Anxiety is a word commonly used to describe fear, worry, or apprehension. Anxiety is a normal response to traumatic experiences, dangerous encounters, or frightening situations. Anxiety can reach the threshold of becoming a disorder when worry, fear, and apprehension occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life. If anxiety is something you experience on a regular basis, it may be time to seek help.
What are the symptoms of anxiety disorder?
When anxious feelings and thoughts interfere with daily life, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can affect personal and professional relationships, work, sleep, and relaxation. Symptoms of anxiety disorder may include:
- Excessive worry
- Feelings of dread or impending doom
- Fear on a regular basis
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
Individuals experience anxiety in various ways, which is why many mental health diagnoses involve anxiety. Examples of anxiety disorders and phobias include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and phobias such as social phobias, fear of heights, spiders, or flying.
Anxiety’s effect on the brain and body.
The body becomes heightened when you begin to feel anxious or fearful. This reaction is the brain’s cue to get ready for a fight or flight situation. The brain boosts norepinephrine and cortisol hormones to increase perception, speeds up the heart and breathing, slow digestion, and prepare to react to changes in the environment. Once the situation passes, the parasympathetic nervous system should take over so the body begins to rest and recover, but those with an anxiety disorder may find it very difficult to calm down.
Research on the brain’s response to anxiety disorder.
Brain research has shown that persistent distress and severe anxiety can be toxic to brain cells and can alter brain physiology. Brain scans show that the area of the brain that processes fear (the amygdala) grows in size while the hippocampus shrinks. This change harms long-term memory. Dr. Sapolsky, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, has extensively studied the effects of chronic stress on physical and mental health. Dr. Sapolsky’s studies confirm that diabetes, hypertension, digestive disorders, and insomnia are just a few of the negative effects anxiety and stress can have on the body.
Neurofeedback can reduce anxiety and its effects.
Neurofeedback training is painless and drug-free training that helps the brain build new, efficient neuropathways. These neuropathways allow for better brain balance, clearer thinking, and improved focus. Training is an individualized process that begins with a brain map to understand better how the patient’s brain functions. Through neurofeedback, training is tailored to the patient’s needs to balance the brain and improve neural function.
Training sessions are usually about 30 minutes and involve relaxing and watching a video while brainwaves are painlessly monitored. Brainwave information is reviewed in real time, and the information gathered allows us to change the audio and visual aspects of the video the patient is watching. These changes alter the way the brain reacts, exercising the brain in new ways and developing new neural pathways.
The neural pathways developed during training will be used daily outside of the training, which means that once the training has taken place, the brain can continue utilizing the benefits of the training. Results often first begin as better sleep and progress to clearer thinking, more focus, less worry, and improved daily life. Because the neuropathways continue to be used daily, neurofeedback training has long-term results!
We are ready to help reduce your anxiety!
Schedule an appointment so we can discuss your situation and neurofeedback training. Together, we can decide if neurofeedback is right for you. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please get in touch with us online or call (732) 249-9800 to speak with a staff member.