Anxiety can distort our natural ability to find the right level of physiological arousal and result in a state of hyper-vigilance. 

It can also be subtle and prevent us from taking appropriate risks, missing opportunities and eroding our confidence. 

Neurofeedback training aims to improve self-regulation.  We want to achieve the right level of performance required for the situation, and be stable there.  

There are numerous vulnerabilities to anxiety we can identify with a Kaiser Neuromap, and address with Personalised Brain Training using neurofeedback:

 – social anxiety

 – relational thinking – perceiving all sensory stimulus as directed to oneself

 – physiological arousal dysregulation, in particular heightened arousal and panic attacks 

 – emotional hypersensitivity

 – heightened self-awareness

 – excessive monitoring of consequences of actions

 – paranoia

 – intrusive thoughts.

Neurofeedback training is evidence-based, non-invasive and medication-free.  

Neurofeedback for Anxiety Disorder

One in three people will develop an anxiety disorder over the course of their life, and these can take various forms:

Social Anxiety is when we experience unease around others, fearing scrutiny and judgement by others.  We become overly concerned about our actions evoking embarassment or humiliation.  It is attributable to our sense of self and our perception of social dynamics, and can trigger discomfort and emotional sensitivity.  There are brain regions responsible for interpreting social situations and we can train these with neurofeedback to make them more mature and increase confidence.

Emotional Self-regulation is affected by various triggers found in anxiety.  Our amygdala becomes hyperactive and more sensitive to sensory stimulus, amplifying our perceptions to the extent they can become overwhelming, and associating sensory stimulus with threat.  

Our Reticular Activating System (RAS) gets activated and our physiological arousal level is elevated.  In the extreme, this is fight or flight, while the higher than necessary level of excitement becomes constant.  This drains our energy and focus, and makes us essentially reactive.  The feeling of hypervigilance can become a state we learn to crave, as its persistence shields us from ups and downs, however it is a cost to our physical and emotional well-being.

Both amygdala and RAS activation are associated with chemical imbalances involving serotonin and dopamine, and have been the subject of focus for medication interventions.  Neurofeedback aims to train the brain to self-regulate, obviating the need for chemical enhancement.  We are empowering what’s there already.

Self-Awareness is affected in various ways when we experience anxiety.  

There are brain areas governing our sense of perspective – detachment vs. involvement.  When we are in a state where we feel that all sensory stimulus is directed at ourselves, this can become extremely stressful.  This contrasts with detachment, a state people with anxiety often crave, and the subject of much self-medication.  

Recurrent anxiety can lead to depression, and other mental health issues including dissociation and detachment.  It affects our sleep, focus, and mood regulation.  Reducing anxiety helps us live in the moment and connect better with others.  We want to be free to expand and be ourselves at any time.

Our sense of self is an important anchor when confronted with overwhelmingness.  How rested we are in ourselves, when in a secure place, is an important indication of Default Mode Network integrity, the neural basis for our self.  With neurofeedback training we can strengthen this crucial framework. 

Other brain areas monitor the presence of specific threats, as well as the consequences of our actions, adding to our hypervigilance.  These areas are cortical and we can again train them with neurofeedback to behave more maturely and respond only to relevant threat.

Still other areas are responsible for identifying faces and body shapes.  Overactivation here results in fears and anxiety about appearance, and in the extreme, body dysmorphia.  We can identify this vulnerability with a brain map and train accordingly with neurofeedback. 

Intrusive thoughts can cloud our perception of the moment and seriously impair our confidence.  Self-critical thought is another brain area we can detect dysrythmia in and train.  

Extreme emotional sensitivity to how things are said, as well as ruminating about the past and worrying about the future are indicative of trauma and are again attributable to particular brain areas we can train successfully with neurofeedback, or Personalised Brain Training.

Anxiety can take many forms:

– a recurring, almost obsessive worry about things in our personal life

– a chronic fear or hyper-vigilance

– stress, exhaustion, distractibility and sleep disorders

– trauma we’ve experienced and never digested properly

 – Panic Attacks and other paroxysmal manifestations. 

