Neurofeedback for a healthy brain is now offered at Heart Spring Health. This is an interview from a patient we will call Angela, who suffered from extreme anxiety but not anymore.
Q: What were you experiencing in your life before you discovered Neurofeedback?
A: My anxiety became generalized anxiety. I became anxious about going to work, sometimes I became anxious just going to the store but more so about going to work. I would get anxious just getting into the car, driving to work, my heart would start beating hard, and then I’d start feeling very tense and fearful about going into work, fearing the unknown. My sleep was off, I did not sleep well.
Q: Once you got to work, did the anxiety subside?
A: It wasn’t as intense as driving there but it was still there. I became used to it, it was just like an underlying…uhum..nervousness that I’d held in, felt it more in my gut. I remember people would say, “You look so calm” and I’d say but inside I am so nervous.
I would do minimal things because it was exhausting having anxiety. So, my life became very small. I would just go to work and that was it. I was anxious throughout my whole day. When I came home, I would need to rest. I would spend my weekends recuperating from my week. So, I didn’t really have a life. I would go to work and come home. Sometimes if there was a social thing that involved a close friend, I would go do it and then when I returned home, I would tell myself, I’m not gonna do that again! Because I was so anxious. I was torturing myself and it took away from my, recuperation from my week time. I lived a very limited life because my energy went into my anxiety.
And so I was seeking out, I didn’t want to go on medication. One time the anxiety did get really bad and I do not know what caused that situation to be different from the other ones. I worked in a very punitive environment which tends to make one more anxious because you’re trying to do everything right. One day, I was too anxious to go work. I went to see a doctor and I was put on Zoloft and Ativan. I took it for maybe three months and I felt I was becoming a little numb to things. I did not like the feeling, so I was looking for an alternative. Neurofeedback appealed to me.
Q: Tell me about that experience.
A: I tried Neurofeedback while I was on the medication. It did help to ween myself off the medications. Back then Neurofeedback was done differently (at a higher frequency and I had a sensitive nervous system that needed the lower frequencies that is now available). I did not feel anxious during the time I was being treated. After the treatments were finished, the anxiety came back. So I wasn’t really a fan of it back then. Then two or three years down the road I started feeling extreme fatigue. I started to see a Naturopath for a non related reason. She told me that when my presenting issue healed, we were going to address my fatigue. She wanted to see what was going on with my adrenals. Prior to seeing her, I had seen maybe two or three Naturopaths. They thought my adrenals were weak so I was put on supplements to stimulate my adrenals and then I’d end up having more anxiety. This Naturopath said she was going to test my adrenals before she prescribed anything. She did a cortisol level test and found out that my adrenals were never in the normal range, they were always above. She said the only thing that she knew that would work for that is Neurofeedback. She referred me to someone different who used the lower frequencies that were not available before. I started the Neurofeedback and I can still remember this, after maybe two or three months of treatment, I actually felt what it felt like to feel relaxed. I do not remember ever feeling that relaxed. I had thought that when I got home and sat down that I was relaxed. But I was not!
It wasn’t until the treatments kicked in that I saw that I was always in flight mode and that was my norm. I did not realize that I was never really relaxed. My low flight mode was my norm and that is what I thought was relaxation. I started to feel relaxed. I started to sleep better. I started to do more. I could go to social events and not come home and say I am not doing that again. I was able to drive there and not feel anxious. I was able to do more than just work. I was beginning to enjoy life. That is when I realized, Neurofeedback is really good. This experience made me feel that I want to do this for other people. There are still times when I feel anxiety, because of my genetic makeup. When I do start to feel anxious, the majority of time my brain does not stay stuck in it. If it does, because life happens, I give myself a Neurofeedback treatment, to remind my brain of where it needs to be.
Q: The second time you did Neurofeedback did those sessions stick with you?
A: Yes it holds yet I have to give myself periodic Neurofeedback sessions/tune ups. I think it has more to do with my age (60’s), because I have had anxiety all my life more or less, I didn’t want to go on medications. So, for me I found I have to come back for tune ups. I have seen where Neurofeedback has held for people. Childhood trauma may tend to have a more severe effect on one’s nervous system. Time passing or life events might require a person to return for periodic tune ups.
Q: For you though Neurofeedback really helped?
A: Yes! A year after the original cortisol level test for my adrenals, I went back to test them again. They were a little below the norm and the only difference was Neurofeedback. I didn’t take any medications or anything else, the Neurofeedback was the only difference. After a life of thinking that the flight mode I was feeling was natural and it wasn’t. So, my adrenals were shot. That’s why I was feeling so fatigued because they were working overtime.
Q: What other things had you tried for your anxiety before Neurofeedback?
A: Workshops where you learn to change your thoughts. Yoga, yoga was good but I would have to do it consistently. Running, a lot of physical activity helped.
Q: Did you have apprehension about the Neurofeedback when you first started it? Or when you went in for your first visit.
A: No. I was desperate. I was desperate. No, I did not have any apprehension at all I was asking please, please help. I was so tired of feeling that way.
Q: Your description of this time in your life was really accurate, when you said your life got very small. So how has it changed?
A: Yeah, You do the least amount so you can get by. I didn’t have a life at all. These trips I go on now, they would not have been possible. I go and do things now. I was going to meet my friend recently and we were going to see a play and I noticed it was like going to put out the garage or something. It was so natural. When I had anxiety, I’d sit in that car and start getting nervous and anxious about just going to see a play. Little things like that I’d have anxiety over. I told you about my friend’s wedding, where before if I was going to a social thing like that even getting dressed I would be anxious and then in the car, even more anxious. And now I can actually get in the car and go to those events and not feel anxious. It still kinda blows me away because I had what felt like a lifetime of that.
Q: And thinking it was normal to a degree?
A: Yeah, well and because I didn’t want to go on medications. I had this thing where I didn’t want to go on medications, so I suffered.
Q: Why didn’t you want to go on medications?
A: I just tend to be more of a natural person. I wanted it to be done more naturally versus the side effects of medications. And I never felt that medication can get to the root of an issue, which it does not. I know medications take away the symptom but it’s not getting to the root of what causes it and I wanted something that would work with the root.
Q: What would you say to people who are thinking about trying Neurofeedback?
A: I will tell them, If I was still feeling the anxiety I was feeling back then, working as a provider would not even be on my radar. I lived a very small, limited life. So, just to grow in life. I have grown so much from where I was at before. I lived a very, very shallow life. I just survived, survival mode. I worked so I could pay my bills, have food and a roof over my head, the end! (Laughter).
Q: Yours is a really inspiring story.
A: Yes, and that’s what got me into wanting to do it for others. It’s not the end all, Neurofeedback, but it’s a beginning. It stabilizes your system so you can further heal. It is really, really good. I later had treatments with another Naturopath to fine tune things a little more. I would notice even though I was going to social things, which I wasn’t doing before, when I would go to a 4 or more day event, my digestion would slow down while I was there. I was given Homeopathic remedies to help alleviate that and it did.
Q: Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today.
A: My pleasure.
This case study from Angela allows us to deeply appreciate the daily difficulties of living with crippling anxiety. Heart Spring Health wants you to know that relief for this condition and many more brain health issues is available. Click here to learn more about neurofeedback and contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled neurofeedback providers.
Midge Meade is a Neurofeedback provider at Heart Spring Health in Portland, Oregon who understands how anxiety, depression or migraines can really derail our hopes and dreams. As a nurse working in healthcare for over thirty years, she is honored to be able to support well-being and life fulfillment with Neurofeedback. Learn more about Midge.
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