How Neurofeedback Addressed My Panic Disorder
March 3, 2021

A little bit about me

Greetings from north Georgia. I’m 45 years old, and for 2 decades I’ve worked as a massage therapist and energy healer. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and empath, I am hypersensitive to light, noise, smells, conflict, and emotions in other people. Heightened sensitivity is a gift, but often I need time alone to reset and recharge…so I don’t short-circuit. Though I live a holistic lifestyle, at times I’ve suffered anxiety and panic attacks. I was lucky to discover neurofeedback (a type of biofeedback), a simple and non-invasive therapy that gave me hope and peace of mind in dealing with my panic disorder.

Anxiety and depression run in my family. In my case, financial hardship triggered my anxiety in my mid-30’s. My income varied a lot from month to month. My husband and I lived paycheck to paycheck within gnawing insecurity. I was afraid that we’d lose our home or be unable to afford necessities. Living this way for years eroded my mental health and triggered bouts of insomnia and panic attacks. Starting as a ‘deer in headlights’ sense of overwhelm, my energy would draw in…like the ocean recedes before a tsunami rolls in. I’d then suffer hyperventilation, trembling, hand cramps, hysteria, self-loathing, dissociation, and feelings of terror. After the panic subsided, I was exhausted for days. God bless my husband, who learned to offer compassionate calm when I’d spin out.

Discovering neurofeedback

I’ve always responded better to natural medicine than to pharmaceutical drugs. Initially, I addressed my anxiety with nutrition, calming herbs, and adaptogenic herbs. This approach had a stabilizing effect. I also explored cannabis, which quieted racing thoughts and helped me find peace. It wasn’t a sustainable solution though, as it made me ungrounded and detached. Getting massage and energy work helped me manage my stress and relax. Yet still, I carried a core fear that life wouldn’t provide me a safe and stable foundation. My husband and I saw a marriage counselor who suggested neurofeedback for my anxious mind. Her husband, Fernand, was a practitioner. As an army veteran who suffered with PTSD, neurofeedback helped him immensely and he wanted to share its benefits with others. I agreed to work with him and see what could be gained.

Neurofeedback helps the brain communicate with itself to improve function. The technology measures 4 types of brainwaves: alpha, beta, theta, and delta waves. Treatment is comparable to getting your car aligned…so that all 4 tires work in a straight-forward, balanced manner. Different styles of neurofeedback may involve music, video, computer games, or light. Electrodes placed on the scalp relay brain activity to software, which records and analyzes patterns. The computer then sends feedback to the brain in real time. When the brain functions in an orderly state, the entertainment plays continuously. If the brain slips out of balance, the music fades or the movie screen will dim. When the brain self-corrects, it’s rewarded with the music or movie resuming play. As a result, observing this biofeedback loop trains the brain to improve its regulation.

Reaping the benefits

My first treatment was the most profound. Fernand attached the electrodes, then I sat alone to watch 30 minutes of a film I’d selected. Half way through, I felt subtle relaxation throughout my whole body. By the end, I was very calm, peaceful, and extremely tired. I drove home and took a long nap and I was amazed by the difference just one session made. Also, I was euphoric for remembering what it FELT like to be at ease. Somehow I had lost that capacity. It reminded me to trust that everything will work out, and that I didn’t need to constantly brace myself for loss. I started to believe neurofeedback could actually help me tremendously with my panic disorder.

I proceeded with 20 sessions over the span of 3 months. Fernand monitored my brainwaves, looking for signs of improvement. The first 2 weeks brought the most noteworthy changes (and I needed more sleep to recover). My mood became brighter and less variable. I gradually felt less tired, as the changes kept at a positive level. Life still brought challenges, but I had a newfound mindset and became more emotionally resilient. Neurofeedback gave me a pathway to my lost peace-of-mind, making life easier and more enjoyable. The effects have been lasting for me, even years later. I know I’d benefit from periodic maintenance sessions, but I haven’t felt it was necessary. I’ve expanded my self-care with yoga, meditation, and body rolling. Nonetheless, I would recommend this therapy to anyone who needs a mental-emotional tune up.

My final thoughts

Neurofeedback is well supported by numerous scientific studies. It can assist a wide range of conditions including seizure, concussion, brain injury, stroke, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, anger management, concentration, ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, memory loss, insomnia, addiction, headache/migraine, learning disorders, OCD, and more. As I wanted to share here, neurofeedback was a wonderful tool to tackle head on my panic disorder and I always share my experience with others. To learn more about neurofeedback and its benefits, visit here.

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