicare and most health insurers. Because biofeedback has had many advances over the years, it has gained advocates in the medical community.
Biofeedback is also known as applied psychophysiological feedback. This is the treatment option of finding and displaying involuntary and sub-threshold physiological processes using electronic instrumentation. Then, the patients are taught how to voluntarily influence the processes in a positive way. This is done by making small changes in cognition using the mind-body connection.This form of help is also a therapeutic way to facilitate the learning of self-regulation with autonomic functions and for improving health.
Biofeedback can involve several different feedback systems or modalities.
- EMG or Electromyographic : Masseteter, Frontalis, sternocleidomastoid, and trapezius are commonly used sites.
- Finger electrodes register a person’s sweat gland changes.
- Thermal: Finger thermistors measure one’s vasoconstriction by following minute changes in the peripheral blood flow.
- Respiratory measurements
- Measuring the heart rate and pulse volume.
- The brainwave/neurofeedback which is multi-channel equipment software applications.
Applications For Biofeedback
Biofeedback is often used alone as a relaxation therapy. It is also used with other types of therapy to treat psychological and physiological disorders. Some of the concerns treated successfully by biofeedback include headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, asthma, and dysmenorrhea. It is also used to treat epilepsy, hypertension, motion sickness, Raynaud’s disease, and some forms of incontinence. There are other disorders it is also used for. It is also used in conjunction with other forms or therapy. Biofeedback is not dependent on the use of strong drugs to work. This is an advantage to many patients who do not want to take the available medications due to uncomfortable side effects.
Experts have found that biofeedback is a research-based and highly effective method of treating anxiety disorders. This is because it gives patients power over their condition. They are taught how to positively respond to anxiety events and they learn various methods to manage and to control their anxiety without drugs. The patients can view their physiological stress responses on noninvasive instruments. With this awareness and the teaching of relaxation skills, patients can recognize and control their stress responses.
Patients are given a way to take control of their mind and body again. They now have the power to recognize their stress responses and then reduce and control them to manage anxiety attacks. When anxiety prone people are given this power to control their condition, they are able to return their bodies to a healthier physiological state. Patients need to learn these skills with a health counselor who is a biofeedback specialist. As with any form of treatment, it takes time to see improvement. It takes a concentrated effort on the part of the patient. Most studies have shown that patients see improvement in their condition after from six to twelve biofeedback training sessions. For more information, go to the website.
The above video was provided by Leigh Richardson of “The Brain Performance Center – Anxiety Treatment Reviews” .