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Neurofeedback for Trauma: An Alternative for Overcoming PTSD Symptoms

Experiencing trauma has a huge effect on a person’s life moving forward. One of the many forms in which traumatic events impact people is by causing post-traumatic stress disorder.

While PTSD treatment in many forms has been studied, one form of alternative therapy is only now making its way into the spotlight – neurofeedback for trauma. This form of training relies on brain function to help the person relearn how to self-regulate and let go of the trauma their mind and body are storing.

Neurofeedback training, also known as neurofeedback therapy, can make a great impact on a person’s quality of life, and we at Beaverton Neurofeedback are more than aware of that. Now, we want to show the importance of neurofeedback for trauma to you.

How Does Trauma Affect The Brain?

Trauma deprives a person of their sense of security and stability at a fundamental level and awakens a specific part of their nervous system known as the amygdala. 

The limbic system, a deeper, more rudimentary area of the brain that primarily reacts to basic signals about fear and safety, includes the amygdala. There, memory is stored as a lived experience, complete with emotions and bodily experiences that might not be logically related to one another.

Talk therapy is one of the most common treatments for PTSD patients. However, talk therapy does not interact as well with the limbic system as it does with the prefrontal brain, where we plan, learn, and organize.

In other words, while talk therapy can speak to our sense of logic and language, it cannot reach the deeper regions of the brain that are responsible for experiencing and storing traumatic memories.

The Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition caused by either being part of or witnessing a distressing event. The majority of people who experience traumatic circumstances might initially struggle to adjust and cope, but with time and adequate self-care, they typically get better. You may have PTSD if the symptoms worsen, last for weeks, months, or even years, and affect your daily functioning.

PTSD symptoms can begin as soon as one month after a stressful experience, but they can also take years to manifest. Significant issues are brought on by these symptoms in social, professional, and romantic interactions. They may also make it difficult for you to carry out regular activities as usual.

Intrusive memories, avoidance, unfavorable changes in thought and attitude, and changes in bodily and emotional reactions are the four main categories of PTSD symptoms. The severity of symptoms can change over time or from person to person.

The severity of PTSD symptoms might change over time. When you are generally stressed out or come across memories of what you went through, you may have greater PTSD symptoms.

For instance, you might hear a car backfire and be reminded of a gun firing. Alternatively, you can be overtaken with recollections of your own developmental trauma after seeing a news story about a child’s physical abuse case.

Post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t let its victims move past the traumatic event they witnessed, which is why it’s one of the worst mental health issues one can be battling. However, alternative forms of treatment continue to be researched, and neurofeedback in particular seems to be standing out.

Healing From Trauma Through Neurofeedback

Patients with PTSD or trauma frequently ponder why they are unable to let go of the past, even though the events occurred many years ago. Trauma alters the brain and body in ways that may be impossible to reverse with dialogue or reason. Healing from trauma involves not only our thoughts but also the biochemistry of our body and brain.

One of the more recent and promising evidence-based therapies that can assist in addressing the deeper, underlying biological alterations brought on by trauma and PTSD is neurofeedback training – a form of EEG biofeedback that helps train the brain to heal itself.
Neurofeedback for trauma aims to assist individuals in transitioning from a hyper aroused to a calmer state so they can feel safe and respond to everyday occurrences more appropriately.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating PTSD symptoms. On imaging or fMRI, several studies have even demonstrated that neurofeedback can alter the brain function of PTSD sufferers.

Furthermore, the majority of these trials have shown a high amount of symptom relief. In fact, compared to PTSD medications, neurofeedback has a larger impact size in many trials.
The fact that each study has only included a small number of participants is one of the research's present limitations. This is hardly surprising given that providing neurofeedback to large groups of people requires a lot of time, space, skilled personnel, and specialized equipment. More information about the advantages of neurofeedback will become available in the future thanks to larger and better structured trials.

Different Types of Neurofeedback for Trauma

Brainwave training in many forms is referred to as neurofeedback. According to clinical studies, there are two varieties of neurofeedback that appear to be particularly beneficial for trauma patients:

  1. Infra-Low Frequency 

The slowest brainwaves, which are responsible for controlling the brain's stress response, are trained by this type of neurofeedback. The brain is easily activated by even the tiniest occurrences if this response isn't adequately controlled. 

The purpose of ILF therapy is to support the brain's transition to a more relaxed and less stimulated state. After these sessions, patients frequently say they feel more emotionally and physically peaceful. 

  1. Alpha-Theta Training

This kind of exercise promotes theta and alpha brainwave activity, both of which are linked to calm and introspection. Patients can transition into a deep state between consciousness and sleep when both of these brain waves rise. In this mindset, people are more receptive to thinking about situations in novel and healthy ways.

Following these sessions, patients may discover that when they reflect on earlier experiences or traumas, they have a better understanding of their emotions without experiencing any impairment, distress, or overwhelm.

  1. NeurOptimal® Dynamical Brain Training 

This is the style of neurofeedback used here, by Beaverton Neurofeedback. During a session information about your brain is collected (that’s the neuro- part) and then is fed back to your brain by brief pauses in sound. Your brain is an intelligent, self-organizing dynamical system which can actively utilize information for its own benefit. Every brain has within it an innate capacity to learn to get unstuck from inefficient patterns of “flight/flight/freeze” and move into a place of optimal functioning and self-healing. This form of brain training is gentle and has no side effects, yet remarkably effective for individuals of all ages, from toddlers to the elderly. 

Start Trauma Healing Through Brain Training

Neurofeedback therapy helps you achieve a healthier brain function, which in turn will equip you to better fight PTSD symptoms and other signs of your trauma. Whether you are experiencing manifestations of your distressful experience through physical sensations or psychological affections, neurofeedback training is a great non-invasive treatment option.

If you want to learn more about neurofeedback for trauma and how it can benefit you, contact us and let’s start your healing journey.