It’s easy to assume that the only effective solution for anxiety is medication, but that’s far from the truth. Our experienced team at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic relies on several research-supported therapies to manage numerous neuropsychological conditions, including anxiety.
Understanding anxiety disorders
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting more than 18% of adults and 2.6 million children and teens each year. While anxiety is a natural response to stress, extreme anxiety that lasts longer than six months or interferes with your life can indicate a disorder.
There are several kinds of anxiety disorders, and each has unique symptoms. However, common signs of these types of mental health issues often include:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
- Panic attacks
- Extreme or obsessive fear
- Irrational thoughts that can lead to performing repeated behaviors
The exact cause of anxiety isn’t known, but researchers believe it’s possibly due to a combination of components, including environmental factors, genetics, and brain chemistry. Researchers also believe that certain areas of your brain associated with fear play a role as well.
Controlling anxiety disorders
Treating anxiety disorders requires a personalized approach, because patients can experience these conditions differently.
The first step to controlling your anxiety involves diagnosing your condition. At Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic, we perform comprehensive evaluations with evidence-based assessment tools. Once we reach a diagnosis, we can develop a personalized solution to manage your unique condition. Among the drug-free options we provide to help you manage anxiety are the following:
Psychotherapy focuses on talking or finding different ways to express your thoughts and feelings. There are several kinds of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. We also offer couples therapy and parent coaching to help the whole household get involved in the support process.
Biofeedback is an innovative mind-body solution that can help you learn to regulate involuntary physical changes associated with your emotional state, including:
- Skin temperature
- Heart rate
- Breathing rate
- Muscle tension
- Pain perception
- Blood pressure
This anxiety treatment (i.e., biofeedback) uses a device with sensors attached to your body that provides feedback on these specific bodily functions, so you can make subtle changes to manage them. For example, when your heart starts racing, you might try relaxing certain muscles. The key is to learn how to have mastery of the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the one that elevates your bodily systems, also known as the fight or flight system. The parasympathetic system is the counter to this system. By gaining mastery of this system, you learn how to manage your anxiety in a masterful way!
By increasing your awareness of your physiological responses, you can learn to control your anxiety and improve your health.
This form of therapy uses biofeedback from an electroencephalogram (EEG) to retrain your brain. When you undergo neurofeedback, EEG sensors monitor your brain waves while you play games, watch videos, listen to music, or interact with some other type of stimuli on a computer.
As long as your brain waves function within an optional range, you can continue playing games, watching videos, or listening to music, thus giving your brain a reward for doing the right thing. If your brain waves fire inappropriately, however, the music or other entertainment stops. Thus, neurofeedback provides a brain-computer interface.
You can’t see, feel, or touch your brain; however, with neurofeedback, it is possible, for the first time, for you to learn how your brain is functioning that are leading to your symptoms, and thereby giving you an opportunity to learn how to function at a higher level. Over time, this training causes structural changes in your brain as it learns optimal behavior, so these positive changes can be permanent.
Many people prefer this method because it is a drug-free way to improve your functioning. People have used it to overcome anxiety directly, as well as other conditions that are causing their anxiety, including ADHD, learning disabilities, and social problems.
At Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic, we are using the most advanced methods today called sw LORETA Z score training. What this means is that we are comparing your data to a normative database (developed with a multimillion dollar grant by the National Institute of Health). The swLORETA allows us to improve not only the energy in your brain, but also the connectivity and timing, which leads to more optimal functioning, faster thinking, and better overall well-being. Moreover, swLORETA is the only technology available today that reaches into important brain structures that are deep in your brain, therefore offering you the most comprehensive neurofeedback available.
Having trouble interpreting what you see can lead to a variety of complications, including anxiety disorders. Because approximately 80% of what you understand and perceive comes from your sight, we offer neurovisual training to help you learn to focus and understand the information around you properly.
Having problems with vision can make a person anxious by being overwhelmed with the visual information. Vision problems can lead to difficulties with social communication, as the person does not have all the information available during interpersonal communication. Many people with Autism or other social challenges suffer from poor eye contact as well as poor visual tracking. Obviously, these problems may make the person anxious when engaged in various social interactions. In addition, many individuals experience this while driving on busy roads, trying to navigate the airport, and having trouble in large crowds or sporting events. Problems with vision can also lead to difficulties with balance, and can lead to falls and injury. This uncertainty can cause a great deal of distress.
When you correct visual perceptions, your brain can process things more effectively, which can help address related disorders, such as anxiety.’
To learn more about drug-free solutions for anxiety, book an appointment over the phone with Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic today.