Phobia and Neurofeedback

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anxiety manifests in a variety of different disorders, including phobia, defined as unreasonable yet overwhelming fear of something. Typically, the trigger for someone who experiences phobia should pose very little or no threat to a person. However, phobia causes serious physical and emotional reactions of distress. Naturally, some fears are not uncommon in a person’s life, however if particular fears suddenly begin interfering with a person’s day-to-day life, treatment is required to reduce and/or eliminate the trigger.

Phobias are distinguished with three main categories:

Agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces, is a type of phobia that occurs when a person fears being in spaces that provoke feelings of being trapped or helpless. Previous panic attacks regarding these situations cause the phobia. People with agoraphobia can have anticipatory fear of a situation where they have no escape, a feeling experienced during previous panic attacks. Agoraphobia makes it difficult for sufferers to feel safe in any given place, which can deter people from engaging in any social situations, and, worst case, leaving their home at all.

Social phobia involves excessive self-consciousness while interacting with others and fear of humiliation. People affected by social phobia may come off as very shy, however the phobia is much deeper. Those with social phobia are consumed by fears about being rejected, heavily judged, or causing offense to others.

Specific phobias involve a specific thing or situation to which a person feels irrational levels of fear despite the low risk of actual threat. There are many different specific phobias ranging everything from fear of enclosed spaces to fearing particular animals to fearing loud noises. Additionally, it is not terribly unusual for a person suffering with phobia to fear more than one trigger.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Symptoms of phobia include uncontrollable feelings of panic and fear when exposed to the trigger. The body will have physiological reactions to these triggers as well as psychological reactions, leading to symptoms like sweating, racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and more. This eventually leads to withdrawal from every day life. Children who experience phobia are prone to tantrums and clinging to parental figures.

Neurofeedback has the ability to train the brain to react calmly to phobia triggers in order to live a healthy and normal life. Safe for children and adults, the initial brain map locates where in the brain the disruption exists, and neurofeedback sessions help to correct the person’s brainwaves to decrease the frequency and duration of panic episodes. To learn more about how neurofeedback can help eliminate the fear, please call our office to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Jolene Ross. (781)444-9115

5 Methods of Overcoming Social Phobia

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For those living with social phobia, feeling extremely self-conscious in social situations occurs in almost any social interaction, leaving the person feeling uncomfortable and more likely to avoid any social situation at all costs. This behavior may seem like shyness to others, however these experiences actually induce feelings of panic for the sufferer. Social anxiety bars people from being able to enjoy life and mentally forces a person into a reclusive lifestyle. However, that is the opposite of what a person needs for happy and healthy functioning. Social interaction is necessary for human beings to thrive. Overcoming social anxiety takes time and practice along with various treatment methods. Here are five methods for overcoming social phobia.

1. Force yourself to go participate in social situations. Although this is probably the last advice a person with social phobia wants to hear, the only way to normalize social interactions is to keep engaging in them. The more a person avoids what they are afraid of, the more programmed the brain becomes to fear it. Actively placing yourself in social situations will help eliminate some of the fear just from the experiences alone.

2. Ask the people around you questions about themselves. Often times, people become anxious in social situations because they may fear the seemingly inevitable awkward silences that could occur, fearing they have nothing to contribute to the conversation. This is not an uncommon fear for anyone, even those without social phobia. One method that works very well in social situations is asking the other person or people questions about themselves. Everyone knows how to answer questions about themselves, so it fuels the conversation. Additionally, this gives you more details to start new conversations with people in the future. Focusing yourself on what the person is saying instead of focusing on your feelings on the inside will help prevent panic.

3. Practice deep breathing in social situations and when you are alone. People have a tendency to take shallow breaths in moments of stress. However, short breaths will only add to anxiety in the moment. Taking deep, full breaths will help you remain calm and will help bar anxiety from taking hold. Take the time with yourself to practice deep breathing every day to become more aware of your breath. When you are in social situations, be mindful of your breathing. Taking deep breaths will help ward off social phobia.

4. See a therapist regularly. There are a variety of treatments a therapist can employ in order to help you overcome your social phobia, including cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, social skills training, and more. Additionally, a therapist is a safe, supportive environment for you to express yourself and get productive feedback from a professional.

5. Try neurofeedback. A natural way to retrain your brain without the use of medications, neurofeedback aims to correct the functioning of brainwaves that are not working to the best ability. This makes the brain function calmly and more effectively, significantly reducing anxiety. When the brain functions better, a person feels better emotionally! To learn more about how neurofeedback can benefit you, schedule a free in-person consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross.

