Understanding Anxiety: Unveiling its Prevalence, Indicators, and Neurofeedback Solutions
Written by Dr. Keri Chiappino, DC DACNB BCN
Anxiety is a condition that affects many people today, both children and adults alike. Anxiety is characterized by prolonged and inappropriately excessive worrying, fatigue, restlessness, concentration, and sleep issues. All of these symptoms can have a negative impact on one’s health and wellbeing.
Many individuals who experience anxiety are looking for non-invasive treatment options for this condition. Recent research and studies show the promising potential of neurofeedback as an effective treatment method for anxiety.
Truth is we will never be able to stop stressors from entering our life. We must find a way to adapt to stress. It is not possible to be insulated from it! Our ability to cope with stressful situations can be improved with neurofeedback training. Training your brain to be more resilient may be the answer you are looking for.
Table of Contents
The Prevalence of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders have seen a dramatic increase in recent years, impacting individuals of all ages. According to studies, approximately 10-20%1 of children and around 30% of adults2 experience some form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US. This alarming prevalence calls for a closer examination of its underlying causes and potential solutions.
Using QEEG To Diagnose Anxiety Disorders
Neuroscientists and researchers have delved into the realm of brain activity to better understand anxiety disorders. One tool that has gained significant attention is the Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG). A QEEG is a type of brain mapping that measures electrical activity in the brain. A QEEG provides a detailed analysis of brainwave patterns, highlighting abnormal activity associated with anxiety.3 Individuals suffering from anxiety are likely to have the following patterns on their QEEG:
1. Alpha Asymmetry:
On a QEEG, individuals with anxiety often exhibit an imbalance in alpha brainwave activity, known as alpha asymmetry. Such an imbalance has been linked to heightened negative emotions and vulnerability to stress.
2. High Beta Activity:
Another identifiable marker on a QEEG is excessive-high beta activity, primarily observed in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain. This heightened beta activity signifies excessive worrying, rumination, and an overactive response to stressors, contributing to the experience of anxiety.
Neurofeedback for Anxiety as an Effective Treatment Option
The emerging field of neurofeedback offers a promising solution for individuals struggling with anxiety disorders4. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive technique that trains the brain to self-regulate and achieve healthier brainwave patterns. By addressing the underlying neural dysregulation associated with anxiety, neurofeedback therapy aims to restore balance and alleviate symptoms effectively.
1. Neurofeedback Therapy Reinforces Desired Brainwave Patterns
During a neurofeedback session, individuals are connected to sensors that monitor their brainwave activity. Through visual or auditory feedback, participants are trained to reinforce desired brainwave patterns while reducing excessive anxiety-related activity. The reward-based learning mechanism strengthens calming brainwaves, such as alpha and theta bands5, promoting emotional stability and relaxation.
2. Neurofeedback Offers Long-Term Benefits for Anxiety Treatment
Neurofeedback’s efficacy extends beyond symptom management, offering long-term benefits for individuals with anxiety disorders. As the brain learns to self-regulate, these new neural pathways become increasingly automatic and resilient, reducing the likelihood of anxiety relapse. This holistic approach empowers individuals to take charge of their mental well-being and build sustainable coping mechanisms.
3. Non-Medication Anxiety Treatment Option
For individuals wanting to avoid the side effects of medications, neurofeedback therapy offers a safe non-drug anxiety treatment option6. Unlike traditional medication, which often treats only the symptoms of anxiety, neurofeedback aims at the root cause by promoting self-regulation of brain activity. Through this process, patients learn to modulate their brain patterns, leading to a reduction in anxiety levels.
Neurofeedback for Anxiety Treatment Research and Studies
Numerous studies have highlighted the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating anxiety disorders. Research participants have reported significant reductions in anxiety symptoms, improved emotional regulation, and enhanced overall quality of life.
- Anxiety Disorders – Facts and Statistics. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. ↩︎
- What are Anxiety Disorders? American Psychiatric Association. ↩︎
- Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG) as an Innovative Diagnostic Tool in Mental Disorders. Marta Kopańska, Danuta Ochojska, Agnieszka Dejnowicz-Velitchkov, and Agnieszka Banaś-Ząbczyk. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Feb 2022.
