Using Neurofeedback to Lower Anxiety Symptoms Using Individualized qEEG Protocols
Anxiety disorders currently affect about 18% of the United States population, reported in women twice as frequently as in men. These individuals suffer from chronic and severe symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. There are many evidence-based treatments for the broad scope of anxiety disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure-based treatment, medication, and meditation. Neurofeedback has also been supported by previous research in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Kerson, Sherman, and Kozlowski (2009) trained participants by decreasing alpha waves until they were sufficiently suppressed, and then the focus shifted to improving alpha symmetry. As a result, they found improvements in state and trait anxiety. Cheon et al. (2015) conducted alpha-theta training at the PZ location and found a significant reduction in severity of anxiety symptoms from pre- to post-measures. Singer (2004) trained dancers with performance anxiety for 30 minutes, over the course of 20 sessions, at sites T3 and T4 and found reductions in anxiety symptoms associated with performance. Walker (2009) examined neurofeedback training on participants with post-traumatic stress disorder, including downtraining excessive high beta frequencies and augmenting alpha frequencies at individualized locations.
Dreis, Gouger, Perez, Russo, Fitzsimmons, and Jones’s (2015) study investigated whether individualized single-channel qEEG-guided neurofeedback is successful in reduction of symptoms of anxiety-related disorders. Participants attended an average of about 13 sessions. Dreis et al. (2015) up- or down-trained specific frequencies based upon individualized qEEG findings. They found significant reductions in anxiety-related symptoms, such as withdrawal, physical complaints, thought problems, internalization, and avoidance. They also found a significant reduction in rule-breaking and non-conformist behavior. Future studies should include larger sample sizes. Nonetheless, Dreis et al.’s (2015) investigation supports the protocol of individualized neurofeedback for reduction of anxiety-related symptoms.