Frequently used as a treatment for ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, the aim of neurofeedback therapy is to alter the response of the brain to certain stimuli. Additionally, it has been used as a treatment for insomnia, epilepsy, depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.
As a non-invasive procedure, neurofeedback therapy measures the brainwaves of a patient and provides him or her with real-time feedback on the functioning of the brain. It is a form of biofeedback, which is basically a mind-body procedure that seeks to assist patients in gaining voluntary control over particular body functions that are usually involuntary; these include brainwaves, muscle contraction or heart rate. Electronic instruments are used during biofeedback to communicate to the patient the physiological processes taking place.
Neurofeedback therapy is used to assist in teaching self-control of brain functions by showing patients how certain triggers affect their brains. Patients ultimately learn to identify when the brain is in a particular state. They can then learn to reconstruct the desired state like relaxation or stay away from undesired states like distress.
By recognizing the response of the brain to various auditory, visual or video stimuli, through a visualization or the observation of EEG tracings, it is considered that the brain can be trained on the action it needs to take to attain healthier patterns.
How Neurofeedback Therapy Works
It attempts to assist the patient in consciously controlling his or her brainwaves. This is done by measuring particular brainwaves, based on the condition being treated. For instance, alpha waves are linked to being deeply relaxed, peacefulness, meditation and readiness. Beta waves are typified by sustained attention, focus, excitement, alertness and tension. As such, alpha waves are usually targeted as treatment for conditions like anxiety and stress, while beta waves are used to enhance characteristics like focus and attention, which are linked to ADHD.
This therapy checks the brain for brainwave activity and provides feedback almost immediately, typically through audio or visual cues. For instance, the administrator might give you something to watch while measuring the beta waves. When beta waves are manifested, the screen will brighten in response; if beta waves are inhibited, the screen will dim. The objective is to provide the patient with adequate reinforcement that attempts to repeat the behavior to get the screen bright again.
It could take several months for desired improvements to be seen; however, no consensus is there on the number of sessions needed before the brainwaves can be controlled. In addition, it is unclear how long the effects of therapy last without long-term treatment.
The Procedure is Safe
Neurofeedback therapy is safe as long as it is administered by someone who properly uses his or her equipment. Additionally, you should choose a provider who has certified training and in-depth understanding of the functions of the brain. Having done this, you will be able to find relief from the condition you are battling. Typically, side effects include headaches, insomnia, nightmares, brain fog and feelings of anxiety; nothing permanent or particularly dangerous.