 

High Functioning on the Inside shows a confident woman who feels very different behind the facade, troubled by self-doubts not visible to others

Stress, exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, and consequently lack of deep sleep, difficulty in getting the mind to rest, insomnia and lack of focus in daily life are the consequence.  This often results in harmful behavioural patterns as social fears are amplified, and then often masked with self-medication.  Consequently, anxiety is often experienced with symptoms of depression and PTSD.

 

 

Intrusive Thoughts that may pop up on an anxiety-free day and that still fill me with self-doubt and an inability to socialise and lack of motivation

Worse even, some experience panic attacks, an overwhelming culmination of anxiety resulting in physical debilitation.  

Dr. Corydon Hammond finds in his 2005 paper, “Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety” that neurofeedback training results in “enduring improvements approximately 80% of the time”, with most perceiving a difference after between three and six sessions; a “very significant improvement” after 10-12 sessions, and more so after over 20 sessions.  

Neurofeedback is a safe, effective, non-invasive, drug-free method to combat anxiety. 

See here for a summary of research demonstrating the effectiveness of neurofeedback for anxiety.

Neurofeedback is evidence based therapy with a wealth of over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports per PubMed neurofeedback

Neurofeedback: Two Approaches, Othmer Method and qEEG Brain Map-based Personalised Brain Training

With the Othmer Method of neurofeedback training, we can achieve calming and improved emotional self-regulation.  

Brain Map-based Personalised Brain Training lets us target specific brain areas.  There are many sources of anxiety.  With a qEEG brain map we can see dysrhythmia in specific areas of the cortex that may contribute to anxiety.  Personalised Brain Training then lets us train these areas as part of a holistic approach to optimal cortical integration.   

Contact Daniel on +44 (0)79666 99430 or daniel@neurofeedback.io 

Neurofeedback London-Brighton-Manchester does not provide diagnosis nor medical interventions nor medical advice and is not medically trained.  By engaging in neurotherapy, you confirm that you have sought medical advice and are keeping your relevant medical professional informed of therapy progress.

Neurofeedback training for better emotional self-regulation

Personalised Brain Training for Anxiety

Brain Maps and Personalised Brain Training

Kaiser Neuromap brain maps and Brodmann areas

Brain Maps expose Individual Vulnerabilities

With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can identify character traits, vulnerabilities and strengths. 

Different brain areas and networks govern our behaviour.  For example, there are parts of our brain which control mood regulation; spatial distractibility; physiological arousal; our sense of self; self-critical thoughts; anger and emotional attachment; and there are various sources of anxiety.

A brain map shows us which brain areas are behaving immaturely, and thus expose us to vulnerabilities or mental health issues.

Rather than fitting people into categories – diagnosis – we can assess vulnerability to behaviour patterns.  Every brain is different.  A brain map provides a more granular approach to understanding our strengths and weaknesses.

Neurofeedback process explained, illustrating real-time analysis of brain waves and feedback given

Personalised Brain Training with Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback lets us train dysrythmic brain areas.  With sensors comfortably fitted to the brain areas we want to train, we detect brainwave patterns real-time while watching a movie.  When these patterns are inefficient, the volume drops momentarily.  This is the feedback we are giving our brain, short and instantaneously.  

The brain area we are training recognises this – while our conscious mind is focussed on the movie – and adjusts its behaviour to restore the normal volume.  With repetition, throughout a session, learning occurs.  

Meanwhile our conscious mind is solely focussed on the movie; the training process is passive in this sense.    

The drop in volume is subtle, so we continue to understand the flow of the movie.  No current or electrical stimulation is fed to the brain; sensors simply read brainwaves and the feedback is purely audio-visual.

Neurofeedback is preconscious brain training aimed at enhancing our mental, emotional and spiritual health

Neurofeedback trains our Pre-Conscious Mind

 

Rather than engaging the conscious mind, which slows us down, we are training preconscious processes

This equips us with the ability to live in the moment and attain our potential (if we have to resort to conscious control, we are not living in the moment).

Personalised Brain Training is an advanced qEEG brain map-based approach to neurofeedback training developed by the founders of the field.  Taking Othmer Method / ILF training methods further, it employs Default Network Training protocols as developed by David Kaiser.

