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Can Neurofeedback Help Reduce Stress?
Yes it can, is the short answer. It can do this in two ways:

  • It can help alleviate the symptoms of Stress.
  • It can train the brain to cope better with Stress and avoid the symptoms.

What is Stress
Stress is a common term in our current busy society and is best described by how one feels and responds when dealing with challenges and pressures. Stress can be experienced within relationships, at school or work and when dealing with health or financial issues. The responses to stress can vary enormously; for some stress can have a motivating effect and he or her will work harder and more focused; for another it can limit his or her concentration and mistakes are made.  For some it can even cause more severe consequences. This ‘bad stress’ is sometimes called ‘distress’. The cause of stress is the production of excessive ‘stress hormones’. When experiencing pressure, the central nervous system is activated causing the body to produce stress hormones as part of the natural ‘fight or flight response’ designed to prepare our bodies mentally and physically for danger. Normally, the level of stress hormones will stabilize again when the pressure has gone, but when there is persistent pressure or when pressures are too high to cope with, the level of stress hormones stays too high generating several mental and psychical symptoms. In such situations, stress can have a great impact on someone’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors, as well appetite and sleeping patterns. What makes us stressed differs from person to person.  Stress is a problem when an individual perceives that the demands on them are more than they can cope with.

Symptoms of Stress
Experienced symptoms of stress differ from person to person. It is important to identify symptoms of stress in an early stage because when untreated, stress can cause (more) severe mental and physical health problems. Associated symptoms of stress can be cognitive, emotional, physical, or behavioral.


Cognitive symptoms

Emotional symptoms

Physical symptoms

Behavioral

Memory problems

Moodiness

Aches and pains

Eating more or less

Inability to concentrate

Irritability or short temper

Diarrhea or constipation

Sleeping too much or too little

Poor judgment

Agitation, inability to relax

Increased frequency of urination

Isolating oneself from others

Pessimistic approach or thoughts

Feeling overwhelmed

Indigestion

Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities

Anxious or racing thoughts

Sense of loneliness and isolation

Changes in blood glucose

Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax

Constant worrying

Depression or general unhappiness

Nausea, dizziness

Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Treatment for Stress
The initial step in treating stress is often prevention, learning to read the signs that stress is coming on, and self-managing stress. These options can consist of relaxation techniques, talking with someone, exercise, and support in planning and organization. When stress remains after applying these ‘basic’ options, stress management groups, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is commonly recommended.  In case of more severe health problems, prescribed medication could be considered.


Stress and Neurofeedback
Another option to reduce stress is Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback training has proven to be very helpful in stress, especially since the central nervous system – which enables the body to produce stress hormones – is trained to cope better with varying demands to avoid stress. This is different to managing stress, where one learns to deal with stress symptoms, or medication, which suppresses the symptoms. With Neurofeedback the central nervous system can be stabilized. Additionally, the agitation caused by stress can be calmed down and self control can be increased. This will decrease feelings of anxiety or anger and improve self-esteem, concentration and organizational skills.

     

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