Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders to afflict Americans; 18% of adults are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder every year, and Americans have a 29% lifetime risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Research shows that women are 60% more likely than men to suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime (Kessler et al., 2005). Fear and anxiety are completely normal and healthy parts of one’s life. It is natural to be afraid when standing on the edge of a cliff or to be worried about an upcoming performance. When these feelings of fear and anxiety begin to interfere with daily activities like school, work, or personal relationships they could be a sign of an anxiety disorder. The DSM-5 (http://www.dsm5.org/about/pages/default.aspx) includes many different diagnoses under anxiety disorders including; Separation Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Each of these conditions may be quite different; however, they all share an integral relationship with feelings of fear and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are most commonly treated with anxiolytic medications (such as Xanax or Valium) or some antidepressants (like Zoloft or Prozac), usually in conjunction with psychotherapy. Neurofeedback may be helpful in managing anxiety alongside traditional psychotherapy, and medication.
Research on Neurofeedback and Anxiety
A review by Hammond (2005) looked at a large body of research on neurofeedback and anxiety (and anxiety related conditions). The review considered eight studies on Generalized Anxiety, three studies on phobic anxiety, two studies on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, two studies on anxiety and alcoholism, and one study on performance anxiety in high talent level musicians. Many of these studies used very short total training (avg. 3.2 hours per subject), much shorter than is generally recommended by clinicians, and yet still found clinically significant benefits. It is likely that these benefits would be much larger using treatment time of 20-60 sessions which is much more common in practice today.
Hammond gives neurofeedback a broad distinction of “possibly efficacious”; meaning that there is empirical evidence of the efficacy of neurofeedback, but some of the studies lack randomly assigned controls. In many of these studies neurofeedback showed clinically significant improvement over different types of control groups (untreated, placebo, and relaxation training). Further work using more modern training was able to show improvements in: PTSD symptoms following neurofeedback training (Othmer and Othmer, 2009), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Sürmeli and Ertem, 2010), and State, in this case performance anxiety (Gruzelier et al., 2014).
Increased Beta In qEEG
The above image shows beta increases in a QEEG map which has been one of the subtypes correlated with anxiety (Gurnee, 2003; Walker, 2009).
Live sLORETA Beta Increase
The above image shows increased beta in the frontal and central regions of the brain. The red is excessed activity while green is normal activity.
Neurofeedback may be able to help lessen symptoms, and help you to better manage your anxiety.
Please contact the Brain Enrichment Center at 440-232-9100 to schedule an individual consultation to see if neurofeedback may be a good choice for your specific situation. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click for references:
Kessler RC, Chiu W, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of 12-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(6):617-627. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.617.
Hammond, DC. Neurofeedback with anxiety and affective disorders. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics. 2005;14(1):105-123. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2004.07.008
Othmer S and Othmer SF. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—The Neurofeedback Remedy. Biofeedback. 2009;37(1):24-31. doi:10.5298/1081-5937-37.1.24
Sürmeli T, Ertrm M. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the Efficacy of qEEG-Guided Neurofeedback Treatment: A Clinical Case Series. Clin EEG Neurosci. 2011;42(3):195-201. doi:10.1177/155005941104200310
Gruzelier JH, Thompson T, Redding E, Brandt R, Steffert T. Application of alpha/theta neurofeedback and heart rate variability training to young contemporary dancers: State anxiety and creativity. International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2014;93(1):105-111. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2013.05.004
Gurnee, R. (2003). QEEG subtypes of anxiety. Abstract. International Society for Neurofeedback and Research. Annual Meeting
Walker, J. E. (2009). Anxiety Associated With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-The Role of Quantitative Electro-encephalograph in Diagnosis and in Guiding Neurofeedback Training to Remediate the Anxiety. Biofeedback,37(2), 67-70.