We live in an exciting time for the development of medical and mental health treatments. Decades of effort and research are pointing us toward the ability to effectively treat most of the mental and physical disorders that come our way.
One treatment that’s recently become more popular is neurofeedback. It’s a relatively unknown treatment, but it can provide treatment for several mental health issues that might otherwise require medication.
We’re going to explore a little bit about neurofeedback, giving you some insight into what it is and the benefits that it could provide.
Let’s get started:
Neurofeedback is a treatment that’s probably unlike most you’ve ever heard of or had an experience with. As the name suggests, it allows your neurology to experience instant feedback, and the software used in treatments can be used to adjust your attitudes and perspectives.
We’ll dig into more of the details in a minute.
A good way to think about neurofeedback is as an extension of biofeedback. Biofeedback, if you weren’t aware, is the process of getting real-time information about your body as it’s being used. Many athletes and people going through physical therapy might have had experience with biofeedback.
A common example that has spread through social media is a simple breathing exercise that uses biofeedback. Essentially, an image on the screen tells you to breathe in as a shape expands, and breath out as it retracts.
Doing this helps you slow your breathing down effectively.
How It Works
There are several different kinds of neurofeedback, but most of them work with the help of machines that read your brainwaves. That means having a few nodes placed in key areas on your head which read your brain activity as you work with the material on a screen.
Our brainwaves can tell us a lot about our issues with focus, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more.
When treatment begins, practitioners make a sort of brain map based on the distribution of the frequencies in your brain. If the waves pan out in a way that’s suboptimal or reflects an issue that you’re having, neurofeedback is used to train your waves to rest at healthier frequencies.
If this is still sounding a little foreign, consider the idea that you have four distinct kinds of brain frequencies. You have alpha waves, beta waves, delta waves, and theta waves.
Alpha waves dominate when you’re in quiet reflection, relaxing, or doing light physical activity that you enjoy. Beta waves come when you’re alert and thinking calmly. These occur when you’re reading a riveting book in a comfortable chair, for example.
Delta waves occur when you’re in a deep, dreamless sleep. Theta waves occur when you’re churning up subconscious memories or thoughts. This commonly happens when you’re repeating a task over and over and the mind disengages from what you’re doing.
A good example of this is when you’re in a daydream as you drive to work, only to arrive and not remember the entire ride.
What These Waves Tell Us
Now, none of the waves above sound particularly negative. Naturally, there are relationships between brain waves and negative emotions as well, but the key idea is that these waves should be present at the appropriate times.
When our minds produce intense, alert brainwaves at a time when we’re trying to relax, this can create an imbalance in our psyche. Whether an imbalance in brainwaves reflects a psychological issue or nudges it closer to the surface isn’t exactly clear, but the relationship is there.
Working with neurofeedback is a way to hack that relationship and generate the appropriate brainwaves at the right times. Further, we’re seeing the waves in real-time and using technology to guide our minds toward the waves that we wish to experience.
In this way, we train our minds to resort to the preferred wave. After a while, the process sinks in and the imbalance could be greatly benefited or fixed altogether.
The Psychological Benefits
There is still a lot of research to be done on the benefits of neurofeedback. That said, there’s already enough evidence to suggest that it is effective in treating, and complementing the treatment of mental health disorders.
There’s a belief that a person can better engage with talk therapy when their brainwaves are functioning appropriately. In other words, people are more receptive to treatment when they’re not disturbed by imbalanced brain frequencies.
There’s also some evidence to suggest that neurofeedback can help you with general brain function, not just mental and emotional issues. The balancing of frequencies is that to generate more gray matter, improve your ability to remember, help you sleep, and more.
Another Way to Think About Treatment
If the descriptions above still aren’t making total sense to you, maybe an analogy can help.
Think about times when you lie down to sleep and your ears are ringing. Maybe you have tinnitus, or maybe you just experience some ringing from time to time. Now imagine that you’ve had the ringing for a few years straight, and the best thing your brain knew to do was to prevent you from experiencing that noise.
So, we can imagine that the ringing is subdued deep down in your brain, but you’ve become desensitized to it. On some level, though, it’s still there and it affects the way your brain works emotionally and intellectually. It’s like a dog barking off in the distance that you try to ignore.
Those ringing sounds can be likened to imbalances in your brain waves. While you might not be conscious of them, they’re playing a part.
Neurofeedback is just a way to wrangle those frequencies and get them in line so that your brain can do its best work.
In Search of Health and Wellness?
Hopefully, our exploration of neurofeedback has helped you understand what the treatment is and how it could potentially help you. There’s a lot more to learn on the path to wellness, though, and we’re here to help.
Explore our site for more information and insight into ways that you can try and improve your health.