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Is Neurofeedback Training the Way Forward in the Drug-Free Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

May 12, 2020 01:16PM ● By Toni Conover

by Dilshan Kevin de Silva - MBBS (SL)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a devastating emotional disorder that can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental and physical health, productivity and overall quality of life.

Epidemiological data indicate that the estimated lifetime prevalence rate among adult individuals in the United States is 6.8% of the population, and among war veterans this number can increase to 10-14%. Research also shows that at least 20% of staff working in American intensive care units present PTSD symptoms. This figure is certainly expected to increase significantly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

A clinical diagnosis of PTSD is made by a psychiatrist when specific symptoms are displayed for more than 6 months after the exposure to a stressful event. These symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, poor sleep, intruding thoughts, reduced ability to focus or sleep, emotional and/or sensory numbness and an altered sense of reality, among others.  PTSD can lead to poorer clinical outcomes in individuals with other health conditions, when compared to individuals with the same condition who do not have PTSD.

While the combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy is still considered by most psychiatrists to be the most effective clinical intervention, the prevalence of PTSD and the degree of those who experience treatment-resistant symptoms has led to the creation of additional innovative treatment methods.

One of these methods is neurofeedback training, a completely non-invasive therapeutic strategy that naturally induces specific functional changes in the brain, with effects on the underlying physiology and behaviour. 

Neurofeedback holds promise in alleviating overall PTSD symptoms, and although prematurely heralded as an ‘ineffective’ in some of the early studies, recent research employing more advanced technology and treatment protocols has shed light into the possibility of using neurofeedback either as a standalone treatment for PTSD or in combination with other therapeutic interventions.

A large randomized, controlled trial at Boston University Medical School in 2016 showed that neurofeedback sessions lasting 12-30 minutes each, occurring twice per week for 12 weeks, resulted in a clinically significant post-intervention improvement in PTSD symptom scores.

While some neurofeedback protocols require expensive equipment and highly trained clinical staff, recently developed technology based on electroencephalography (EEG) allows any mental health professional to offer neurofeedback services to clients, using relatively inexpensive equipment.

Hands on EEG neurofeedback software can be installed in a regular desktop or laptop computer and, with the right training (many affordable online certification courses are available), any therapist can use neurofeedback technology to run both before-treatment EEG-based assessments and also therapeutic interventions, creating detailed reports that integrate the therapist’s clinical evaluation with electrophysiological data.

With more and more neurofeedback studies consistently demonstrating results in rigorous experimental designs, therapists must give strong consideration to using neurofeedback technology as both a diagnostic and intervention tool to alleviate the psychological suffering of individuals with PTSD.

Dilshan Kevin de Silva is a medical graduate specialising in internal medicine and a special interest in writing about mental health. He can be reached at Linkedin.com/in/DilshanKdeSilva/ 

About SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training

SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training offers in-office or @Home plans for individuals and families seeking neurofeedback services. SYMMETRY provides trainees the opportunity to train their brain with neurofeedback to correct brainwave dysregulation. The approach is backed by more than 50 years of evidence-based research, is painless, drugless, non-invasive, has no harmful side effects and creates long-term positive changes.

Additional services include training to provide professionals, schools and treatment facilities who want to incorporate neurofeedback into their programming or provide @Home training for continued support after program completion. SYMMMETRY makes it simple to enhance therapeutic services with a scientific strategy that provides positive results, revenue, and reputation.

If you are interested training in neurofeedback and in adding EEG-neurofeedback services to your private practice, please visit: https://symmetryneuropt.com.

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