Menopause and Neurofeedback Training

Menopause can have adverse cognitive and mental health symptoms. 

Neurofeedback training has been shown to be an effective, non-invasive, medication-free treatment for many of these.  

It is a complementary therapy and evidence presented is based on general applicability, rather than being menopause-specific. 

The menopausal transition is often accompanied by mood, memory and sleep issues.  

Managing symptoms becomes important to avoid cumulative effects resulting in  cognitive impairments

Symptoms experienced during menopause include: 

 – weight gain and body awareness issues

 – anxiety 

 – depression 

 – sexual dysfunction and impaired sense of self

 – sleep disturbance 

 – brain fog: attention and working memory issues

 – vasomotor irregularities: hot flashes, night sweats

Personalised Brain Training aims to restore a healthy sense of self by working on brain areas that are core to our individuality, and addressing areas contributing towards anxiety, mood regulation, sleep, memory and physiological self-regulation. 

The process is enjoyable – while watching a movie, we obtain a real-time measurement of a particular brain area’s performance.  Feedback is given via small changes in volume, which our preconscious mind understands and uses to adjust it’s behaviour, thus learning to be more efficient.  The result is a feeling of calm and self-assurance, with improvements in focus, motivation and sleep. Responsiveness can usually be assessed within a few sessions.

Anxiety clouds our perception and curtails a positive outlook.

Left untreated, a negative feedback loop can ensue: We lose synchrony with our environment, resulting in reduced drive, motivation, activity, interaction, recuperation (sleep) and functionality

Anxiety is a result of inefficient sensory processing.

As such, it starts in the head, though its manifestations can quickly become physical. 

With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can assess vulnerabilities and treat these with neurofeedback in a non-invasive, enjoyable and medication-free way.

We take a holistic approach – as well as training brain areas responsible for arousal, mood and vigilance, we restore focus, drive and motivation, thus restoring self-confidence in a multi-faceted way.

 

Thalamic pathway to amygdala including sensory cortex involvement for emotional response regulation. Neurofeedback training helps regulate cortex involvement in response to sensory stimulus

There are multiple types of anxiety, each correlating with one or more brain areas being dysrhythmic:

  • Social anxiety: When we’re in a situation with other people and our understanding of the social dynamics and complexities is overwhelmed. 
  • Sensory overload: our brain interprets all sensory stimulus as directed to ourselves.  We lose the ability to discern what is directed at us, and which matters or interactions are of no concern to us.  This sets us up for panic attacks and ultimately psychosis.  It also means we become singular in our perspective, unable to take on other points of view
  • Loss of narrative: Our episodic understanding of the situation, how we got there and what happens next, is impaired, and we are unsure of where we are and where we’re going.  This hyperactivates our amygdala, and the sensation is highly emotional
  • Auditory sensitivity: we become prone to overly interpreting the emotional content of words and sounds, creating an air of prickliness and pushing people away without knowing it
  • Activation: Our ARAS is responsible for setting the right level of physiological arousal, or wakefulness, for the situation, and to remain stable there.  When this is on overdrive, we are pushed further into fight-or-flight mode than necessary, thus heightening sensory sensitivity.  Panic attacks are an extreme manifestation.
  • Trauma: an inability to self-nurture – creating an emotional safe-space around us – and self-soothe – being able to talk ourselves down rationally from a situation, thus resulting in mood instability.  This can also manifest in dissociation and heightened pain perception.  We ruminate about the past and worry about the future, instead of being able to enjoy the present. 
  • Intrusive thoughts: Self-criticism overshadows motivation and confidence, and we become self-aware and distracted by negative thoughts and feelings.  Some use acquired habits to distract from this. Our confidence, motivation and social interaction suffer as a result.
ARAS Ascending Reticular Activating System and performance curve with different levels of physiological arousal; we can train our ability to find and be stable at the optimum level of physiological arousal with neurofeedback training]

Case Study: Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Depression

Camilla 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.  Camilla’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.  Camilla 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 Camilla, 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. 

Three months later, Camilla reports a major improvement in how she is able to set boundaries, both at work and in her personal life, and not neglecting her own well-being.  

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

Typical Symptoms of Trauma and PTSD

 – Ruminating about the past, worrying about the future 

 – feeling judged or hypersensitive to how people approach us

 – not feeling safe in the world, hypervigilance

 – isolation, not feeling part of a group or cause

 – difficulty sleeping and concentrating

 – depression; various forms of anxiety

 – reduced compassion and empathy; emotional numbness

 – various degrees of dissociation from one’s previous emotional and physical life

 

Hypervigilance has neural correlates which we can train with neurofeedback

Menopause is a phase during which we can reorient our lives to emerge with a healthier sense of self.  

Mood regulation is a common symptom experienced during menopause. 

Neurofeedback is a proven treatment for depression and anxiety

Personalised Brain Training takes a holistic approach:  

There are numerous contributing brain regions that can affect our mood regulation, general awareness, focus and motivation, social and general anxiety, as well as our physiological response. 

With a brain map, training becomes individual.

menopause and neurofeedback training for the next half of life

Anxiety can increase with hormonal changes. 

Changes in perceived femininity and altered body awareness affect how we present ourselves or feel perceived. 

Uncertainty about the path of this transitional process is another factor. 

Neurofeedback training is an evidence-based method that can result in enduring improvements.

 

Cognitive decline, in particular working memory, is a frequent complaint during menopause, and has been linked to permanent changes.

Neurofeedback training can improve working memory and help clear our minds. 

In addition, we train areas involved in attention, focus and motivation.  

 

Working memory improvement from neurofeedback training for menopause

Sleep is usually one of the first things to change with neurofeedback training. 

Chronic sleep issues can further result in cognitive decline and other symptoms.

We address brain areas responsible for falling asleep and maintaining a restorative state, among other. 

Neurofeedback is an evidence-based method to improve sleep.

Neurofeedback is an effective, evidence-based method to reduce migraines

The source and phenomenon of migraines is elusive.  Elements in the brainstem that form part of our reticular activating system are suspected to be generators.  Neurofeedback training seeks to calm this. 

Studies have found cortical differences in migraineurs, which gives us the opportunity to train relevant brain areas.  Notably these comprise parts of the Default Mode Network, which we aim to strengthen with neurofeedback. 

Personalised Brain Training takes a holistic approach and we look for comorbid symptoms such as PTSD, sleep issues, mood regulation, focus and attention, and anxiety to improve.  Neurofeedback is an evidence-based approach to these challenges.  

Migraines can respond quickly, though often the process can be extended; secondary symptoms such as sleep, mood regulation, focus and anxiety should respond meanwhile.  This usually becomes clear within the first few sessions. 

ARAS Ascending Reticular Activating System and performance curve with different levels of physiological arousal; we can train our ability to find and be stable at the optimum level of physiological arousal with neurofeedback training]

Personalised Brain Training is a holistic approach to restoring better body – mind balance.

Neurofeedback - How does it work?

Brain Maps and Personalised Brain Training

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.

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).

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

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.

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