When the theories behind biofeedback were first presented decades ago, the practice was considered far-fetched. Today, though, doctors have found practical uses for certain biofeedback techniques in helping those coping with depression, anxiety, stress, ADD/ADHD, panic, and the sleep difficulty that often results. Biofeedback can provide a picture of the connection between mind and body and make the process of behavior modification more effective and efficient.
Biofeedback and Anxiety
Biofeedback has been shown to be an effective tool for the treatment of anxiety. Through the use of various monitoring devices, the patient and therapist can determine the physiological responses that might be causing interference in the treatment process. Anxiety disorders are characterized by a state known as physiologic hyperarousal, or an overload of activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which produces the body’s stress response. The devices used in biofeedback can detect this physiologic hyperarousal and, as the patient and therapist work together to learn ways of coping with the effects of anxiety, these devices can also provide insight into which coping skills are effective.
Biofeedback and Panic
Some researchers believe that panic disorder sets in when the individual develops a fear of the body’s sensations and response to panic-inducing situations. Biofeedback provides the person with panic disorder techniques with which they can learn to control these physical sensations using their thoughts as well as the ability to see this process in action. Biofeedback is also believed to be very effective for behavior modification in reference to specific phobias, which are often triggers for panic attacks.
Biofeedback and Stress
When a person is under stress, the body experiences certain physiological responses known collectively as the stress response. Biofeedback seeks to teach the individual relaxation techniques so that they may better control their stress response. Many people do not realize the toll that stress has on the body, and biofeedback provides a way for them to see how they react in stressful situations so that they may learn to better cope physically.
Biofeedback and Depression
Biofeedback can help those coping with depression learn how to reach a state of emotional balance and remain in that state for longer periods of time. When used in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback can provide the therapist and patient with further insight into the cognitive modification through brain waves and physiological responses.
Biofeedback and ADD/ADHD
Research indicates that there are distinct differences between the brainwave patterns of those who have ADD/ADHD and those who do not. Brain scans show that individuals exhibit more Theta waves, which are responsible for dreaming and creativity, and lower levels of Beta activity, which are the waves that influence thinking. This may explain why they seem to be such daydreamers. Biofeedback can provide a map of the brainwave patterns so that the therapist can devise the best course of action for treatment.