Neurofeedback and Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal and common response to stress, e.g. giving a presentation at work or school. However, anxiety can get out of control when worrying becomes more consistent, out of proportion, and less controllable. When anxiety interferes with everyday life, it can be a sign of a more serious condition such as Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. These learned anxious patterns can be difficult to break, but Neurofeedback can help train the brain to form new patterns and reduce or eliminate anxiety and return to a more normal alert state.
Anxious alertness comes from high beta frequencies, or brain wave activity that is over 18 Hz. While high beta is active during problem solving, high excitement, anxiety and agitation, these waves use an incredible amount of energy. When the brain gets stuck in a pattern of anxiety, it is working on overdrive. With the help of Neurofeedback, you can train your brain to reduce the amount of high beta activity and increase the amount of alpha and theta activity. Alpha frequencies are associated with the ability to remain peaceful and relaxed while alert and are the dominant brain waves seen in a normal, relaxed adult.
Anxiety can also be due to excess slow wave activity in the frontal lobe. Excess slow waves create a foggy feeling and/or poor judgement and indecision, which in turn create anxiety. When experiencing anxiety, high beta frequencies are often the main culprit in the brain. What we often see in the anxious brain is more beta activity on the right than the left side of the brain and more beta with low alpha activity in the back of the brain.
Articles and Research
Kerson, C., Sherman, R. A., & Kozlowski, G. P. (2009). Alpha Suppression and Symmetry Training for Generalized Anxiety Symptoms. Journal of Neurotherapy, 13(3), 146-155. doi:10.1080/10874200903107405
Scheinost, D., Stoica, T., Saksa, J., Papademetris, X., Constable, R. T., Pittenger, C., & Hampson, M. (2013). Orbitofrontal cortex neurofeedback produces lasting changes in contamination anxiety and resting-state connectivity. Translational Psychiatry, 3(4). doi:10.1038/tp.2013.24
Zilverstand, A., Sorger, B., Sarkheil, P., & Goebel, R. (2015). FMRI neurofeedback facilitates anxiety regulation in females with spider phobia. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00148