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How does Neurofeedback work to treat Anxiety?

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Excess anxiety and anxiety-type disorders make up one of the most common mental health problems in our society, a form of malaise that affects people of all walks of life regardless of their age or social status and economic.

The fact that the anxiety-related psychopathology They are so widespread today and there are more and more people who suffer from them, especially young people and adolescents, has increased the demand for effective treatments for anxiety. Fortunately, in recent decades, particularly effective forms of psychological intervention have been consolidated to combat them, such as For example, neurofeedback, used regularly in the face of disorders such as generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or phobias.

In today's article We will see what neurofeedback is and how this type of intervention works to treat cases of anxiety effectively.

What is neurofeedback?

With the advancement of neuroscience, psychology and health professionals in general have managed to better understand the neurological processes on which anxiety is based; that is, the activation patterns of certain networks and neurons distributed throughout the nervous system, especially in the brain.

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By knowing these brain processes and functions in people affected by anxiety, we can identify its physical and biological origin and discover what areas of the brain They function dysfunctionally.

In this regard, one of the most used therapies to achieve this is neurofeedback, a non-invasive brain training technique based on feedback from brain activity from each person.

Neurofeedback allows psychology and psychiatry professionals to know the neural patterns of people with anxiety through the use of neuroimaging technologies in real time, and the subsequent evaluation of brain activity and said patterns by means of a monitor.

These brain patterns are captured through sensors that are placed on the scalp of the person and in the earlobe, which works as a baseline reference level for the study of activity cerebral. The procedure is painless and does not involve piercing the skin.

Once these neurological dynamics are known, the professional offers feedback to the patient about which areas of your brain have increased neural activity or have developed unusual activity and dysfunctional, which generates anxiety in the body.

The main goal of neurofeedback is to teach the person what dysfunctional dynamics in their brain need to change and to help them launch new functional and anxiety-free brain patterns, through the training of various techniques of relaxation.

This is achieved by activating a certain signal when the person treated achieves normal levels of brain activity, always observing the patient's brain activity through the monitor associated with neuroimaging software.

This normal level of brain activity is achieved by reducing dysfunctional neuronal waves and patterns and enhancing those waves associated with states of calm and relaxation.

  • You may be interested in: "What is psychotherapy?"

Neurofeedback as a treatment for anxiety

He neurofeedback has been recognized for several decades as one of the most used therapeutic strategies by professionals to help treat the symptoms or cases of anxiety, of the magnitude and severity that these could be.

Thanks to scientific research through the neurosciences, therapists have known for years that people with anxiety They present brain overactivation, specifically of fast beta waves, which are those related to states of restlessness, alertness or fear.

Secondly, looking at the EEG results, we can see that anxiety is also related to reduced functionality in two very specific brain areas: the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate.

In addition to that, the cognitive functions that are often affected due to anxiety or the symptoms associated with it are the development of attentional tasks, that is, in attention, in problem management, in memory and in the resting state of networks neural.

But the important thing about neurofeedback is the way in which it allows the patient to learn in real time about what they are feeding or, on the contrary, helps to mitigate anxiety. For example, certain breathing patterns, a certain way of evoking memories, etc. It offers a context of self-training in emotional management based on the constant evaluation of your results second by second.

For all these reasons, neurofeedback It is used in cases of anxiety to enhance the activity of alpha brain waves or relaxation, and also theta waves, which are those that correlate with less anxiety symptoms in people.

The practice of neurofeedback has shown that people with anxiety problems, as well as insomnia, restlessness, excessive activation, Stress, lack of concentration or problems at work improved their quality of life and decreased these symptoms thanks to the neurofeedback.

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