Protests and police violence-related anxiety are as much public health crisis as they are a civic and social one; social upheaval can have a negative impact on the mental health of communities and individuals. It can be difficult not to feel anxious about forces that are beyond our control. We were all looking forward to putting the year 2020 behind us. However, the pain and tumult caused by all too-common incidents of police brutality and insidious effects of systemic racism lingers. The recent invasion of the Capitol reminded us that violence and injustice remain a part of American life.
A recent study analyzed the mental health of young men in New York City in relation to their contact with police during stop and frisk procedures. Besides detailing the anxiety and even instances of PTSD that these young men experienced, this study proved that “police–community relations and local public health are inextricably linked.” This study also suggested that even urban residents who obeyed the law and had low levels of contact with law enforcement were at risk for adverse mental health. (1)
Other studies continue to assert that racial profiling is a serious public health issue.(2)
While violence and racism are difficult for many of us to understand, witnessing instances of police brutality and violence against peaceful demonstrators can be especially traumatic for children. For adults and children with underlying anxiety disorders, these events can be painful triggers.
NeuroZone understands that managing individual stress and anxiety allows us to have important conversations and become involved in communities of change. Neurofeedback Training is a way to handle current stressors, and teach the brain how to accept and process future states of anxiety without the devastating symptoms that can often accompany it. Once brain waves learn healthier responses to anxiety, as a result of the neurofeedback training, you will have a lifelong gift that can help you make a difference in your life, and in the lives of others. Take charge of your anxiety and contact NeuroZone for a free consultation today.
Anxiety presents in a variety of ways with a variety of different symptoms. Luckily, today’s advanced brain imaging technologies make it possible to tailor neurofeedback therapy protocols to successfully treat a wide variety of symptoms related to anxiety. Neurofeedback therapy will retrain your brain to respond to stressors with calmer brain activity, instead of fear and panic.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at one time or another, usually as a response to stress. Today’s social unrest, wide-ranging distrust and the global pandemic aren’t helping any of us. These are anxious times. However, you may find that you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of anxiety that are debilitating and uncontrollable. This may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – GAD sees anxiety creeping into all areas of a person’s life, and can have physical effects. GAD may also accompany other disorders such as depression. People with GAD worry about even small problems and feel they have limited control of their lives and feelings.
- Panic Disorder – This disorder involves panic attacks. Panic attacks are intense feelings of fear and anxiety that occur suddenly. People with Panic Disorder often avoid settings or situations in which the attacks have occurred. Panic attacks frequently include shortness of breath (hyperventilation), intense fear, and pounding heart palpitations. These symptoms can be debilitating and dangerous in situations like demonstrations and crowds.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – People with social phobia will avoid social settings in which they feel self-conscious and where they may be judged negatively. The coronavirus pandemic has made social interactions even more difficult, and even brief contact with others excruciating for those with Social Anxiety Disorder.
People can develop anxiety disorders at any point in their lives, such as in childhood, and continue to experience them well into adulthood.
Anxiety disorders can show up in different ways in each person’s life. Many other phobias and disorders are derived from anxiety. Anxiety is present in obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Whether or not you have been diagnosed with one of these forms of anxiety, neurofeedback treatment can help.
How Anxiety Works in the Brain
Our anxiety response may be triggered by external events, but it starts deep inside our brain. The emotional processing centers reside deep in the brain in the limbic system. This system of structures, found deep inside the cortex, is considered to be the most primitive system in the brain. Its structures are responsible for emotional responses, memories about past experiences, motivations for actions, and processing of all the sensory information we receive from our environment.
The Limbic System and Anxiety
- The limbic system influences our endocrine system, which is involved in such functions as hormone secretions, and the autonomic nervous system. This is why we may experience physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, and/or sweating palms, when we experience anxiety and stress.
- The prefrontal cortex is the rational part of the brain, and has the power to control and manage the signals coming from the limbic system. For example, when the limbic system provides a signal to produce fear-like symptoms, the prefrontal cortex can control this response to decrease or eliminate these symptoms and control the anxiety.
- If this control does not occur, the resulting behavior manifests as anxiety. Anxiety disorders include hyperactivity of the limbic system, and the inability of the prefrontal cortex to moderate the limbic response to stimuli.
