Does this sound familiar? Do you feel uneasy more frequently than others seem to be? Do you constantly think about the same concerns over and over (also called looping)? Does your anxiety dictate your moods?
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry, according to the American Psychological Association.
Well, this is certainly my ‘thorn in the flesh!’ When I was growing up I didn’t call it anxiety, I called it worry. It would be the first thing to rush into my mind in the morning and the last thing to think/obsess about before I fell asleep. Then I met someone who had it much worse than me, my husband Russ. You’d never know it when meeting him. When it comes to his anxiety he seems cool as a cucumber or like a peaceful duck floating on water but underneath, that sweet little duck’s feet are moving feverishly! When most people wake up, their level of anxiety is between 2-4 (10 being the highest). Russ used to wake up between 7-9 even BEFORE the first thoughts rushed into his mind. Mine for sake of comparison was between 5-7. He had a very intense upbringing with a violent alcoholic father. So you can imagine the intentionality it has taken for Russ not to allow his anxiety to bleed out onto others. What he didn’t realize was that it was affecting others. He’s been on a lifelong journey to deal with the anxiety. From an unhealthy perspective, he has used food to calm his nerves and from a healthy perspective he has leaned on his faith, counseling and physical exercise. While these healthy avenues have helped a great deal especially at a conscious level, it wasn’t until we accidentally learned about EEG that Russ made huge strides with his anxiety at the subconscious level.
It was when I was working on some blended family issues with a counselor, Dr. ‘Major’ Boglin, who knew our family well, recommended another form of treatment. Little did I know he was about to help change our anxiety mindset. And it was even more profound than counseling/talk therapy. This treatment is called EEG. www.eeginfo.com
What is EEG?
Electro – encephalo – gram = Electrical Brain Activity
EEG Biofeedback is also called Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation, which allows the central nervous system to function better.
Addresses problems of brain disregulation:
Anxiety – calmer, reduced levels of anxiety
ADD – focused
Grief and Trauma
Peak Performance (focus, attention, & organization) – something can trigger you and derail from performing, mental coach, focused and attentive, be present, learn to relax, ability to teach to learn, release emotional issues, be present with your abilities
Neurofeedback also addresses organic brain conditions such as seizures, the autism spectrum (helps read non-verbal cues), and cerebral palsy
Electrodes are applied to the scalp to listen in on brainwave activity. They process the signal by computer, and extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. They show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies they wish to promote. Others they diminish. This information is presented to the person in the form of a video game or TV show. The person is effectively playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies targeted, and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen in on the brain, are specific to the conditions they try to address, and specific to the individual.
Electrodes measure the brainwaves – nothing goes into the brain, non-invasive
There is initial talk therapy to determine desired outcomes. Moving forward there is minimal ‘talk therapy’ other than symptomatic.
Watch monitor – train the brain – reward frequency – learns to behave better
Watch a video game – feedback process, show you what you’re brain is doing. proceeds when you’re calm and does not proceed when you’re not calm. You are rewarded when the rocket ship moves in a forwarding direction
So if you’ve made it down this far into the blog you may be thinking this is a bit out there. Why have I never heard about this? I thought the same thing and it took me months of researching it before I was comfortable enough to try it. Russ was kind enough to let me be the guinea pig. So thoughtful! So I scheduled my first appointment with great anticipation. Finally, I’m going to conquer this anxiety! The first appointment was a bit long. You are first tested with a QIK test, which is a continuous performance test (CPT) used for tracking performance during Neurofeedback training in order to establish a baseline.
And then there is the rocket. Oh, how I despised the rocket. After the electrodes were applied to my scalp, I was facing a television and I was supposed to move a rocket, which looked like a video game, for the next 30+ minutes. It was soooo frustrating! The harder I tried to move the stupid rocket via thinking the slower it went?! I was exhausted after the first session and I was in bed by 7:30 pm and woke up the next day at 7:30 am. Whew! Thankfully moving forward, no pun intended, we moved off the rocket and did puzzles for a while and then eventually graduated to tv shows. Yes, you can train your brain by simply watching any tv show or movie. Now here is the hard part. If you’re serious about changing your faulty neural pathways you’ll need to commit to doing 40 sessions, going twice a week. This allows Major to measure the results and adjust, if necessary. He trains at least twice per week in the beginning in order to help the client maintain the results from session to session and help accelerate the learning process. I saw benefits within 20 sessions and almost stopped but if you want to secure the ‘rewiring’ as I call it you need to complete all 40 sessions. For Russ, he didn’t see any improvement until session 34. You can imagine how anxious it made him wondering if this was all a waste of time and money.
Russ and I have both done 40 sessions 2 years ago and have experienced significant improvements. Now EEG won’t completely protect you from life’s anxious moments but it will allow you to pass through them with better ease. For us, the impact can be seen as a 40lb weight loss for Russ and maintaining high emotional intelligence in a hectic corporate job. Russ constantly says it has changed his life. An unexpected result for me was experiencing joy I didn’t realize had been waning. Unfortunately, with the loss of my mother last summer and the loss of a significant friendship, I struggled deeply, as you would expect. Russ would tell you otherwise. He expected me to curl up in bed for months on end. Instead, I have been extremely active with Crossfit (exercise regimen) and 3 other projects I’m committed to launching this year. Perhaps the EEG helped me stay productive and not fall deeply into anxiety/depression, which is my natural go-to place. I’ve struggled emotionally but I have been surprised at my level of being able to ‘stay in the game.’
There are certainly different approaches to managing anxiety like prescriptions, alcohol, meditation, talk therapy but EEG by far is my favorite…no body altering substances, no talk therapy, and no conscious effort to change my mindset. So if you’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, sleeping issues, we highly recommend EEG. If you’d like to personally discuss this approach please feel free to privately contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call the North Georgia Family Counseling Center to schedule a free consultation with Emily Whaley at 404.447.8112.
How do you handle your anxiety? Meditation? Friends? Wine? Counseling? Comment below.