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for Anxiety and OCD

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive technique that helps regulate brain activity, and has shown promise as an effective treatment for anxiety and OCD based on a growing body of evidence. Numerous studies have suggested that neurofeedback can lead to improvements in the severity, symptoms and duration of anxiety and OCD. 

Neurofeedback for anxiety involves training individuals to modulate specific brainwave frequencies associated with anxiety, such as excessive beta activity or insufficient alpha activity. By learning to control these patterns, individuals may experience a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

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  • A 2021 study in the journal Brain and Behavior noted anxiety scores "decreased significantly two weeks after the fifth training session" in 26 female patients after neurofeedback, with the authors concluding, "Neurofeedback training of alpha activity over the parietal lobe is effective in GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) patients, especially the anxiety trait and depressive symptoms."

  • In a 2023 study published in Psychaitry Research, researchers found that patients who had primary symptoms in the fear-of-harm/checking or contamination/washing domains had "significantly greater reduction of obsessive-compulsive symptoms after neurofeedback compared to the control group."

  • A 2021 study in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience found that neurofeedback "demonstrated that within 8 weeks, depression and anxiety symptoms were significantly reduced, as was the clinical severity of psychiatric symptoms" and that neurofeedback "can effectively control the brain wave patterns and achieve cure, and possesses the advantages of non-invasive, less adverse reaction, the characteristics of being simple, safe, and convenient." 

  • The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has stated "there is no question that randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that [non-traditional including neurofeedback] do work for depression, anxiety, PTSD, pain management and other challenges..."

  • The National Assocation on Mental Illness (NAMI) has concluded neurofeedback to be an "excellent complement" to other interventions. "Research shows that people who incorporate neurofeedback into their treatment plan feel better able to engage with therapy and implement therapeutic suggestions — and they often need fewer medications."​

A word about expectations and outcomes with NFB

Neurofeedback can be a promising avenue for managing anxiety and OCD symptoms, but it's important to approach it with realistic expectations and dedication. Here's what you should keep in mind:

  • Realistic Expectations: Understand that neurofeedback is not a magic solution. It can help improve anxiety, and enhance self-regulation, but it may not completely eliminate anxiety altogether. Set achievable goals and be patient with the process.

  • Active Participation: Success in neurofeedback depends on your active involvement. It's not a passive treatment. You must engage in the training process, stay committed, and work closely with your healthcare provider.

  • Consistency Is Key: Consistent training is essential for seeing results. Make a schedule and stick to it. Regular and ongoing sessions are more likely to lead to positive outcomes.

  • Communication: Maintain open communication with your healthcare provider. Share your progress, concerns, and any changes in your symptoms. This feedback will help tailor the neurofeedback protocol to your specific needs.

  • Lifestyle Factors: Neurofeedback is most effective when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management can complement the benefits of neurofeedback.

  • Complementary Strategies: Consider combining neurofeedback with other evidence-based treatments, such as behavioral therapy or medication, as recommended by your healthcare provider.

  • Individual Variability: Remember that responses to neurofeedback vary from person to person. What works for one individual may not work the same way for another. Be open to adjusting the training based on your unique needs.

  • Long-Term Commitment: Think of neurofeedback as a long-term commitment. Positive changes may take time, and maintenance sessions might be necessary to sustain the benefits. A typical course of neurofeedback for anxiety is 10-20 sessions. 

  • Final Outcomes: No treatment option is 100% guaranteed. Though neurofeedback has shown efficacy in treatment, it should not be expected to completely eliminate symptoms or be a replacement for medication.

See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information. 

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