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PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a form of anxiety where extreme life stress triggers a number of persistent symptoms. 

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with PTSD, you’ve probably already tried other therapies and or medication.  Often, many symptoms remain. 

If neurofeedback was better known in the world of PTSD, it would be one of the first treatments used.  There are many cases of severe PTSD in which therapists and clients have reported “clients got their lives back” after training with neurofeedback.  These reports are not isolated. Reports from around the world in many disciplines such as psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and other mental health practitioners, have chimed in to give their positive responds when adding this type of technique to the regime of treating their PTSD clients. This is not isolated – these reports from around the world have come from psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and other mental health professionals.

It’s hard to overcome

Any relaxation technique, from hypnosis to yoga is useful to reduce stress.  For PTSD, many common forms of relaxation and stress just don’t have enough impact to overcome the problems. Medications are often introduced to help reduce symptoms.  But meds don’t change the underlying stress response. 

The problem is in the brain.  Something has triggered a severe stress response, which ends up producing a number of symptoms.  The person can’t turn it off.  How do you turn it off? 

Turn off the stress

Research has shown clearly that PTSD is a brain-based disorder.

By training the brain, the individual learns to increase calm, and to regulate how they respond to stress.   Training can also help target those areas of the brain implicated in PTSD.   In essence, it helps the individual learn to “calm their brain.”  Training is learning.  Once the client becomes skilled at calming, they can maintain that without further training.  Many professionals report this often reduces the reliance on medications.

During training, the first symptom usually noticed is improved sleep.  As more training occurs, other related PTSD symptoms start to improve.  Once symptoms are reduced and these gains hold for longer periods of time, training is gradually reduced until it’s clear the stability and calm is holding.  At that time, training can end. 

Why isn’t it more well known

In the early 1990’s, just as biofeedback was becoming more popular medically, insurance reimbursement and Medicare was reduced for biofeedback by about 75%.  As a result, most health providers dropped it and it became quickly forgotten.  The current resurgence is generated because of improvements in the technology – and by professionals who demand an effective alternative to medications.  

Australia and severe PTSD

Australia receives a lot of refugees from countries in turmoil or war (civil war, the Balkan war, etc.).  As a result, the country’s health system set up one hospital in each province dedicated to dealing with health problems for those refugees.  Many are severely traumatized. 

One therapist in Sydney, Mirjana Askovic worked in the hospital that treated a number of traumatized war refugees.  When she heard about neurofeedback several years ago, she asked the hospital if she could learn how to use it and offer it to patients. She did this on her own, but the hospital agreed to let her try it.  She said these patients were extremely hard to reach with traditional therapy and often, they did not make much progress. 

The success they have achieved with neurofeedback since it was introduced has been dramatic.  Mirjana has said that this is one of the few interventions that makes a big difference. The hospital has agreed and has now adopted neurofeedback more broadly for other patients. 
 

NY Neurofeedback and QEEG • Merlyn Hurd Ph.D. • Licensed Psychologist and Certified Neurotherapist
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