We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based complementary therapy with over 2000 PubMed peer-reviewed research reports

Neurofeedback is Evidence-based

Neurofeedback training is an evidence-based complementary therapy.  Its efficacy was first demonstrated some 50 years ago, and with advances in technology, training protocols have become more efficient and the feedback method – watching movies – thoroughly enjoyable. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based.  It’s first application was discovered in 1971 when it was used to resolve intractable epilepsy. 

There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports on PubMed demonstrating efficacy across a number of pathologies. 

In the US, it is an accepted complementary treatment for many challenges. 

Neurofeedback is a Proven Treatment for Anxiety

The effectiveness of neurofeedback training for anxiety was first recorded four decades ago in 1978.  Since then, there have been over 120 peer-reviewed research papers published on neurofeedback and anxiety.  Academic interest in this application of neurofeedback has picked up notably during the last three years.    

Dr. Corydon Hammond finds in his 2005 paper, “Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety” that neurofeedback training results in “enduring improvements approximately 80% of the time”, with most perceiving a difference after between three and six sessions; a “very significant improvement” after 10-12 sessions, and more so after over 20 sessions.  

Improving emotional regulation with neurofeedback represents a “novel intervention to control anxiety”.   Just a single session resulted in a statistically significant improvement in anxiety.  

Contamination anxiety was improved in a lasting way in this study .

Twenty sessions of neurofeedback training led to a significant improvement in sleep, anxiety and depression evaluations.  The same disorders plus inattention showed significant improvements when conducting ten or more sessions in a naturalistic setting.  Anxiety was reduced in Canadian Aboriginals during seven days of two hour training.   Fifteen sessions reduced GAD symptoms. 

Neurofeedback improved depressive symptoms in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) patients, with significant decrease in anxiety and clinical illness severity noted as a result of the training.   Cognitive depression was reduced here.  Anhedonia and comorbid anxiety in MDD where also improved in this recent study.  Increased happiness ratings and decrease in anxiety was documented with related increased activity in specific brain areas.  

Post-operative depression and anxiety, pain, difficulties sleeping and attention and memory problems were resolved in 20 neurofeedback sessions.  The 45-year old female was able to return to work subsequently.  Postcancer cognitive impairment (PCCI) sufferers (a substantial subset of breast cancer survivors) found strongly significant reduction in anxiety, as well as somatisation and depression, after twenty neurofeedback sessions.  Anxiety, as well as depression and tinnitus were greatly reduced during stroke rehabilitation, plus improvement in speech fluency, word finding, balance and coordination, attention and concentration. 

Ten neurofeedback sessions improved symptoms of pain and fatigue, anxiety and depression in fybromyalgia patients.  Neurofeedback was also found to reach maximum effect within four weeks.

Multiple Sclerosis sufferers saw depression, fatigue and anxiety reduced, and the results were maintained at a 2-month follow-up.

Alpha Theta neurofeedback training reduced anxiety in competitive ballroom dancers, as well as increasing cognitive creativity. 

Neurofeedback provided benefit to high functioning ASD with regard to anxiety.  

Alcohol Dependence Syndrome patients found a significant reduction in cognitive deficits, anxiety and depression; noticeable improvement in memory and neurological functioning, and significant reduction in alcohol intake on follow-up.  Impulsivity, anxiety and depression were improved in long-term abstinent delinquents.   Sharp reductions in self-assessed depression were found in alcoholic outpatients, as well as reduction in anxiety, after twenty Alpha-Theta sessions.  

The physical basis of how neurofeedback training can be applied to reduce maladaptive rumination and anxiety was confirmed here.  

Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine.  qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms.  It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.

A qEEG brain map analysed with proprietary software developed by one of the founders of the field of neurofeedback is the premise for Personalised Brain Training.  There are numerous sources of anxiety from a neurological perspective.  By mapping and interpreting the connections between brain areas of the cortex, we can target our neurofeedback training. 

Typically, the dysrhythmic brain areas in people with anxiety have functions also involved in self-nurture, motivation, autobiographic self, monitoring outcomes and consequences of actions, and perception of personal space.  Many of these areas are also impacted in other pathologies, such as depression, focus issues, OCD, insomnia and PTSD.  Anxiety is therefore frequently diagnosed together with one of these, or a different diagnosis supersedes it. 

