Neurofeedback Therapy: Brain Training for Depression, Anxiety, and ADHD
The concept of neuroplasticity teaches us that our brains are capable of changing at any point in our lives. Brain training, which includes neurofeedback therapy (NT), has been explored since the late 1950s with the goal of teaching the brain to self-regulate after creating new neural pathways.
Developing New Neural Pathways
Imagine a pebble on top of a hill. It rolls down the same path for years making a groove. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to make it go down a new path knowing that gravity guides the pebble down the groove?
Creating a new neural pathway requires a conscious effort of grabbing that pebble and guiding it down a new path until the pebble rolls there on its own.
Conditioning Your Brain
NT is a type of brain training that uses electroencephalography (EEG) to first map, then monitor your brainwaves as you receive audio and visual stimuli. When the desired brain waves are detected, you receive positive stimuli in the form of audio and visual rewards. Some NT practitioners use other types of imaging, like functioning magnetic resistance imaging (fMRI) in addition to, or instead of, EEG. EEG is more widely used. Not everyone has a million bucks to invest in an MRI machine.
The specifics on how NT can help treat depression, anxiety, and ADHD get complicated, but here's a good example:
People with ADHD typically have a poor theta and beta ratio. The goal would be to condition the brain to have an ideal ratio. Your brain would learn to self-regulate and have fewer symptoms of ADHD left to manage. Same goes for anxiety and depression. Pretty cool, right?
If you live in a big city, you can find an NT practitioner nearby. Also, if your therapist holds a biofeedback and neurofeedback certification, he or she can start your NT in his or her own office.
NT is a medication-free way to manage symptoms. It allows patients to take an active role in treating themselves rather than placing the responsibility on medication alone.
There are potential side effects, which include all of the symptoms you’re trying to treat; it’s pricey; isn’t typically covered by insurance; and some debate still remains about its efficacy.
Do your research on the clinics you’re considering and consult a doctor or a therapist before you start NT. Who knows? With some consistency and an electrode skull cap, you could have a higher quality of life to help you thrive!