Anxiety is a word used commonly to describe fear, worry, or apprehension. Anxiety is a typical, normal response to traumatic experiences, dangerous encounters, or frightening situations. Anxiety can reach the threshold of becoming a disorder when worry, fear, and apprehension are occurring 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 are interfering 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 a wide variety of ways, which is why many different mental health diagnoses involve anxiety. Examples of disorders and phobias that involve anxiety include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and phobia such as social phobias, fear of heights, spiders, or flying.
Anxiety’s effect on the brain and body.
The body goes into a heightened state 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, slows digestion, and prepares 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 better understand how the patient’s brain currently functions. Through the process of neurofeedback, training is tailored to the patient’s individual 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 that are developed during training will be used on a daily basis outside of the training, which means that once the training has taken place the brain is able to 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!
We offer a free evaluation during which 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 contact us online or call (732) 249-9800 to speak with a staff member.