Neurofeedback therapy is a method of brain-training that has been proven to successfully treat anxiety. Anxiety manifests in a variety of different ways. It occurs in both children and adults and it may be transient, chronic, or may simply show up as stress. All of these symptoms can be successfully treated and eliminated with neurofeedback therapy.
There are many different types of treatments for anxiety. These include traditional therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. However, neurofeedback provides a safer and more natural alternative to taking medication.
After all, medications affect the entire brain, not just the areas that require treatment. This can lead to feelings of brain fog and lethargy, as well as cognitive slowing in areas that do not require treatment. This poses a struggle to adults, but can have serious consequences for children. Neurofeedback offers highly localized treatment that specifically targets an area of the brain.
Neurofeedback training for anxiety can help clients focus better at work or school, have healthier, more fulfilling sleep, and feel more in-control of their day. Neurofeedback can also be used in conjunction with other methods of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. It’s ideal for those who want an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments. If you or your child are experiencing anxiety, or would like to learn more, NeuroZone is happy to answer your questions. Call (310) 821-3640 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
During your complimentary consultation in our Playa Vista office, you’ll meet with a highly experienced provider. This meeting is your opportunity to share your concerns and have your questions about Neurofeedback answered. The provider working with you will learn more about your anxiety, and discuss the ideal course of treatment protocol for you.
When the client comes in for neurofeedback therapy, they will first have their brain activity assessed with a qEEG (quantitative electroencephalography exam). This brain imaging exam will identify the neural activity responsible for the client’s anxiety response. Once these areas are identified, the client can begin their neurofeedback training program. This individualized program is known as a neurofeedback protocol.
All neurofeedback protocols are based on either reinforcing or inhibiting certain brainwave components at different locations on the scalp which correspond to brain locations.
During a neurofeedback session, electrodes are placed on the scalp and the earlobes. Brain activity is recorded and real time information is provided to the brain relating to brain activity. During this process, the client’s brain’s activity is compared to the desired goal determined during the qEEG, every half second. When the goal is met, there is a reward in the form of positive reinforcement. When the goal is not met, there is a form of negative reinforcement. The positive or negative reinforcement is presented as auditory, visual, or tactile feedback to the client. The therapy is based on reinforcing or inhibiting certain elements of brain wave functions. This learning is guided by immediate feedback and produces lasting physiological changes in the brain. In 20 sessions of neurofeedback the brain has approximately 72,000 chances to learn a newly desired pattern of operating. A neurofeedback therapy session can be completed within 30-45 minutes.
Neurofeedback is the safest, most non-invasive solution for people of all ages who are struggling with stress and anxiety disorders. Some of the main areas specifically addressed with neurofeedback are: regulation, achieving flexible and appropriate brain states, normalizing the brain’s natural connectivity, and addressing overall functionality – not just symptoms. Don’t let anxiety rule your life. Erin D. Badour, MS has years of extensive medical and clinical experience. Read reviews by patients that she’s helped achieve new levels of behavioral and mental wellness here. You can also learn more about neurofeedback training and treatment for anxiety on her blog.
How many sessions does Neurofeedback Therapy take?
Neurofeedback training varies tremendously from one individual to the next depending on several factors such as age of the client, type and severity of condition(s) being treated, and compliance of the client. The standard in the field of neurofeedback is approximately 20-50 sessions.
Are there any side-effects from Neurofeedback Therapy?
Unlike many of the medications being used, Neurofeedback does not have any toxic or psychological side effects. Occasionally, clients may feel tired after a neurofeedback session. Neurofeedback may also cause headaches and sleep disturbances. However, many of these symptoms disappear within a short time after the training session.
What is a good age to start Neurofeedback Therapy?
Shaping and training neural networks linked to emotional regulation, especially at a young age, can have long-term benefits for future mental health. Neurofeedback training can be used on children as young as 2 years and adults into their 90s. Young children must be able to sit relatively still, and have the attention span to attend to either auditory or visual stimuli, in order for the feedback to work. In addition, they must be able to tolerate having small leads placed on their heads and clipped to their ears. They may have anywhere from one single lead to up to four or five leads in different locations on the scalp.
- Geller A, Fagan J, Tyler T, Link BG. Aggressive policing and the mental health of young urban men. Am J Public Health. 2014;104(12):2321-2327. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302046
- Laurencin CT, Walker JM. Racial Profiling Is a Public Health and Health Disparities Issue. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2020;7(3):393-397. doi:10.1007/s40615-020-00738-2