Every morning, millions of people in the United States alone, wake to yet another day filled with fearful thoughts and feelings, shrinking further and further away from the things they used to enjoy in life, clinging desperately to the security of their own home and environment.
Clinically, there are several differences between anxiety and panic disorder, even though the two are commonly used to describe the same thing. Basically, “panic attacks” usually manifest themselves very suddenly, whereas anxiety typically builds slowly, over a few minutes or even hours.
Millions of people have experienced significant relief from both panic disorder and anxiety with pharmaceutical intervention, using medications like Valium and Ativan. Unfortunately, these drugs only treat the symptoms of these conditions. Most people experience a rapid return of their panic disorder or anxiety as soon as they stop taking them.
Recently, however, much success has been reported with neurofeedback therapy for panic disorder and anxiety. In fact, eight out of every ten people who received the treatment reported that within thirty to forty sessions they were finally 100% free from symptoms that had plagued them for years.
It should be noted here that drugs like Valium and Ativan (benzodiazepams) can interfere with successful neurofeedback training. If you are currently taking one of these, and plan to begin neurofeedback therapy, please let both your therapist and the prescribing physician know, so they can work together to switch you to another medication.
How Does Neurofeedback Bring Relief from Panic Disorder and Anxiety?
Neurofeedback is a method of training the brain to function differently. Disorders that are caused by, or aggravated by stress, are the ones that usually respond most favorably to neurofeedback treatment.
Some therapists will recommend beginning and ending the treatment with a Quantitative EEG (QEEG) or “Brain Mapping” procedure to see how your brain is functioning. While a QEEG can be helpful, conditions such as panic disorder and anxiety can be successfully treated without one.
The neurofeedback sessions themselves are noninvasive, comfortable, and considered by many patients to be quite relaxing. During the sessions, your therapist will attach very thin leads that transmit electrical energy from your brain into an EEG device. A special gel is used to comfortably hold the leads in place. You will then use brain waves to alter what is happening via visual feedback on a computer screen. You may use your brain waves to play a “Pac-Man” game, for example, or to play a DVD. Your brain perceives these activities as a reward, and with this positive reinforcement, will increasingly choose to use the desired waves, so that eventually the changes in brain function may become permanent. And you could soon be enjoying life to the fullest once again.
Many different definitions of “cure” exist, depending on the organization or association commenting. Some will even refute that a “cure” is possible. But when patients remain symptom free for months, even years, this is a solid example of a cure.