Anxiety impacts over 18% of the United States, and can be a particularly difficult symptom to address due to the myriad of different issues that result in anxious symptoms. Although widely considered a mental issue, anxious symptoms are known to have roots outside of the brain. Hormonal conditions affect anxiety. Gastrointestinal issues affect anxiety. Autoimmune and chronic illnesses can affect anxiety. And not only is anxiety a multifaceted issue, affected by a variety of body systems, it also can be caused by a variety of different issues in the brain alone.
At Wholistic Medicine Specialists of Atlanta (Nova Clinic), we take a root cause approach to wellness. We don’t address your symptoms in a vacuum. We start by doing real testing, of both your brain and body, to determine the causes we’re actually dealing with, not just the symptoms.
With neurofeedback training, or NFB, the brain waves of the client are monitored to determine changes when performing different functions, like focusing or relaxing. This is also referred to as electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback. Sensors are attached to the client’s head to monitor brain activity. Anxiety can manifest through a lot of different signals in the brain, by monitoring how their brain waves react when they try to perform a given activity, we can help determine patterns that can help the client adjust and control how they can relax or focus their brain. With training, clients may be able to recognize and use techniques to control their brain activity, even without using the sensors.
More About Neurofeedback Training
Does this sound familiar …?
- You get home from work. It was a good day. You got a lot done. You’re tired as you come inside, and step on a misplaced toy. You feel your brain snap in half, and you’re fully yelling, before you even have a chance to catch your breath. “Why did I snap like that?” you think to yourself, “It wasn’t that big of a deal, why am I so upset?”
- You’re sitting on the couch, thinking about the chores you need to get done. You think about washing the dishes, but that reminds you that you haven’t started the laundry. You think about starting the laundry, but that reminds you how tired and hungry you are. You think about starting dinner, but that reminds you that you haven’t washed the dishes. You think about washing the dishes, but that reminds you that… Suddenly you realize two hours have gone by, and you’re still sitting on the couch.
- You go to bed late. You wake up tired. You go to bed early. You wake up tired. No matter how much sleep you get, you always wake up tired. You try to take a nap, but you wake up more tired than you were to start.
- Do you relate to any of these stories? Do you ever find yourself lamenting why you feel seemingly incapable of doing simple things, especially when you routinely do complicated things very well? Do you find yourself constantly struggling to feel rested, no matter how you shape your sleep schedule? Have you tried therapy and medications and still find yourself facing the same issues?
Today I want you to know that there’s another way. Medications and therapy can be crucial tools in someone’s health, but there are many different kinds. And their effectiveness depends on how accurately they are matched to the root cause of the issues. The last time you went to see a counselor or a psychiatrist, did they look at your brainwave activity? Did they look at your hormone levels or gut health? “No,” you’re probably thinking, “Why would they?”
Did you know? You have over 100 million neurons “brain cells” in your GI tract? These neurons are connected in what’s known as the Enteric Nervous System and it acts a lot like the Central Nervous System that you’re probably more familiar with. You probably know that mood and attention issues are controlled by your brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, but did you know that the majority of those neurotransmitters in your body are produced by the Enteric Nervous System and the effectiveness of that system depends on your gut health? So if I know there are attention and mood issues in the brain, I know we need to evaluate what’s going on in the gut, in order to really improve the issues.
Did you know? Behaviors like inattention, mood instability, memory issues, sleep dysfunction, and more are represented in the brain by specific brain wave patterns. We can assess which patterns are strong or weak in your brain by doing a brain map (also called Quantitative Electroencephalography or qEEG) This non invasive procedure involves putting a special cap on your head, placing electrogel in specific spots. No signal is sent into the brain, but this allows us to record your active brain wave patterns under 3 conditions: When your eyes are closed, when your eyes are open, and when you’re engaged in a brain region specific task, like reading, or listening. After we have collected this information, we can design an individualized brain training protocol specifically around the issues actually occurring in your brain.
Brain training comes in two parts in our clinic. Part one is a series of in-office neurofeedback sessions(the number determined on a case by case basis, but the average is 15) once or twice a week. Part two (which occurs simultaneously) is a take home device called Audio Visual Entrainment, which is to be used at home a minimum of four times a week.
In office Neurofeedback appointments involve you choosing a preferred feedback, either a show or movie to watch or music to listen to. Depending on what brain wave pattern we are training, your eyes may be open or closed. Based on your brain map, we set a goal to increase power to a desired pattern and/or to decrease power to an undesired pattern. When your brain approaches the set goal points, the sound will increase to normal volume, and the brightness (if a visual feedback is being used) will increase to normal. As your brain strays from the goals, the sound and/or brightness will decrease. This gives your brain a direct reference point everytime it achieves the desired patterns. This causes your brain to associate these patterns with the reward, which increases the frequency it falls into these patterns over time.
At home Audio Visual Entrainment sessions involve wearing a pair of headphones and special, opaque glasses, with LED lights on the inside of the lenses. You will close your eyes and adjust the sound and brightness to a comfortable level, it will not change throughout the session unless you change it again. The glasses flash the selected frequency, and the headphones use isochronal pulse tones to expose your brain to brain wave patterns selected based off of your brain map. Over time your brain begins to mimic these patterns on its own.
Using individualized neurological protocols in addition to individualized lifestyle medicine approaches allows us to address your issues directly, as opposed to treating you broadly based on just your diagnosis. We don’t want to guess. We want to know. So come in today so we can get started finding and addressing the root cause of your issues, instead of wasting time only suppressing symptoms.