Call to make an appointment today! 781-444-9115

6 Types of Anxiety Disorders and Neurofeedback

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feelings of anxiety are considered normal in life, particularly if a person is facing a stressful or challenging situation. After all, the brain is wired to use anxiety to communicate feelings of fear. However, when anxiety begins to consume a person’s daily life and functioning, creating constant feelings of worry and being overwhelmed, an anxiety disorder may be present. Both physical and emotional symptoms emerge as a result of anxiety disorders, directly interfering with a person’s ability to live normally. Read our previous blog “Physical Effects of Anxiety and Neurofeedback” to learn more. Anxiety disorders are fairly common, affecting more than 40 million American adults. Neurofeedback teaches the brain to function more calmly, allowing the person to live a life free from anxiety. There are six main types of anxiety disorders:

 

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Persistent feelings of anxiety that distract a person from normal ability to function or the constant fear that something bad will happen. Physical symptoms are often present such as stomach issues and insomnia.
  2. Panic Disorder – Recurring panic attacks, or sudden swells of intense, overwhelming feelings of anxiety and fear. People often feel as though they cannot breathe.
  3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder- Uncontrollable obsessive thoughts and behaviors. Uncontrollable compulsive behavior is also associated.
  4. Phobia – Exaggerated fear of a specific place, object, activity, or living beings. The fears are often associated with much less realistic threat than what is perceived by the sufferer.
  5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Trauma-induced anxiety. Specific associated symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, social withdrawal, and avoiding situations that remind of the traumatic event.
  6. Social Anxiety Disorder  – Debilitating fear of what others think in public situations. Social situations are strategically avoided, creating unhealthy isolation.

Calm the struggle. Call our office today for a free consultation about how neurofeedback can improve your quality of life.

Social Anxiety Disorder: Living in Fear

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In an average life, experiencing stress in various situations is to be expected. It would be impossible to avoid all feelings of nervousness due to discomfort and worry. However, there is a vast difference between feeling occasional anxiety and constantly living in a state of uneasiness and fear. Various anxiety disorders exist, resulting from both inherited traits, life experience, and trauma that has occurred in a person’s life. Anxiety is also attributed to deregulation of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, describes a condition in which a person feels excessively self-conscious in social situations and fears negative judgment.

Someone suffering from SAD gets uncomfortable interacting with others for the fear that they may do something that the other person finds wrong, inappropriate, or stupid. This irrational fear is crippling to the sufferer and makes daily life exceptionally difficult. SAD makes everything from public speaking to ordering food at a restaurant a painful, difficult experience, and, for some, nearly impossible. Sufferers may realize how unreasonable their worries are, but cannot get past them. Anxieties may occur in the moment, but often start long before the situation that is being feared happens.

Symptoms of SAD may vary depending on the initial cause. Those suffering often want to maintain a sense of control, and when this comfortable feeling is compromised, the physical and mental reactions begin. Physiologically, the ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered, causing stress hormones like adrenaline to be released into the body, causing increased heart rate, skin temperature fluctuation, dry mouth, dizziness, and changes in breathing. EEG signals have shown higher activity for hi-beta waves, a type of stress response, and higher activity in the mid-brain, a part of the brain known for handling emotional response. People often have feelings of being out of control, greatly overwhelmed, upset, and distressed. Some additional responses include highly emotional responses, defensiveness, restlessness, irritability, exhaustion, obsessive thinking, negative thinking, insomnia, trouble concentrating, wanting to run away from the situation, stomach aches, feeling nauseous, and/or getting migraines.

Adolescents are often affected, and those who are suffering from SAD often go long periods without diagnosis because parents assume the behavior to be temporary and that the child may be going through a shy phase. Unfortunately, if gone untreated, this is not a disorder that will disappear on its own, and it will ultimately lead to worsened anxiety over time, lack of self-esteem, depression, and severe isolation. Additionally, there has been a connection drawn between children with low self-esteem and conforming to peer pressure. This is because social anxiety can lead to the child believing they must do what it takes to be accepted by their peers.

Various medications are often prescribed to assist with SAD, but despite their efficacy in the moment, making daily life more manageable, the medications do not directly treat the root of the problem. If taken off the medications, increased levels of anxiety will likely occur due to a developed dependency on the drugs to function each day. Additionally, anxiety occurs in particular places in the brain, and the drugs most often affect the whole brain, making the person constantly feel tired and lethargic. Overall, anxiety cannot be effectively treated solely with medication and needs supplemental strategies of treatment to change how the brain functions.

Neurotherapy is an excellent option for those suffering with anxiety, because neurotherapy targets the neurological deficits in order to make long-lasting changes in feelings and behavior. The brain is shown how to react more calmly, making it easier to handle stressful situations without being so overwhelmed. Neurotherapy focuses on helping the symptoms of anxiety by improving brain function. One example of this is using neurotherapy to improve sleep habits, which will positively affect anxiety. Ron*, a patient who received treatment at Advanced Neurotherapy, explains,

“I came in for neurofeedback because I’ve struggled with anxiety for over 2 and a half years now. I would get panic attacks at random and had difficulty sleeping at night because my anxiety would keep me up. Neurofeedback has truly helped me to calm down and stop feeling stressed all the time. I’ve seen considerable improvements in my daily lifestyle and even my friends and family have commented on how I’ve changed. I tried everything from therapists, doctors, and even sleep medications, but the truth is neurofeedback has been the only thing to really help me conquer my anxiety. “

If your child or you have been experiencing symptoms of anxiety, call Dr. Ross at 781-444-9115 to set up a free consultation about neurotherapy. Experience the relief of leaving anxiety behind for good.