A brain map is not a diagnostic tool.  As such we are less interested in nomenclature, but rather in localising brain areas whose dysrhythmia is contributing to anxiety.  By addressing these, we find that other comorbidities are usually resolved in the process as well. 

Case Study - Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Insomnia, Coming Off Anti-Depressants

Roslyn had been diagnosed with anxiety, panic attacks, associated insomnia and mild depression.  She was prescribed two anti-depressants – Mirtazapine and and SSRI – which she was able to reduce to a minimum dose over time.  During the last three years however, she had six relapses, each following a similar pattern: Stress (emotional and work-related) and fatigue precipitated intrusive thoughts and worries, setting off a familiar path of insomnia; consequently higher anxiety, increased stress levels leading to panic attacks and depressive symptoms.  The first few episodes were stabilised by resuming Mirtazapine, which helped restore sleep.  The subsequent ones however failed to respond, taking months to stabilise sleep and reduce anxiety, which involved having to take time off work.  In addition, she began to have somatisations, beginning in the spine and ultimately reaching her face.  Migraines began to reappear when she became excessively tired. 

Guided by a brain map, we began doing neurofeedback training twice a week.  Roslyn’s sleep became sound after the second session – “I feel pleasantly knocked out” – and she decided to reduce her Mirtazapine dose gradually in accordance with her prescribing GP.  After eight sessions (four weeks) she was on the lowest dose, and even this left her feeling very groggy in the morning.  Roslyn had regained confidence in her ability to fall asleep, and stopped using Mirtazapine completely.  Her anxiety levels were at their lowest, and she had began to work again, leaving a corporate environment to work with children in a mental health setting – a stressful yet engaging and meaningful activity.  Her motivation had reached new levels, and she felt stable and confident, which showed in her stance and demeanour.  

Ten sessions of neurofeedback training (each two hours) were sufficient to stabilise Roslyn, restore her ability to sleep, and the confidence therein, as well as improving sense of self-worth, focus and motivation.  She has not felt the need to use Mirtazapine again since. 

The Othmer Method for Anxiety:  Mental Calming and Trauma Resolution

First, neurofeedback works on emotional and physical calming.  The effects are often felt within the first few sessions; further training allows these to become permanent.

This is done with ILF training using the Othmer Method, whereby the parts of the brain responsible for physical symptoms, for core emotions such as fear and anger, hyper-vigilance and paranoia, for self-control and conscious obsessive thoughts are trained.

Often, anxiety is rooted in some form of Trauma.

Once sufficient calming is achieved, Alpha Theta training is used to address underlying trauma, issues or memories which haven’t been digested, and enable the brain to process these, consciously and subconsciously.  Importantly, Neurofeedback training aims to resolve trauma subconsciously, without having to relive the trauma.  Alpha-Theta Training, a very relaxing protocol, allows our brain to reach deep states during which it is able to separate the event from the emotions attached to it, and store these memories and associations in a safer place.

Adding Synchrony training can further soothe, improve memory and concentration, and generally restore a healthy sense of self-worth and connectedness with our environment.

Results can be sustainable and long-lasting.

Anxiety and Physiological Arousal – Improving Brain Self-Regulation with the Othmer Neurofeedback Method

Each person has their individual arousal and performance curve.  We move up and down this curve over the course of the day as we are confronted with situations.

At the high end, extreme arousal constitutes a hyper-vigilant state mentally, and the physical symptoms to match, e.g. higher heart rate, blood pressure, sensory alertness and readiness to respond.  This is useful in emergencies -“fight or flight” – but ignores necessary rest and recuperation, as well as an awareness of the future and resultant needs for foresight and preparation; it also places unsustainable stress on the body and consequently is not a state that should one should be in continuously.  At the other extreme, a low arousal state is essential for good rest and sleep, but is not suited to the range of demands in our daily routine, which can include times of high levels of alertness, varying degrees of physical preparedness,  repetitive tasks with different concentration requirements, and all kinds of emotional states paired with their concomitant physiology.

The ability to shift arousal state to the requisite level for the situation at hand is what is meant by good self-regulation of the brain.  It is this quality that neurofeedback training seeks to improve.

