Have you ever thought you might have a mental illness?
Sounds absolutely horrible doesn’t it, the term mental illness?
Even if you accept you have one, what’s to be done about it?
A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect a person’s ability to relate to others and function in everyday life.
Mental illness is common with some studies suggesting that one in four people worldwide suffer from a mental or neurological disorder at some point in his or her life.
The origins of mental illness are not easy to pinpoint but research suggests that multiple causes including genetics and environment impact whether a person will develop a mental health condition.
There are several mental health interventions with the most common being psychotherapy and pharmaceutical modalities.
A newer kind of mental health intervention, neurofeedback, provides similar benefits while ameliorating many of the problems associated with these traditional types of therapies.
Psychotherapy, sometimes called talk therapy, is a treatment that involves a talking relationship between a therapist and patient.
There are many types of psychotherapy including psychotherapies that help patients change behaviors or thought patterns, psychotherapies that help patients explore the effect of past relationships and experiences on present behaviors, and psychotherapies that are tailored to help solve other problems in specific ways.
For example, when using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a common type of short-term psychotherapy, the therapist aims to help a patient become rational in his or her assessments of situations.
Pharmaceutical interventions involve ingestion of a synthetic chemical compound, or medication.
This medication is thought to exert an effect on the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system in an effort to correct dysfunction.
Some psychiatric medications help correct imbalances in brain chemistry that are thought to be involved in specific mental disorders.
While both psychotherapy and pharmaceutical interventions can be helpful in treating different types of mental illness they both have drawbacks.
There is much debate surrounding the effectiveness of talk therapy with some opponents suggesting that it is ineffective, while others point out that it can be very time-consuming and costly.
Opponents to the use of medication suggest that psychotropics often cause unwanted side effects making treatment compliance an issue.
Additionally, with many of these medications, the clinical effect stops once the substance is eliminated from the body causing a return of symptoms.
The Benefits Infraslow Fluctuation (ISF) Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is an alternative to more traditional methods of treatment.
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback. Biofeedback is a method of gaining information by monitoring body conditions (such as skin temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, etc) to help promote control over normally involuntary bodily processes through conditioning.
Neurofeedback monitors brainwaves, or electrical patterns in the brain. These brain waves can be recorded, measured, and displayed in digital form. Neurofeedback uses the process of recording and measuring brain waves to create a signal called feedback. This feedback helps the brain learn self-regulation.
A brain map, or quantitative EEG (QEEG), helps identify specific regions of the brain that are not working properly.
The QEEG can be used as an assessment tool to identify specific areas of dysfunction or dysregulation.
In addition to this visual mapping of the brain, a thorough evaluation of the person’s past experiences, thoughts, feelings and behaviors can help plan what areas of the brain to train.
Infraslow fluctuation (ISF) neurofeedback training is a type of neurofeedback that focuses on observing the lowest frequencies in the brain.
The earliest research on these ultra-slow waves suggests ISF works by regulating autonomic nervous system function, the flight, fight or freeze response.
More importantly, ISF regulates the activation of brain areas linked in chronic autonomic stress by helping the brain communicate between the autonomic and emotional networks.
This in turn helps separate regions responsible for emotion from the autonomic distress signal.
Simply put, ISF training impacts the brains flexibility to move from fight, flight or freeze to rest and repair.
ISF coordinates processes in the brain with processes in the body. The heart, the blood, the digestive system, and the Autonomic Nervous System are all coordinated at these very slow frequencies.
This synchronizing effect works to produce a brain and body that has the flexibility to respond appropriately to the environment.
The goal of ISF training is to reach a condition of homeostasis in mind and body that simultaneously promotes a calm and alert state.
This more flexible state helps to treat a variety of mental health illnesses and bothersome conditions.
Moreover, ISF training allows an individual to sleep better, attend more fully, feel more in charge of his or her emotional life, and changes a host of troublesome behaviors.
Imagine if you will that ISF frequencies are like waves in the ocean. Let’s continue that metaphor and imagine that faster frequencies in the brain are the surfers on those slow waves.
In ISF training we shape Infraslow waves to rise and fall in symmetry allowing the surfers to catch the waves, ride the crest, and gently be deposited on the beach.
With ISF training we optimize the wave sets so there are smooth transitions between each wave allowing the surfers to ride that wave easily and consistently without being thrown off the board or crashing into each other.
This translates in the real world of brain function to the smooth activation and deactivation of behavioral networks.
In plain English, when young Johnny is presented with new material in geometry he focuses on the lesson and not the distracting noise out the window.
At work, Sue is able to remain relaxed and centered rather than anxious in the face of stress producing moments.