This research investigates the efficacy of Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG) as a diagnostic tool for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The study presents case analyses of five patients with GAD, highlighting specific brainwave patterns, particularly in sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) and beta2 wave amplitudes, as characteristic of the disorder. The findings support QEEG’s potential for preliminary and rapid diagnosis of GAD and monitoring therapeutic progress, emphasizing its value in identifying and understanding the neurophysiological aspects of anxiety disorders. ↩︎
- Neurofeedback and Biofeedback for Mood and Anxiety Disorders: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines. Srabani Banerjee and Charlene Argáez.Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2017 Nov 13.
The review focused on the clinical effectiveness of neurofeedback (NF) for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in adults. It included a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing NF with a waitlist control group. The study found that NF led to a significant increase in global functioning and a reduction in GAD symptoms, whereas no such changes were observed in the waitlist group. This suggests that NF may be an effective intervention for GAD. ↩︎
- Efficacy Evaluation of Neurofeedback-Based Anxiety Relief. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2021 October 28.
This study investigates the effectiveness of neurofeedback on anxiety disorders using EEG signals. A total of 34 participants (17 with anxiety disorders and 17 healthy) were involved. The experiment had three stages, focusing on alpha, theta, and gamma wave activities during mindfulness-based EEG recording. The results indicated significant improvements in mindfulness and anxiety relief. The study highlights neurofeedback’s potential in modulating brain activity patterns and alleviating anxiety symptoms, offering an objective evaluation method for anxiety state assessment. ↩︎
- Combined Neurofeedback and Heart Rate Variability Training for Individuals with Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression. Kayleah M Groeneveld, Anna M Mennenga, Robert C Heidelberg, Rachel E Martin, Rachel K Tittle, Kyle D Meeuwsen, Linda A Walker, Elyse K White. NeuroRegulation, the official journal of ISNR. 2017 March14.
The study investigated the effectiveness of Neurofeedback (NFB) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) training as non-pharmaceutical interventions for anxiety and depression. It involved 183 participants who underwent NFB+HRV training, assessing psychological symptoms, EEG, blood pressure, breathing pattern, and HRV before and after treatment. Results showed significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression, with notable improvements in EEG and HRV, suggesting the potential of NFB+HRV as effective interventions for these conditions. ↩︎
Patient Success Stories
Real-life success stories of our patients who were able to overcome the symptoms of anxiety further attest to the transformative impact neurofeedback can have on individuals’ well-being, instilling hope and fostering resilience.
Anxiety disorders are prevalent in both children and adults, negatively impacting their daily lives. However, with the advent of advanced technologies such as the QEEG and neurofeedback, there is growing optimism regarding effective treatment options. By targeting dysregulated brainwave patterns and promoting self-regulation, neurofeedback offers renewed hope for individuals seeking relief from anxiety. Through continued research and application, we can work towards a future where anxiety no longer holds individuals captive, fostering a world of mental well-being and resilience.
Are You Ready to See if Neurofeedback Can Help Your Anxiety?
Make an introductory neurofeedback appointment (QEEG) with Dr. Keri Chiappino, a chiropractic neurologist and BrainCore (neurofeedback) therapist in Smithtown to see if you are a good candidate for neurofeedback therapy to help with anxiety symptoms. A Brain Map or QEEG is the first step on your journey to a brain that performs exactly the way you want it to.
About the Author
Dr. Keri Chiappino, DC DACNB BCN
Dr. Keri Chiappino offers a unique, expanded approach to alternative healthcare. With the combination of neurological, orthopedic and chiropractic care, Dr. Chiappino works to restore normal nerve function to the body, promoting optimum health and wellness. Dr. Chiappino has distinguished herself as one of 1000 doctors worldwide achieving Diplomatic status on the American Chiropractic Neurological Board (ACNB), with more than 1000 hours in Chiropractic Neurological coursework. In addition to traditional Chiropractic and Chiropractic Neurological care, Dr. Chiappino also offers BrainCore neurofeedback therapy and our Smithtown office is an authorized BrainCore neurofeedback clinic in Smithtown, NY.