Alpha Theta Brainwave Training for Unresolved Trauma

The root cause of anxiety can be an unprocessed experience, or possibly a trauma one isn’t even conscious of anymore.  A variation of neurofeedback training, Alpha Theta, aims to induce a deep state of relaxation during which it is possible to safely digest such issues and enable them to enter the long term memory, free of the feared emotional association.  From clinical experience, the processing of emotions and memories appears to happen particularly when we are crossing from the meditative Alpha state into dream-intense Theta; during Alpha Theta training, the brain is given information as to which state it is in – the music changes, basically, though we add other auditory components such as chimes, gongs and binaural beats.  We are not forcing the brain to do anything, other than to relax by being in a quiet, comfortable setting wearing eyeshades and headphones.  In a twenty to thirty minute session, the brain shifts between Alpha and Theta dominant states repeatedly, and processing of experiences happens at subconscious and conscious level.

Alpha Theta training can be very deep, and requires a certain calmness of mind in order to be tolerated – it is an eyes-closed exercise during which unwanted experiences may surface, though many are dealt with by the unconsious mind.  Digesting experiences means separating the emotion from the event and enabling the brain to file the entire trauma differently, in a form that is accessible yet not tainted with negative or adverse feelings and associations.  During Alpha Theta training, this can occur without reliving the event consciously, which can be highly efficient both in terms of time and effort.  We would generally add this training after at least ten ILF Othmer Method sessions aimed at calming, though readiness can vary.

Synchrony Training for Stress & Anxiety

Infra-Low Synchrony training engages the Default Mode Network directly, and we have seen many cases where this has led to an improved sense of self-worth and a strong feeling of connectedness to our environment where this was lacking before, obscured by chronic stress and symptoms of anxiety.

The Process:

Step 1: Brain Map

A qEEG recording takes about 45minutes for a 20 minute recording.

A cap with 19 sensors is is fitted to our head and gels inserted to ensure connectivity.  The sensors only read – there is a tiny voltage on the surface of our head that these pick up.  The gels are easily washed out later.  This is also the last time we wear the cap (until a remap after ten sessions); training is done with single sensors. 

We analyse the data with Kaiser Neuromap software which gives us a unique view into character traits and vulnerabilities.  

Findings are presented in a separate one-hour conversation where we discuss the key elements.

Step 2: Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback process explained, illustrating real-time analysis of brain waves and feedback given

 We use a movie of choice as the feedback mechanism – our conscious mind engages with the film, and feedback is delivered by small changes in volume or picture size.  

Our pre-conscious mind adapts its behaviour to preserve the more comfortable volume and picture size, and learning occurs. 

Volume changes are slight, not stop-start, and the process is enjoyable. 

Key is that we are interested in the movie – our conscious mind is engaged with the content, which forms the reward, and our preconscious mind – without our conscious effort – changes its behaviour in response to the feedback.

Capturing the ultradian cycle with neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training using Kaiser Neuromap

A two hour training session allows us to do 90-110 minutes of neurofeedback training during which we can work on various brain sites. 

This captures an entire ultradian rhythm cycle and corresponds to the approximate duration of feature film movies.  

We can start with shorter sessions as appropriate, mainly with children. 

Ideally, we do two or more sessions per week to start with.  

We would expect to see responsiveness within the first few sessions and remap after twenty hours or about ten sessions.  

Generally, we would expect to doing twenty sessions over two months, though this can vary substantially. 

We can also accommodate intensives, where we do two sessions per day over a number of days, and have had good results with these.

 

Neurofeedback is an Evidence-Based Method to Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety presents in various forms of persistence and severity:

 –  Intermittent Anxiety, triggered by specific situations: Social anxiety, fear of heights, phobias

 – Persistent Anxiety, where a feeling of hypervigilance becomes a general state that affects our sleep, focus and general functioning

 

 – Extreme Anxiety, where Trauma, Paranoia or Panic Attacks become physically debilitating 

Neurofeedback to treat Intermittent Anxiety, including Fear of Heights, social anxiety and phobias
Neurofeedback to treat extreme anxiety where trauma, panic attacks, paranoia and nervous breakdowns are debilitating